Callaway XR 16 Fairway Wood Review

The X Hot fairway wood changed the game for Callaway Golf back in 2013. It ushered in a new era that fairway woods did not have to just be an extension of the driver. Instead it was a transformational product that led to utilizing driver technology within a fairway wood head. Fast forward to 2016, in a collaboration effort with Boeing, the XR 16 fairway wood brings with it some new technology that Callaway hopes will help golfers achieve the need for speed.

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From Callaway  

For the XR 16 Fairway Wood, we’ve made huge leaps in our industry-leading technology that’s helped us become the #1 Fairway Wood in Golf. And we came away with a design that’s bigger, hotter, and more forgiving with our lightest crown for even more ball speed and distance.

We’ve combined our highest MOI, highest COR, and a low Center of Gravity in a fairway wood. With a larger footprint, it’s a head shape that gives you the confidence and the technology to hit it long and straight. And we’ve improved on our category-defining face cup for high ball speed all across the face, added great turf interaction, and put in extra speed from an aerodynamic head shape.

Aesthetics and Specs

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Keeping with the looks of their entire 2016 fairway wood lineup, the XR 16 employs a matte-black finish on the crown. Unlike what will be found on either the Great Big Bertha or Big Bertha Alpha 816, there are some very subtle crown graphics present. On both the inner and outer radius of the crown are two stripes, one white and one gray. Note that these crown stripes are not located on the XR16 Pro fairway wood. Unlike with the driver, the crown does not have any of the visible technology that immediately jumps out at a consumer.

Turn the club over and the design gives way to changes that will help in multiple ways. Callaway teamed up Boeing to make the XR 16 lineup it’s most aerodynamic offering to date. The sole design on this fairway wood mimics the driver with its ripple effect to help cut through any type of resistance one will encounter throughout the swing. The other new design feature to the XR 16 fairway wood is the more cambered sole. Adding a little more roundness to the bottom and providing some heel and toe relief adds to the playability of the club.

Spec wise, the XR 16 hits the market with some numbers that many come to expect from a club line that is designed to offer speed and distance. The shaft length in the 3-wood option is slightly longer than other offerings within Callaway’s 2016 lineup, coming in at 43.25”. Below is a chart of loft options within the XR 16 lineup. Notice the large variety offered to help ensure that players can easily find a spot in the bag for an XR16.

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The shaft pairing that Callaway has gone with for this line is the Fujikura Speeder Evolution 565 Red. This shaft ranges in weight from 58-63 depending on the flex, with the lighter flex being the lightest weight. The Speeder Evolution 565 combined with the XR 16 head will offer a mid to high launch option for those golfers who are looking to get the ball up in the air with ease and provide plenty of distance. On the aesthetics side of things, the red color of the shaft really makes this club pop when looking at it on a store shelf or on the course.

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Technology

Hitting a lower lofted fairway wood from the turf is a troublesome shot for many. Recent technology, like what is seen here, has allowed manufacturers to move weight from the crown area and push it lower towards the sole. What this does is allow for more weight to be located below the equator of the golf ball, making it easier to get that ball airborne. Finding a club that is long and easy to hit off the turf can turn in to a very beneficial thing for amateur golfers. With the XR 16, Callaway believes that this is the club to help conquer that task for golfers around the world.

Fairway woods tend to come in all shapes and sizes. Some bring with them an oversized head vs a compact look, as well as a deep face as opposed to a shallower design. The XR 16 packs a more oversized head coupled with a shallower face than what is found on the Big Bertha Alpha 816 line. The oversized head helps incorporate a friendlier and more confidence inspiring look. The shallower face design also inspires a belief that the next shot will get airborne quite easily, thus making the XR 16 a club that one can pull from their bag without hesitation.

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As was briefly mentioned earlier, the sole design on the XR 16 fairway wood changed in a way that will provide a little more playability and flexibility from the previous generation. By adding more camber to the sole shape, it provided a fairway wood that could more easily handle the different lies and situations in which a golfer would decide to pull this club from their bag. With some heel and toe relief, something that is more talked about in wedge design, it makes playing those shots from the rough, or even a fairway, easier as there is less surface area in those areas for the grass to disturb.

By adding a hotter face cup to this lineup of fairway woods, Callaway is confident that these clubs will perform very well when it comes to distance and forgiveness. The use of a face cup has been a staple for Callaway drivers and in recent years has been included within fairway woods and hybrids. Over time it has been shown that employing a face cup helps produce faster ball speeds and more forgiveness by having better ball speed retention. The XR 16 holds true to form as it excels in both of those aspects.

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Performance

For this review, the model that was tested was the XR 16 3-wood, with the stock Speeder Evolution 565 shaft, sporting a stiff flex. Testing took place on the range, in the simulators, and out on the golf course. True to its word, the XR 16 performed well in a number of areas.

Callaway wants you to know that the XR 16 is made for speed and distance. Being the two main points of pride for this line, it was no wonder that what golfers saw with this club was increased ball speed. With the hotter cup face, increased speeds compared to recent woods was noticed. While gains will vary depending on the player, those who took swings with the XR 16 saw a nice bump in that area. More ball speed is one of the many factors of gaining more distance, combine it with the higher launch that is prevalent, and Callaway delivers a club that is surely set to offer some form of improvement in the distance category.

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From the get-go there was one performance aspect of this club that stood out against the competing products, even within Callaway’s own lineup. The XR 16 is just as easy to hit and launch off the turf as it is from the tee. Finding a club that is easy to hit on a long par-4 or when trying to get to that par-5 in two is not always a painless task. The XR 16 is an offering that falls right in line with some of the easiest to hit longer clubs on the market. Also with what has been seen with the distance and ball speed, having that 17 degree 4-wood option could be an enticing option.

When it comes to sound the XR 16 offers a lighter, crisper and slightly higher pitched sound compared to others within the Callaway family. With the personal nature of describing sound, nearly everyone who took some swings with the XR 16 found the sound to be pleasing without being overly powerful. It provided enough audible feedback to let players know when a ball was missed low or elsewhere on the face.

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Conclusion

The fairway wood lineup for Callaway in 2016 is full of options for consumers. Those who are looking for a club with moveable weights as well as an adjustable hosel can opt for the Big Bertha Alpha 816. If moveable weights aren’t high on one’s list, then the Great Big Bertha might be an option as it still utilizes the OptiFit hosel. Price wise, those two offerings do come in higher than the XR 16 which is priced at $229. Where does it fall in to the lineup? Well it might best be considered the meat and potatoes offering, it features some wonderful technology within its construction to optimize performance without the need to get out a wrench. More information on the XR 16 fairway, as well as the complete line of XR 16 clubs can be found at www.callawaygolf.com.

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8 Comments

  • Good review Dean. Bigger head with shallow face is a concept I like especially when hitting off the deck. May just have to give this a try since I have a alpha 816 that I struggled off the deck with.

  • Nice review. The year-on-year improvements since the X-Hot launch have made this part of the Callaway lineup really solid.

  • Great review Dean!! was surprised they are using such a light shaft in a fairway wood but apparently it works great. Will have to give it a try as I am currently looking for a 3/4 wood for bag! Thanks!!

  • XR16 line is one darn good line for Callaway this year. Impressive, forgiving and long. Great review Dean. This FW wood will be my gamer for the 2016 season.

  • Thanks for the excellent writeup. Always enjoy seeing what’s in the XR16 lineup as it is usually a precursor to the GBB loft adjustable line coming in the Fall. But at a reduced price, these look like a great lineup.

  • I love the Callaway XR model line from last year and I just don’t see why I would spend the money to upgrade this year.

    I will be looking forward to their 2017 line.

  • Nice review, Dean. Callaway has the most complete offerings in the FW department this year IMO.

  • What puzzles me is where can one find the difference if any between the 2015 and the 2016 XR 3 woods.

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