There are rather large statements surrounding the Callaway XR Fairway wood release. “Unmatched speed and distance from everywhere,” “versatility,” “distance,” and “forgiveness.” Certainly when you pack this kind of commentary around a release, there should be excitement about what the club can do overall. A new head, lower CG, forged hyper speed face cup, and the combination of the Project X LZ shaft are all worthy of a second glance or a demo, and provide a lot of confidence that positive changes were made from the already effective X2Hot lineup.
Higher Ball Speed And Forgiveness Across The Face – We’ve developed a lighter, thinner next generation Forged Hyper Speed Face Cup. It makes the face up to 36% thinner to increase ball speed. It’s not just speed, it’s forgiveness with a 16% larger sweet spot.
More Distance And Versatility For Any Shot – A 20% lower CG, 200 rpm less spin and even more ball speed are what we get when we move the weight low and forward with our re-engineered Internal Standing Wave.
Completely Redesigned Head Shape – You can see by the look of these clubs that they have flatter leading edges and a higher toe. The face height is shallower vs. X2 Hot for players who use these clubs mostly from the fairway.
Speed From Maximum Shaft Load – The shaft is a key component to speed, that’s why we put in the new Project X LZ. It produces maximum shaft load during the downswing for greater energy transfer to the ball.
While the previous “X” series fairway woods had a lighter grey matte finish, the XR offering boasts a sharp, dark grey finish that meshes well with their race-inspired design elements. Raising the chevron logo as an alignment aid was a great choice, as it blends well into the head while framing the ball at address. The blue, red, and white graphics continue the race-inspired look between the head and into the Project X LZ, which offers a great deal of information to the golfer about the shaft.
There were some very visible changes to the head shape of the XR Fairway wood as compared to the former “X” series, creating a club designed more towards the golfers hitting shots out of the fairway as opposed to from the tee. Flattening out the leading edge will reduce some of the unnecessary turf interaction, and during testing, crisp contact seemed to be the consistent experience directly off the turf, rather than taking a great deal of divot.
The forged hyper speed cup face was designed to improve ball speed due to the thinner face, and increase the sweet spot. For a majority of contact during testing, the face of the XR Fairway performed in a very lively way, propelling the ball forward in a consistent flight a majority of the time. During numerous sessions, hitting the ball away from center while being neutral in contact height on the face returned fairly consistent carry numbers.
One of the invisible elements to the XR Fairway is the internal standing wave, which is designed to reduce the spin and drop the CG. It was unclear what about this design element would make it more versatile, however the reduced spin seemed to sync well with the addition of the Project X LZ shaft, which promotes greater shaft load to increase the energy transfer of the club into the ball.
The sound of the XR fairway is louder than many of the Callaway offerings of the past. Not in a way that would detract interest, but rather in a way that leads to the belief that Callaway ‘unlocked’ the technology and let it perform. Overall, it produces a lively fairway-centric sound, however the sound becomes slightly toned down when contact departs from the center of the face. This is apparent more up and down the face rather than heel to toe, which seems to offer additional forgiveness.
Throughout the testing, the Callaway XR Fairway showed a propensity for long and straight, with a mid to mid-high flight pattern. The combination of the head characteristics, sound, and the LZ shaft combination really promoted an explosive initial release with an optimal hanging carry.
During testing, the 15 degree fairway was used equally off the tee as well as off the deck. For experiences off the tee, best results came when the ball was teed quite low to the ground, making it quite clear that the XR Fairway can get the ball off of a tighter lie with relative ease. With tee height raised, it became overly common to slide the head underneath the ideal ball contact area, generating higher flight with reduced distance.
From the fairway lie, the performance was fantastic. Flight ranged from a low/mid launch with balls that were somewhat ‘down’ in their lie, and for clean contact strikes, a perfect mid to mid/high launch that carried well and landed soft. While this may suggest the ball flight would be a touch low at times, it was almost always welcomed with positive results, likely due to the accuracy that lower launching shots produced. If not at the expected distance hitting into par five greens in two, very close for a chip and opportunity to birdie.
The forgiveness of the XR Fairway is notable, and worthy of singling out in this review. Pulls and pushes are a swing flaw and based on path will not be resolved by technology in a club head, and that much was experienced with the XR Fairway wood. With that in mind, it is imperative for a fairway to help to accommodate the ‘misses’ where contact is made away from the center of the face or the path is less than ideal with a fairly neutral face.
In the case of the XR Fairway, distance from center was consistently better than expected on weaker strikes. It is inevitable to lose distance on shots that are not striking the ideal point of the face, however especially moving higher and towards the toe, the distance results were very encouraging despite the poor strike. If the goal of the golfer is to find a marginally lower spinning fairway head (from “X” lines of years past) that offers a reasonable amount of forgiveness across the face, Callaway has executed well on the XR Fairway woods.
Introduced earlier in the review, the Project X LZ shaft offers a unique and beneficial design element to the XR Fairway build. The shaft itself is quite stable, while the loading zone section produces a true ‘loading’ feeling for the golfer. This can lead to a bit of confusion when selecting shafts or comparing to other fairway woods, as it seems to provide feedback of being less than the noted flex, however testing proved the stability and flex quality of the LZ time and time again. It simply takes time to enjoy the transition experience, which seems a bit unique to the LZ lineup.
For golfers who seek the ability to miss around the face, elevate the ball from a fairway lie, and add some distance on account of a profile that elicits greater swing speed, the Callaway XR Fairway wood should be atop the list of options to try. Callaway has utilized a variety of positive improvements to take the XR to the next level of success in their “X” lineup, and has done so while maintaining the quality and presentation of former lines. For more information on the Callaway XR Fairway woods, visit www.CallawayGolf.com.