Not bad Chris, not bad at all. I’m talking about Chris Kirk of course, who won the 2015 Crowne Plaza Invitational by one stroke over three players, including Jordan Spieth. How’d he do it? Well, he had his Callaway XR Pro driver in his bag, which helped him shoot all four rounds in the 60’s. I’ve been learning about a ton of new products for 2015, none more so than the driver category. If you’re still in the market for a new driver, then perhaps what worked for Chris will work for you. I hope you’ve been enjoying this ongoing series where I compile the best product reviews and put them into one place to make it easy for everyone to find! – Matt
Club Name: Callaway XR/XR Pro Driver
Price Point: $350/$400
Specs: 9°, 10.5°, 12°, 13.5° HT for XR; 9°, 10.5° for XR Pro
XR/XR Pro Stock Shaft: Project X LZ (loading zone)
From Callaway on the XR driver: A fast, aerodynamic shape and all-new Speed Step Crown combine to deliver more clubhead speed, and the new R•MOTO Face Technology allows for a thinner face, over an even larger area of the face, for maximum ball speeds.
From Callaway on the XR Pro driver: This is the power of R•MOTO Technology – it removes weight in the face to increase ball speed and create more efficient energy transfer across the face. That’s why you get more ball speed at every impact location, even on mishits, and it’s one of the key technologies that allows us to move the Center of Gravity very low to maximize distance.
Neither drivers are as adjustable as Callaway’s Big Bertha Alpha 815 drivers. The XR has a 46-inch stock shaft length that will be too long for many golfers. Both clubs also utilize aerodynamic modifications to the head, but only the XR has Callaway’s Speed Step Crown. The XR Pro driver has noticeably lower spin than the XR.
1. Golf Digest: Gold Rating. When it comes to improving a driver’s aerodynamics, Callaway engineers make the case that the key piece of real estate is the first part of the crown. That’s why there’s a staggered step on top of the head. The goal is to reduce aerodynamic drag (the way air flows across the top of the clubhead) during the downswing and boost your swing speed. Throw in the lighter, more flexible face design found in the Alpha, and you have a driver that’s almost 20 grams lighter (and $100 cheaper) than its bigger brother. Plus just as smart.
2. Golf Magazine: Just Ok. PLAYABILITY: Repeatable, reliable, medium trajectory; the XR driver lets testers who are skilled enough to maneuver their shots away from trouble as necessary; the loft adjustability feature is appreciated. CONS: More so than some others, this club needs to be properly fit—many guys find that it takes too long to get comfortable with; other testers believe that the face absorbs too much of the impact feel to provide sufficient feedback; length is acceptable but not the longest tested.
XR Pro – DISTANCE: Not spectacular, but above-average overall length; provides solid, predictable distance from shot to shot. FEEL: Plenty of feedback; the loud sound at impact lets you know immediately if you’ve hit it dead center or not; the XR Pro is a little on the heavy side, but most agree that it has a pleasing sensation throughout the swing. Like It.
3. Golf Magic: Just Ok. A solid offering from Callaway with a fresh new look on the crown, suitable distance, mid-high launch, and decent forgiveness on off-centre hits – so we feel it offers great value for money at less than £300. It did not always feel the easiest to control given the added length and lightweight shaft, so we would certainly recommend getting custom fitted to reap the full rewards of this one.
4. Rick Shiels: Like It.
5. Golf A Lot: 5 Stars out of 5. My favorite thing about the Callaway XR driver is that it is plug and play. Just get the right loft and swing, because it takes over and does the rest thanks to a very forgiving face that looks and sounds great. The retro headcover looks pretty good too. There is also a XR Pro model with a smaller 440cc, lower spinning head, but I think golfers of all levels should look at the standard model because it does seem to cover a lot of bases.
6. Golf WRX: Like It. The XR driver (460cc) does everything well, but it excels at forgiveness. The XR Pro (440cc) is similar, but it has a smaller, better player-inspired shape and will work well for golfers who need less spin. Both heads come with great stock shafts. The XR ($349.99) and XR Pro ($399.99) are more affordable than Callaway’s Big Bertha Alpha 815 drivers, so if you don’t want or need wide-ranging adjustability, the XR line will be a better option.
7. Hacker’s Paradise: Love It. Callaway proves with the XR Driver that performance can be achieved and optimized in a lighter package that enhances swing speed and ball speed. They have picked an excellent shaft to complement their idea of ‘outrageous’ speed, incorporating “loading zone” technology to give golfers the best opportunity to build speed into contact. For those pursuing a lighter, non-tour profile and seeking quality forgiveness and sound, the XR Driver should be atop their list of demo options.