Earlier this summer, I was nominated to be a Callaway Advocate at La Paloma. What that means is that in addition to being an ambassador for the Callaway brand, I’m also trained on the features and benefits Callaway products provide. I help inform people about the products that will benefit their performance and enjoyment of the game. Let’s be honest, lower scores make the game of golf a lot more fun.
So when I got the invitation to attend Callaway’s Epic Tour stop at the Boulders Resort in north Scottsdale, how could I pass it up? And man, am I glad I was there! More than 100 people registered, but I would say only about 60 people showed up.
The high-end audio/visual presentation coupled with the fact that all of Callaway’s bigwigs were there (from the San Diego area) made the room buzz with exclusivity. You felt like you were part of a special unveiling.
The three-hour meeting at the El Pedregal & Tohono Conference Center followed by a one-hour on-course training and demo session at the Boulders Resort driving range is just one of the more than 40 nationwide launch events Callaway is planning in the coming months. The Epic Tour centers around an exciting new product Callaway is introducing just after the first of the year.
Callaway is the No. 1 golf club brand in the industry. In 2016, it was either No. 1 or No. 2 in terms of market share in every major category: drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges, putters, and balls. In 2015-2016, Callaway drivers were victorious 92 times on tours worldwide. Callaway golf balls found their way into the winner’s circle 62 times during that same time, with 26 victories belonging to the Chrome Soft alone.
But Callaway has a much loftier (no pun intended) goal in 2017 – to have the No. 1 driver in the marketplace. I can’t go into great detail about the product because it’s not being released to the public until January 27th, and despite the pictures you may have seen leaked by a GolfWRX user back in early November, it isn’t really even going to be marketed until just after the first of the year.
What I can tell you is that what started out as a research project when the Great Big Bertha Alpha driver came out in 2013 has slowly morphed into something Callaway Director of Metalwoods Research & Development Evan Gibbs is calling, “the most excited and enthusiastic he’s been about something in the 17 years he’s been at the company.”
Gibbs was in attendance and said, “Speaking on behalf of R&D, we’re extremely proud of the product. It’s the most-tested club we’ve had since I’ve been here.” The club already has more than 12 patents pending.
As we learned in intimate PowerPoint breakout sessions around the conference room, using a new and proprietary technology, Callaway discovered how to increase energy efficiency at impact for dramatically higher ball speeds – 2-5 miles per hour versus your current driver.
According to Gibbs, every mile per hour increase in ball speed equates to 2-3 more yards in distance. Back from the XR series is the aerodynamic speed step on the crown designed in conjunction with aeronautics engineers at Boeing to reduce aerodynamic drag and increase clubhead speed.
The numbers Callaway is seeing in its preliminary product testing are also staggering: a nearly 100% consumer adoption rate and, on average, a 3-6 mph increase in ball speeds. They’ve seen the highest-percentage gains in players with slower clubhead speeds. How did Callaway do it?
Callaway did it by cracking the code of the USGA’s new driver-testing standard, Characteristic Time (CT). Characteristic Time, which is essentially the amount of time the ball comes in contact with the clubface measured in microseconds, has been around for almost ten years now.
While there’s only a rough correlation between it and Coefficient of Restitution (COR), the USGA’s previous testing standard which was recently replaced, Callaway is the first manufacturer to understand the relationship between the two measurements and use it to their advantage. Now, the club and the 1,041 manufacturing steps that go into the making of each one are likely going to change the driver market forever.
To breathe life into the engineering speak, I got to try the product out for myself later in the afternoon. My ball speed on TrackMan went from 146 miles per hour to 148 mph and my total driving distance skyrocketed from 267 yards to 282.
The new club produces faster ball speeds, longer carry, and more total distance every single time compared to Titleist, TaylorMade, and Ping – even on off-center hits. Believe me. You have to try this club for yourself. Get yours 1.27.17… and get longer!