Callaway XR Fairway – Leave your ego at the Door

May 18, 2015 by

Callaway XR Fairway – Leave your ego at the Door
Fairway woods can be a tricky club to find a place for in the bag.  With lofts that now range from 12* to over 20*, the task of buying one, much less using it can be daunting.  Like many of us, we buy clubs better than our games, and that often means harder to hit, less-forgiving sticks that ultimately don’t do the job we buy them for.  So, when it came time to review the Callaway XR line of fairways, I decided to do go with the mostly likely set of options a mid-handicapper would buy and game.  The review unit in question is a non-pro version of the 3 wood, lofted at 15*, shafted with the new Project X LZ in stiff flex.  The XR line was recently introduced as a replacement for the X2Hot line, which are regarded as the distance/game improvement line when bounced off of their more precise cousin Bertha.  On the other hand, the XR line does boast a series of ‘Pro’ models that are slightly less forgiving and aimed at the better player.  Regardless of the path you take within the XR family, the name of the game is raw distance.


R&D/Engineering have played a large role in Callaway’s transformation over the last few years.  The XR line have taken the lessons learned from the past and improved on them in a number of ways:


Internal Standing Wave – An improvement of the technology introduced a couple of years ago, the ISW lowers CG and increases MOI by allowing the face to move freely, increasing ball speed.  The ISW in the XR felt much more stable than the gamer I was comparing it to.


Forged Hyper Speed Face Cup – A staple in Callaway woods now, the premise of the Hyper Speed Face is a thin, springy striking surface to promote faster ball speeds and greater distance.  In the XR line, the Hyper Speed Face Cup is 36% thinner, with a larger sweet spot.  Working in tandem with the Internal Standing Wave, both serve as a force multiplier to ball speed off the face, further amplifying the reaction to average swing speeds.


Low Spin Project X LZ Shaft – Earlier this year, Project X revealed the LZ shaft, built as a loadable, low spin shaft that pairs well with the Callaway XR head.  My 3 wood was a stiff flex, weighing 56 grams and sporting a low-mid torque with a mid kickpoint.


Redesigned Head Shape – Rounding out the XR Fairway is a redesigned head shape, built for aerodynamic efficiency and low drag, which calculates into speed.  The matte finish is a perfect, subtle finish that subdues the aggression built into this wood.


For my testing/evaluation, I simulated putting the XR into regular play at my club, replacing my current gamer (which I don’t mind calling out as a Callaway XHot (2013) Pro 3 deep, a 13* model with a stiff Project X shaft).  In fairness, I was evaluating a 15* club against a 13*, but the review isn’t a comparison of the two, so I was not approaching it from an apples-apples point-of-view.  My fairway wood use is a tad limited, as my club is a short(er) old Tillinghast, but the opportunities are varied so I was able to evaluate performance off the tee and off the deck.


The opening tee shot at my club is a short, tight farirway.  It requires a certain amount of precision and shot control, and a player can all too easily end up under thick trees blocking any reasonable approach.  I took 5 shots each with both my gamer and the XR.  While the gamer was slightly longer, the XR gave me 5 solid approach shots.  I should note here that the XR feels and sounds amazing.  Callaway has obviously been devoting some R&D time to tuning sound, and it is not lost on me here.  A nice, short click, slightly muted, with a solid feel off the face.  No real resonation given the cup face, overall a very solid setup, even in off-the-shelf form.  If you’re looking for shot shaping, head to the Pro model, as the non-Pro was dead straight.  And, because I didn’t swing out of my shoes, I left distance on the table with the XR shots.  Off a tee, it was a big confidence builder to feel like the XR could reliably produce 220-230 yard shots.


The next set of testing was for pure distance, from where I typically hit my second shot on the final par-5 at my club.  I’m typically anywhere from 245-265 out on the approach, the fairway slopes right to left and is lined with houses just out-of-bounds.  The second shot can break concentration and the typical miss is left to keep from damaging a home, which then will wash the ball into thick rough and, you guessed it, more tree cover.  This shot is critical to the rest of the hole, because a 5 can turn into an 8 quckly.  For the test, I dropped 10 balls at 250 yards and used my typical swing, no harder, no softer.  The results were excellent.  Although I did pull 3 shots left, the rest of the shots all carried 225+ and rolled to 230, leaving me with easy pitch shots into the green to set up birdie chances.  Callaway has perfected the cup face with the XR release, the shots are predictable, solid and inspire confidence.  It’s also the longest 15* fairway wood I’ve put into play, safely saying that the XR line of fairways are HOT.


Feeling better and more comfortable with the XR, it was time to step on the gas and see what it could really do.  I dropped another 10 balls at 250 with the intention of swinging all out.  After I quickly checked my homeowner’s insurance (just in case), it was time to rip.  My wild swings are very inconsistent, and the result were 5 pull hooks, 3 straight shots, and 2 that went so far right I’m positive they cleared the neighborhood.  Of the shots that stayed on the course, the shortest of all shots came in at 255.  The pull hooks were long enough that they cleared trouble and gave me a clear (but difficult) shot out of the rough into the green.  As for the straight shots, they changed my attitude completely on this particular par-5.  I had 3 chances for eagle, and at the same time could legitimately replace my driver with the XR if conditions call for it.


To be honest, I am not certain I would have had the same results with the Pro model.  A smaller head, more aggressive lofts and a focus on shot shaping are things I simply do not need at my handicap level.  My best suggestion to you is to ignore your ego and enjoy dead-straight, dead-long distance with the Callaway XR standard.


The Callaway XR Fairway Wood is the next evolution of the Carlsbad company’s distance/forgiveness offerings.  They retail for $229 (non-Pro) and $239 for the Pro/Deep version, and come in a wide arrange of lofts.  They’re available in big box retail stores and online.  For more information, see

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  1. I am currently gaming the Callaway XR 3-wood, after having played both the XHot 3Deep and X2Hot 14.5* 3-woods over the past two years. I found the 56 gram Project-X LZ shaft to be too light and the 43.5″ playing length to be too long, so I re-shafted my XR 3-wood with a 76 gram Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Silver 70-S shaft at 42.75″ playing length. The shorter playing length, c

  2. om bind with the slight counter-balanced nature of the Kuro Kage Silver shaft, necessitated the addition of a bit of lead tape on the club’s sole. I now have a 3-wood that I can depend on for 230 to 245 yards from both fairway and the tee. I personally get a nice controlled draw with this club, which is just right for me.

    I have definitely owned 3-wood that were longer (virtually anything from the Tour Edge Exotics lines over the last 8 years or so, plus my XHot 3Deep fit that prifile), but none that were as consistent and controllable.

    Doug Mael
    Age 66
    USGA Handicap Index = 14.4

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