Review: Callaway X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro Drivers
Summary: Good all-around drivers, but not as exciting as the company's Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha.
A nice update
Pros: Like last year’s X Hot, the X2 Hot drivers come in two different options, a Pro version with a slightly smaller head, lower launch and spin, and a standard version with more forgiveness and an easier launch. New Hyper Speed Face produces a 10 percent larger sweet spot for more forgiveness.
Cons: The Pro version has a beautifully clean crown, but some players might wish they had kept a simple chevron alignment mark. No moveable weights.
Bottom line: Both drivers are impressive pieces of equipment, delivering higher ball speeds and more distance from almost every part of the new Hyper Speed face. The X2 Hot Pro is designed for the better player and creates lower-launching, more-penetrating flight while still offering decent forgiveness on mishits. The X2 Hot driver, with a slightly larger, more-forgiving face and higher-launching ball flight, is a total performance driver that can really fit in the bag of any player.
To say last year’s X Hot line of drivers was successful for Callaway would be an understatement. Tour pros had them in their bags and amateur players were hitting the ball farther than ever before with them. The X2 Hot drivers have some big shoes to fill and they are filling them very well. True to recent form, Callaway is offering golfers two different versions to chose from — a 440cc Pro version for better players and a 460cc version designed for virtually every golfer. Callaway also redesigned the look of the heads this year and both drivers have a much more traditional looking pear-shaped head design. The X2 Hot Pro driver is designed for the better player looking for a penetrating ball flight and a more neutral bias allowing for greater workability. The X2 Hot driver on the other hand, with a larger face, larger sweet spot and progressive draw bias is designed for any golfer looking to launch the ball in the air and maximize distance.
Both drivers have Callaway’s Advanced OptiFit hosel, first available on last year’s FT Optiforce drivers, allowing golfers to optimize their launch conditions by adjusting the loft and lie independently. The loft of each driver can be adjusted up 2 degrees or down 1 degree. You can also set the drivers to neutral or draw, which makes the lie angle more upright and encourages a more leftward starting trajectory (for right-handed golfers). Changing the driver’s loft will change the face angle slightly, but most golfers will not notice a difference at address.
The X2 Hot driver is available in three different lofts: 9, 10.5 and 13.5 degrees, and comes stock with a 46-inch Aldila Tour Blue 55 shaft in light, regular and stiff flexes. Just like the 2013 X Hot models, these drivers have “Progressive Draw Bias,” which means that higher-lofted models have more draw bias than lower-lofted models. The head weight will be about 194 grams, while the total weight will be about 303 grams. The stock swing weight is D3.
The X2 Hot Pro driver is available in only one loft, 8.5 degrees, but it can still be adjusted up 2 degrees or down 1 degree with the Optifit advanced hosel. It comes stock with a 45.5-inch aftermarket version of Aldila’s Tour Green 65 shaft in regular, stiff and x-stiff flexes. The Pro driver also contains a removable 7-gram weight screw in the back of the club, which gives it a stock swing weight of D3. Different weight screws can be ordered through Callaway’s custom department to make the swing weight heavier or lighter. Both drivers will be available in stores Jan. 17 and sell for $349.
When I picked up last year’s FT Optiforce, I instantly fell in love with the 440cc version and it has been performing very well for me ever since. But when I pulled the headcover off the new X2 Hot drivers, I was impressed and really wanted these clubs to deliver. I tested the X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro drivers over multiple sessions both on the course during rounds and on a Flightscope launch monitor on the driving range. My goal was to simply see if the ball flight and performance matched Callaway’s claims.
My first shot with the X2 Hot driver was pounded and set a good tone. The shot was right off the center of the face with a great launch angle, carry time and overall distance. It felt really solid off the face with a good sound. Each shot had a solid draw ball flight, even into a left-to-right wind, and it was clear there is a decent amount of draw bias in this club.
Because I’m playing the FT Optiforce 440cc version, I was really interested to see how the 440cc X2 Hot Pro driver would perform for me. My first three shots on the driving range were noticeably more penetrating than the X2 Hot, but also had a slightly firmer feel at impact. The flight of each shot was more straight to a slight cut, which is what I play normally. I could tell the spin numbers were going to be lower with the X2 Hot Pro and the overall distance would likely be slightly more than the X2 Hot.
Over the course of four rounds, I alternated between each of the two drivers, playing with only one driver during any given round. As expected, my launch conditions with the X2 Hot Pro were slightly better, generating more overall distance. However, my mishits were more penalizing and I wasn’t hitting as many fairways. The X2 Hot driver performed very well for me in general, even though I wasn’t getting as much distance, I also was hitting slightly more fairways.
The next step was to get on a launch monitor and see if these clubs really live up to their marketing claims and confirm what I was seeing in my testing.
Performance: Standard X2 Hot Driver
To keep it simple and consistent with my testing of the other clubs in the X2 Hot line, I tested the drivers during an hour-long session on Flightscope, with both drivers at 9.5 degrees of loft and in neutral lie setting. I rotated between both drivers and threw out mishits and outliers from the data presented below. I tested shots hit off the sweet spot, heel and toe, as well as high and low.
The X2 Hot Pro driver (bottom photo) has a taller face than the X2 Hot driver, giving it a more robust appearance at address.
When compared to the X2 Hot Pro, the X2 Hot driver has more draw bias to minimize the slice tendency of average golfers and is designed to help golfers launch the ball higher. On average, when compared to the X2 Hot Pro, the standard driver generated 2 mph more ball speed, 2 more yards of carry and 3 more yards of total distance. The launch angle, surprisingly, was not much higher than the X2 Hot Pro and only generated 200 more rpm of spin on average. Almost every shot with the X2 Hot driver produced a draw flight and 250 rpm more spin than the X2 Hot Pro.
Callaway looked at data from its performance bays on where most golfers impact the face and what it found is that golfers with a greater than 10 handicap miss the sweet spot 65 percent of the time. Callaway focused on a new pattern for face thickness designed to create a larger sweet spot to cover more of the area golfers actually hit. It worked in both drivers, but even more so in the X2 Hot. The X2 Hot driver is very forgiving and it is more difficult to hit wildly offline. Shots impacted off the heel only drop, on average, 1 mph of ball speed. Shots off the toe resulted in a loss of 2 to 3 mph of ball speed during testing.
Performance: X2 Hot Pro Driver
The X2 Hot Pro driver is aimed squarely at the better player looking for workability, lower spin and a penetrating ball flight. The X2 Hot Pro has a much more neutral bias than the X2 Hot and that was clear during testing. The Aldila Tour Green shaft, which became the No. 1 shaft on the PGA Tour in 2013, was paired with the X2 Hot Pro to optimize the launch conditions. It is a legit shaft, but some players will find it is too much to handle and requires a lot of extra work to generate good results. All the more reason to get properly fit for your driver.
On average, my shots with the X2 Hot Pro driver launched a half-degree lower with a peak height of 2 yards lower than the X2 Hot driver. To the naked eye, you could tell the trajectory was more penetrating overall and the numbers support that conclusion. My spin numbers were lower, the trajectory was lower and the club could be worked in any direction more easily. Mishits however, were more costly. While ball speed dropped only an extra 1 mph off the toe and heel than the X2 Hot driver, they ended up being farther offline. I felt my worst mishits with the Pro driver would be more penalizing than my worst mishits with the standard driver. In fact, my two worst mishits of the day came with the X2 Hot Pro driver. But my two longest drives of the day also were with the X2 Hot Pro driver.
My current gamer is the 440cc FT Optiforce, which became one of Callaway’s most popular drivers on tour late last year. I wasn’t expecting massive distance or forgiveness gains in such a short development cycle, but both X2 Hot drivers did slightly outperform the FT Optiforce. More importantly, both clubs produced results I expected based on Callaway’s claims.
Looks and Feel
Starting with the headcover and working all the way down to the sole, the design of both of these drivers is leaps and bounds ahead of last year’s X Hot drivers. The design is a mix of refinement and performance, kind of like looking at an Audi R18 e-tron quattro at Le Mans. The darker grey color looks much more premium and Callaway added extra touches like brushing its logo into the titanium. Both clubs have very clean, minimalistic crowns. The X2 Hot driver has a chevron alignment mark, while the Pro version is completely clean on the crown. Both clubs look great at address, but I especially like the look of the X2 Hot Pro. The smaller head is begging to be hit, and while the the face angle is slightly more open at address, it is virtually unnoticeable.
The face of both drivers feels really nice at impact, especially the X2 Hot driver. It feels very springy off the sweet spot and offers good feedback on mishits. Many golfers will appreciate how easy the club “feels” to hit. I prefer the sound of the FT Optiforce to the sound of the X2 Hot; it doesn’t quite have the same powerful reverberation and instead is more crisp and muted. As expected, the smaller head of the X2 Hot Pro driver has an ever firmer feel in my opinion.
These two clubs have distinctively different feels at impact and since feel is subjective, it is another good reason to test both clubs before making a decision.
Callaway had the unenviable task of releasing an upgrade to a wildly successful product and it did a great job. The look of the new X2 Hot drivers is hands-down more appealing and sexier than last year’s X Hot. The new Hyper Speed face is more forgiving, and the addition of the Optifit hosel and premium stock shafts offer all players a high level of adjustability and performance.
Unlike the X2 Hot Pro hybrids, which I would recommend only for the best of players, the X2 Hot Pro version should be enticing even for mid-handicap players. For the golfer looking for a total performance driver, the standard version should be at the top of the list of drivers to test.