Pros: 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.
Cons: Neither 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.
Who’s it for: 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.
Callaway’s XR Driver was voted a 2015 Gear Trials: Best Driver. It was considered one of the Top-7 drivers currently available by our 2015 Gear Trials Panel.
It’s fools logic to equate price with production. The XR series bears witness to such thought. With a not-so-premium price of $349.99 (XR) and $399.99 (XR Pro), both drivers offer a tremendous amount of performance without the $450+ price tag of the Big Bertha Alpha 815 drivers.
Callaway markets the XR and XR Pro with the theme of speed, and it’s a claim that can’t be denied. Both drivers have the company’s lighter R*Moto faces that save valuable weight over previous models. The weight is then redistributed in certain areas — more rearward in the XR, and lower in the XR Pro — to create drivers that are higher-launching, lower-spinning and more forgiving.
Both clubs also utilize aerodynamic modifications to the head, but only the XR has Callaway’s Speed Step Crown. On the surface, the omission of the Speed Step Crown on the XR Pro driver is curious, but there’s a reason why the the XR gets it and the XR Pro does not, according to the company.
“In all-titanium drivers [like the XR], a low center of gravity is more difficult to achieve and therefore often results in shapes with lower crowns that are less aerodynamically efficient, which is why the Speed Step was more effective in that application,” said Evan Gibbs, Callaway’s senior manager of product performance.
The XR Pro, on the other hand, has a smaller head (440cc) and a more aerodynamic crown shape. Callaway engineers also gave the XR Pro a Forged Composite crown, which helped with the ultimate goal of giving the XR Pro a CG that was as low as possible.
So how do you know if you’re an XR or an XR Pro guy? It could come down to shape, performance, or both. At address, the XR Pro looks like Callaway took the XR and just pinched the corners a bit. I prefer the look of the XR Pro at address — it might be my favorite looking driver of 2015 — but the majority of players will do better with an XR in their hands. It’s larger size (460cc) will provide valuable forgiveness on mishits, as well as more confidence at address.
If you’re worried about the look of the Speed Step Crown at address, you can stop worrying now. It’s quite noticeable in our photos, but you’ll hardly see it at address after a few rounds with the club. Your eyes will move to Callaway’s signature chevron alignment aid. Thanks to the matte black paint job, the XR is the cleanest, busiest driver crown I’ve seen, if you catch my drift. Some will think the Speed Step Crown cool, and others won’t, but you have to give Callaway credit for trying something new.
The XR and XR Pro’s stock shafts are well-matched, like a spicy Syrah and porterhouse. The Project X LZ in the XR Pro was very impressive to me. Offered in R, S and X flex, I’m surprised it hasn’t gotten more love in the GolfWRX Forums.
The LZ stands for “loading zone,” a specific section in the middle of the shaft that is designed to maximize how the shaft loads and unloads during the swing without any loss in stability. I found the shaft to be lively, responsive and stable, while providing a medium-high trajectory. The stiff (6.0) did seem to have a speed limit right around 105 MPH. If you push 110 consistently and have a mid to late release, the stock 6.5 (X flex) will be a better choice.
The XR comes with a slightly softer-tipped and lighter Project X LZ shaft, which is available in light, regular and stiff flexes, and is created for golfers who need more height from their drives. It should be noted that if you purchase before June, Callaway has a nice list of no “upcharge” options — 9 on the XR and 11 on the XR Pro.
As you’ll see in the launch monitor data below, both the XR and XR Pro produced excellent monitor numbers. My gamer driver, a Cobra Fly-Z+, was a bit longer, but remember that it’s been custom fit to me, whereas the XR and XR Pro drivers are totally stock setups.
As promised by Callaway, the XR Pro driver was noticeably lower spinning, creating almost 600 rpm less spin. But you’ll see that my average ball speed was higher with the XR, due to its higher moment of inertia (MOI), a measure of forgiveness, or ball speed retention on mishits.
As with any adjustable driver, it’s imperative that the player spend time finding the optimal combination of loft, lie and face angle. It’s likely that you’ll resonate to a particular setting even if it isn’t the one you thought was initially most obvious. It’s crazy that these drivers, which have eight different loft/lie combinations, are Callaway’s least adjustable driver models. Ultimate tinkerers might want for more, but for 99 percent of the population, eight is indeed enough.
Driver: Callaway XR (9 degrees, standard settings)
Stock Shaft: Project X LZ (Stiff)
- Average Ball Speed: 161.4 mph
- Average Swing Speed: 110.5 mph
- Average Backspin: 3510 rpm
- Average Launch Angle 15.5 degrees
- Average Carry Distance (at 5000 feet): 285 yards
- Estimated Carry Distance at Sea Level: 256.6 yards
Driver: Callaway XR Pro (9 degrees, standard settings)
Stock Shaft: Project X LZ Pro 6.0
- Average Ball Speed: 162.7 mph
- Average Swing Speed 109.8 mph
- Average Backspin: 2975 rpm
- Average Launch Angle 14.1 degrees
- Average Carry Distance (at 5000 feet): 287 yards
- Estimated Carry Distance at Sea Level: 258.3 yards
Gamer Driver: Cobra Fly Z+ (Set to 8.5 degrees, neutral face angle)
Gamer Shaft: Veylix Rome Roughneck 7RA
- Average Ball Speed: 164 mph
- Average Swing Speed 110.8 mph
- Average Backspin: 2720 rpm
- Average Launch Angle: 13.5 degrees
- Average Carry Distance (at 5000 feet): 288 yards
- Estimated Carry Distance at Sea Level: 259.2
It’s not just about the XR and XR Pro. Don’t get me wrong: they’re both fantastic clubs and if you take a peak in the bag of Callaway staffers, it’s clear they agree. That said, what’s really going on here is Callaway is firmly establishing itself as the OEM with the deepest, widest and most varied driver line up of 2015. From the V-Series to the Big Bertha Alpha 815 and 815 Double-Diamond to the XR and XR Pro, there is a high performing Callaway driver for absolutely every player out there.