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.

The Review

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.

CallawayXRdrivers
Callaway’s XR Driver.

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.

SPEED-FROM-R-MOTO-FACE-TECHNOLOGY

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.

Speed Step Crown is visible from address  without drawing too much attention
Speed Step Crown is visible from address without drawing too much attention.

“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.

XR Pro at address
XR Pro at address.

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.

XR Pro (left) vs. XR (right)
XR Pro (left) vs. XR (right).

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.

Stock Shafts

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.

SPEED-FROM-MAXIMUM-SHAFT-LOAD

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.

Performance

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.

DSC00418
Callaway’s XR Pro driver.

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.

The Numbers

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

The Takeaway

DSC00414
Callaway’s XR driver (top) has a shallower face than the XR Pro driver.

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.

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I didn't grow up playing golf. I wasn't that lucky. But somehow the game found me and I've been smitten ever since. Like many of you, I'm a bit enthusiastic for all things golf and have a spouse which finds this "enthusiasm" borderline ridiculous. I've been told golf requires someone who strives for perfection, but realizes the futility of this approach. You have to love the journey more than the result and relish in frustration and imperfection. As a teacher and coach, I spend my days working with amazing middle school and high school student athletes teaching them to think, dream and hope. And just when they start to feel really good about themselves, I hand them a golf club!

22 COMMENTS

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  1. I buyed this club mostly because of the shaft. I have read a lot about it and having had some PX’s before I thought it would really be a good match for me. The clubhead seems forgiving and ok for distance, but the shaft I got is totally crap! Nevermind how I orientate it, it performs differently for every shot. The absolut least consistent shaft I ever came across. And it launches the 9* way to high, even when I adjust it to 8*. Nothing even remotely like the real deal shaft. Worst ever. I can cut it and use for extention of another shaft, thats all…
    I have emailed both Project X and Callaway about it, but I guess they dont care about their asian market, because neither of them answered.
    And please dont talk about clubfitting now, since we dont have it where I live.

    • I feel you. I have a swing speed around 108-110. I use the stiff Project X one mentioned. I am a single digit handicapper and I have tried plenty of drivers before. I love the clubhead, but the shaft is so inconsistent. I highly recommend getting a different shaft because the shaft is stiff and can load differently depending on how you set up the club (in terms of the set up of degrees and loft).

    • Definitely. I’m switching to stiff shaft soon at age 14, as my average swing speed got up to 100-105 this winter. The biggest hitters on Tour have swing speeds close to 130mph, So if that’s true, you should probably even think about switching to an X-Stiff.

    • I am a certified club fitter. With a seing speed pf 130+ mph depending on launch angle, spin rate, and ball speed; you should be averaging between 320-375 yards. That would surpass dustin johns and Jason Day. You would definitely need an x flex shaft. I would look at a weight of 75 grams as well. If you have a regular flex shaft you should have a HUGE push fade or slice. The xr is a great driver in my opinion, but have not found anything longer for the amateur than the M2. Just my thoughts.

  2. Not having hit either one of these yet Callaway is replacing my Razr X Black driver under warranty with the XR which is awesome of Callaway to do. I asked them about s and x flex because my swing speed is 115-120. I have an ok tempo but I bomb it 280-300+ yards. I don’t always hit them straight and not that consistent. So they upgraded me to the XR Pro X flex. Im a bit nervous as never hitting an X flex or Pro before and I liked the idea of the XR forgiveness. Should I stay with the free upgrade or ask for the XR if im wanting to hit the fairways?

  3. I just a bucket of balls on an open fairway alternating between the XR pro and X2 hot pro driver. Frustratingly, I saw no noticeable difference between the two in difference. Both drivers performed well, but I was actually a little more consistent with the X2 hot pro. I’m disappointed in the XR pro.

  4. It’s always a little unsettling when you buy a driver fit for you and THEN see a review of it.
    I’m glad to see you liked it almost as much as I did. Again based on my results with the XR Pro head and the stock Project X 5.5 Regular shaft I couldn’t he happier with this driver. For me, it beat everything out there.
    I enjoyed the review as well.

  5. Hi Chris,

    Quite literally, just this week I went and got fitted at Callaway.
    I tried both drivers out. I’m off 7 and definitely not the longest hitter out there. I found that I was hitting the XR Pro 15 yards longer than the XR. There wasn’t even a discussion as to which I should get. I wish I had some info on the shafts but I don’t sorry. I’m using last seasons Nike driver currently bought off the shelf and this was out hitting that by 20 yards. My backspin was over 600RPM less with the XR Pro too than the XR. Couldn’t have been happier with the results. Had similar results with the irons too BTW.

  6. An odd mix of marketing bumph and genuine and helpful insight into both clubs, nevertheless a very good article. Something I noticed though; average swing speed was down by about 1mph with the xr pro compared to the standard model and the cobra- now I couldn’t see any info on shaft lengths for any of the clubs, but could it be that the xr pro has a slightly shorter shaft? (I’d assume so, but I’d like to know its length in relation to the tester’s Cobra). It’s interesting to me that if the xr pro is indeed slightly shorter it’s ball speed and carry both surpassed the standard xr, which potentially could mean better control AND distance (at least on this test’s numbers), which is very tempting to me, especially considering I’m currently gaming the ft optiforce 440. Could the xr pro be the optiforce 440’s long lost child?! One thing I know for sure, that speed step is hideous. Cool article.

    • Thanks for the read! Regarding swing speed, I think you have to remember there are a lot of variables in play and for there to be a difference of 1 MPH, that isn’t something I’d read into very much. I do play the Fly Z+ at 44.5 and did demo the other clubs at the stated stock length. That said, if I were to bag either of the Callaway clubs, I’d certainly cut them down and add some head weight to get them at 44.5 and D2 – Hope that makes sense!

  7. Did you get any info from Callaway on the XR Pro vs the Double Black Diamond? Like is one 100-200 revs less than the other or is the DBD just more adjustable and that’s it? Just curious. I love the way these clubs look at address and will probably impulse buy one at some point this year.

    • Fair question…I didn’t do the review on the DBD and haven’t had a chance to test it against the other Callaway models for this year – That said, and based on how I read the published info, the DBD has the potential to be quite low spinning as a result of all the adjustability – including the gravity core – I would say that’s the primary difference between the two lines.

  8. Thanks for posting the LM numbers! It’s very easy to see that this is a much higher spinning driver than your current setup. My swing and ball speeds are similar, although my launch is a bit lower. I have the same problem as you with spin and have seen the best numbers on R15 with GD TourAD MT6x (~2400 RPM at 9 degrees-ish).

    solid review!

    • That’s what the journey is all about…finding equipment which works the best for you and your game. The only piece I think some people should remember is that depending on swing speed and desired trajectory, etc. having backspin in the 2400-2700 range may be ideal – So while this set up was a bit high spinning for me, a couple tweaks here and there and I could easily put one (or both!) in my bag.

    • Totally agree – If I were to go with a stock shaft, I’d opt for the 6.5 in the XR Pro and see how that worked out – The stock 6.0 isn’t quite the right shaft for me, but for the right person, it’s an awesome stock offering. Thanks for the read!

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