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Review: Callaway XR 16 Sub Zero driver

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Pros: Like other ultra low-spin drivers, Callaway’s XR 16 Sub Zero has huge distance potential for high-spin, high-speed golfers. Adjustable weights allow golfers to fine tune CG location. No upcharge for premium shafts.

Cons: Compared to Callaway’s other XR 16 drivers, the Sub Zero lacks forgiveness. Bad mishits can produce head-scratching trajectories. Available in only one loft (9.5 degrees), and for righties only.

Who it’s for: This a niche product for better golfers. If you miss the center of the club face with any consistency, give one of the other XR 16 drivers, or Callaway’s Great Big Bertha a try.

The Review

Callaway_XR_16_Sub_Zero_Sole_2

Callaway extended its line of XR 16 drivers with the new XR 16 Sub Zero, which was designed for high-spin players, from Phil Mickelson to gifted amateurs. It measures 440 cubic centimeters, and uses a new Carbon Triax Crown to lower center of gravity (CG), ultimately placing it below the neutral axis line, or “Sub Zero,” according to the company. Here’s what that looks like as a graphic:

SubZeroNeutralAxis

Related: Learn more about the technology in the Sub Zero. 

As you probably know by now — whether it’s from our stories or the TV commercials — Callaway and Boeing teamed up to create a line of aerodynamic drivers, coming to fruition in the XR 16 and XR 16 Pro drivers. On those drivers, there are “Speed Steps” on the crown, which allow air to flow tighter against the club head to help golfers swing faster.

Although Callaway’s new XR 16 Sub Zero driver was given the “XR 16” name, it wasn’t given the Speed Steps, which weren’t able to be added because of the Sub Zero’s lightweight Carbon Triax crown, according to a Callaway representative. The XR 16 platform still makes branding sense for the Sub Zero, though. While it has two adjustable weights, it’s much more similar to Callaway’s XR 16 and XR 16 Pro than it is the company’s Great Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha 816 drivers, which use complex adjustability systems.

Callaway_XR_16_Pro_driver_comparison

Callaway’s XR 16 Sub Zero (right) and XR Pro drivers.

Think of the three different XR drivers this way:

  • XR 16 (460 cc): Maximum forgiveness, highest ball flight.
  • XR 16 Pro (450 cc): Medium forgiveness, medium ball flight
  • XR 16 Sub Zero (440 cc): Least forgiveness, lowest ball flight.

In terms of looks and feel, the Sub Zero is also noticeably different than its XR 16 brethren. Its crown is glossy rather than matte, and it has no graphics or sight lines on its crown. At impact, the sound is also much more dense; it makes a crunch, rather than a higher-pitched ting like the XR 16 and XR 16 Pro. The Sub Zero does have a similar head shape to the XR 16 Pro, albeit 10cc smaller. To my eye, the Sub Zero looks clean and compact at address, more so than the XR 16 Pro and much more so than the XR 16.

Callaway XR 16 Sub Zero (right) and XR 16 Pro drivers.

Callaway XR 16 Sub Zero (right) and XR 16 Pro drivers.

Related: GolfWRX 2016 Gear Trials, The Best Drivers in Golf

The Sub Zero ($449.99) will create a disproportionate interest in the golf equipment world because of its use by tour players. In reality, though, it’s a highly limited release that targets the top echelon of better golfers. It’s only offered in one loft (9.5 degrees) and available for right-handed golfers only.

The Sub Zero does have an adjustable hosel that allows golfers to switch the loft to 8.5, 10.5 or 11.5 degrees, however, and each loft can be paired with a neutral or upright lie angle setting, which expands the target audience. It should also be noted that the Sub Zero has a slightly flatter lie angle at address than the other XR 16 drivers, which many better players prefer, as it creates more fade bias.

Callaway_XR_16_Sub_Zero_Weights

The Sub Zero has two interchangeable weights (2 and 10 grams) to help golfers fine-tune trajectory and spin.

For those who fit the “high-speed, high-spin, right-handed” mold, the Sub Zero lowers spin as well as any club on the market, and has a nice fade bias that may greatly benefit those whose miss is a hook. If you hit the center of the club face consistently and you’re fighting a hook, this may be the driver for you. An added perk is that Callaway is offering golfers their choice of 20 different premium shafts with purchase, which you can view here.

The Test

Callaway_XR_16_Sub_Zero_Face

The Sub Zero has what is called a “deep,” or tall club face, which is preferred by many better players. Its club head measures 440cc.

I tested the Sub Zero against the only other club on the market hovering at the neutral axis line, Cobra’s King LTD, which is said to boast a “Zero CG.” And I hit it against the XR 16 and XR 16 Pro drivers, too. Each of the drivers were set to 9.5 degrees with the same shaft; a Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 7X.

The test was performed at The Launch Pad at Carl’s Golfland in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., with Trackman. After deleting outliers, I averaged the results of three drives with each club. The data was normalized, and premium golf balls were used. For those of you curious, I am a 1-handicap, former college golfer coming off a winter of not hitting many range balls.

SubZero16_vCallySubZero16_vCobra

Observations

  • Callaway XR 16’s draw-bias was noticeable and effective. As someone who fights a hook, however, this was not ideal.
  • XR 16 and XR 16 Pro felt very light compared to the other drivers, which may explain the boost in club head speed. Or maybe the Speed Steps did have a positive effect on club speed?
  • Callaway’s XR 16 Sub Zero, with the weight in the forward position, was the second-lowest spinning driver in the test just behind Cobra’s King LTD.
  • XR 16 Pro was nearly as low-spinning as the Sub Zero, but provided more forgiveness and more launch and height.
  • The forward setting in the Sub Zero was noticeably fade-biased, and produced the most fade spin of any driver in the test.
  • The highest balls speeds were produced by the XR 16 (168.7 mph) and the Sub Zero in the forward setting (164.7 mph).

TrackmanDispersionChart

It must be noted that these numbers do not tell the entire story. For example, with the XR 16 Pro, I had zero outliers. The club was extremely easy to hit, despite it having nearly the same profile as the Sub Zero.

Want another opinion? Here’s what Rick Shiels has to say

With the Sub Zero, on the other hand, I had numerous outliers, and my mishits were squirrelly at best: low hooks, low slices, high pushes, etc. It was ugly at times, but when I hit it on the screws, the Sub Zero was possibly the best performing driver of the bunch. Cobra’s King LTD didn’t seem to offer any more forgiveness than the Sub Zero, and had just as many outliers. Zero, or below zero CG is not for the weak-hearted, apparently.

I’ll admit, I’m probably not consistent enough to play the Callaway XR 16 Sub Zero. I certainly can see why there’s a need and demand for it, as it does a phenomenal job knocking down spin, but it’s definitely demanding from a ball-striking standpoint. Maybe it would be a better fit after a summer of hitting tour-sized buckets of balls. If I were playing in a tournament tomorrow, I would take the XR 16 Pro driver to the first tee.

The Takeaway

Callaway_XR_16_Sub_Zero_Hosel

The Sub Zero is available in one loft (9.5 degrees) and for right-handed golfers only. It is adjustable to 8.5, 10.5 or 11.5 degrees.

If you tried the XR 16, XR 16 Pro or Great Big Bertha drivers from Callaway, and just can’t seem to lower your spin rates, the XR 16 Sub Zero could be an answer. When you catch one on the screws, it’s one of the lowest spinning drivers you’ll ever hit. Its lack of forgiveness makes me cautious to suggest this club to anyone that plays to higher than a scratch handicap, however. That being said, the Sub Zero plays the role it’s meant to play quite nicely. And it looks fantastic, and feels like most better golfers want their driver to feel: muted and solid.

Tour players, accomplished amateurs and big hitters will fall in love with this club. Weekend golfers, this one just probably isn’t for us.

[wrx_retail_links productid=”84″]

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He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. p atrick,connell

    Nov 28, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    why are thare no prices mentioned,,also no shipping costs mentioned,,in English currency,might help .thank you.ps, I only use G clubs and driver,aged 72,approx 20 handicapper is the xr 16 any good for me

  2. Corey

    May 11, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    You need to try this driver with a qualified fitter. I run a Callaway Performance Center and I am selling quite a few of these to players who are not tour caliber. It is not as hard to hit as this article states. It’s all about the numbers and this is one of the best heads I have ever seen.

    Corey, PGA
    Master Club Fitter

  3. JJVas

    May 6, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Thanks for this!!! I was ogling the Sub Zero for awhile and finally hit it indoors on a FS. My specs are very similar to yours, and the gamer is still a 9.0* XR Pro (played at 8.0*). I really liked the SZ, and i actually played the Cobra LTD Pro for a month, but neither was the combination of fast, somewhat forgiving, and consistent as the XR Pro for me. Question for you guys… does any XR Pro fan see a really worthwhile difference between the XR Pro and the XR Pro 16? Just wondering. The look of the new head is a little… um… yeah…

  4. joro

    May 6, 2016 at 11:58 am

    I would say it is just another Money maker for Callaway and nothing special. Not the Driver for anyone and especially not Phil who can’t hit many fairways to begin with. Who says it is not good to hit the short grass. With my RX16 I average 12 a round. Very easy to hit.

  5. Rob

    May 6, 2016 at 10:56 am

    “I’ll admit, I’m probably not consistent enough to play the Callaway XR 16 Sub Zero.” Very surprised a 1 handicap golfer that played in college can say something like this.

  6. Brad

    May 5, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    “I am a 1-handicap, former college golfer coming off a winter of not hitting many range balls.”

    ^Us Midwestern WRXers know this pain all too well

  7. CTGolfer

    May 5, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    High speed players…………what does that mean? 100mph? 105? 110+………….what is the industry standard definition on high speed player?

    • TR1PTIK

      May 5, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      I’m thinking you’re looking at players with a swing speed of 110+. My swing speed averages around 105 and I still need a bit more spin than sub zero provides to get maximum distance.

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Equipment

2020 TaylorMade P770 irons: Distance and precision redefined

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New 2020 TaylorMade P770 irons are here, and with them, a reminder that every club in your bag has a purpose.

A driver is designed to go as far as possible, wedges are designed to be versatile precision instruments, and iron sets are built for both. The new 2020 TaylorMade P770 irons from TaylorMade bring together the distance of the extremely popular P790 with the precision of a midsized player cavity to offer distance and control to an iron unlike TaylorMade has ever produced.

2020 TaylorMade P770

2020 TaylorMade P770 6-iron. Cavity view.

TaylorMade P770 irons: The origin story

The story of the P770 starts with two clubs—the P760 and the P790. Now, if my math is correct, the combination of the two clubs would actually create the 775, but in the world of irons, that model number was taken over a decade ago by another OEM, and if we’re being honest, 770 sounds better anyways.

2020 TaylorMade P770, TaylorMade P790 comparison.

2020 TaylorMade P770, TaylorMade P790 comparison.

Let’s start with the P790 and its ability to infiltrate the golf bags of players of all skill levels. According to TaylorMade’s fitting database, the 790 is a club that can be found in the bags of players from +4 handicaps all the way up to golfers looking to break 100.

What makes the P790 so functional and appealing to so many golfers starts with its looks and ends with its performance. The P790 has the clean appearance of a blade iron from the back, and from address, it maintains sharper line associated with a  players club.

But off the clubface, or should I say all over the clubface, you get ball speed and launch conditions normally reserved for a much larger game improvement club. This iron helped redefine what is now known as the “players distance” category, and whether you consider that title an oxymoron or not, it’s impossible to argue with its popularity.

Then we have the P760, TaylorMade’s first combo iron set, which combined the power of SpeedFoam-filled longer irons with the precision of single-piece forged short irons. These irons again found their way into the golf bags of mid-handicaps to players all over the professional tours thanks to their ability to offer extra forgiveness and launch in longer clubs while still maintaining a small player’s look and preferred feel.

Regardless of skill, one of the biggest factors in the playability of any iron relies on a golfer’s ability to create speed, launch, spin, and angle of descent—the below video featuring our own Brian Knudson testing the P790 Ti is the perfect example of how an iron with strong lofts, for example, can launch higher and descend at an angle to make them playable when you combine the right technologies.

The ultimate design goal of the P770 was to combine the best of both these irons into a small, fast, playable package using every technology available to the engineers and designers at TaylorMade. This iron is about precision without sacrificing distance.

If you are a golfer looking for maximum workability and shotmaking control that puts less of a premium on distance, then the P7MB or P7MC is probably more up your ally, but if distance is still a big part of your decision-making process for a set of irons, then buckle up.

The technology

A look inside the construction of the P770

A simplistic way to describe the P770 would be to call it a shrunk-down version of the 790, but doing that would not give justice to the actual engineering that went into this design. The reason is, you can’t just shrink down a golf club and expect it to perform the same as a larger club, because not only are the mass properties different, but trying to maintain additional ball speed would be like expecting a smaller trampoline to bounce you as high as a larger one with bigger springs—the physics don’t add up.

“Designed to deliver P790-like performance in a smaller package, the all-new P770 leverages forged hollow body construction to pack as much distance and forgiveness as possible into a compact player’s shape.” – Matt Bovee, Product Creation

From address, and looking at the sole and toe profile, the P770 has a much stronger resemblance to the previous P760 than the 790, but from the back and from a technology standpoint, its got the guts of the P790.

The key technologies are

  • A SpeedFoam-supported forged 4140 high-speed steel face attached to a soft forged 8620 carbon steel body. Since the hosel is part of the forged body, you get the full lie and loft adjustability of a forged club along with the ball speed of a larger one. The secondary benefit of SpeedFoam is it creates an iron that feels extremely solid while being a multipiece construction
  • The other part of the speed story is the Thru Slot in the sole which helps shots hit lower on the face retain more ball speed and helps create extra launch. This technology runs from the 3-7 irons.
  • Speaking of launch, the new P770 has 46 grams of tungsten in the 3-7 irons positioned as low and as far back as possible towards the toe to boost MOI and launch in the longer clubs while precisely locating the center of gravity.
  • The final piece of the puzzle that helps with both distance and distance control is the Progressive Inverted Cone Technology or IVT. It is positioned closer to the toe in the longer irons to help with common mishits and moves higher and more heel ward into the shorter clubs. This keeps ball speeds variances as consistent as possible through the set.

More photos and discussion in the forums.

Choose your own P700 Series adventure

This is the part where the whole iron series really excels. For a long time, it used to be OEMs would release a number of iron sets that catered to various golfers but didn’t really have any cross over potential as far as building combo sets because of the large differences between designs. To counter this, they would often design exclusive combo sets either catered to better players or to higher handicaps/slower speed players with game improvement irons paired with hybrid long irons.

From the beginning and by design, the entire P700 series has been built to be custom combo’ed for any golfer—an impressive design feat. This allows players of varying ability with different swing and player traits to get exactly what they need out of different parts of their set. They have even gone as far to make sure that no matter how someone is looking to build their set, they can get looks, offset, bounce, and performance to match up from club to club—they even have an easy-to-follow chart!

Pricing, availability, and specs

The TaylorMade P770 irons will be available for pre-order starting August 14th and will be be available in retail shops starting September 4th.

They will be available from 3iron to pitching wedge in right and left-handed with an A wedge option available to right-handed players only. An 8 piece set starts at $1399 (174.88 per club) with KBS Tour steel shafts and Golf Pride Z-Grip grey and black as stock.

P770 Stock Specs

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2020 Mizuno E21 wedges: High performance reimagined

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New design, new construction, and a new way to look at what a high-performance wedge can be—these are Mizuno E21 wedges.

When talking about new clubs and the technology being utilized by engineers, the conversation eventually turns to mass properties and how adjusting them within the clubhead helps to create higher-launching lower-spinning shots. This is great when talking about drivers and fairway woods, but at the other end of your bag, high-launching, low-spinning shots are the enemy of great wedge play and distance control.

The key to hitting lower-launching, higher-spinning wedge shots is making contact below the center of gravity lower on the face. To help players achieve these optimal launch conditions, the Mizuo E21 utilizes multipiece construction to place the center of gravity higher in the head than ever before.

More photos and discussion in the forums. 

Mizuno E21 wedge technology

Mass properties play a massive role in the performance of any club. By design, wedges are the heaviest full swing clubs in the bag. This gives designers more mass to move around. To get the most of the Mizuno E21’s performance, the focus was to relocate as much mass higher and deeper in the head without sacrificing both looks and feel. The only way to do this was by using a hollow body construction.

The E21 wedge brings together a 1025 Grain Flow forged boron face and hosel with a 431 Stainless steel back, this helps the wedge maintain the soft and solid feel Mizuno is known for while also increasing groove durability. Don’t think that because a wedge is packed with technology it makes it a club meant for higher handicap golfers either—any golfer can benefit from improved wedge technology, the same way we can all benefit from hitting higher launching, lower spinning drivers.

More photos and discussion in the forums. 

The new E21 wedges even offer the exact same, if not thinner appearance from address than the Mizuno T20’s even though the back of each wedge looks extremely different—again, just like with drivers, something that looks different is different for a reason.

Soles designed for versatility

Beyond the new and improved mass shifting the E21 wedges provide, the most important part of the wedge is the sole, and Mizuno R&D pulled out all the stops when configuring the soles of these wedges to fit a wide variety of players.

They come in both a narrow and wide sole option, but unlike with irons where a wide sole is generally reserved for game improvement clubs, the wide sole models of the E21 have been configured for maximum versatility. Mizuno is not the only OEM offering versatile wider sole wedges, Callaway has the “X” grind, and Titleist with the low bounce “K”, to give you a few examples.

The wide sole E21’s have a lot of heel and toe relief along with a lot of front and back camber to keep the leading edge closer to the ground for those tight lies around the greens.

Mizuno Hydroflow Micro Grooves

Just like with last year’s release of the T20 wedges, instead of using traditional laser etching parallel to the milled grooves, Mizuno engineers took the concept of tread from high-performance tires and went perpendicular to the grooves and parallel to the direction the ball moves up the face to channel moisture away.

This directional tread has proven to increase spin on shots especially in conditions with moisture up to 1,200 RPM on a 60-yard shot. It’s not just about spin either: the more the friction created also means more control on launch angle and less of a “floating” ball flight. That’s how those low flying “zippers” really zip!

The other part of this groovy tale has to do with the reconfiguration of the grooves. Just like with the T20, the lowest groove on the E21 wedges has been shortened and centered. This puts it closer to the leading edge without having it disorient the look of the club from address and making it appear that the heel or toe is thinner on one side.

By bringing together the new CG placement with leading groove technology and reconfigured soles, Mizuno is once again changing the way players think about wedge performance.

More photos and discussion in the forums. 

Price, availability, and specs

The E21 wedges will be right-hand only and available this October with the exact date upcoming and priced at $200 per club.

The stock shaft is the KBS HI Rev 110 Wedge flex in black ion finish, along with a Lamkin ST Hybrid grip

Mizuno E21 wedge loft and bounce availability

More photos and discussion in the forums. 

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2020 TaylorMade Spider FCG putter: Blade performance, mallet forgiveness

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2020 taylormade spider putter cover

If you love the feel of a blade putter but struggle with alignment and need the extra stability only a mallet can provide, then this could be the putter you have been waiting for—the all-new 2020 TaylorMade Spider FCG (Forward Center of Gravity).

Although the new Spider FCG doesn’t look like any Spider ever imagined by the putter team at TaylorMade, it is a Spider through and through thanks to its multi-material design, and it’s built to offer the extra stability synonymous with the Spider name.

2020 TaylorMade Spider FCG putter: It’s what’s inside that counts

The key to the new Spider FCG putter is the distribution of mass relative to the face along with the extreme heel and toe weighting to boost MOI. This isn’t a small tweak either, to offer you a direct comparison, the center of gravity of the standard Spider X is 3 times further back in the head compared to the new Spider FCG. This is why most mallet putters, including the Spider X from TaylorMade, rely on various hosel configurations to fit a player’s stroke—and even then they can only get so much toe hang out of these designs.

Tech/fitting note: The reason we don’t see many high MOI (low and back center of gravity) putters that also have more than around 30 degrees of toe hang is that the nature of high MOI designs makes them harder to open and close relative to square. For someone with a more gated stroke, this means a high MOI style of putter requires more manipulation to get back to square at impact oftentimes results in the face being left open causing a “push.”

To get the center of gravity as forward as possible, TaylorMade did a number of things to the weighting properties of the head, including using more than 100 grams of tungsten weight in the heel and toe of the putter and positioning the interchangeable head weight directly behind the face. The most clever design trick was removing as much weight as possible from the back of the head, but maintaining the shape from address.

“We tried to think of the top and rear portions of the putter as a canopy. It’s rigid, allows us to create a long alignment tool, but takes up a very small portion of the putter head’s total mass” – Bill Price

The face also plays a big role since TM is using a new CU29 PureRoll insert, which offers all the same roll enhancing properties as other inserts in the line except for the fact it is constructed of pure copper and weighs 25 grams, making it the heaviest insert TaylorMade has ever created.

This putter is all about TaylorMade expanding available options to golfers, because the Spider FCG offers greater toe hang than any other putter in the Spider family ever at 46 degrees (with the slant next), which puts it directly in line with the TP Soto at 47 degrees. It also comes with two other hosel options to give players with a less gated stroke a better fitting putter—while still offering a longer alignment line and more forgiveness.

“In developing Spider FCG, we sought insights from many of the top players on TOUR. We compiled that information to construct a clean and traditional mallet shape that performs in a non-traditional way. The result is an intelligently designed high-MOI mallet that’s built for golfers who have an arced putting stroke. Forward CG placement lets the toe release freely like a blade, while the mallet shape and perimeter weighting help maintain the signature Spider family forgiveness.” – Bill Price; Product Creation Putters and Wedges

Now Speaking to alignment, the Spider FCG has what TaylorMade is calling TruePath T-Sightline. It combines the perpendicular alignment from the face with the long line pointed at the target. Giving this a technological name might seem like a bit of a stretch, but when talking with TaylorMade’s Bill Price about the top’s contrast he noted

“White is the very bright to our eyes and by creating high contrast along the front of the putter it helps players set up more square to their putting line regardless of eye dominance.”

It’s been proven time after time that player alignment is very much attributed to their eye-dominance; some players use the leading edge while others use longer alignment lines on the top of the putter—the FCG with TruePath is offering both.

Price, availability, and specs

The Spider FCG will be available at retail and online starting September 4th with the retail price of $350.

It is offered in three different neck styles to help golfers varying amounts of face rotation in their stroke to find the right model

  • The L-Neck (aka Plumbers Neck) with 25° of toe-hang
  • Short slant next with 46° of toe-hang, which puts it in line with most blade putters on the market
  • Single bend which is close to face-balanced for those with limited face rotation

It will come stock with a KBS Stepless Black CT putter shaft along with a Super Stroke Pistol 1.0 black and white grip, with other grip options available through custom order.  The putter will come in both right and left-handed and will come in the stock lengths of 33”, 34”, and 35”.

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