What’s better than winning the trip of a lifetime? Gaining more driving distance, of course. And eight lucky GolfWRX Members had a chance to do both last month. Callaway flew them to its headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., where they were fit for the company’s new line of golf equipment, including the company’s new Epic drivers.

8 GolfWRX Members
Gamer Vs. Epic Driver
+11.675 Yards AVE on Trackman

The eight GolfWRXers were selected from more than 1000 forum members to be a part of an experience called #TheWRX. On the trip, they were given full access to Callaway’s leadership to ask questions about the Callaway brand, its products and test all the new gear before it was announced to the public.

Callaway also wanted to prove that its new products could outperform whatever clubs were in their bags, especially its new GBB Epic and GBB Epic Sub Zero drivers. So the company asked the eight GolfWRXers to bring their gamer driver with them to its Ely Callaway Performance Center, where they tested it head to head against Callaway’s new driver line.

The Results

TeamWRX_Epic2017.001 copy
Click the chart to enlarge it.

The eight GolfWRXers covered a wide range of both handicaps (10.5 to +2.1) and ball speeds (125.5 mph to 166.4 mph). They challenged the new Epic line with drivers from Callaway, Ping, TaylorMade and Titleist. Impressively, all eight saw improved ball speed (+5.175 mph on average) and more carry distance (+9.837 yards on average) with an Epic driver. The average total distance gained (carry + roll) was 11.675 yards.

Only one tester didn’t see an increase in average total distance (Matt Quandt), but he did see +3.3 mph ball speed and +5.5 yards carry distance on average with an Epic. The biggest gains came from Sean Foster-Nolan. He saw an average of 24.2 yards more total distance with an Epic, increasing his ball speed 12.4 mph and his carry distance 19.2 yards.

Among the eight GolfWRX Members, there was an even split in those who performed better with a GBB Epic driver and those who performed better with a GBB Epic Sub Zero. See what driver each of the eight GolfWRX Members brought with them to Callaway HQ, as well as what Epic driver worked best for them below.

Bram Taylor (Brizam)

Bram_Taylor_The_WRX

  • Handicap: 8.8
  • Ball Speed Gained: 3.1 mph
  • Distance Gained: 17.6 yards

Epic Driver: GBB Epic Sub Zero (9 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-TP 7X

Gamer Driver: TaylorMade M2 Tour Issue (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Tensei CK White Pro 70TX

Greg Harris (gregh729)

Greg_Harris_TheWRX

  • Handicap: 8
  • Ball Speed Gained: 5.3 mph
  • Distance Gained: 10.9 yards

Epic Driver: GBB Epic Sub Zero (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana D+ 60S

Gamer Driver: Ping G25 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Blur Red 005 (Stiff Flex)

Their Experience, Their Words: Read what Greg had to say about #TheWRX

Jeff Singer (MtlJeff)

Jeff_Singer_TheWRX

  • Handicap: 1.8
  • Ball Speed Gained: 4.2 mph
  • Distance Gained: 10.9 yards

Epic Driver: GBB Epic Sub Zero (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana D+ 70S

Gamer Driver: Ping Anser (10 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana ‘ahina 70S

Rodney Spruill (Hot Rod 71)

Rodney_Spruill_TheWRX

  • Handicap: 5
  • Ball Speed Gained: 1.2 mph
  • Distance Gained: 6.1 yards

Epic Driver: GBB Epic (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana S+ 60X

Gamer Driver: Callaway Great Big Bertha (10.5 degrees, set to 9.5)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Silver 60X

Their Experience, Their Words: Read what Rodney had to say about #TheWRX

Scott Griffith (Waterboy)

Scott_Griffith_TheWRX

  • Handicap: 7.7
  • Ball Speed Gained: 7.1 mph
  • Distance Gained: 11.7 yards

Epic Driver: GBB Epic (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-TP 7X

Gamer Driver: Titleist 915 D2 (12 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Silver 60S

Their Experience, Their Words: Read what Scott had to say about #TheWRX 

Matt Quandt (QMany)

Matt_Quandt_TheWRX

  • Handicap: +2.1
  • Ball Speed Gained: 3.3 mph
  • Distance Gained: 0 yards

Epic Driver: GBB Epic (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Tensei CK Pro Blue 60TX

Gamer Driver: Ping G30 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Ping Alta 55X

Their Experience, Their Words: Read what Matt had to say about #TheWRX 

Paul Macke (mackepa)

Paul_Macke_TheWRX

  • Handicap: +0.1
  • Ball Speed Gained: 4.8 mph
  • Distance Gained: 12 yards

Epic Driver: GBB Epic Sub Zero (9 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-TP 6S

Gamer Driver: Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 816 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki K 70X

Their Experience, Their Words: Read what Paul had to say about #TheWRX

Sean Foster-Nolan (sean2)

Sean_Foster-Nolan_TheWRX

  • Handicap: 10.5
  • Ball Speed Gained: 12.4 mph
  • Distance Gained: 24.2 yards

Epic Driver: GBB Epic (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana Green M+40 (R-Flex)

Gamer Driver: Callaway XR ’16 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder Evolution II 665 (R-Flex)

Their Experience, Their Words: Read what Sean had to say about #TheWRX 

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90 COMMENTS

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  1. this driver is the bomb , i’m not saying other drivers arent good , i’m just saying that this driver has brought me back to places i was hitting it 10 years ago with forgiveness included. try it ,don’t try it . i hope you don’t if we have a match . in my opinion callaway did one hell of a job on this product.

  2. I bought the subzero epic driver and have to say it’s definitely the straightest and longest driver I’ve had yet. Unfortunately I was playing in a tournament a cpl days ago and after hitting my driver on hole 10 I heard a cracking sound and looked down at the top of my driver and the part where the black and the carbon fiber meet had about a two inch crack. My local golf shop will replace immediately which is good but hopefully it was just a fluke and won’t happen again. I did call callaway and they sent me a box of balls for the inconvenience. Has anyone else experienced this issue with this driver?

    • I haven’t had that issue with the Epic, that is unfortunate. I did have that problem with Callaway composite drivers about 5-6 years ago, specifically the Razr Hawk Tour. I cracked 2-3 heads. Despite Callaway’s incredible customer service, I got tired of the hassle and moved on. I thought they’d fixed the issue. I hope it is a one-time thing for you.

  3. Must be tough being a Titlesit fan when you see TM and Callaway dominate and produce monster drivers. Being stuck with their old tech drivers while the TM and Callaway guys blow it 40yards past them drive after drive

        • How you accelerate is more important, than your swing-plane, or the face angle –
          in regard of finding the best fit.

          I can play a fade, or a draw, (without changing my tempo, my rhythm, or speed) with the same swing…

          …your mileage may vary – of course…

  4. Finally had a chance to try these clubs. I went back and forth between the two models. Alas, GG had very limited shaft options and none that were not 45.5″. After 45 minutes I was not blown away. However, I saw enough to peak my interest. First, unless the fitting cart comes with 45″ shafts, there will be no further testing. If 45″ shafts are available, I will be able to engage in some more extensive testing against my current gamer (Bridgestone 815) and the new Srixon 565 and Tour Edge Exotic EX10.

  5. Been playing last year’s M1 460 Kurokage 60-X (69grams) hit it ok
    Tried the SZ 9 degree turned to 8, got it best to 300
    Tried the 2017 M1 440 9.5 turned to 8, got it best to 316
    Good Bye SZ Hello 440

  6. If you listen closely to what Callaway talks about you will find that the increased ball speed is possible due to the USGA changing from COR testing to CT testing and Callaway finding a way to meet the CT test requirements with a better face. In addition, the Jailbreak design has succeeded in isolating the face from the head so energy is not lost in the crown and sole as in prior driver designs. I have done 5 fittings to date and everyone has resulted in increased distance (and a sale!).

    • I’ve been extensively fit in the EPIC/SZ and the Titleist 917D3 was as long, and infinitely straighter. The EPIC is a drive that you get a once-a-round outlier bomb. But if you add up the misses and fairway hits the 917D3 suited me far better. For the record most other clubs in my bag are PING. Not simply a Titleist fanboy.

  7. At this level of improvement I see big lines in front of the golf shops and stock being very limited. You better make your order now before it is too late and you go home empty handed and have to play this season with your old broom.

  8. Man, there are some idiot, hater comments on here. These are Trackman numbers! Different styles of swings will see different gains, but the point here is that this new driver is the real-deal if almost EVERYONE is seeing improvement. Don’t like Callaway? Don’t believe the hype? Can’t afford a new driver? Shut your pie-hole and keep shooting 100!

  9. Thanks to Callaway for the test day and great to see Hot Rod and Mt Jeff in there!
    Well done Matt, great result. Custom fitting is all about WHY we are here on WRX !

  10. I’m curious how they decided whether the players should get the GBB Epic or the GBB Epic Sub Zero? Looks like handicap was not the determining factor, nor was ball speed.

  11. I’m like confused with this test like some other guys on here, if you want to test a new drivers performance, it must be to a level playing field of golfers, I’m a 14 handicapper and I play the 2015 GBB 10.5 rear sliding adjustment, with a 43″ Grafolloy prolaunch blue 70shaft, the 43″ keeps the dispersion tighter, with a slight loss in distance, but hey Ho its all about keeping it on the fairway right?? and I wouldn’t mind betting that 85% of the worlds normal golfers are in and around the 20 to 12 handicap area, so why no higher handicappers, they are the golf club market main customers, so I cant see this as a random choice of test golfers, more like Callaway don’t want to be embarrassed trying to fit out your general run of the mill club golfers, they seem to think that distance is the be all main factor, well although we slightly higher handicap golfers like a little more distance, if we can only consistently hit a smash factor centre, which we cant, I’ve built my game around keeping it on the fairway at around 220 yards, good second approach shots, and chipping and putting, and using the right ball for my game Chrome soft summer and super soft winter, mind you I’m a fit 75 year old not a young gun like the testers want, but its been good reading all your comments guys.

    • Mike, you and I should be testers! I’m 66 and hit a 44.5″ Fusion with a Recoil 460 F3, and work in the golf industry. Most drivers in stores are 45.5″, but pros hit 44″-44.5″ shafts. Manufacturers make amateurs think the longer the club the longer the hit! True, to a certain extent…as the ball goes 250 yards, with 50-70 yards right or left of center! The key is keeping the ball in the short grass, and shorter shafts with keeping the swing weight in check, is the key. Jimmy Walker used a 42″ a few weeks ago. When I went to a shorter driver I no longer needed to use my 3 wood off the tee on narrow fairways. I hope I’m a 14 hdcp when I’m 75!

  12. Judging by the ball speed, most or all of these “testers” were “S” or “X” shaft. A great majority of purchases are being made by 55+, who use “R” and “A” shafts. They HAVE the money to spend $500 on an Epic driver & can easily drop $2500+ on irons, woods, & hybrids, and want that extra few yards. This test did not include those who swing at 85 mph or less. The Epic seems to be geared to those with faster & stronger swings. I’d like to see testing with those of us who swing at 85 mph & less.

    • Note: One player with a higher 10.5 handicap is not enough for this testing. Players with 15-low 20’s handicaps are trying out this driver where I work, and I am definitely not seeing Sean’s 24 yard gains, especially with him hitting an XR-16 in comparison. Several more “R” shaft and a few “A” shaft player tests are needed for comparisons.

    • The player with the highest swing speed/ball speed saw a gain of 0 yards and the player with the slowest swing speed/ball speed saw the biggest gain of 24 yards. At his ball speed his swing speed is right about in that magical 85 range your talking about. This was not a test of the golf club but a competition to see if Epic could beat their gamers. Going 7-0-1 is pretty good. From reading their individual comments sounds like dispersion was a winner too.

  13. In this case, it IS the head! The technology in their “Jailbreak” is responsible for those gains. Really. You just need to understand the USGA’s driver-testing protocol to understand how this is possible.

    • Exactly. They were custom fit for the driver. I can take my same driver head and put it in 2 different shaft to get different results. the club head makes little to no difference when you see gains this big. its the customer fitting of the shaft and launch angles. As a 5 handicap i can tell you i have never been custom fit for anything and do more tinkering. Same as most golf nuts.

  14. I couldn’t care less about an extra 15 yards if I’m banging it into the trees. Were any of these guys more accurate? Hit more fairways? What was the difference in shaft length? That’s the kind of stuff a smart golfer should be looking at.

    • My questions, exactly. I stood on the first tee at the Scioto US Senior Open, with a group including Tommy Armour III (a reasonably long hitter on the Champions Tour) who is not a TM staffer, and he said very quietly to John Cook — no advertisement at all — that his M2 was “the straightest driver I’ve ever had.”

      Now; the Epic wasn’t out then. And the M2 is built a bit like the Epic, to be sure.

      I am not pro-any brand or anti-any brand. But I will say categorically, that these days I hit any driver far enough for my teeing ground, and I am more interested in hitting fairways, than in ball speed.

  15. The extensive fitting and testing opportunities provided to members of this site and others should lead all discerning readers to conclude that proper fitting is not only important – it may be the only reason to purchase new equipment. I find it significant that all of the testers were fitted for differant shafts and different lofts. I also found it interesting that the distance gains appear to be attributable to lower launch angles. This also applies to the two average swing speed testers. Obviously this sample size is too small to give lie to the decades of advise advanced by “experts” but one has to wonder if all the talk encouraging low and average swing speed golfers to “loft up” is terribly mistaken.

  16. All the guys that participated in the event are (1) serious golf nuts, (2) equipment junkies and (3) low-handicappers. I’d say it’s highly likely that they were ALL professionally fit for their current gamer drivers. So I’m willing to take the experiment at face value and attribute the yardage gains to the new drivers. The best golfer in the group was the only one that experienced zero yardage gains – most likely because he already hit his driver in the middle of the clubhead. As for the others, the yardage gains might have been due to the increased forgiveness of the driver on off-center hits.

    • I did gain +5.5 Carry Distance with the EPIC. I think Total Distance can be deceiving; I know I didn’t normally get 24.2 yards roll with my GAMER. I was hitting both my GAMER and all EPIC combinations well (1.49-1.51 Smash), and I saw higher ball speeds with all EPIC combinations despite heavier and shorter shafts.

      • Not to nit pick on the data but isnt the highest smash factor possible 1.495 and the monitor rounds up to 1.50? I thought the driver is technically illegal if its producing anything more than the 1.495?

    • Where did you see that? The article only says ” So the company asked the eight GolfWRXers to bring their gamer driver with them to its Ely Callaway Performance Center, where they tested it head to head against Callaway’s new driver line.” Nothing states they were custom fitted on their gamer.

  17. Obviously it’s not the driver head. Why not try the heads with their gamer shafts? That would have been the true test. It’s not just the clubhead.
    So many of these guys all have been swinging the wrong shaft, obviously.

    • Hello, in many cases we did try the gamer shafts as well. The only data shown above is the driver we ended up getting fit with in the end, everyone tried various setups for the Epic. So some guys may have hit their gamer shaft further with the Epic, but then found an additional yard or whatever with another shaft and been fit for that. In my case Callaway tried to find an Ahina to compare but there were none (it’s an older shaft), but i did end up getting fit with a D+ which is a similar one from the same company. Pretty close to like for like i guess. I did bring the oldest clubhead however

    • So when you go and get fit for a new driver do you tell the fitter to use the shaft off your current driver ? I am trying to get my head around your comment and a lot of comments on here.The members went to Callaway to try their drivers out and they got fitted and they bar one gained more distance can someone explain what is wrong with that.I have just got A Cobra driver (fitted) and it out performs my previous Titleist by a few yards and is more accurate but i didn’t ask the fitter to use my old shaft.

      • Ollie, I think the point is that this article seems to suggest that this driver head delivers yardage gain. But in fact the gains might be down to a number of other factors, including shafts. There’s no point asking your fitter to use the shaft of your existing driver because most fitting are about getting you the best club for your swing. But these fittings are *also* being used to promote a driver head and without more information it’s hard to know whether the driver head is really the reason for the distance gains.

      • Hi Ollie, in this case i did want to use the same shaft in both if possible to truly isolate the clubheads in order to provide a review for the membership here. So i did ask Callaway if they had an Ahina (they didn’t, it’s a previous gen version from MRC so we used the current Gen which is the D+ to do a quick “head” comparison). In my case, i tried 4-5 different other shafts the fitter recommended to optimize me after that. But the D+ ended up giving me the best results actually. I play the Epic at the same loft and length (10 degrees, 45.5) with a very similar shaft to what i used prior, so i do feel the clubhead performed very well. The purpose of the fitting for me was both to try and evaluate the head alone as best as possible for review purposes, and also optimize me. It just so happened the same shaft did both

  18. How about you show club head speed as well or smash factor because it’s not possible to be getting more ball speed with the USGA limits unless you swing faster or are hitting this club in the center of the face more often on average than your gamer. Just look at the +2.1 handicap, he’s hitting the center of the face with both close to every time, but he’s probably swinging the lighter Callaway head much faster to be getting more ball speed…

  19. How does Matt Quandt and Jeff Singer hit it the same distance with a 17 mph difference in ball speed. Only a nine yard carry distance without a significant difference in spin and launch angle? Seams strange to me.

  20. I’m not sure how much someone with a sub-150 ball speed loads a shaft to warrant heavy and X-stiff shafts. But finding 3 people out of 8 being fitted in this manner is quite “interesting.”

    • No. Ball speeds are maxed if you have a properly fit driver. Look at their ballspeeds. No one is any higher than a 1.5 smash factor so if you have a driver where you strike it consistently and get a 1.5 smash, you can’t gain anything.

  21. I wonder how much gain would be attributable to the shaft changes and fitting versus just the driver head? Most likely verdict is just to get properly fitted, regardless of the drive head being used.

  22. Seems like a poor fitting if ball speed and carry was up by that much for Matt. Callaway fanboys will tell me I’m wrong, cause it’s their tour fitting Dept but the numbers don’t lie. How were they not able to outperform the gamer with those gains?

    • I would say it’s because trackman and other launch monitors estimate roll numbers. Matt did increase ball speed and carry, and in his case, an increase in 400rpm of spin, wasn’t too bad. As he said in a previous comment, he doesn’t feel like his gamer always gets 20+ yards of roll. It’s hard to find huge gains if you’re a +2, most likely you can hit a lot of drivers really well, tour fit or not.

      • Well put, Justin. From my trip recap: “At my swing speeds and skill level, John told me he was going to fit me like he does Tour staff. It wasn’t necessarily about chasing [distance] numbers but instead minimizing misses.” We made a conscious decision to increase spin, while maybe sacrificing a little distance, to help dispersion. I sometimes fight too low of spin and those misses can be bigger than I’d like. The +5.5 yards carry was a nice bonus.

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