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Callaway upgrades a classic, introduces Steelhead XR fairway woods

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Callaway is bringing back the Steelhead name that is already responsible for selling more than 2.3 million fairway woods; that includes the original Steelhead, Steelhead Plus and Steelhead III woods. As its most popular fairway wood line ever, the modern version of the clubs, which Callaway is calling the Steelhead XR, are packed with distance-enhancing technologies to go along with the classic shapes that Steelhead fans have come to adore.

CallawaySteelheadStory

Related: Callway’s Steelhead XR irons and hybrids

Steelhead woods had a cult-like following since their initial release in 1998, and GolfWRX members say they had the fairway wood in the bag well over a decade later. The steelhead designs were defined by a Hawkeye Sole that was rounded for versatility, a compact pear shape, a deep face, a light crown and low center of gravity for high launch and low spin. Also, according to Evan Gibbs, the Director of R&D for Metalwoods at Callaway, the Steelhead 4+ fairway wood — which was geared toward better players who wanted a slightly lower ball flight with lower spin than the standard models — was the most iconic fairway wood in the company’s history because it ushered in the new low-spin, high-launch philosophy.

“It was one of the first clubs that got people comfortable with launching the ball high with very little spin,” said Evan Gibbs, Callaway’s Director of R&D for Metalwoods. “When people were using low-lofted drivers, [Steelhead 4+ fairway woods] went as far as drivers for some people.”

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While every equipment company has now embraced the low-spin, high-launch philosophy, the 2017 Steelhead XR fairway woods will be a welcome re-release for those who are nostalgic about the Steelhead shaping, and for those never played the woods, they may find versatility in the Hawkeye sole. Callaway also loaded the Steelhead XR fairway woods with its modern designs to help golfers produce more distance.

While the fairway woods will still have a club face made of steel for that familiar Steelhead-feel, the crowns are made from J-36 carbon to lower center of gravity and move it more forward; that will help it produce lower spin like the original designs. According to Callaway, the crowns weigh just 6 grams — that’s 20 grams lighter than Callaway’s XR crowns.

The Steelhead XR fairways will also have a Hyper Speed Face Cup that produces more ball speed across the face, and Speed Step technology, or the raised portions on the crown that was first introduced Callaway XR ’16 metalwoods, which improves aerodynamics to produce higher club head speeds.

The fairway woods are available in 3+ wood (13.5 degrees), 3-wood (15 degrees) , 4+wood (16 degrees), 5-wood (18 degrees), 7-wood (21 degrees), 9-wood (24 degrees) and the company’s “Heavenwood,” which will measure 20.5 degrees. They will be in stores July 14 and sell for $229.99. The stock shaft is Mitsubishi’s Tensei CK.

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the Steelhead XR woods

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30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Hap

    Jun 23, 2017 at 10:12 am

    I love cheap trailing edge technology. it also lets you find out what is staying in players bags and whats not from the previous versions. I’m still playing Mizuno 800 pros which I got for a song. Upgraded to a Cally 815 with a Matrix Black Tie from Cally pre-owned this year for around $180 I think.

  2. Mr Poopoo

    Jun 21, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    I like that they are using the classic groove pattern.

  3. Me

    Jun 21, 2017 at 8:46 am

    All the bitterness towards TM with their product release cycles 5 years ago, well now Callaway, Cobra and to some extent Ping are releasing product at quicker intervals than Taylormade ever did. Cobra is the worse, every 6-nine months- now being forced to give away free fairwaywoods to sell last March’s release.

    My local retail golf shop has a ton of 1-2 year old Callaway that is collecting dust …Interesting also is the amount of Callaway Epic drivers on their trade in rack.

    The automobile industry got caught up in this mess decades ago, constantly manufacturing and re-badging old as new

    • Americans Ruin Everything by Talking

      Jun 21, 2017 at 10:56 am

      You just compared cars to golf clubs lol

      • Ude

        Jun 21, 2017 at 12:23 pm

        love affair with cars and golf clubs same sxual thing

  4. Was

    Jun 21, 2017 at 2:31 am

    Nope

  5. Minnesota golfer

    Jun 20, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Anyone know if this is a replacement of the XR Hybrid which was first released in 2014? I am an all-Callaway-in-the-bag person but have found it harder to keep up with constant new releases.

    • Minnesota golfer

      Jun 20, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      Oops… it’s not hybrid. Never mind.

  6. Was

    Jun 20, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Why are they releasing the woods separate from the irons and not at the same time? Makes no sense

  7. Howard

    Jun 20, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    The Steelhead III 3 Wood nostalgia is flowing through me right now.

    • Ude

      Jun 21, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      release yer pent up nostalgia juices flowing through you right now abuse yerself

  8. Chris

    Jun 20, 2017 at 10:58 am

    You guys have to remember that the XR ’16 product cycle is coming to an end and this is what is going to take its place. It may be weird for a mid-season launch but better now when people can use the clubs rather than at the end of the season.

    • TR1PTIK

      Jun 20, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      It’s also important to remember that these are part of a completely different line than Epic. I think people want to see release cycles like that of Titleist or Ping, but it’s honestly a smart move by Callaway IMO. Spreading the release of each line across the calendar year keeps Callaway in the news. Months ago it was the Epic drivers, weeks ago it was the Epic hybrids and iron. Now, it’s the XR fairway woods, and in a few weeks/months time I’m sure we’ll see something else. If you look at Callaway’s product portfolio, you’ll realize they aren’t much different than Titleist. The only real difference is how they release products. For that matter though, Titleist staggers their woods, irons, and golf balls for what I’m sure is the same reason. How relevant would a company be if they released all of their product updates once every 2 years?

  9. Csmit82

    Jun 20, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Can’t wait for the release of the Epic Apex Steelhead XR hybrids and woods in 3 months.

    • JimmySmits

      Jun 20, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      I’m gonna hold out for the Epic Apex Steelhead XR BigBertha CF16 SubZero Fusion GreatBigBertha woods.

      • Robert Parsons

        Jun 21, 2017 at 12:14 pm

        The pro version of that will be even better.

  10. Ude

    Jun 20, 2017 at 9:47 am

    I want those beauties in my bag fast.

    • Tom1

      Jun 20, 2017 at 11:54 am

      I loved the original, I’m sure these are good if not better.

      • Ude

        Jun 20, 2017 at 1:51 pm

        new is fresh, old is stale. i want new new new

  11. AceW7Iron

    Jun 20, 2017 at 9:26 am

    Got the Epic driver last month….Real deal

    Like the look of the Steelhead line so maybe upgrade to them from my XR’s in 2018.

    • Ude

      Jun 21, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      you are one wicked gearhead golf hound — arf

  12. Dat

    Jun 20, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Another release? Callaway seems determined to go the way of Taylormade.

    • Timmy

      Jun 20, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      Callaway is Taylormade………Taylormade is Callaway. These companies are the same. Have been for a very long time.

  13. Johnnythunders

    Jun 20, 2017 at 8:22 am

    The faster they launch products, the faster the last generation gets reduced in price. Since performc is
    Pretty much the same we win.

  14. rebfan73

    Jun 20, 2017 at 7:29 am

    Like ’em………but Callaway is turning into the new TaylorMade with constant product launches.

    • Beefhouse

      Jun 21, 2017 at 4:35 am

      Not turning, turned. Pro shops are flooded with Callaway stuff. They’ll struggle to shift the models from 6 months ago. Supply and demand is key. Not sure the demand will keep up with the supply.

      • Dave2017

        Jun 21, 2017 at 8:21 am

        If only the older models were reduced. Not in the NY Metro region. they still want high prices for stuff released almost 2 years ago. If they were to blow out the old stuff when new stuff comes in, I would be very happy. The places here are greedy and the golfers have to show off their new clubs along with their new BMWs and Rolexes.

        • Ude

          Jun 21, 2017 at 12:18 pm

          new clubs, new BMWs and Rolexes = status bling = sxual impotence

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Whats in the Bag

Sebastian Munoz winning WITB: 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship

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Driver: Ping G400 LST (8.5 @9 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Yellow 6.5

3-wood: Callaway Epic Flash (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Yellow

Irons: Ping i200 (3), Ping i210 (4-PW)
Shafts: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI Hybrid 85X (3), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (4-PW)

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 Stealth (50), Titleist Vokey Design SM7 sand (56, 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Ping Sigma 2 Valor

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Grips: Golf Pride Z Grip Cord

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Whats in the Bag

Danny Willet’s winning WITB: 2019 BMW PGA Championship

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Driver: Callaway Rogue (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 60X

3-wood: Callaway Rogue (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana W 70X

Irons: Callaway Apex UT (18), Callaway X Forged (21), Callaway X Forged (5-9 iron)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold SuperLite X100

Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy Forged (46 degrees), Callaway Mack Daddy 4 (50, 56, 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Superlite X100

Putter: Odyssey Stroke Lab Tuttle

Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X

Related to Danny Willett WITB

 

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Equipment

New Mizuno MP-20 irons now available at retail

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The 2019/2020 Mizuno MP-20 irons family, the next series of MP irons to connect golfers to the classic  “Mizuno Feel,” with four new models (MP20 Blade, MP-20 MMC, & MP20 HMB – Hot Metal Blade), are now available at retail.

The MP-20 series was born from tradition and the idea of creating the ultimate set of irons for every player. Mizuno has accomplished that goal with modern design and an attention to detail on every level with all three models. Speaking to the Mizuno tradition, and something they touched on when these were originally teased on social channels with #LayersOfFeel, Mizuno is going back in time to the TN-87s and reintroducing a copper underlay to their irons—all of them!

Mizuno MP20 iron copper underlay

“Mizuno Feel”

It is part of the golf vernacular. It’s ingrained in golf (nerd) culture—it’s a real thing.

But where does it comes from, how did it get here, what is it really, and how is it a component of 2019 Mizuno MP-20 irons?

I’m here to give you some answers and introduce you to MP-20 family of irons from Mizuno.

2019-mizuno-mp-20-irons-7-iron-

2019 Mizuno MP-20 irons: 7-iron

Born from tradition, and the idea of creating the ultimate set of irons for every player, the 2019 Mizuno MP-20 family is the next series of MP irons that will connect golfers to the “Mizuno Feel.” Speaking to tradition, and something I touched on when these were originally teased on social channels with #LayersOfFeel, Mizuno is going back in time to the TN-87s and reintroducing a copper underlay to their irons—all of them! (Before someone tries to correct me: yes, I realize that they have done this for more recent Japan market model)

What does this copper layer mean? Here’s the funny thing, even Mizuno has had a hard time trying to quantify it. Through multiple rounds of extensive blind prototype testing with all of their staff players, the irons with a copper underlay won on feel EVERY SINGLE TIME! How’s that for dominance?

But why? They are truly still trying to 100 percent figure that out. Mizuno has used its HIT (Harmonic Impact Technology), metallurgy analysis, and every test it can to try and figure out why. Engineers even went as far as trying to prove the hypothesis the copper underlay “feel” was based on nostalgia but time and time again Cu won in blind testing. At the end day, the human element was still the deciding factor because humans are the ones that ultimately hit shots.

2019-mizuno-mp-20-7-iron-address

2019 Mizuno MP-20 irons

This brings us to the flagship MP-20 (Blade) (The Ultimate Tour Blade as described by Mizuno’s Product Manager & Engineer Chris Voshall). Evolving from the tradition built into the MP-18, and taking design cues from historic models like the TN 87 and MP14, the MP20s provide more flow throughout the set from top to bottom leading to even more control over ball flight. This flow also increases forgiveness (please remember it’s still a blade) and launch in the longer irons, with an increased ability to flight the ball in the scoring clubs…all of this AND a thinner top line.

Now about that top line: it’s an extremely important part of the look of the club, but what many don’t realize is it also plays a big role in feel and acoustics too. Let’s simplify for a moment: think of a clubhead like hunk of metal—a cube—now when you hit that thick piece of metal on something it doesn’t reverberate much and when it does, it’s at a different frequency making it sound heavy and “thuddy,” or as some would say, SOLID.

2019-mizuno-mp-20-7-iron-face

Now imagine if that same piece of metal, and same mass, was stretched out like a saw blade. Have you ever hit something with the side of a large saw blade? It’s wobbly, loud, and generally unpleasant, that’s what happens when an unsupported part of a club gets too thin, it acts like an amplifier of bad sound, creating terrible feel. By blending a small channel (think MP5) with the classic looks of yesteryear you get a club that feels and performs like no Mizuno before it, and as I said, with a thinner look from address.

What’s all this talk of “Flow”?

Center of gravity and mass placement (or as a Mizuno Engineer explained to me “Vertical Moment of Inertia”). Since each club is designed individually, you need the center of gravity to shift throughout the set to help control launch/trajectory (or “traj” as the kids say), and make sure spin is also at an optimal level.

For the MP-20, it means long irons that are “easier” to hit (air quotes, because like I said before, it’s still a blade), and short irons that can be more easily flighted lower with greater spin and control. Just like with the MP-18s, Mizuno is keeping with the continuous reduced blade length into the short irons for a look preferred by better players and for improved grass and turf interaction.

But What About the Rest?

You might have noticed off the top I called it the “MP-20 Family.” Here’s why: In golf, like with any other industry, data is important. But it’s only as good as you use it and well…let’s just say Mizuno has been paying close attention to how golfers and fitters have been making combo sets over the last few years. It’s all about understanding what golfers really need and thanks to some proprietary data they went even deeper when it comes to designing each and every iron in this family to make sure its performance is maximized. This is why I continue to emphasize how each set has a flow—to make sure each club in your bag is just right for you. Now to introduce you to the rest of the family members…

2019 Mizuno MP20 MMC irons (Multi-Material Construction)

2019-mizuno-mmc-irons-1

2019 Mizuno MP-20 MMC irons: 7-iron

I know, you think you’ve heard this story before but…NOT LIKE THIS!

The new MP-20 MMC is a BIG shift in design, not just because of the Cu underlay, but a radical change in how the whole club is put together. I know it sounds very “big biz,” but in the world of manufacturing it truly comes down to how “parts” are manufactured. Now, with Mizuno, I will reiterate a well-known story. All of its forged irons are single-sourced from one foundry (Chuo) in Japan through a handshake agreement that has been in place for decades.

Now back to the MMC. Before the MP-20 the MMC always had one tiny design difficulty (not a bad one, just a truth) and that was the titanium piece in the back was the same size throughout the whole set. This lead to a set with almost constant sole width. That doesn’t mean previous generations were constructed poorly, but it just means there were improvements that could be made to how the set flowed (there’s that word again) from top to bottom…which leads us to the tech story.

2019-mizuno-mp-20-mmc-irons-3

For the first time in the MMC’d life, the titanium piece of the iron will actually vary in mass depending on the club. It will be broken up in the middle of the set to allow better CG placement, and like its blade cousin, improved turf interaction in the shorter irons.

What is also very cool from a build and engineering perspective is the way the titanium gets into the club in the first place. Here we go down a metallurgy rabbit hole, buckle up…

  • Titanium has a mass density (rounded) of 4.5 g/cm3 – cubed
  • Carbon steel has a mass density of (rounded) 7.9 g/cm3 – cubed

That means that from every cubed cm of steel volume you replace with titanium in the head, you save 3.4g… which might not seem like much, but in a 4-iron for example that has an average mass of 248g for (4) cm3 you save 13.6g or just over five percent. I realize this is DEEP into the mass property weeds, but when you think of what a club head weights and how every half percentage point matters, five percent is a lot! That’s more forgiveness, more MOI, more spin control, and overall better performance.

2019-mizuno-mp-20-mmc-irons-3

What is also very cool is all of these parts (titanium and tungsten) have ZERO chemical bond—no epoxy. They all fit snug based on the shrinkage rates of the different materials. Ti & W( tungsten – W comes from the ore Wolframite) shrinks less than the steel so as the steel cools around the titanium and tungsten pieces it creates a mechanical (solid) bond.

All of this together adds up to an iron that looks smaller than the previous version, offers more “flow” in CG, something we mentioned earlier that creates more forgiveness and control throughout the set, and at the end of the day it means a better-engineered version than the one before it.

Hot Metal 2019 Mizuno MP-20 HMB irons

YES…you read that correctly. Mizuno is bringing Hot Metal tech to the MP line!

A hollow body blade looking iron using the same strong yet highly flexible Chromoloy material as the 919 Hot Metals except this time forged to create an iron like they never have before. The look and shape of a blade the speed of a Hot Metal.

Let’s break things down.

The look is clean as clean can be, from there the face of the HMB is thin and fast, while hidden inside the back of the club is complex geometry for both acoustics and precisely positioning mass. These will be the replacement for the MMC Fli-His but unlike that set, only going to the 6-iron, the new HMB will go all the way to the pitching wedge.

What is also different for the HMB vs. the MMC Fli-Hi is the way tungsten is used in the head to create different impact dynamics. The Fli-Hi had all the tungsten (20g worth) in one place in the head (low and towards the toe). The CG was still located right in the middle but through in-depth testing some players found that the Fli-Hi was a more difficult club to turn over and draw.

2019-mizuno-mp-20-hmb-irons

To improve the workability of the new HMB, the Tungsten was split into two 12g pieces (four more grams than previous Fli-Hi) and positioned into precisely formed pockets on the heel and toe in the back of the club. This allows the unsupported face to flex and makes the club more workable while still maintaining all the forgiveness you would expect from a hollow body iron built for speed. Seriously who doesn’t like the sound of that?

Since the new HMB is a full set and not just long irons, there is more to the tech story… here is comes… better flow and CG positioning throughout the set. This is hugely important for the mid and short irons where loft is already going to create spin so controlling ball flight and traj on approach shots is vital for scoring better.

This is again where the MP-20 Family discussion comes into play. Mizuno knows they are going to sell a lot more HMB long irons vs. blade and MMC long irons, so the entire family is designed holistically for every player to find each and every head that optimizes them on the course.

The Full Package

Like with previous generations going back almost a decade, Mizuno is keeping its industry-leading matrix of shaft and grip options available at NO upcharge. BUT… based on the growing demand for more exotic options the newly expanded shaft line up will include a few shafts that will come with a slight upcharge.

Whatever you end up being fit for, it’s important to realize that there has never been family of Mizuno irons designed like this, which could also mean you could be bringing home some new family members soon.

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