Pros: The R15 and AeroBurner hybrids offer faster ball speeds and more distance than the SLDR or JetSpeed hybrids.
Who are they for: The R15 is aimed at better players looking for a more compact hybrid that still delivers fast ball speeds across the face. The AeroBurner is aimed at any golfer looking for more forgiveness and more ball speed from their hybrid, even on slight mishits.
The moment you pick up an R15 hybrid, you’ll know that this club was built for versatility. The smaller, tour-inspired shape is designed to maximize playability from virtually any lie. I found the club to be equally good from tight lies, off a tee and out of the rough.
The smaller shape, which better players will appreciate, sets up square behind the ball and like the fairway woods, feels like you’ve got a powerful, precision mallet in your hands. Even with the smaller footprint, an open channel at the front of the sole increases ball speeds across the face.
Like other hybrids on the market with adjustable hosels, the R15 also has a 3-degree loft sleeve, which allows golfers to optimize launch conditions. The standard setting promotes a neutral ball flight, something I confirmed during testing.
The AeroBurner Rescue is a blend of performance and forgiveness. Like the other AeroBurner metal woods, the Rescue has an aerodynamic shape with a raised center crown, the company’s new hosel fin, and a low, forward center of gravity, all working together to deliver maximum speed and distance.
The sweet spot is up to twice as large as previous models thanks to an improved Speed Pocket and Thru-Slot technology, according to TaylorMade, and instead of trying to gain clubhead speed with a longer shaft, the AeroBurner hybrids actually have a shaft that is 0.5-inches shorter the company’s previous hybrids, which will give most golfers more control.
Unlike the R15, the Aeroburner Rescue is also available in 5 (25 degrees) and 6 (28 degrees), giving golfers the freedom to drop their 4, 5, and 6 irons from the bag and replace them with more forgiving and easier-to-hit clubs. Even if you want to keep your 4 and 5 irons in the bag, the AeroBurner might fill that gap giving you the chance to hit shots you might never have tried before.
To this point, I’ve been split between the R15 and AeroBurner metal woods, with the R15 driver and AeroBurner fairway woods performing the best for me during testing. As I always do, I started the testing at the driving range. Just as I saw with the fairway woods, the launch angle, distance and peak height of both clubs appeared to be slightly higher than my current gamer. This time however, the R15 was the stand out. The feel at impact, a stable, neutral-to-slight-draw shot shape, and good distance was exactly what I was hoping to see.
That said, the AeroBurner didn’t disappoint. The flight was slightly higher and with more draw bias, but the distance was extremely close.
Unfortunately the weather has been hit or miss in Georgia, so I had to complete my launch monitor testing indoors. I headed to Golfsmith Extreme in Smyrna, Ga., where I tested the R15 and AeroBurner hybrids with a GC2 launch monitor and an Ernest Sports ES14 Doppler-based launch monitor simultaneously using premium golf balls. To get comparison data, I also tested TaylorMade’s SLDR and JetSpeed hybrids from 2014.
Launch monitor testing confirmed my initial impressions on the driving range that the R15 was outperforming the AeroBurmer, but not by much. In fact, the margin between these clubs when you look at the numbers alone is razor-sharp.
The R15 produced 1 mph more ball speed and 1 more yard of carry on average over the AeroBurner, with slightly more spin and a slightly lower launch. The shot shape bias was neutral to a slight draw, which is what I was expecting. The AeroBurner on the other hand, produced consistent draws for me.
While the margin between the R15 and AeroBurner was extremely close, both clubs outperformed the SLDR and Jetspeed hybrids. The R15 was 5 yards longer than the SLDR and 6 yards longer than the JetSpeed. Looking at the best shots with all the clubs, the longest during the testing session came with the R15 — even though the SLDR and JetSpeed produced very similar ball speeds.
Distance isn’t the only reason we should buy a golf club, and with the R15 and AeroBuner hybrids producing similar numbers, I also wanted to look at the consistency of the two clubs. I did this in two ways.
First, I assessed the dispersion of the shots. In this case, the AeroBuner edged out the R15 with a slightly tighter dispersion, albeit further left of target.
Second, I took a look at the difference between the best shot and the average shots of the clubs. We all love stomping on a shot that ends up flying further than we expect, but the majority of golfers, myself included, prefer reliability and consistency to the rare bomb. In this case, the R15 was more consistent than any of the 3 clubs in every category except spin and peak height, where the AeroBurner was slightly more consistent.
With more consistent distance, a compact and versatile head shape, and the ability to adjust the loft with the 3-degree loft sleeve, the R15 rescue has found a place in my bag. That said, the AeroBurner Rescue also comes in a TP version which has a flatter lie angle and a slightly more open face, which might give the R15 a run for its money.
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The R15 hybrids have a 3-degree Loft Sleeve and come in lofts of 17, 19, 21 and 24 degrees. The stock shaft is Fujikura’s Speeder 77 Evolution hybrid (X, S, R and M Flexes). A TP version is also available for $279 with Fujikura’s Speeder 869 Evolution Tour Spec shaft.
The AeroBurner hybrids ($199) are offered in the following models: 3 (19 degrees) 4 (22 degrees), 5 (25 degrees) and 6 (28 degrees).
For the better player looking for versatility from a classically-shaped club, the R15 is a great option. The larger, more forgiving AeroBurner is an excellent choice for golfers looking to maximize forgiveness.
Also, for those golfers looking to replace their long irons with hybrids, the AeroBurner will allow you the consistency to play the same model hybrid from your 3 all the way to your 6-hybrid.
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- Our review of TaylorMade’s R15 and AeroBurner drivers
- Our review of TaylorMade’s R15 and AeroBurner fairway woods
- Our review of TaylorMade’s R15 and AeroBurner hybrids
GolfWRX Spotlight: Tour Edge Exotics EXS Pro hybrid
Hybrids, for many of us, are one of the clubs that don’t get replaced very often. Once we find one that we can confidently hit in pressure situations, it stays in the bag for as long as possible.
I am exactly one of those players as my hybrid has been in the bag since 2015 and has the paint chips and embedded dirt to prove it. That club has been my crutch to lean on when I couldn’t hit anything else straight off the tee, needed to hit the green on a long par 3, or go for the green in two on a par 5.
I wasn’t really looking for a new one when the Exotics EXS Pro showed up at my door, but the shape grabbed my attention, and I had to give it a try.
Tour Edge just announced the Exotics EXS Pro line of woods and they are “from the tour van” with tour-inspired shapes and performance. You can read the whole launch story we did HERE and also read about the new fairway woods.
The EXS Pro hybrid is smaller and has a deeper face than its EXS 220 sibling, giving it a look that better players look for. The shape is initially what got me, as it isn’t a tiny hybrid like we have seen with some other “tour” versions, but it isn’t too large either. The head is also a little more rounded overall, without a sharp toe or other lines. As I am one to hit my hybrid off the tee a good amount, the deep face was welcome—while it isn’t so deep that you can’t hit it off a tight fairway lie. The moveable weights in the sole allow you to adjust the head in order to make it an “anti-left” club that many better players fear.
On the course, I really felt comfortable with the EXS Pro right away. The first shot came off the face feeling hot thanks to the Beta Ti Face that is brazed onto the stainless steel body. The ball speed is really fast and the shot shape was flatter than my previous hybrid setup. If you are a high ball hitter and have a hard time with hybrids, the EXS Pro should be on your shortlist of new ones to try. Better players are going to love being able to flight the ball for windy conditions. Distance is of course fantastic, but it is repeatable and consistent.
The EXS Pro is a little longer than my previous hybrid, but still fitting into the distance that I require. Tour Edge didn’t just make the club longer to add distance, the lofts are pretty standard as the 19-degree I have is only 40.25” long and has a lie angle of 57.25 degrees. Dialing in the EXS Pro should be no problem since they make six lofts between 16 to 22 degrees to fit your gapping needs.
Over the past two weeks, I have found that this EXS Pro does remove the left side of the course. Tour Edge claims it is an anti-left hybrid, and so far I have found that to be nothing short of the truth. Shots are slightly fade biased with the heavier weight in the toe, but you can still easily turn it over and hit it straight. Tight lies or fairly deep rough are no problem with the compact shape and Slipstream sole, making it versatile all over the course. I
like the deeper face for hitting if off the tee and shots where the ball is sitting up in the rough. That deep face just gives me a little more confidence that if I get a little steep with my swing I will still be able to save a decent shot.
My only real complaint is that the EXS Pro’s Slipstream sole collects some dirt, and you have to grab a tee to clean it out, but really nothing that should stop anyone from putting this in their bag.
Overall The Tour Edge Exotics EXS Pro is an anti-left hybrid that is built for better players. What is might not have in total forgiveness it makes up for in lower launch, great distance, and its fade bias. If you have been struggling to find a hybrid to fit your game, the Tour Edge Exotics EXS Pro could be your answer.
Review: Callaway XR and XR Pro Hybrids
Pros: The hottest hybrids in golf. The XR and XR Pro are also exceptionally well-rounded, with pleasing looks, feel and performance from the tee, fairway and rough.
Cons: Not adjustable.
Who are they for? Golfers who desire a more iron-like hybrid will likely prefer the XR Pro, whereas those seeking a slightly larger, more forgiving club that plays more like a fairway wood will find the standard XR a better fit.
Copy and paste. By that I mean, copy the review for the XR and XR Pro fairway woods and paste it right here. Everything I loved about the XR fairway woods applies to the hybrids, and the criticisms are nearly identical as well. Essentially, these clubs are long, forgiving and visually appealing. The only knock? No adjustability.
Sometimes an equipment manufacturer will redesign a product in hopes of invigorating sales. Sometimes the redesign provides tangible benefits for the player. With the XR and XR Pro hybrids, Callaway has done both.
A redesigned internal standing wave, which boosts MOI, a measure of ball speed retention on mishits, offers golfers more distance regardless of where they hit shots on the face. Couple that with a center of gravity that is as low as Callaway has ever engineered in a hybrid (for a higher launch and less spin), and you have one bad mama jama.
Generally, golfers who opt for a hybrid do so for one of two reasons. They either want a club that performs a lot like a long iron, but is more forgiving… or they want a club that launches high like a fairway wood, but offers more control. Either way, the XR series has you covered. In both on-course and launch monitor testing, both hybrids launched higher than previous models. So if you prefer to see a flatter ball flight, going down in loft or pairing the head with a lower-trajectory shaft will help.
I’ve never hit a hybrid so high while still maintaining an ideal trajectory. Don’t be shocked if you demo either club and find that it launches higher and carries farther than what’s currently in your bag — especially if you currently carry a long iron or driving iron.
With these hybrids, the sweet spot is gone. It’s more like the sweet zone. As long as you can make semi-solid contact, the results are acceptable. If you’re an above average ball striker, you’ll likely find your misses to be decidedly more consistent.
In testing, both clubs excelled as secondary options off the tee, and more than held their own from the ground — even in light and deep rough. That said, where both clubs differentiated themselves for me was on long approach shots or second shots into a par 5. Being able to hit a club high enough (and far enough) to hold a green from 220+ is something the XR series does better than any other hybrid I’ve tested.
A note for better players: The smaller profile of the XR Pro is not indicative of its forgiveness. In fact, I found it to be pleasantly forgiving — much more so than other hybrids with similar shape and playing attributes. Ultimately, if you select the XR over the XR Pro it will be because the XR gave you better trajectory and distance numbers, not because one model was significantly more forgiving than the other. In fact, both models exhibit the holy grail of exceptional distance, hardy forgiveness and precise workability. It’s why no hybrid did better than the XR in GolfWRX’s 2015 Gear Trials: Best Hybrids List.
The XR and XR Pro hybrids come in a variety of lofts. The XR Pro is offered in lofts of 16, 18, 20 and 23 degrees, whereas the XR is available in lofts of 19, 22, 25 and 28 degrees. Stock length on the 20-degree XR Pro is 40 inches, whereas stock length on the 19-degree XR is 40.5 inches. If you do get fitted and ultimately select one of these models, be sure to discuss length, as the iron you’re replacing is likely at least 0.5-inches shorter.
For people who might only look at the number associated with the club (i.e. 3H = 19 degrees), caveat emptor. In testing, the 3 hybrid had carry distances closer to a 5 wood than a 3 iron. As such, if you’re looking to replace a specific iron, I’d suggest starting at a number one higher than the iron you’re looking to replace. Specifically, if you’re dropping a 3 iron, start by testing the 4 hybrid. In addition, I found the 19-degree XR hybrid to launch nearly identically to the 20-degree XR Pro, albeit with less spin. I can’t help but think that was intentional on the part of the Callaway engineers.
Again, I’d like to see both models with the same array of shafts, as some might look at the stock shaft in the XR and presume the club is geared toward slower-swinging or less demanding players. This simply isn’t true.
Head: Callaway XR (19 degrees)
Shaft: Project X LZ (Stiff)
- Average Ball Speed: 145 mph
- Average Backspin: 5400 rpm
- Average Launch Angle 22 degrees
- Average Carry Distance (at 5000 feet): 237 yards
- Estimated Carry Distance at Sea Level: 214 yards
Head: Callaway XR Pro (20 degrees)
Shaft: Project X LZ Pro 6.0 (Stock)
- Average Ball Speed: 145
- Average Backspin: 5100 RPM
- Average Launch Angle 21.5 degrees
- Average Carry Distance (at 5000 feet): 239 yards
- Estimated Carry Distance at Sea Level: 215 yards
Gamer Head: Callaway Alpha 815 (20 degrees)
Gamer Shaft: Veylix Rome 988 (Stiff)
- Average Ball Speed 143.8 MPH
- Average Backspin 4975 RPM
- Average Launch Angle 19 degrees
- Average Carry Distance (at 5000 feet): 238 yards
- Estimated Carry Distance at Sea Level: 215 yards
The XR and XR Pro hybrids from Callaway, with apologies to Tina Turner, are “simply the best” — at least for me. The lone shortcoming is a lack of adjustability, and depending on where you fall on this topic that may not be a significant weakness.
In describing the XR series, one quickly runs short of superlatives. Selecting either model as an upgrade to what’s currently in your bag is akin to throwing a rock into the ocean and hoping it gets wet. It’s nearly a can’t-miss proposition.
- Our review of Callaway’s XR and XR Pro drivers
- Our review of Callaway’s XR and XR Pro fairway woods
- Our review of Callaway’s Big Bertha Alpha 815 fairway woods and hybrids
2015 Gear Trials: Best Hybrids
Following the trend of new drivers and fairway woods, hybrid clubs have become much lower spinning than their predecessors in recent years. It’s a change that has widened their target audience from golfers looking to replace their long irons with clubs that fly higher and stop quicker on the greens, to… just about any golfer.
How do you know if you should consider a new hybrid? If you’ve ever wished that your current long irons or hybrids carried farther, that’s a pretty good indication that an updated model could be good for your game.
Our 2015 Gear Trials: Best Hybrids are plenty long, but they’re also very forgiving. So even if you’re not interested in hitting your clubs farther, you could still find more consistency from one of the six models below.
The clubs and subsequent ratings were selected by our Gear Trials Panel, six of the top-rated custom golf clubs fitters in the world. Our 2015 Gear Trials Panel includes:
- Carl’s Golfland (Michigan)
- Cool Clubs (15 locations in 4 countries)
- Haggin Oaks (California)
- Miles of Golf (Michigan, Ohio)
- Modern Golf (Canada)
- True Spec Golf (Bahamas/Miami/NYC)
While reviewing each of the 2015 Best Hybrids below, remember the purpose of the clubs. They bridge the gap between a golfer’s shortest fairway wood and the longest iron they can hit consistently. Some golfers can make that transition without a hybrid, while others may need several hybrids.
The best way to learn if a hybrid is good for you, or how many hybrids you might need, is to go through a professional fitting — but if that’s not an option for you, you can use our rating to your advantage. The hybrids that scored highest in our Distance Ratings tend to work best for golfers looking to shed spin, while the clubs that score high in our Forgiveness Ratings tend to be more consistent on mishits.
Along with our six winners, we’ve also listed three lower-spinning alternatives: Callaway’s XR Pro, TaylorMade’s AeroBurner TP and Titleist’s 915Hd. These clubs will work best for a smaller percentage of golfers than our six best hybrids, but they’re fueled by the same technologies as our winners.
Note: The list below is in alphabetical order.
Callaway Big Bertha
- Headsize: 126cc (3 hybrid)
- Adjustable Hosel: Yes, 3-degree range
- Price: $249.99
You might be surprised to see Callaway’s Big Bertha hybrids, which were released alongside the company’s Big Bertha irons in the Fall of 2014, make our list. If so, you probably haven’t hit them.
[quote_box_center]”The Big Bertha is hard to miss,” said one of our Gear Trials Panelists. [/quote_box_center]
The reason to play a Big Bertha hybrid over the higher-rated XR hybrids are:
- Their larger size, which makes them appear more fairway wood-like than any other hybrid on this list.
- They’re adjustable, which allows golfers to dial in the exact loft and lie angle they need to get the most out of the clubs.
Like the XR hybrids, the Big Bertha hybrids use Callaway’s Hyper Speed Face cups to boost their ball speeds and forgiveness. They’re slightly higher-spinning than the XR, however, which will work very well for their target audience of slower swing speed golfers. But higher swing speed players shouldn’t count them out — particularly the 3 hybrid when adjusted to 18 degrees.
The Big Bertha hybrids are offered in lofts of 19, 22, 25, 28 and 32 degrees.
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- Headsize: 122cc (3 hybrid)
- Adjustable Hosel: No
- Price: $219.99
Callaway’s XR is likely the longest hybrid on this list, receiving the highest possible rating of 10 in distance, and thanks to Callaway’s slick engineering, it also ties for first in forgiveness (9.5) with Ping’s G30 hybrid.
[quote_box_center]”This should be the first hybrid you test,” said one of our Gear Trials Panelists. [/quote_box_center]
Like Callaway’s XR fairway woods, the XR hybrids set themselves apart from the competition with a mid-sized club head that offers a high launch, relatively low spin and more forgiveness than its predecessors. They’re offered in lofts of 19, 22, 25 and 28 degrees.
Our lone request for 2016: Can you make future models adjustable, Callaway?
Want a more iron-like hybrid? Callaway’s XR Pro hybrids ($229.99) measure a slim 98cc at 20 degrees, and offer a lower-spinning trajectory that many better players prefer from their hybrids. They’re offered in lofts of 16, 18, 20 and 23 degrees, but we recommend the 20- and 23-degree models in particular as 3- and 4-iron replacements. We wouldn’t be surprised if you carried them as far, if not farther, than your older, lower-lofted hybrids
- Our review of Callaway’s XR and XR Pro hybrids.
- Learn more about Callaway’s XR Drivers, Fairway Woods and Hybrids.
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- Headsize: 105cc (3-4 hybrid)
- Adjustable Hosel: Yes, 4-degree range
- Price: $199.99
Cobra’s Fly-Z hybrid is sized like a better-player hybrid, but packs the forgiveness we’d expect from a larger model. That’s thanks to its rearward center of gravity (CG), which boosts consistency.
[quote_box_center]”Fly-Z, like [Cobra’s] Bio Cell last year, will still perform for the average player,” said one of our Gear Trials Panelists. [/quote_box_center]
If you’re a high-spin player, however, the Fly-Z might not be for you. It’s one of the highest-spinning models on this list, which is the reason for its relatively low Distance Rating (8).
Like the Fly-Z fairway woods, the strength of the Fly-Z hybrids is their versatility. They’re offered in three models: a 2-3 hybrid that adjusts from 16-19 degrees, a 3-4 hybrid that adjusts from 19-22 degrees and a 4-5 hybrid that adjusts from 22-25 degrees. Its wide-ranging adjustability is a great tool to have if you need to fill a specific yardage gap in your bag.
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- Headsize: 110cc
- Adjustable Hosel: No
- Price: $229.99
[quote_box_center]”G30 gets the ball up in the air easy, and is on par with the G25 with slightly more ease to height,” said one of our Gear Trials Panelists.”[/quote_box_center]
The G30 hybrids use a new heat-treated 17-4 stainless steel face that boosts their characteristic time (CT), a measure of spring-like effect, 20 points higher than the G25 hybrids. They’re still not as long as other hybrids on this list, but they offer a noticeable improvement in ball speed over past G-Series hybrids, and with their similar trajectory that means they’ll likely carry a few yards farther for most golfers.
There’s no turbulators on the G30 hybrids, due to their smaller, more aerodynamic size, but the shape of the hybrids was tweaked from the G25 to include a flatter top rail and a higher heel section that gives them a more square appearance at address. We like the look, and see it as a change that will be enjoyed by the majority of golfers.
We wish the G30 hybrids were adjustable, but they are offered in five lofts: 17, 19, 22, 26 and 30 degrees. The higher-lofted models, because of the G30’s higher-spinning nature, are great for golfers looking for more stopping power on the greens, while the 17-degree model will be enjoyed by better players seeking a replacement for a pesky driving iron or a troublesome 4 or 5 wood.
- Headsize: 112cc (19 degrees)
- Adjustable Hosel: No
- Price: $229.99
What the AeroBurner lacks in forgiveness, it makes up for in horsepower. Golfers may or may not be able to hit it as far as Callaway’s XR, but the AeroBurner offers a unique shape that’s intriguing for those who haven’t found much success with traditional hybrid shapes. It’s also one of the highest-launching, if not the highest-launching hybrid on this list.
The calling card of the AeroBurner, however, is speed — from its Aerodynamic crown shape and its lighter weight, which will convert to more swing speed and more distance for some golfers. The AeroBurner hybrids are not adjustable, but they are available in lofts of 19, 22, 25 and 28 degrees.
Need more fade bias? TaylorMade’s AeroBurner TP hybrids ($269.99) offer golfers a more traditionally weighted hybrid. They’re the same size as the standard versions, but come with heavier heads and shafts that tend to give better players more control over trajectory. They also have a 2-degree flatter lie angle and a 1-degree more upright face angle that will please golfers who have struggled with the hybrid hooks in the past. They’re available in lofts of 19 and 22 degrees.
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- Headsize: 118cc
- Adjustable Hosel: Yes, 2.25-degree range
- Price: $249.99
Looks aren’t a factor in our Best Hybrids list ratings, but if they were, Titleist’s 915H would likely be the winner.
The 915H’s pear-shaped head is large enough to inspire confidence, but not too large as to limit versatility. While the 915H is not the longest hybrid on this list, or the most forgiving, it’s great in both areas, and offers noticeably more ball speed than previous hybrids from Titleist thanks to the company’s new Active Recoil Channel — a deep slot that extends across the entirety of the club face. For that reason, we recommend trying a higher-lofted version of your current hybrid, if you carry one.
Titleist’s 915H is fully adjustable, and is available in lofts of 18, 21, 24 and 27 degrees. It comes stock with the best selection of stock shafts on this list: four “real deal” models from Aldila and Mitsubishi Rayon that are available in a wide range of weights, bend points and flexes.
Need less spin? Titleist’s 915Hd ($249.99) offers the same technology as the 915H hybrids, and is roughly 100-200 rpm lower spinning. It also has a slightly smaller club head (107cc) that many better players will prefer. The 915Hd hybrids are offered in lofts of 17.5, 20.5 and 23.5 degrees. We recommend the 20.5-degree model as a 3-iron replacement for better players looking for more carry distance and consistency.
- 2015 Gear Trials: Best Drivers
- 2015 Gear Trials: Best Fairway Woods
- 2015 Gear Trials: Best Game-Improvement Irons
- 2015 Gear Trials: Best Players Irons
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