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Review: Callaway GBB Epic and Epic Sub Zero Drivers

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Update (January 17, 2017): Launch monitor data added from #TheWRX, a group of eight GolfWRX Members who visited Callaway HQ to be fit for the GBB Epic and GBB Epic Sub Zero drivers. 

“We’ve changed pretty much everything with the way we’ve made this driver,” says Alan Hocknell, Callaway’s Senior Vice President of Research and Development. And even a cursory glance reveals that a lot has changed with Callaway’s new GBB Epic and GBB Epic Sub Zero drivers.

The GBB Epic

GBB_Epic_Hero

Callaway has been adding carbon fiber to its driver designs for more than a decade, using the material to make lighter and lighter crowns that have steadily improved the performance of new models. This year, the company brought carbon fiber to the soles of its drivers, a shift as dramatic as each driver’s vibrant green highlights. According to Callaway, more than 50 percent of the Epic and Epic Sub Zero drivers are made from carbon fiber.

Epic_Triaxial_Carbon

The Epic drivers use carbon fiber inserts on the crown and sole, which improve their forgiveness.

The marquee technology for both the Epic and Epic Sub Zero, however, is something golfers can’t see. It’s called Jailbreak, a structure of two parallel titanium rods located behind the club face that connect the sole and crown. The rods serve to stiffen the crown and sole so they don’t flex as much at impact, Callaway says, which allows the club face of the drivers to flex more and return more energy to the ball. More energy means more ball speed and more distance, and Callaway is claiming an improvement of up to 2 mph in its player testing.

Epic_bars

Jailbreak Technology: Two titanium bars located behind the club face stiffen the crown and sole of the Epic drivers to make the club faces more flexible and improve ball speeds.

Because of the added carbon fiber, internal titanium rods and many more changes, Hocknell says it takes twice as many steps and twice as long (roughly 7-10 days) to manufacture the Epic and Epic Sub Zero drivers. The payoff? The structural changes to the Epic improve its total moment of inertia, a measure of ball speed retention on mishits, to an impressive 8000 g/cm². That’s 20 percent higher than the MOI of the Great Big Bertha, the driver the Epic replaces in Callaway’s lineup.

The GBB Epic Sub Zero

GBB_Epic_Sub_Zero_Hero

The Epic Sub Zero, according to Callaway, is even more forgiving. It has an MOI that’s almost 8500 g/cm², making it a unicorn in today’s driver market. Generally, deeper-face drivers like the Epic Sub Zero are less forgiving than their shallower-face counterparts. Evan Gibbs, Callaway’s Manager of Performance Analysis, says he expects the Epic Sub Zero to be far more popular than Callaway’s Alpha 816 DBD, the driver it replaces in the company’s lineup, because of its added forgiveness, both at retailers and among PGA Tour players.

GBB_Epic_Comparison_Address_Drivers

The biggest difference between the drivers, other than their shaping, is their adjustability systems, which target two distinct groups of golfers.

The Epic has a sliding weight track located on back edge of its sole. It sits lower than it did on the Great Big Bertha, and is also shorter, which helps the driver retain a maximum amount of forgiveness regardless of what setting is used. Even though the track is shorter, its heavier sliding weight (17 grams) actually gives golfers a wider range of draw/fade bias.

GBB_Epic_Slider

Callaway calls the Epic its “most draw-capable driver,” and even in its neutral setting it exhibits a light amount of draw bias. Golfers who don’t fight a slice, however, can easily make the Epic a truly neutral or even a fade-biased driver by moving its sliding weight toward its toe. So if golfers have a one-way miss and want to alleviate it with a driver setting, the Epic is most likely going to be the best new Callaway driver for them.

GBB_Epic_Sub_Zero_WEights

Most golfers will get better performance from the Epic Sub Zero driver with its 12-gram weight positioned in the back of the driver head.

Those who don’t need help straightening out their trajectory may see better performance from the Epic Sub Zero, which is designed to help golfers squeeze every last yard out of their drives by optimizing launch conditions. It uses two weights — 12 and 2 grams — to allow golfers to move the driver’s center of gravity forward to reduce spin or rearward to improve consistency.

The Test

To test the performance of Callaway’s new Epic and Epic Sub Zero drivers, I went to the Ely Callaway Performance Center (Carlsbad, Calif.) to compare them to their predecessors. I hit between 5-10 shots with each driver and tested the GBB Epic Sub Zero in its two settings (heavy-weight forward, or “WF,” and heavy-weight back, or “WB”). Obvious mishits were removed from the data.

Epic_Speed_Step_Crown

Callaway’s Epic and Epic Sub Zero drivers have 3D-printed “Steep Steps” on their crowns, which improve club head aerodynamics for faster swing speeds.

Each driver was tested with the same shaft on Trackman 4, and I hit Callaway Chrome Soft (2016) golf balls. To ensure as much of an apples-to-apples comparison as possible, each of the four driver heads was also digitally lofted and weighed prior to the test to make sure each was as close to 9 degrees and a D3 swing weight as possible.

The Results

CallyDrivers2017

In my testing, the Epic offered the most distance and ball speed of the four drivers tested, but just barely. It produced +0.4 mph more ball speed on average than the Alpha 816 DBD, and +0.3 yards more total distance.

I must admit, I expected to see bigger differences between the Epic, the Epic Sub Zero and the Alpha 816 DBD. After all, the Epic Sub Zero is said to have a whopping 43 percent higher MOI than the Alpha 816 DBD it replaces. Ultimately, the biggest problem with the Epic and the Epic Sub Zero in testing was how well I hit the Alpha 816 DBD. For whatever reason, I rarely missed the screws with the Alpha 816 DBD… and still the Epic edged it.

GBB_Epic_Sub_Zero_Hero_2

Both during the testing and my fitting the day prior, I was incredibly impressed with the forgiveness of the Epic. Even mishits approached 170 mph in ball speed, and when they landed they were closer to the target line that I would have predicted from the strike.

My results weren’t quite as good with the Epic Sub Zero, but it was a great driver on the whole for #TheWRX, a group of eight GolfWRX Members who were selected to visit Callaway HQ and be fit for the driver. In their fittings for either an Epic or Epic Sub Zero driver, they saw an average gain of 11.675 yards of total distance (carry + roll) compared to their gamer driver, which is incredible. 

See the breakdowns of their Trackman number below.

#TheWRX Results

TeamWRX_Epic2017.001 copy

Related: Full Coverage of #TheWRX

With the Epic Sub Zero, I especially struggled with heavy-weight forward setting, which creates a flatter trajectory that can boost distance for high-spin golfers. Ultimately, the setting did what it was designed to do, lowering spin by nearly 200 rpm compared to the heavy-weight-back setting, matching Callaway’s claims. The bad news; it also lowered my ball speeds and widened my dispersion, which is typical of any driver when CG is moved forward.

GBB_Epic_Sub_Zero_Weights_2

Callaway representatives predict the vast majority of golfers who are a fit for the Epic Sub Zero will be better served by its heavy-weight-back setting, which enhances forgiveness. They’ll still be in the minority, however, as Callaway estimates that roughly 70 percent of golfers will be better served by the Epic.

The Takeaway

GBB_Epic_Headcover

Based on my initial testing, as well as the testing of GolfWRX Members, it’s safe to say that most golfers should see at least the small ball speed gains I did with the Epic or Epic Sub Zero when comparing it to older Callaway drivers. And many will see bigger gains, particularly if they’re coming from a driver that’s two or more years old.

The GBB Epic and GBB Epic Sub Zero (both $499.99) will be in stores January 27. Learn more from Callaway’s website.  

Specs

GBB_Epic_Specs

  • Lofts: Epic (9, 10.5, 13HT), Epic Sub Zero (9, 10.5)
  • Head Size: Both 460 cubic centimeters
  • Stock Length: Both 45.5 inches
  • Stock Swing Weight: Epic (D3), Epic Sub Zero (D4)
  • Stock Grip: Golf Pride New Decade Platinum

Shafts

GBB_Epic_Shafts

  • 40-gram range: MRC Diamana Greenboard (294 grams*)
  • 50-gram range: Project X HZRDUS T800 Green (308 grams)
  • 60-gram range: Fujikura Pro Green (313 grams)
  • 70-gram range: Aldila Rogue Max (323 grams)

*     Total weight (with stock head, shaft, grip)

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74 Comments

74 Comments

  1. Michael A Preiss

    Feb 8, 2017 at 1:12 am

    wow so many cheap, exper,t tour caliber players commenting here

  2. Michael A Preiss

    Feb 8, 2017 at 1:10 am

    WOW! there are so many “experts” tour caliber players commenting here. and f-ing cheap ones

  3. John McNeil

    Jan 27, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Hit these both last night with shafts that were available and was carrying a minimum of 20 yards further than M1 and M2 (2016, and 2017), 917 D2, 917 D3, Cobra F7, F7+. Now I just have to see how it matches up head to head with my 816 DBD although I already think I know. LOL

  4. Resili

    Jan 7, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Great information Zak.

    I just bought a brand new BB Alpha 816 DBD and I hit it in the center of the face with great results. I’m glad to know that the EPIC is just as good.

    Is it possible that the reason could be that the 816DBD has two tubes that connect the sole and the top of the head and have the same effect that the EPIC’s rods?

    Thank you for your review.

  5. dlgravett

    Jan 7, 2017 at 11:10 am

    I will be getting fit for one in the next week! I’m interested in seeing how much better it is than my razr extreme 8.5. Getting fit on a open range with trackman. Wish I could take sub zero down to 7. Any how I’m interested in seeing the difference from a $50 club bought used two years ago to the latest and greatest, same color, EPIC price, bar setter.

    • dlgravett

      Jan 11, 2017 at 8:31 pm

      So I had my fitting. The standard EPIC I could swing faster so I got better numbers than subzero. In comparison to my RAZR Extreme not much of a difference honestly. For the money the win goes to the RAZR Extreme. I flew a few 270 carry under 2k spin which was better, only just. Subzero felt little dull/heavy for my 105-8 swing speed but I’m sure faster swingers will hit it further than standard. Can’t wait to play the EPIC see if it gets better on the course.

  6. Andrew Levy

    Jan 5, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Maybe you should try and launch the ball higher and see what happens. It doesn’t seem like you have optimized your launch so the numbers don’t make a lot of sense.

    • Uhit

      Jan 6, 2017 at 7:38 am

      The most important thing in a comparison is consistency…

      …and he was hitting all clubs obviously very consistent, with about the same numbers in regard of launch.

      Thus, I consider this a good comparison.

      However, he could achieve considerably more carry (for ALL drivers!) , if he would use a positive AoA…
      …but if this causes inconsistency within his swing – then to do this would not make a lot of sense.

      So, if all is said and done, he did his best for consistency – which means, he did his best for a fair comparison…

      …and this is what I like to see.

      • Dill Pickelson

        Jan 6, 2017 at 8:18 am

        Duh. If I shoot a gun at the ground does that tell you anything? This was a terrible review. rick shiels is carrying it over 300y with a +aoa and his mind was blown. Hit the club properly not safely.

        • Lester Diamond

          Jan 6, 2017 at 9:53 am

          Safely is properly.
          I would hate to see you work with power tools.

        • Uhit

          Jan 6, 2017 at 9:59 am

          Rick has sometimes a accuracy like a shotgun…
          …which bullet should count, as representative?

          B.t.w.:
          Rick made, as far as I know, his longest drive with a M1 430…
          …334 yards total distance…

          But what does this mean for the consumer?

  7. golfraven

    Jan 5, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Let the “Epic” propaganda begin. Now that Rory and some new players are on board Cally just need to roll in the cash. Callaway begins to have a bad reputation in their product cycle I don’t even see from TM.

  8. Epic Failure

    Jan 5, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Thank you.

  9. yobo

    Jan 5, 2017 at 1:56 am

    Crossfield and Shiels make the club sound like the Sub Zero plays very well. Shame about the left over green paint from 100 years ago.

  10. KK

    Jan 5, 2017 at 12:05 am

    Why does the Sub Zero spin more than the regular Epic? Hope this is an anomaly because it will be worthless if true for most of us.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Jan 5, 2017 at 10:30 am

      For me it did, KK, but many testers are seeing lower spin from the Sub Zero. Make sure to hit them both and see what works better. It’s not necessarily skill or speed dependent.

  11. Sean

    Jan 4, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    Nicely done Zak. 🙂

  12. Mad-Mex

    Jan 4, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Zak, how about a REAL LIFE test? You know, out to the range, hit it, measure distance with a laser or tape, dispersion,,,, even better!! a playing test, go out play 18 and see how it performs under real world situations! How much better is it than your old driver? And if you want to go rouge, give honest opinion weather its worth the money. This phrase “particularly if they’re coming from a driver that’s two or more years old.” could have easily been ” If your driver is less than two years old, don’t think it will be worth it for you”,,,

    • KK

      Jan 5, 2017 at 12:02 am

      Did no one ever tell you that course testing is horrible for driver vs driver comparisons? Have you heard of science? You want to control as many variables as possible in science. Or did you just want to live vicariously through Zak?

      • Mad-Mex

        Jan 5, 2017 at 12:52 am

        Am sorry, I thought I addressed my comment to Zak,,,,,

  13. Dat

    Jan 4, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Meh at best. Not at all worth the asking price. Good news is the GBB will now be under $250.

  14. jgpl001

    Jan 4, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Seems like we have reached a bit of a limit on ball speeds and ave distance….

    Just saw a new 816 DBD with a Rouge Silver yesterday for €220….clearance of the model to make way for the new Epic, which seems anything but Epic!!

    I know where I will be heading on Saturday morning with €220…..

  15. Dave R

    Jan 4, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    I do realize that [email protected] costs are up but good god the prices of all products are beyond stupidy. Just wait new ones coming in the spring.

  16. Cohenfive

    Jan 4, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    I look forward to buying one of these in about a year for $250 or less….

    • tlmck1234

      Jan 4, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      I look forward to getting mine from the 2nd hand store in about 3 years for less than $100. Just got a nearly new SLDR 430 for $69 bucks and it is awesome.

  17. suhdude

    Jan 4, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    time for me to go yaw-yaw on the golf course, suhhhhh dude.

  18. Archie

    Jan 4, 2017 at 11:56 am

    I was excited about the Epic but after some reading I don’t think it is an improvement over the current GBB which I have and really like!

  19. Nd

    Jan 4, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Zak……… dude, you have 170 ball speeds yet you hit a 9 degree head to 7 degree launch? Stop hitting down on it so much, man! You’re wasting so much effort.
    With that speed, you should dial it down to 8 and launch it at 17 degrees and hit it to 330.
    Learn to hit up on it, dude.
    That’s why you should stop being the initial tester on here. You’re just confusing people and making them feel very disappointed.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Jan 4, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Nd,

      I appreciate your suggestion. Since we only published the ball data, I went back and looked at my average angle of attack with the GBB Epic. It was -2.4 degrees. According to Trackman, that’s much closer to the average AoA on the PGA Tour (-1.5 degrees) and average AoA for bogey golfers (-2.1 degrees) than what you’re suggesting.

      We’re always looking to improve our reviews with more testers and different kinds of testers, and you can read about the multiple fittings of GolfWRX Members as part of #TheWRX contest here: http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/topic/1417466-thewrx-christmas-comes-early-at-callaway-golf-8-members-are-treated-to-thewrx/

      I do know how to swing up with a driver, too!

      • Nd

        Jan 4, 2017 at 1:19 pm

        Lets see it. Set the thing to 8 degrees neutral, AoA to 6 to 8 up, and get the spin down under 2000. And why did they make you use the Chrome Soft? They should have at least given you the Chrome Soft X!

      • Dill Pickleson

        Jan 4, 2017 at 11:46 pm

        Zak, seriously, you did not try to get the most out of the driver. i’m not great but i have positive launch and ave. 290 wz the gbb. i changed my thumbs up to a shank.

        • Uhit

          Jan 5, 2017 at 8:18 am

          As soon as he treats all the clubs the same, it is a good comparison…
          …and it seems, that he treated all the clubs the same.

          If he would hit some with a positive AoA and others not,
          it would not be a fair comparison.

          However, I also wonder why a lot of people have a negative AoA…
          …and therefore don´t get the most (distance) out of their drives.

          • Zak Kozuchowski

            Jan 5, 2017 at 10:33 am

            Yes, Uhit, I did my best to swing all the clubs the same. I’ve found I don’t hit as many fairways when I try to swing up all the time, and I’m not unique in that respect.

            • R

              Jan 5, 2017 at 1:25 pm

              But we don’t care about that, we want distance!!!!!!! Callaway is the long drive champ, and you should have hit it like that!

            • Uhit

              Jan 5, 2017 at 5:17 pm

              Thank you for the inspiration Zak.
              Maybe I should try to lower my AoA, to hit more fairways…
              …but long drives make real fun!

            • Dill Pickelson

              Jan 6, 2017 at 8:20 am

              Then don’t review drivers.

      • TR1PTIK

        Jan 6, 2017 at 1:32 pm

        There have been plenty of articles written on the subject of AoA and a lot of tour pros hit down on it because they need the spin to help them find fairways (most already hit the ball long enough). That’s why those same articles recommend following the examples of LPGA players because their slower swing speeds force them to have a + AoA for maximum distance.

  20. Clay

    Jan 4, 2017 at 10:55 am

    I think people are skipping the article and just reading the numbers. If I can get the same performance on slight misses that I got from middled 816 DBD swings I will take that all day.

    It seems the more you hit the center the less you gain from this driver, but even pros have misses. For your average weekend golfer this could make a big difference.

  21. Smitty

    Jan 4, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Here we go again with nothing more than marketing hype and a $500 price tag for a driver that will generate no performance improvement compared to the 816 DBD, which you can now buy for much less. Save yourself a bucket of money and go buy a driver from 2015/16 or (better yet) go invest in lessons with a golf pro.

    • jifmoli

      Jan 4, 2017 at 11:02 am

      Better still, buy a club that’s 3 to 5 years old to really save money and only loose maybe 5-10 yards compared to the latest. The gains are too small to pay so much for. I play with a driver from around 2007 (TM Burner) and it is better/as good as my mates’ newer ones.

      Nearly stopped reading with the statement “we changed everything”. Really, again? Was the previous crap then?

      • peter collins

        Jan 4, 2017 at 2:57 pm

        even better still, go buy a 10.5 Orka

  22. Scott

    Jan 4, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Wow, with all of the build up, I expected quite a bit more.

  23. xjohnx

    Jan 4, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Though I will admit, like the rest of you, I was expecting better results. It’s worth noting that most people will not hit the 816 DBD nearly as well as the new epic and would likely see much better results when comparing.

  24. Buck

    Jan 4, 2017 at 9:45 am

    We’ve reached the point of diminishing returns.
    Spend your money on lessons or a few rounds on top-tier courses.

  25. CRot

    Jan 4, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Is there a typo on the launch angle, seems very very low.

  26. Ron

    Jan 4, 2017 at 9:36 am

    My XR16 works fine. It’s a bit longer, but not quite as straight as my old Titleist 976R, which I was able to pipe down the middle most of the time. I’m toying with the idea of going back to it (though, to most of my mates, it looks like a 3W). If I look back at the drivers I’ve been suckered into buying over the past 10 years, if I gained 5 yds, it’s a lot.

    I think I’ll keep my current clubs and count my extra money instead.

    • Mike

      Jan 25, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      Well put Ron, There’s an old adage, if it goes well don’t change it, Love my 2016 GBB rear slider, and the Fujikura speeder 60 R shaft

  27. Desmond

    Jan 4, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Would have preferred a collective review by several golfers – not just one guy who can hit a DBD on the screws.

  28. G.W

    Jan 4, 2017 at 9:33 am

    So you are at a Callaway fitting centre and you are launching the ball at 8 degrees. The fitter should be let go. I’m sorry but that is crazy.It appears that they did not fit you properly for any of the clubs in the test.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Jan 4, 2017 at 9:47 am

      G.W.,

      I was fit for the Epic the day before this test. And based on Trackman’s optimal launch conditions for my swing speed (about 115) and average angle of attack (about 0), I was optimized for the Epic. Here’s a link to a great story about this very topic from our Trackman Master Tom Stickney: http://www.golfwrx.com/303248/how-far-you-can-actually-hit-your-driver/.

      • G.W

        Jan 4, 2017 at 10:07 am

        I apologize.I guess I having been watching to many youtube guys claiming to carry the ball 295 with a 115 swing.I thought the 8 degree launch seemed very low but obviously it works for you.Thanks for the reply.

        • Zak Kozuchowski

          Jan 4, 2017 at 11:13 am

          Yes, a lot of people think they need to be launching their drives at 17 degrees and with 1700 rpm of spin to optimize results, and for some it does. Bubba Watson can do it on demand, but even his average launch angle on the PGA Tour in 2016 was 9.73 degrees.

          As we write all the time, the most important part about buying a new driver is being properly fit. When golfers do that and upgrade to the newest technology, very impressive results often occur. It can be game changing!

  29. Desmond

    Jan 4, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Seems as if the difference will be more consistency with the extreme higher MOI and a tighter fit due to head choices and adjustements.

    As many have stated, a perfect strike makes little difference – It’s the forgiveness and fit that give you better and more consistent (longer) driving.

  30. Greg V

    Jan 4, 2017 at 9:05 am

    If you were rarely missing the screws with the Alpha 816 DBD, I hope that you took that very driver home with you!

  31. tzed

    Jan 4, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Still not enough progress for me to change my Cobra Amp Cell. I’ll spend the $500 on 8 lessons from my club pro.

  32. Moses

    Jan 4, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Wow. First Ping, then Titleist, then TM and now Callaway. The latest and greatest is worse/same than previous years model. M1 2016 = M2 2017, G30>G, 915>917, and GBB DBD > Epic SZ. This is why the used golf club market is so strong and more and more people don’t buy new anymore

  33. Kenny

    Jan 4, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Is there going to be a version with a non-adjustable hosel?

  34. Perry

    Jan 4, 2017 at 8:15 am

    Why would anyone expect to expect higher ball speed? Ball speed is capped. Jailbreak or no… MOI is capped. The only thing left to do is expand the sweet spot and aerodynamics. That’s it.

    • The Club Nut

      Jan 4, 2017 at 8:35 am

      I think most people were expecting something closer to the actual limit of ball speed and MOI. while things are close, nothing is really “maxxed out” on more than one of the numbers if at all. If you get to the maximum limits, minus the error allowed, then you can get more distance, but i feel that callaway definitely under delivered on this driver given all the advertising and promises.

      • Perry

        Jan 4, 2017 at 2:32 pm

        Anyone that doesn’t think balls speed is maxed out is on glue. Every few years there is a recall on a driver that’s too hot. Remember the original Nike SuMo that every said was short? Recalled for being too hot, and the conforming one got replaced with the circle version. I had a Mizuno MP-001 that was amazingly long. It also made the non-conforming list. MOI maxed out is basically do you want to go square or not.

        MOI only helps curvature due to gear effect. Even with a max MOI you can slice the ball with a path angle inside the face angle.

  35. Jim

    Jan 4, 2017 at 8:10 am

    One ‘good hop’ longer for 400+? I don’t think so…puke green – again?…It didn’t fly even one or two shots remarkedly longer in testing?

    If it proves to be more forgiving, it’ll last 6 months. It’ll be on sale @ the remaining DSG ‘pro shops’ (lol) for 299 by July 4th either way

  36. Spitty

    Jan 4, 2017 at 7:32 am

    Excellent initial review, the 816 has been out for a couple of years now there is still plenty in the marketplace. , yet according to your data and review, not much as changed. I am some what surprised by this givin the name “EPIC” and the subliminal advertising.

  37. TheCityGame

    Jan 4, 2017 at 7:23 am

    Make no mistake, the biggest thing you’re paying for is this —> http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/08/fashion/color-of-the-year-2017-pantone-greenery.html

    An honest review. . .”that carbon fiber crown looks cool and that green is going to be in vogue this year and you’ll buy anything at this point.”

    You can be expected to gain .3 yards distance. Sounds like a good use of 500 dollars.

    Quote, “which allows the club face of the drivers to flex more and return more energy to the ball. More energy means more ball speed and more distance.”

    So…they’ve bypassed the COR limits?

    “And many will see bigger gains, particularly if they’re coming from a driver that’s two or more years old.”

    Yeah, those 3-year old drivers, with the old COR limits. So short. Please try to convince me this club is longer than my G15. I’d love to hear it.

  38. Joseph

    Jan 4, 2017 at 6:53 am

    Thanks. Doesn’t seem like there is enough difference here to justify the $$ going from an M1, or at least from prior Callaway.

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Equipment

The ‘game-changing’ Autoflex shaft: A year in review

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Last year in August, I introduced the now-famous AutoFlex golf shaft to the English-speaking world here on GolfWRX (Korea’s Autoflex shaft: Challenging the conventional wisdom of golf).

Created by Dumina Co. in South Korea, the upstart shaft challenged the commonly-held view that flexible shafts are not only straighter but longer as well. In the weeks that followed, the neon pink shaft exploded onto the golf scene fueled by a series of videos from TXG’s Ian Fraser and Matt Blois, who seemed equally amazed at the unexpected results. And from the depths of obscurity where so many would-be ‘game changers’ remained, the legend of the Autoflex was born.

Looking back, it may have been the perfect storm – an innovative, ultralight, and flexible shaft with a mysterious “Korea Hidden Technology” appearing at the height of the golf boom brought on by a pandemic. The fact that the manufacturer refused to patent their know-how to protect the technology only added to the intrigue.

Shortly after TXG first introduced the “mysterious Autoflex,” the pink shaft made its appearance on all the major tours. Some of the tour pros to put Autoflex in play included Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Ernie Els, Fred Couples, and Michelle Wie West, with dozens more requesting to try the new shaft.

Although the specific technology behind the shaft remains hidden, tens of thousands have since taken the plunge to track down the bright pink shaft despite the high price tag.

According to Dumina, Autoflex shafts are now available in most golfing countries and major OEMs such as Titleist and Srixon/Cleveland/XXIO have added the Autoflex to their premium fitting matrix.

So what have we learned in the space of one year? Recently, I spent several days scouring the Internet to see what the people have been saying about the shaft in posts, reviews, videos, forums, and testimonials.

From the thousands of actual golfers, club fitters, and pros who have tested or played the AutoFlex, the consensus is:

  • The majority of users seem to agree that the Autoflex driver shaft is the real deal in providing increased ball speed (as high as +8mph) with overall carry distance and accuracy, just by changing a shaft and without any additional effort (i.e. speed swing or physical training).
  • The shaft seems to work best when the overall swing weight of the driver is between C8 to D0. This is radically different from the ‘normal’ D2~D5 swing weight for heavier, stiffer conventional shafts.
  • Many raised the concern that swinging such a flexible shaft would not readily translate to swinging a stiffer shaft on the following shots. However, many users, including myself, reported that the swings felt no different going from Autoflex to a conventional shaft and back again during the round.
  • Despite the shaft feeling extremely whippy when waggled, golfers said they came to trust the clubhead to catch up to the ball at impact even when swung hard. A few golfers with an aggressive transition said the shaft actually helped to smooth out their tempo on all their clubs.
  • Initially thought to target the slow swing speed golfers with a smooth transition, the shaft has been proven by numerous users to perform well for faster swings in excess of 120mph with aggressive transitions.

The above summary may seem to paint the Autoflex as the new golf messiah, but not all reviews were glowing.

I would be remiss not to mention the handful of golfers who saw no increased benefit whatsoever with the Autoflex. There were also a few golfers who likened the shaft to “snake oil”, but most of them did not seem to have actually tried one for themselves.

Most famous perhaps is the video review by Rick Shiels, who was disappointed at the lower-than-expected results. However, many replies on the channel pointed out that the swing weight may have been too heavy (D4~D5), and needs to be fitted to the recommended balance as it is not a “plug and play” shaft.

There were also some instances where golfers reported their shaft breaking or cracks appearing along the shaft. Luckily, the shafts are equipped with a warranty sticker and many reported that the company was quick in response with a replacement. On their website, Dumina recommends utmost care during club fitting as the walls of the butt end and tip are quite thin (be careful when tightening that vice!).

On the whole, however, the online feedback seemed overwhelmingly positive, and that the Autoflex shaft can indeed improve driving performance when dialed into their specified swing speeds.

Co-founders of Dumina Co., Chairman Gun-yul Park and CEO Doona Jeong.

The inevitable questions soon followed. What’s their secret? Many guesses were thrown into the hat, ranging from non-Newtonian materials to KHT being an elaborate marketing scheme.

Could it be all along that golfers can benefit from using a much lower-flex shaft than their current gamers? I have tried several times to coax Dumina into giving me some hints, but so far, they gave nothing away other than stating that their tech and materials are capable of hundreds of new combinations.

According to its two-year product cycle, Dumina plans to release its new shaft models in the fall of 2022.

Other common questions I’ve seen were about their fairway and iron shafts. These shafts cost less than the driver shaft ($790) but are still expensive enough to give most golfers pause. The fairway wood and hybrid shafts retail for $675 each, while an iron shaft will set you back at $210 per shaft. Since becoming smitten with the driver shaft last summer, I managed to save up for the SF505 Autoflex shafts to be installed in all my woods and irons 6 months ago.

So are they worth the money? Below is my experience using the Autoflex SF505 shafts in all my woods and irons.

AutoFlex Driver and Woods

I have been using the SF405 shaft in my Cobra F9 since last year, and switched to SF505 with SIM2 Max 9° head early March. Despite the small fortune spent, I have been quite pleased with the results. When built to 45”, my driver came to C8 with the 24g stock weight in the head. It was good, but I wanted to feel the clubhead a bit more on the downswing. I
added about two grams of lead tape to bring the balance slightly past C9, and it is perfect for my average swing speed of 95mph. This setting is very comfortable to swing throughout the round, and my overall driving distance increased just under 20 yards.

As many users have attested online, one amazing benefit of the Autoflex shaft is that it allows me to feel the shaft loading as would a faster player swinging a much stiffer flex at 110+ mph. Thus, even at my slower swing speed I can feel the shaft actively loading and releasing explosively through the impact. The feeling is nothing short of glorious, and I believe this addictive feeling is a big part of the Autoflex charm. With the success of the driver shaft, I changed all the shafts in my woods and irons to the SF505 this March.

Driver: SIM2 Max 9° total 45” @C9; Fairway woods 3,5,7: Knuth High heat @D0; Irons: Yonex CB-301 5-P
@C9~D1

The distance gain with my 3-wood (210-220 yds) was barely noticeable, but the 5- and 7- wood carry distance increased by 10~12 yards. The fairway woods and hybrid are all from Knuth Golf, which came with Fujikura Atmos shafts at D2~D3. After switching to Autoflex, the lighter club heads coupled with the 46g pink shaft came to D0 swing weight. Just like the driver, the woods felt light and whippy compared to their conventional counterparts.

I find I don’t need to swing harder for the extra distance and the smoother tempo allows me to hit the center of the face more often. As a result, there is less chance of cold-topping the ball or pulling it left, and I am less afraid to pull out the longer clubs. The distinct kick at impact is also felt in the woods, but not as much as the driver. Depending on my condition and course, I switch out my 7-wood with the 4-hybrid. The hybrid feels a lot like a regular club, but a much lighter weight can be felt when compared to a normal hybrid club.

AutoFlex Irons

I tested both of the SF405 and SF505 iron shaft models and chose to go with the latter. I used Golf Pride Velvet Lite grips to get the swing weight between C9~D1 throughout the set.

Although the stiffer model of the two, the 505 shaft is still very light at 52g even when uncut. Unlike the driver shafts that range up to SF505XX flex for high-speed swings, the current iron shaft models are for average swing speed golfers between 80-100mph (driver SS).

Before switching, I played MFS Matrix Program 70 shafts weighing 79g uncut, and NS pro 950s steel shafts before that. My idea was to go lighter and still maintain adequate stiffness for control. I had pretty good success with the Matrix graphite shafts and carried on average 140~145 meters (153~158 yds) with my 7-iron on the course.

At first, the SF505 shaft actually didn’t feel too different. Perhaps I was already used to the lighter overall club weight from using the Matrix shafts. Also, the waggle test still produced a lot of whip, but not to the level of the driver and fairway shafts. Right away, I felt I could swing hard or smooth and still feel the clubhead following into the impact zone quite nicely.

It took about a week to get better acquainted with the new swing weight, but the overall transition into the new shaft was quite easy. I now average 150~155 meters (164~169 yds) with the same 7 iron (34 degrees loft). The spin is about the same as before at a low 4000rpm range, but the ball launches a tad higher for that extra carry distance. For those who play often in windy conditions, the added peak height may not be beneficial.

On the whole, the Autoflex iron shafts did improve my distance, swing tempo and accuracy over the last two shafts I’ve used. While I have seen equally good distance gains with other premium carbon shafts such as Steelfiber and MCI, there is no doubt that my dispersion got better. My iron play from within 150 yards improved noticeably, and I can swing more uniformly throughout the round.

Also, dropping down one club into the green helped both my GIR and putting average. I was a decent iron player to begin with, but the added distance with less exertion made the game easier on the body and the scorecard.

Looking at my past five-game average on a GolfZon simulator, I saw significant gains in all aspects of my game. To be sure, it is a simulated golf round and can’t compare to the actual course, but my numbers have all jumped up.

Compared to the tens of thousands of Korean golfers in my handicap/skills bracket, I am well above average except in putting. My driver averaged 226.8 meters (about 250 yards), launching at around 12~13° with 1900~2000rpm. This is an increase of about 20 yards B.A,

(Before Autoflex) and FIR has also jumped from the previous 55% to 74.2%. Greens in regulation improved by about 11% to 76.6%, and this is the indication that my iron play has gotten much more effective in terms of distance and dispersion. I have played over 370 virtual rounds on GolfZon over the past 12 years, and I can honestly say that my numbers
have never looked better. If I can only take these numbers onto a real course, I’d be golden.

Conclusion

If I had to list the Autoflex shafts in order of performance for my golf game, it would first be the driver followed by iron, fairway, and hybrid shafts. The driver shaft is simply like nothing I had ever used and has proven to be worth every penny. The rest of the shafts are honestly equally good, but in terms of cost and the amount of use during a round, I figured that iron shafts are the better value.

So is Autoflex the answer for all? Of course not. No single product can possibly satisfy the countless number of unique golfer swings in the world. The price of the shafts alone would be a big pill to swallow for most golfers, and the gains may not be enough to justify the cost for some.

But as high-end club manufacturers have shown recently, more and more consumers are willing to pay for products that provide real-world performance. At the end of the day, it’s up to each individual to decide where price and performance intersect for their own budget and golf game.

Moreover, the Autoflex shaft taught me that we may be missing out on playing better golf, simply because we take certain notions in golf to be true without really questioning them. To be sure, I never believed that a more flexible shaft could be both longer and straighter, but I am more than happy to be proven wrong. For me, the Autoflex shafts truly delivered what it promised, and stands out among the dozens of “game-changer” products I have tried over the years.

Lastly, I hope the story of the Autoflex further helps to encourage all golfers and manufacturers to re-think and reexamine other previously-held notions in golf. For, who knows what other benefits we may be overlooking to take this amazing game to the next level?

How about it? What has been your game-changer of late?

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Equipment

Most forgiving driving iron without much offset – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing driving irons. WRXer ‘Gentles’ is on the hunt for the biggest and most forgiving driving irons that don’t have much offset, and our members have been sharing their best picks in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Boogeyman: “SIM DHY has very little offset and is definitely on the bigger side. Maybe even too big for your liking? It’s basically the replacement for GAPR Mid without adjustability but with much-improved looks and feels”
  • Bunkersarebigcups: “U510 is as big and forgiving as it gets. Offset is not minimal but less than the Crossover for sure.”
  • cflo2382: “The New Level NLU-01 might be a good option. They removed a lot of offset compared to their first utility (4995HB). Fantastic feel too.”
  • Spankopotamusredux: “GAPR is money. Like it better than both the Srixon and the Titleist for my game. I think it’s quite an underrated club. Can be found new old stock for $100 or less.”

Entire Thread: “Most forgiving driving iron without much offset”

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Equipment

Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (10/1/21): Tour-Issue SIM2 Max Driver

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At GolfWRX, we love golf, plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing we all love – buy and selling equipment.

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a Tour-Issue SIM2 Max Driver

From the seller (@HoganHQ): “TaylorMade SIM 2 Max Tour issue 8 degree (tour only head) with Ventus Black 5x, plays a hair over 45 inches length, includes original wrapper with detailed specs, built by People’s golf, mint. $900.

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Tour-Issue SIM2 Max Driver

This is the most impressive current listing from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

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