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Callaway Epic Flash, Epic Flash Sub Zero are built with machine learning, artificial intelligence

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With the Callaway Epic Flash Driver, the company builds on the very successful 2017 GBB Epic line. The Carlsbad-based company follows up the Epic-complementing Rogue with a driver whose story isn’t immediately visible upon a first glance at the club.

Flash Face technology is the centerpiece of the Callaway 2019 driver offering, and with it, beyond the usual distance-boosting claims, the company has done something truly interesting: leveraged artificial intelligence to create a golf club.

From an appearance standpoint, the inside of the titanium face features dozens of flowing ripples across the entire surface. While it may look like effects of a stone dropped into a pond or a topographic map, the structures actually work together to elevate the COR or the center of face. As expected, this yields increased ballspeed for longer drives.

Interior of Callaway’s Flash Face

Callaway leveraged A.I. and Machine Learning to cycle through 15,000 face architecture iterations, developing a more efficient structure with each one. For comparison, engineers typically do eight to 10 iterations of a new driver face.

“We couldn’t have come up with Flash Face using conventional engineering principles,” said Dr. Alan Hocknell, senior vice president of R&D. “We wouldn’t have gone in this direction without A.I. because it’s non-intuitive compared to previous face technologies, including our own VFT and X-Face. The wave configuration isn’t symmetrical, nor does the pattern seem logical. Yet the ripples work together in a complex manner to maximize ball speed. There’s never been anything like Flash Face before in golf equipment, and the effect on performance is intense.”

Callaway Epic Flash driver

Introduced in the original Epic driver of 2017, Jailbreak Technology is again a feature of Callaway’s driver offering this year.

To refresh, the technology positions two hourglass-shaped titanium bars parallel to one another behind the face. The ultimate effect of the technology is a more efficient face, which equals more ball speed, which equals more distance, according to the company.

Callaway also equips the Epic Flash with an MOI-boosting T2C triaxial carbon crown. As is the becoming an industry standard, the weight savings in the lightweight crown are redistributed in the body of the club. The triaxial carbon, which is-third the density of titanium, is twice as strong as previous iterations with a weight-saving tighter weave. The company has been using carbon composite technology since the 2011 Diablo Octane and Razr Hawk drivers.

Callaway-Epic-Flash-Sole

Another feature of the 2017 GBB Epic, and one that wasn’t included in last year’s Rogue, adjustable perimeter weighting returns in the Epic Flash driver. You know the drill: the sliding 16-gram rearward weight is adjustable for a draw, fade, or neutral bias.

Specs and availability

Product at Retail: February 1

MSRP: $529.99

Lofts: 9, 10.5, 12 degrees

Stock shaft options: Project X EvenFlow, Project X HZRDUS Smoke and Mitsubishi Tensei AV

Grip: Golf Pride Tour Velvet ALIGN Grip with a special green reminder ridge unique to the Epic Flash

Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero driver

With a 12-gram sliding weight on a track located at the back of the head, the Flash Sub Zero includes Adjustable Perimeter Weighting (APW) technology in a Sub Zero driver for the first time in this low-spin, high MOI offering.

In addition to the draw/fade adjustability afforded by the APW, the Epic Flash Sub Zero also features a weight embedded low and forward in the sole for CG lowering and spin reduction. The standard weight can be swapped out for lighter or heavier options via custom ordering.

“The Epic Flash Sub Zero driver is an extraordinary club,” said Gibbs. “Flash Face is a genuine ball speed innovation, and so is Jailbreak. Putting APW in a Sub Zero driver for the first time is a huge accomplishment. And it retains the rare combination of low spin and high MOI that have made our Sub Zero drivers so popular. We’re confident that a lot of golfers are going to hit longer drives than they ever have before with this club.”

Specs and availability

Product at Retail: February 1

MSRP: $529.99

Lofts: 9, 10.5 degrees

Stock shaft options: Project X HZRDUS Smoke and Mitsubishi Tensei AV

Grip: Golf Pride Tour Velvet ALIGN Grip with a special green reminder ridge unique to the Epic Flash

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37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. TAYORswiftMADE

    Jan 6, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    Huh, really, TM rep. It didn’t help tiger wins more major. in fact , the twist face didn’t help tiger keeps the ball in the fairway.

  2. Hellyeaigolf

    Jan 5, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    You people with your “go ahead and waste your money, gearheads” talk sound resentful because you frankly just can’t afford it. There is new tech in these drivers whether you want to believe it or not. I do agree that buying a new driver every year might not be necessary but I’m not knocking anyone that does.

    • Al

      Jan 8, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      Go to you tube and watch Rick Shiels videos. He has reviewed a lot of golf clubs. One of his videos compares several drivers, from the same brand to each other. In other words he compared the latest and greatest from a certain brand, and compares it to the older models from the same brand. He did that with a few popular brands. His take was that there wasn’t enough difference in the new clubs to make it worth upgrading. He actually found that some of the older versions were better than the newest. If you have money you want to throw away, or you get a boner having the newest clubs, by all means, buy away!

  3. Travis

    Jan 5, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    I can’t wait to see what the 2020 releases look like… Callaway states that their fancy “AI” came up with this as the face design. So that means you can never, ever switch face designs, right? This is apparently “the best”. Then Taylormade says now they’ve made their faces illegal but dialed them back with foam… what’s next? We’ve made our faces SUPER illegal and added MORE foam! This is all market BS at its finest…

  4. Steve

    Jan 5, 2019 at 11:14 am

    Ripples…..twist face….everybody advancing…..McDonald Douglas…Boeing
    Rockets….
    How about moving up a couple tee’s….that will put short irons back in play….or just make courses shorter
    How does one expect to grow the game when only the rich can play….. $550. drivers..
    $4000. set of clubs at the bag drop…
    $100. to $500. green fees…..and 5 hour rounds….
    and I play for $2.00…front,back, 18..

    Pretty funny when you think about it

  5. Joe Sudeith

    Jan 5, 2019 at 2:28 am

    Epic Flash with AI? This is the worst release I have ever seen. Callaway has hit rock bottom with this release and I will never look at there products again. Everyone involved with this design should be fired!!!!

  6. ogo

    Jan 5, 2019 at 12:18 am

    epic — particularly impressive or remarkable….
    flash — ostentatiously expensive, elaborate, or up to date…..
    Epic Flash — impressively remarkable, ostentatiously expensive, elaborately up to date.
    Yup.. sorta fits…. 😉

    • Regis

      Jan 5, 2019 at 7:16 am

      I think next year’s edition should be called “Bling”. The Epic “Bling”. It’s loud. It’s colorful and all your friends and partners will know you’re gaming the latest driver from Callaway. Man that headcover is so dope, I gotta get me one.

  7. smz

    Jan 4, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Golfers who will buy these new clubs do not read WRX comments because they are pasionately besotted with new toys with new colors and new built-in gadgetry. They are anonymous gearheads with more money than brains or talent.

    • PeterP

      Jan 4, 2019 at 8:13 pm

      Since most gearhead golfers lack intelligence, a dose of ‘artificial’ intelligence built into their golf clubs may be the solution to prevalent duffing and hacking. One can only hope. Great product Callaway.

  8. smz

    Jan 4, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    Golfers who will buy these new clubs do not read WRX comments because they are passionately besotted with new toys with new colors and new built-in gadgetry. They are anonymous gearheads with more money than brains or talent.

  9. Golfraven

    Jan 4, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    AI, really? Where is the golf world heading?

  10. Jim Powell

    Jan 4, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    I have been golfing for over 40 years and have always kept my equipment up-to-date to take advantage of new technology. Callaway’s new drivers and fairways are the most technologically advanced designs I have ever seen. The Epic Flash are must-have golf clubs in my WITB equipment.

    • Gregor

      Jan 4, 2019 at 3:16 pm

      Hahahaha. Love this sarcasm. Your wit is so dry. Well done sir.

    • Scheiss

      Jan 4, 2019 at 4:52 pm

      Jim
      How long have you worked for Callaway

    • dat

      Jan 4, 2019 at 10:45 pm

      You should design the next set using a bitcoin based economy as your inspiration.

  11. Speedy

    Jan 4, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    Is this meant to entice Marvel movie fans? Good luck with that.

  12. Tom

    Jan 4, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Its good to hear Callaway utilized artificial intelligence in the products’ design, because if consumers buy this marketing hype they will prove they have NO INTELLIGENCE! Sellers Be Sellin! Save your cash….USGA equipment standards all but make it impossible for manufacturers to introduce anything new with any meaningful performance advantage…duh!

    • Speedy

      Jan 4, 2019 at 2:50 pm

      NI. Right on, Tom

    • smz

      Jan 4, 2019 at 3:08 pm

      But these new club designs are so fabulous and will give you extra status when playing with your buddies. Soooo sweeeet….

  13. DB

    Jan 4, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    Has anyone else noticed that “artificial intelligence” used to mean sentient intelligence in a computer life form, and now just means “We ran some algorithms and programs on the computer and it said these wave patterns were the best”. Uhhh… OK.

    AI has become a buzzword, it doesn’t mean anything.

  14. ~j~

    Jan 4, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    Years of research and advanced technologies and this ugly mallet is what they came up with?

    Green/Yellow = fail.

    AI and ML generated ‘waves’? I can’t see this being legitimate as there’s too much dispersion between golfers to produce anything near as consistent as a computer generated test could perform. ‘for best results, hit the ball squarely and perfectly off this pin-sized dot at precisely at 120mph’.

  15. ogo

    Jan 4, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    … drool… drool… drool… {{{sigh}}}

  16. HDTVMAN

    Jan 4, 2019 at 10:54 am

    I like the adjustable weighting, but if you have purchased a new driver in the last 4 years, any brand, don’t expect much more length and tighter dispersion. Modern drivers can’t get much closer to the USGA numbers for fear that some, during manufacturing, might exceed the max and become non-conforming. Before buying a new driver, compare your current model to the new model on the same monitor with the same balls. Don’t worry about spin or any numbers besides carry and your dispersion pattern. Anything less than 10 years with similar dispersion, put your money away!

    • Daniel

      Jan 4, 2019 at 5:01 pm

      MY driver is a 2007 TM SuperQuad. Took it to PGA Superstore last summer and hit it up against the TM M1 and Callaway Rogue. I gained 5 yards on average, with no better accuracy. I looked at the fitter and said I don’t think paying $500 for 5 yards is worth it. He nodded and said no its not.
      I’ll keep testing that driver every year until something comes out that can give me real improvement. I bet I get 5-10 more years out of this one.

      • Tom

        Jan 4, 2019 at 5:35 pm

        Daniel you can probably get that 5 yards in your 2007 TM SuperQuad if you simply upgrade its shaft. That was a great head.

    • Jeffrey

      Jan 4, 2019 at 5:07 pm

      Amen. I still play Titleist 913 Driver. I have compared every later model Titleist driver up against it on the course, and for ME, found very little to no difference.

  17. dat

    Jan 4, 2019 at 9:58 am

    “AI” “Machine Learning” – may as well throw in “blockchain” as the lemmings who buy this $530 technobabble would buy it anyway even if it was no better than the last couple generations you can get used for a fraction of the price!

    Slow down the release cycle. Clearly it worked for Titleist this time around.

    • Anon

      Jan 4, 2019 at 10:33 am

      Got something else to complain about? People still buy new stuff. That doesn’t mean it’s for you.

      • dat

        Jan 4, 2019 at 10:43 am

        That’s all for now. Go ahead and purchase.

    • Soreno

      Jan 4, 2019 at 10:24 pm

      They have gone every 2 years just like Ping and Titleist. The original Epic came out in 2017. The Rogue was a different series or model. It’ll be replaced next year. Now Taylormade still goes every year.

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Whats in the Bag

Matt Jones’ winning WITB: 2021 Honda Classic

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Driver: Titleist TSi2 (10 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 7 X

3-wood: Titleist TSi3 (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Dual TiNi 80 TX

Irons: Mizuno MP Fli-Hi (2), Titleist 712MB (4-PW)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 (52-08F @51, 56-10S), SM8 (58-08M @60)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS Prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

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Whats in the Bag

Justin Harding’s winning WITB: 2021 Magical Kenya Open

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Driver: Titleist TSi3 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD IZ

3-wood: Titleist TS2 (13.5 degrees)

5-wood: Titleist TS2 (18 degrees)

Irons: Titleist U500 (4), Titleist 620 MB (5-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design Wedgeworks (50, 54-M, SM8 (58-T)

Putter: Odyssey V-Line (long)

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

 

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Equipment

Srixon ZX7 irons: A development deep dive

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Upon their release, Srixon ZX7 irons became the fastest irons to be put into play by Srixon staff members—and at GolfWRX we took notice. ZX7’s even replaced some of the most long-standing irons in play on the PGA Tour including multiple sets of the cult classic Z745’s.

As someone who has always been enamored by the engineering and design process, I reached out to Srixon to get the inside scoop on how the ZX7 irons were so successful from the start. I spoke with Srixon’s Tour Engineering Manager Patrick Ripp about the development process.

Ryan Barath: How long is a development cycle for irons, and what does that timeline look like? 

Patrick Ripp: Development is non-stop, and we typically work on two-year product cycles roughly broken down into six-month blocks.

  • Research phase: This involves blue sky research for new technologies—new materials, performance directions for a specific market segment, and doing research into new manufacturing techniques.
  • Design (industrial design): This is the “whiteboard phase” and includes a lot of early sketching before moving into 3D CAD ( computer-aided design).
  • Development: This is all about working with our manufacturing partners on new capabilities, confirming our design will be achievable with the manufacturing techniques that we are pursuing before a pilot run sampling and final spec setting.
  • Production: The final step is to start mass production to hit forecasts for product launch dates.

There is quite a bit of overlap and a lot of collaborations across the teams, but that is the simplest way to break it down.

Now, when it comes to tour products, the schedule is pulled forward when we introduce products on tour prior to the public release. This introduction phase is one of the most valuable research periods for the next generation products. The introduction allows us to get the most in-depth testing and performance feedback as players work the new product into play.

Tour product research is generally non-stop as we are constantly fitting which can turn into testing based on the fitting results. If we need to solve a specific issue, we can easily and quickly prototype new concepts for further testing. If the testing goes well, the new feature or technology may end up in the next generation product line.

RB: As far as product creation is concerned, you talked about the sketching process—are there specific points of inspiration for creating new products?

PR: In terms of inspiration, it is different for every individual. For engineering, there is definitely a lot of inspiration pulled from other sports products. Aerospace is another big influence with a lot of our engineers studying or even coming from that background. The designers seem to pull design line inspiration and details from the automotive industry. Modern tech products and sports products are always on the inspiration boards during presentations.

Like so many others, the R&D team is always sharing YouTube clips of new manufacturing and finishing techniques that we might be able to take advantage of in the future.

RB: How do you decide on the final aesthetics, and how much does that relate to performance?

PR: We have a talented internal industrial design team within our R&D structure, and they handle a lot of the early design research. Typically, starting with 2D sketching, then 2D rendering, and then moving into the 3D CAD files to confirm CG properties. The engineers will work closely with the design team throughout that process.

In the 2D work, engineers provide CG targets and feedback on the design feature and how they might influence the CG properties good or bad.

For a one-piece forged cavity back iron like the 7 Series, the design has a massive influence on the performance. You need to adjust all your discretionary weight through design features. This makes it very important to choose the correct design early and then have a lot of collaboration between the engineers and industrial design to achieve the final production design.

RB: One of the most popular iron Srixon ever produced was the Z745. Was this the starting point for the new ZX7, or was it a from-scratch process working with tour players to deliver on their requests?

PR: We didn’t start from scratch on the ZX7’s, especially with the success of the 785’s on tour, but we did make a point to take a step back and reassess our Srixon iron lines. With the rebranding to the ZX line from the previous numbering system, we wanted to make sure this product line was more than a subtle evolution from the previous generation of irons.

For the 7 Series specifically, we wanted to understand what has been successful on tour and why certain models resonated with our tour staff. Obviously, the 745’s and even the 945’s have been really successful for us on tour, and the few players who were not playing the 785’s or Z-Forged were definitely in the 45 Series products. With the 45’s and 85’s being the most successful tour products, we started to iterate off of what made those irons lines so popular and how we might be able to improve on them.

As you may have picked up on the ZX7 irons, they are basically a beast of the Z745’s and Z785’s for shape and sole with upgrades all over, including tweaks to the V Sole specs. The other upgrades in the design are all thanks to the new tour cavity, which puts the sweet spot closer to the scoreline center and offers improvements to hi/low MOI for greater consistency.

The ZX7’s tour introduction has been the most successful iron introduction in our company’s history, even with the restrictions that we have had on tour throughout the introduction phase. Since the restart of the PGA Tour on the west coast, after players have had time to test over the winter, we have 90 percent (20 out of 22) of our PGA Tour staff playing in-line irons. Four of those 20 sets are Z-Forged and the rest are ZX7.

We only have one set of 785’s and one set of 745’s still in play. We have also had four players switch out of blades into the ZX7’s. It has been amazing to see the conversion and hear the positive feedback about the new ZX line.

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