Our Callaway GBB Epic v Callaway XR16 driver test took place on the practice ground at Reunion Resort in Orlando, where conditions on the day were warm but windy.
We would normally use our Anonymous Big Hitter for a test of this nature, but he didn’t get international clearance so we drafted in his American cousin, Randy.
Our resident pro James Whitaker was on hand to help us monitor the data on Trackman 4.
Callaway GBB Epic vs. Callaway XR16 driver test – The methodology
This one actually came as a request in the comments section on our YouTube channel.
The Callaway XR16 has been a fantastic driver. It helped Danny Willett and Henrik Stenson to major championship victories in 2016.
But we are seeing a lot of tour player switching to the Epic.
The XR16 has been out for about just over a year now and we wouldn’t necessarily expect golfers to be looking for an upgrade already.
But it’s always interesting to see what performance benefits a new product may or may not have.
The Epic has been the best performing driver for us in terms of ball speed so far this year.
It has been about 2mph faster than its nearest competitors.
We asked Randy to hit about five shots with each driver and then looked at the data.
It was the same shaft in each driver and both heads were 10.5˚.
The XR16 driver was up first but Randy had warmed up for about an hour before hitting.
Callaway GBB Epic vs. Callaway XR16 driver test – The technology
The XR16 was the first driver where Callaway worked with Boeing to create their speed-step crown.
This helps the club move through the air with less drag, adding club head speed.
The Epic also utilises this speed-step technology on the crown but also features what Callaway call Jailbreak technology.
This involves two titanium bars which connect the crown and the sole to allow the face to recoil more on impact.
There’s also a sliding weight at the rear of the sole to promote draw or fade bias.
Callaway GBB Epic vs. Callaway XR16 driver test – The results
It was really impressive to see how tight the dispersion was with the XR16.
Every shot was finding the middle of the fairway with ball speeds of 165-169mph.
Another thing which struck me was just how sweet the sound is off the face.
The XR16 is definitely one of my favourite-ever Callaway drivers as it’s very confidence inspiring at address and very user friendly.
I think players of all levels can have success with it.
When we came to the Epic, the performance was very similar. It maybe launched fraction lower and had a couple of extra mph when it came to ball speed.
Callaway GBB Epic vs. Callaway XR16 driver test – Conclusion
I don’t think there is enough evidence here to justify ditching your XR16 in favour of the Epic.
You may well get a little bit of extra ball speed but at a push I’d say you might get 8-10 yards of extra distance.
That may be enough for some people but I’d have to ask if it was really worth shelling out the money on a brand new driver.
If you’ve got a driver that’s a few years old – maybe an X2 Hot or original XR – you might see a more significant improvement in performance.
From our driver testing so far in 2017, the GBB Epic is still leading the way as far as I’m concerned from a pure ball speed point of view.
For more information visit the Callaway website.