Review: Callaway Rogue driverJanuary 16, 2018 Golf Equipment
Callaway go bigger but lighter with a focus on forgiveness and tighter dispersion writes equipment editor James Savage...
Our Callaway Rogue driver review took place at the brand’s launch event at Archerfield where we tested the driver in the performance centre then out on the Dirleton course.
We have also tested the Callaway Rogue driver out at Leeds Golf Centre, Hillsborough Golf Club and the Pete Cowen Golf Academy in Rotherham.
Callaway Rogue Driver review – First impressions
The Callaway Rogue driver follows the Epic which has been one of the most successful drivers in Callaway’s history.
The Epic was the number one driver for sales across Europe in 2017 with a really strong performance across the board.
It’s fairly obvious that the Callaway Rogue driver is going to be up against to improve on the Epic but Callaway are confident.
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— James Savage (@JamesSavageNCG) January 12, 2018
So what’s new with the Callaway Rogue driver? For starters, we have a new colour scheme which I’m told is ‘teal’ – a bluey, green.
My first impression was that it looked like a ladies range and the name Rogue to me makes me think of the character from the X-men comics who is a woman.
Just to clarify, this is not a ladies range but I guess it may have a unisex appeal.
The next thing to notice is that we no longer have a sliding weight and we have three models instead of the two which we had with the Epic.
So we have a standard Callaway Rogue driver, a Sub Zero model and a heel-weighted Draw model.
One key difference I immediately about the Callway Rogue driver was the fact it looks bigger and more confidence-inspiring at address than the Epic.
Overall, these drivers look fantastic with their carbon crowns and stylish sole designs.
Callaway Rogue Driver review – The technology
The Callaway Rogue driver focusses on forgiveness through it’s weight low and back design.
Visually the the Rogue is larger than the Epic but they are both still 460cc.
The key technology, as was with the Epic drivers, is called Jailbreak.
Callaway did a great job of telling this story last year with some clever marketing. It basically involves two titanium bars connecting the crown and the sole to allow the face to take more load.
This is supposed to produce faster ball speeds. Does it work? We think it does as the Epic drivers did have a couple of extra miles an hour ball speed than all the other drivers we tested in 2017.
But what’s different about Jailbreak the Callaway Rogue driver?
Well, the titanium bars are actually 25 percent lighter – and in a hourglass shape – than on the Epic so these weight savings are part of what has allowed Callaway to make the Rogue have a larger footprint.
Weight is also saved from a lighter face and the carbon crown.
We’ve also got the speed step crown which helps make the head more aerodynamic.
With the Rogue Draw driver we have extra weight placed in the heel to help those players who struggle to square or close the face. This should straighten out those left to right shots a little bit.
And with the Sub Zero model we have a lower-spinning, weight forward design. Callaway said the Sub Zero model should appeal more to the elite players.
We found that the Epic Sub Zero model was very playable for mid-handicappers but would expect 90 percent of handicap golfers to go into the regular Rogue or the Draw model.
Callaway Rogue Driver Q&A with head of R&D Alan Hocknell
Q: Where does this leave the Epic?
A: “Of course, our emphasis as a company will undoubtedly switch from Epic to Rogue when it is launched – it is sure to be used by many of our Staff Professionals on worldwide Tours (although some may still prefer Epic), it will be very prominent in-store and we will certainly be saying Rogue is the best driver we have ever made because, quite honestly, it is.
“However, there is still a very clear place for Epic, particularly in the custom-fitting environment where some players will wish to spend more time seeking what we call a ‘high fidelity’ fitting, using the adjustable sliding weight of Epic (which doesn’t feature in Rogue).
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— Callaway Golf (@CallawayGolf) January 16, 2018
Q: Why is Rogue better?
A: “It was a huge effort, but what we have created in Rogue is a trio of drivers – Standard, Draw and Sub Zero – that all surpass Epic in generating more ball speed, without compromise.
“Rogue Drivers are also some of our most forgiving ever, so every level of golfer can really see, and enjoy, the benefits. We have not compromised on any area of performance with Rogue, breaking free of previous design constraints, if you like.
“Fans of Epic will notice we have taken the sliding weight track and carbon composite structure away from the sole, and have gone for a more direct fitting solution which will make custom-fitting easier to achieve. Golfers trying Rogue for the first time will quickly see which driver is a direct fit for them.”
Q: How does Jailbreak generate more speed?
A: “Rogue was focused on how we optimised the relationship between the second generation of hourglass-shaped Jailbreak and the face.
“Rather than focusing on the structural benefits of the cast titanium bars in isolation, we worked hard on the relationship between the bars and face, and what they collectively did to ball speed.
“What the Jailbreak Effect allowed us to do was re-study how we create face flexibility.
“Of course, Callaway has used variable face thicknesses for a long time, and had them with the ‘X’ shape in the middle before, but we have never had one that is this aggressive, in terms of its lightest overall weight, thinnest area around the perimeter and the outer reaches of the face, and slightly thicker middle.”
Callaway Rogue Driver review – The results
From the outset I did find the Rogue driver offered me more confidence at address than the Epic. But it still looks just as stunning.
When I started hitting the Callaway Rogue driver I enjoyed the same sound and feel as the Epic – a really pleasing, solid sound. Is that the Jailbreak technology coming into play? I’m not sure but it does feel like the ball has been given an almighty whack when you find the middle.
And when you don’t find the middle the carry seems to be very strong. I found the dispersion with the Callaway Rogue driver to be a bit tighter than the Epic which is great news for someone like me who struggles with the driver.
As you can see from the numbers, this driver (which was the regular model) was working well for me. Anything that goes around 250 and fairly straight is fantastic for me.
That ball speed of 144mph is the fastest of my winter driver testing so far. I’ll be looking to improve on that with some warm weather testing in the coming weeks.
Callaway Rogue Driver review – NCG verdict
Does the Callaway Rogue driver improve on the Epic? Yes, I’m pretty certain it does.
Does it make the Epic driver obsolete or in need of an upgrade? No it doesn’t.
To make the number one driver better is a fantastic achievement from Callaway but I still don’t think anyone needs to part with their Epic driver. Unless they can get a superb trade-in deal.
The Callaway Rogue Driver does what it set out to do and that was to be a bit more forgiving and confidence-inspiring.
And with the three options, it should be very easy to find the one that works best for you.
Callaway Rogue Driver details
Lofts: 9˚, 10.5˚, 13.5˚
Stock shafts: A wide range of premium no-upcharge aftermarket shafts at 40g, 50g, 60g, 70g and 80g weights, including Aldila Quaranta, Aldila Synergy, Project X EvenFlow, and Project X HZRDUS Yellow.
On sale: February 9