Driver test: Callaway XR Speed vs. XR16June 28, 2018 Golf Equipment
Equipment editor James Savage puts the new Callaway XR Speed driver up against the driver it is replacing - the XR16...
Our Callaway XR Speed driver vs XR16 test took place at Rudding Park in Yorkshire.
We also gathered some launch monitor data at Leeds Golf Centre.
Data was captured using a SkyTrak launch monitor and premium range balls.
Callaway XR Speed Driver vs XR16: First impressions
The Callaway XR Speed driver was launched as a cheaper alternative to the Rogue and Epic drivers.
But it’s effectively replacing the XR16 which was launched a couple years ago.
We loved the XR16. It was one of the best-performing drivers in all our tests and had huge success on tour with the likes of Danny Willett and Henrik Stenson winning majors with it.
So we thought it would be very interesting to see if Callaway had been able to significantly improve on the performance of the XR16 with the new XR Speed.
From a looks point of view, we felt that the XR Speed looked a little bit more compact with a slightly deeper face.
The XR16 looks like the mass has been dragged slightly further backwards to promote that forgiveness, high MOI and possibly higher spin.
But the crown on the XR Speed looks a lot more premium with a very similar look on the crown to the more expensive Rogue and Epic drivers.
And it’s the crown where some of the key technology has been improved on the XR Speed.
Callaway XR Speed Driver Review | Mid Handicap
Callaway XR Speed Driver vs XR16: The technology
The XR16 was the first driver Callaway created in conjunction with Boeing with a ‘speed step’ crown to improve aerodynamics.
We’ve got similar technologies in the XR Speed to help it move faster on the downswing.
But the XR Speed is the first XR Driver to feature an ultra-light triaxial carbon crown – similar to that in the Rogue and Epic.
It’s actually 45 percent lighter than the XR16 titanium crown.
Callaway say this allows them to improve the forgiveness and promote high launch and lower spin off the tee.
Callaway say the XR Speed has the lightest and most flexible face they’ve ever produced which should produce fast speed over a larger area.
Callaway XR Speed driver vs XR16: The results
Callaway XR16 driver results
Callaway XR Speed driver results
I tested the Callaway XR Speed driver with the new Project X Hzrdus Blue shaft which is 65g and has a flex of 6.0. It’s supposed to be a ‘mid-spin’ shaft.
I used the exact same shaft in the XR16 driver.
When I started hitting the XR16 I remembered why I liked it so much first time around. It’s the sound and feel off the face – it just feels like the ball is coming off so quick.
It’s easy to use and is forgiving on the mis-hits. But it was going a bit too high, and at times, spinning too much.
I actually found myself adjusting my technique to try and keep the ball down.
When I started hitting the XR Speed, I also really impressed with the sound and feel. But it’s more solid and meaty than the XR16. It’s not as high pitched.
The XR Speed had a bit less spin than the XR16 for me which is one of the reasons why we had a little bit more carry.
The best carry of 247 yards with the XR Speed puts it right up there with the best drivers I have tested in 2018.
Callaway XR Speed driver review: NCG verdict
If you currently use the XR16 is there enough improvement in the XR Speed to warrant the upgrade?
For me, there were definite improvements but these could have been down to suitability for my swing rather than genuine performance gains.
Unless my XR16 was completely battered, I wouldn’t be rushing out to buy the XR Speed.
However if my driver was four or five years old and I was looking for an upgrade and looking to spend around £300 – then the XR Speed would be right at the top of my shopping list.
If there’s a better driver out there for the same price at the XR Speed then I’m yet to test it.
Callaway XR Speed driver details
Stock shaft: Project X Hzrdus
Lofts: 9˚, 10.5˚, 13.5˚
Left handed: Yes
More information can be found on the Callaway website.