We tested the Callaway XR 16 driver out on the practice field at Moor Allerton using our SkyTrak launch monitor to gather data.

Conditions were windy and we were using non-premium balls.

We know this is the driver Danny Willett used to win the Masters so there can’t be a better validation than that, but let’s see how it performs for a couple of mid-handicappers…

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First impressions of the Callaway XR 16 driver

This is the follow-up to the XR driver which was released a couple of years ago and initial impressions are that it looks very similar.

One noticeable difference is the head seems a little larger with the weight stretched out a bit at the back of the crown. There’s the same alignment aid and aerodynamic ‘step-step’ markings on the crown. It also has the same face at the XR.

Callaway XR 16 driver

It’s a very confidence-inspiring head at address which suit a wide-range of abilities. Purists may prefer a cleaner look on the top of the crown.

I’d say this is Callaway’s mass-market, off-the shelf driver for 2016 and I’d expect it to be very successful – not least on the back of Willet’s Masters win.

You’ll pick one up for around £250 too so it’s at a reasonable price point compared to some of the other major brand’s flagship drivers.

Technology in the Callaway XR 16 driver

The XR range was all about speed – swing speed and ball speed. The ‘R’ stands for racing as in the driving is inspired by the racing industry.

Callaway say they have kept all the ball speed qualities from the original XR and added a bit more by working with Boeing to make the crown even more aerodynamic.

But they say the XR 16 will be more forgiving than its predecessor through a larger headshape with high MOI and a low and deep centre of gravity.

The ball speeds are enhanced further through a lighter and thinner face using Callaway’s R-MOTO technology which we’ve seen in their recent metalwood launches.

Performance of the Callaway XR 16 driver

Myself (17-handicap) and staff writer Craig Middleton (18-handicap) both hit a series of shots with this driver and used our SkyTrak launch monitor to gather data.

The first thing that struck me as an improvement on the XR driver was the sound and feel off the face. Both are very sweet and you can really feel the ball pinging off the face.

I know from experience of testing drivers using this launch monitor that anything around 140mph of ball speed is very good at my swing speed of about 95mph.

We got a few up towards 145mph with a distance of 245 yards. We were hitting into wind with non-premium balls so we’d expect a little bit more distance than that out on the course with a premium ball.

But from comparing this data to other drivers under the same testing conditions, I know this is right up there with the best.

We could definitely vouch for the forgiveness too. Both myself and Craig hit a few out of the heel and toe and although they didn’t fly as far as the ones out of the middle, the results were still very impressive.

Despite our inconsistent ball-striking, there wasn’t a single drive which carried less than 200 yards.

Overall verdict on the Callaway XR 16 driver

Callaway make fantastic drivers and there’s something for everyone in their range. Even just with XR 16 there’s the Pro and Sub-Zero models.

Then there’s the Great Big Bertha or Alpha 816 DBD.

But there’s no doubt that Callaway will expect to shift more of the XR 16 than anything else in the range.

The XR 16 is going to appeal lots of players as it feels and performs fantastically well when struck right out of the middle and still gets the job done on mis-hits.

What I like about the XR 16 is they have taken a strong product in XR and found ways to make it better. You can really notice the improvements.

And it’s at a competitive price point, and it’s just won Danny Willett the Masters.

A lot of other Callaway players have been raving about the XR 16 drivers which is what you would expect but despite being pid to do so, the praise seems very genuine.

And when you’ve had a hit yourself it’s hard to argue.


Lofts: 9˚, 10.5˚, 13.5˚
Stock shaft: Fujikura Speeder Evolution 565 Shaft (Light, Regular, Stiff & X-Stiff)

Visit the Callaway website here