Callaway drivers through the years – Rick Shiels roundup

Thomas Tanner
Jan 28, 2021
3 minutes

The premise

Rick Shiels came to Golfbidder with a question. How much difference is there between each of Callaway’s 24 driver releases in the last 5 years? We did not know, so we teamed up with Rick, providing every driver from the period, ready for a test.

How does the test work?

Callaway is the most prolific releaser of drivers in the golfing game. As mentioned above, 24 drivers in 5 years, is no small feat. It does, however, pose some difficulties. If Rick were to perform his 10 ball test, on every driver, he would be fighting fatigue, and the test would become inconsistent. To avoid this, Rick selected the most notable of the drivers to test.

In order to make a consistent and repeatable test, Rick hits 10 balls with each driver in 2 rounds of 5 shots. The best 5 of the 10 are selected, but to qualify, the shot has to have hit the fairway. This introduces an element of accuracy to the test as 8 fairways found means more shots to choose from when selecting the best stats. As with previous tests, the loft, lie angle and weighting in each club head was set to neutral with the same shaft used wherever possible to ensure it was the club heads that were producing the variations in result not a shaft suiting Rick’s swing better or worse. All shots were measured and performed using GC Quad software, so the data is consistent and accurate, removing the guess work. Once again, the swing speed achieved on each shot, was within 2 miles an hour on each club head.

The data

What the results say

The fastest ball speed was achieved by the latest release, the GBB Epic. This on the surface seems like a success, but across 24 driver releases, only 1 mph was drawn from the newer head. In terms of carry distance, the longest was the X Hot 17, beating out the Epic GBB. Across the years, 7 yards of carry distance was gained, meaning an average of 1.4 yards per year. Rick noted that the Big Bertha Alpha was a disappointing performer. This was blamed on the Gravity Core adjustability that was scrapped after this driver as it was not performing and resulted in a much higher rate of back spin.

Rick’s conclusions

Across the 24 driver releases, “there is nothing in it”. He noted tat the gain in distance was minimal in both carry and total distance, and that the 5-year-old driver really stood out and held its own against the newest model on offer. There are improvements to be found across the years, but they are not as drastic as the marketing claims them to be.

Further reading

Golfbidder, once again teamed up with Rick Shiels to look into the progress made by PING drivers in the last 5 years. A relatively modest releaser of clubs, PING generally only release a new driver every 2 years, with 4 drivers to choose from in the time frame.

Golfbidder teamed up with Rick Shiels, to investigate the progress made by Cobra, over the last 5 years. In this time span Cobra have released 5 new families of driver, with 20+ models within these families!