Callaway's Epic drivers have been branded the hottest in golf in 2017. We put them to the test.
TESTED BY: Jimmy Emanuel, Golf Australia writer
(GA Handicap 9.4)
COST: $729.99 (for both models).
MODEL & SHAFT PLAYED: 9˚ loft, Fujikura Pro Green Stiff shaft (Epic); 9˚ loft, Aldila Rogue Max Stiff shaft (Epic Sub Zero)
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: When a club is as heavily marketed before it’s released as the Callaway Great Big Bertha line of Epic drivers were, and a player like Rory McIlroy puts the driver in the bag with no contractual obligation, it is difficult to approach testing the club without high expectations.
Upon first hits with both models it was easy to see these drivers would live up to the hype. Great slightly different feels and flights were instantly noticeable, with strong penetrating flights that went a long way.
The all black look of the drivers at address is understated, with the visible carbon crown and green highlights barely noticeable. When looking at the sole of both drivers the clubheads look big and extremely forgiving, whereas behind the ball neither looks awkwardly large.
The soles of both drivers show lots of the technology built into the driver. The carbon sole and moveable weights are the most obvious, with the ‘Jailbreak’ technology also on display, the visible carbon in the sole and more dominant green highlights are far less conservative than the top of the crown.
HOW THEY PERFORMED: The lower spinning, Epic Sub Zero, is a true bomber’s driver. A slightly deeper face, the Sub Zero produces a strong, penetrating flight. In all the shots I hit with the Sub Zero across different golf courses in very different weather conditions, not one shot ballooned in the wind.
The feel of the Sub Zero was a highlight for me and is exactly what you would expect of a driver aimed at hard hitters. A hard, almost muted feel helps give the impression the ball is coming off the clubface hard and without much spin. With the heavier of the two weights set back and more loft on the clubface, the ball launched high and stayed very straight. With the loft set at its lowest and the heavier weight forward, there was a noticeably lower and more penetrating flight, which went longer but was harder to keep in the air on mis-hits.
As a high spin player, I typically lean towards lower spinning model drivers. The one issue always seems to be forgiveness when you don’t quite have your ‘A-game’. The Sub Zero is as forgiving a driver as I have tried in this category and only went noticeably off line with bad swings not slight misses.
The standard Epic launches noticeably higher than the Sub Zero and also has a slightly higher sounding, but by no means tinny, feel. Looking almost identical at address, the Epic feels a little friendlier to use with its launch characteristics being higher, with higher spin keeping the ball in the air a long time in calm conditions.
With my early thoughts that the Sub Zero was more likely to suit my driver needs, the Epic was a pleasant surprise that seemed to compete strongly in every department. Slightly more workable and responsive due to the higher spin, this also meant mis-hits seemed to go slightly further off line.
With the high launch and low- to mid-spin flight of the Epic it was easy to set up and confidently take on lines carrying trouble as the driver seemed to carry a long way in the air.
The sliding weight track on the back of the driver is smaller than previous models to improve moment of inertia and has a heavier weight to maximise the effect of moving the weight. Different positions definitely produced different results. In the draw positions with the club at a standard face angle, the ball flight was a nice tight draw that never seemed to block to the right. With the weight in the fade position the driver almost took out the left hand side of the course and for me was the best setting. With the weight set for fade, my typical mis-hit in the toe of the driver was a less drastic miss with more of the mass of the club behind impact.
In the two new Callaway Epic models there is something for everyone. The Sub Zero will appeal to drawers and high spin players looking for a penetrating ball flight that will also get a surprisingly forgiving driver that feels as good as any current driver on the market. While the Epic will suit faders looking to get a little help turning the ball over, it might surprise some drawers, like myself, with its outstanding consistency and powerful feel.
FACTS AND FIGURES
SUITABILITY: Between the two models, varying weight setups and variety of shaft options there is an Epic for everyone.
SHAFTS: Four tour proven premium shafts are the stock options. They include Project X HZRDS Green, MRC Diamana Greenboard, Fujikura Pro Green and Aldila Rogue Max. A list of custom shafts are also available.
LOFTS: Sub Zero 9˚, 10.5˚. Epic 9˚, 10.5˚ and 12.5˚ . All are adjustable with a range of four degrees of adjustability in each loft.
LEFT-HANDED MODELS?: 9.0˚ in Sub Zero. All lofts available in Epic.
CALLAWAY SAYS: Callaway designed the Epic line of drivers with their new ‘Jailbreak’ technology as the star of the show. Two titanium rods join the sole and crown of the drivers and change the way the club face and crown respond to impact, resulting in faster ball speeds across a larger area of the face.
Both drivers incorporate Callaway’s Exo Cage titanium structure which forms the shell of the driver and is combined with carbon composite material that makes up nearly half of the entire head of the Epic. This combination is incredibly light and raises the moment of inertia, making both drivers extremely forgiving to complement their powerful flight characteristics.
Two interchangeable weights allow golfers to adjust the centre of gravity in the Sub Zero, while a sliding weight track featuring a 17-gram weight means players can dial in their ball flight preference with the Epic driver. Both models feature Callaway’s adjustable hosel system that affects loft and lie angle.
The Epic range is so named according to Callaway “because it legitimately represents an epic shift in the way the head and face behave to enhance power”.
Contact Callaway on 1800 217 777 or visit au.callawaygolf.com