Golf Vacation Gear

We Hit It: Callaway Golf Epic Driver

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It’s that time of year: with the PGA Merchandise Show coming up next week (as always, you can expect our commentary on it shortly afterward), golf’s major equipment companies are touting their latest and greatest equipment in hopes of finding their way into your golf bag in 2017.

And even though your home course may be frozen right now, the big club manufacturers don’t want to wait until springtime to put something new in your hands.

That’s why if you’re in the market for some new sticks and are planning a golf vacation in warmer climes this winter, you may want to take that opportunity to test some new clubs, either at a specific fitting event or one of the increasing number of boutique clubfitters (we’re partial to True Spec Golf ourselves).

Last week, I was invited to an event of the former sort: a fitting for the new Callaway Golf Epic driver. If you’re looking for a new big stick, here’s why you should make sure to try this club:

Callaway Epic driver heads waiting to be paired with any of a range of different shaft options. The one in the middle has had its crown detached to expose the club's inner workings.

Callaway Epic Sub Zero driver heads waiting to be paired with any of a range of different shaft options. The one in the middle has had its crown detached to expose the club’s inner workings.

Solid (Very Solid) Feel

Every company markets every new driver it releases with one main idea: it will help you hit the ball farther than ever, boosting your confidence every time you step on the tee box. One point in Epic’s favor is its new Jailbreak feature: two vertical bars inside the clubhead and close to the face that connect the crown to the head. These bars help stabilize the clubface at impact, which is important because strong players can cause the face to flex somewhat at impact. Keeping that flexion from happening helps add a couple miles per hour in ball speed, which can result in extra yardage.

Long-time golf equipment geeks may remember the Zevo Compressor driver from the early 2000s. It had a similar feature based around the same idea, but it only had one vertical bar, rather than Callaway’s two.

The Epic Sub Zero (the lower-spin, less closed-faced version) I hit demonstrated some real pop at impact. I tested it on TrackMan against my current driver, and the data suggested that the Epic was giving me about three miles per hour more ball speed on good shots, resulting in about eight extra yards on average and as much as 15 or 20 extra yards on my best shots.

A close-up of the standard Epic. Note the curved track weight slider on the back, for fine-tuning some of its shot-shaping powers.

A close-up of the standard Epic. Note the curved track weight slider on the back, for fine-tuning some of its shot-shaping powers.

Tech-Forward Looks

Major golf equipment manufacturers seem to lean toward either high-tech or traditional looks. With the Epic driver, Callaway Golf is staking a claim in higher-tech aesthetic territory, while still keeping the club from looking busy at address.

As you can see, Callaway’s familiar chevron is on display, as is some of the extremely lightweight carbon fiber that comprises a good amount of the clubhead. Many manufacturers have dabbled with carbon fiber in the past, and Callaway uses it in the Epic to help lower and deepen the center of gravity.

The Epic is designed to frame the ball at address, showing some flair in the process.

The Epic is designed to frame the ball at address, showing some flair (and carbon fiber) in the process.

A Random Discovery

This has less to do with the driver itself than the fitting process, but it’s something I discovered while trying out the Epic and wanted to pass along.

My first few swings with the Epic driver were not entirely thrilling. Joel, the Florida-based Callaway rep who fitted me for the driver, had initially given me a fairly light shaft: 62 grams. After a number of well-hit pulls (a couple of them 30+ yards right of my target), he switched me into a 75-gram shaft. This was the one I hit my best shots with, as the heavier shaft helped slow me down a bit between backswing and downswing. This underscored the idea that shaft weight can be as important as flex, something I learned I’d been overlooking.

So if, like me, you tend to get quick from the top, you might just want to try a heavier shaft in your driver. On the flip side, if you have a smoother transition, you might want to try a lighter shaft to coax a few extra yards out of your swing.

Bottom Line

Two big takeaways from my afternoon getting to know the new Callaway Golf Epic driver:

  1. If you’re in the market for a new boom-boom stick in 2017, don’t be surprised if the Epic makes the shortlist for residency in your golf bag.
  2. Whatever you do, and whatever new clubs you might be buying soon, get yourself fitted. If you keep buying clubs off the rack, you might get lucky and stumble into a solid setup, but more often than not, you’ll be throwing good money after bad. I’ve played a lot of golf in my time, and I play in amateur tournaments when I can, and I will absolutely get fitted for the next clubs I acquire.

The Callaway Epic and Epic Sub Zero drivers retail for $499.99.

What do you think of all the buzz surrounding Callaway’s newest driver offerings? Be sure to let us know below!

11 Comments

  1. Jack Heinemann

    January 17, 2017 at 10:58 am

    I can’t wait to give it a try!

  2. Ken

    January 17, 2017 at 11:10 am

    While I can appreciate new technology, I can’t justify $500 for a driver. Are weekend golfers really going to spend that much on a single club?

  3. Norman Alecock

    January 17, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    The way things are this will be out of date in a few weeks time and another new one will be better. Gone are the days when golf clubs did not seem to be outdated when they are bought.

  4. Al

    January 17, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Golf is an interesting game…..People will pay big bucks for golf clubs but never spend a dime on lessons! They go to the range faithfully and hit balls until they have ingrained their bad habits. Many will pay expensive green fees to play a course where they will never break 100. While others when hitting over ponds etc. grab the worst ball in their bag so they won’t mind losing it(..you know where!). A lost ball warrants a full fledged search for at least 10 minutes no matter how busy the golf course.
    So, yes there will always be some fools willing to pay the ridiculous introductory fee, but the wise wait a year and purchase it from the clearance barrel!

  5. Tony

    January 17, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Article should read $500 for five yards. With most drivers maxed out at .83 COR I see very little if any distance
    gains from my three year old x2hot driver. Many golf shows and demo days the past couple of years show no
    performance reason to buy the much hyped latest and greatest.

  6. Kate

    January 18, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    Golf is a funny game. I agree you have to be comfortable with your clubs and totally agree on a fitting. A drive in the fairway sets up the second shot. But 5 to 10 yards is not going to make me a better golfer. Hitting the shot with accuracy will. I love the game and play often but will not put up 500 even though I could afford it. I would rather play Pebble Beach.

  7. Richard

    January 18, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    My pro has the new Epic. Those commenting may be skeptical but I have had the opportunity to try it. It is a GREAT club that hits the ball solidly and far. At age 65 I can’t wait till next year. The Epic will be in my bag as soon as I can get it.

  8. Sammy

    February 1, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    USGA rules prevent manufacturers from delivering more distance. ALL this is b.s. marketing, not advanced meaningful technology. The rules are the rules. Club manufacturers are at a dead end regarding delivering more distance, they just want you to buy more STUFF every year….nothing but profits to their stockholders by fooling the consumer to buy “this year’s” club…..hahaha! DON’T get taken!

  9. BS Buster

    February 1, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    This is a crock of crap. Nothing new, USGA rules govern design regarding club head size, maximum ball speed, Cor etc. Just another gimmick to get in your wallet. Don’t waste your money!

  10. Bruce

    April 14, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Epic driver is for real. Really shines on mis-hits . Almost as far as middle of club swings. Have Game Golf club tracking system and distance went up on average about 10 yds from last years Taylor Made. I’m 67 years old with a 99 mph swing speed & reg shaft. ALWAYS get fitted. STD rules of thumb does not cut it.

  11. James

    May 16, 2017 at 5:49 am

    Epic (not the subzero) won’t hit the ball any further or straighter than other drivers for shots hit out of the middle but it is definitely an improvement in accuracy and perhaps also distance over other clubs I’ve hit for slight mishits. None of us hit right out of the middle every time, so I’m convinced it’s an improvement over other drivers on the market.

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