Martin Hopley

In the last 20 years there have been lots of remakes of classic brands and names from films to cars and even golf clubs. Whilst it can be viewed as almost a dead cert marketing wise, whatever the product, it has to have echoes of the past combined with modern performance in order to be credible.

Having 're-imagined' the Big Bertha, Warbird soles and Great Big Bertha, Callaway now return the Steelhead name to the market with the Steelhead XR irons.

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

Whilst there were many Steelhead models the X-12 and X-14 stood out for me as the Kings before the X-16 and later models went to Vegas and ate burgers. Thankfully it is the X-14 that the Steelhead XR is based on and looking at the badge on the back or putting it down at address was like going back in time.

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

This is the classic Callaway look with a mid-sized top-line, a long head and a relatively small offset to offer some margin for error, but not alienate too many lower handicappers.

The finish is a bit shinier all over than the Callaway XR Irons which subconsciously translates into 'better player' and there is nothing here to dissuade the high single figure player either.

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

Visually the Steelhead XR face looks a pretty similar shape to the current XR heads, which are made of, urm, steel...

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

However the hosel sees the return of another Callaway favourite, the S2H2. If you remembered that this stands for Short Straight Hollow Hosel then give yourself a golf geek point.

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

Have another bonus if you know that this shorter hosel saves weight in the hosel area to improve the MOI and moves the CG horizontally to the centre of the face, which is good for feel and performance.

I've always found that any club using this style of hosel usually feels very solid at impact and the Steelhead XR is no different.

However the Steelhead XR is not just a trip down memory lane as the head has been given Callaway's fastest 360 Face Cup that increases the COR by 2.4% on the standard XR to 0.825, just shy of the 0.83 legal limit for woods.

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

This extra speed comes from allowing the edges of the thin face to flex in a more efficient way it impact to increase the ball speed.

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

So yes, the Steelhead XR irons do go a long way, but distance is not what irons are really about. You need a collection of about eight or nine of the things to cover a range of around 100 yards in equal gaps.

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

Therefore you can't have a bionic hot spot in the middle and dead spaces across the face. This is where the Steelhead XR stands out as the forgiveness and performance around the face is very consistent to make this one of the most powerful and forgiving irons in the market.

The lower lofted longer irons are really where you feel the power of the new Face Cup as the 6 and especially the 4-iron sound fast, feel fast and look fast in flight.

The longest shot with the 4-iron was going as far as the Steelhead XR 4-hybrid despite having a shorter shaft. However it was not as consistent, as you would expect, hence why the average is lower on the SkyTrak results below.

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

Compared to other game improvement irons in this sector the Steelhead XR had a similar launch, but a higher average level of spin for me, so this will suit mid to slow swing speed players. With a choice of four lofts in the hybrid up to 6H at 28° there are plenty of options available through Callaway custom fitting to get the right set make up.

The shorter irons feel and sound solid and as you move up the set the cavity in the back gets bigger and so does the sound.

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

It's not a bad sound, just a little more hollow and Callaway has done well to keep it in character and bring out those powerful vibes.

Callaway has modified the CG in each head to position it in the right place for forgiveness and launch. In the long irons it is lower down and in the short irons it is higher up to reflect the impact positions on the face.

This is achieved by a 'Snubber', which is a piece of steel infused polyurethane between the body and the face, shown in red below, that lowers the CG and absorbs unwanted vibrations at impact to help the sound and feel.

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

Sometimes the short irons in these types of sets can look a bit clunky, but right down to the wedge the top line stays midsized and the offset very manageable.

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

The P wedge is very strong at 44° so you will probably need to go down to the 49° A wedge before transitioning into your specialist wedges.

There is a choice of custom shafts through the Callaway custom fitting service, but the stock True Temper XP95 Stepless steel shaft is light and provides good feel to help maximise performance.

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

Overall I really like the Steelhead XR and not only because of the familiar looks. The performance is very good and the combination of power and forgiveness feels great at impact and has you clubbing down with a smile on your face, especially with the longer irons.

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

Callaway say that they are not replacing anything in their range and in some ways they aren't. The Steelhead XR has a larger head than the Callaway XR irons and more style than the rounded looking Callaway Apex CF16, so for high single figure to teen handicaps I would have the Steelhead XR any day.

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

The small offset and mid flight could see these in single figure handicap bags as a set, or as long irons blended with different Callaway short irons. In the original Steelheads there was usually a Pro version which came with a more compact head and less offset and these were the bee's knees. There is no confirmation yet on whether there will be a similar version of the Steelhead XR, but if so, low handicappers could be in for trip down memory lane soon too.

Golfalot Rating: 5 stars
More from Callaway



Callaway Steelhead XR Iron

Callaway Steelhead XR Irons - Product Details

Launch UK02 September 2016
Launch USA02 September 2016
Launch RRP£649
Handicap Range
GolferMens, Women
Hand AvailabilityLeft, Right
Swing WeightD2
Shaft NameTrue Temper XP 95 Stepless, Matrix F15 Graphite
Shaft TypesSteel, Graphite
Shaft FlexRegular, Stiff
GripCallaway Universal
DesignCavity Back
Set Makeup4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW
Additional Clubs3, GW, SW, LW
Manufacturer's WebsiteCallaway Website

User Reviews

October 2016

I played the X-14's for about 14 or so years (bought used) before trading them in last summer to finally upgrade my irons. Decided on TaylorMade RSi-1's and they were great until I experienced issues with the face slots breaking. TaylorMade then upgraded me to the M2 and I chose the "Tour" version based upon size, top line, performance, etc (BTW Great customer service from TayloreMade). I played these for only a couple of months and really began regretting trading in my old Steelheads. In August I read about Callaway releasing the new Steelhead and I had to have it! Traded in the TaylorMade M2 Tour's and couldn't be happier. For me, the sound and feel is better and I have always liked the shape of the head. It's like the older version, but much more forgiving and certainly flies farther. I've read other reviews elsewhere that suggest it may be difficult to stick greens with these due to their lofts and low spin, but I haven't experienced this and believe it is due, in large part, to being properly fit with the correct shaft. Great clubs and I'm glad to be back in the Callaway family!

September 2016

Just purchased a new set. Man I can't wait to stroke these Steelheads. I game the XR so I'll update my feel soon.

September 2016

These are the greatest irons I've ever used. You'll never look back if you have this in your bag.

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