Back around the turn of the Millennium, Callaway used to do Pro Series versions of their Steelhead X-series cavity back irons and the early ones were brilliant, especially the X-12 and X-14 Pro Series. Then like Elvis they became all Vegas, lost their way, put on weight and started wearing sequined white suits.
So when Callaway said that the XR Pro irons were combining all that wonderful XR technology with the lines of the Steelhead X-14 Pro-Series I was queuing up for the reunion gig.
If you have read my review of the Callaway XR irons then you will already know that Callaway has brought over the Cup 360 face and the Internal Standing Wave from woods via the Callaway Big Bertha irons.
These two features work together to simultaneously increase the ball speed, the forgiveness and the MOI to make the XR irons longer and just the best thing, like, ever, as my teenage daughter says.
It was impressive that Callaway managed to cram all this design into an XR iron and make it look like a normal cavity back iron, but I am even more impressed that they have gone a step further and put it into the smaller headed XR Pro iron.
As you can see below the head is shorter and the top line is thinner with less offset and this definitely fits into that 'better player that needs forgiveness' category. You know who you are, even if you don't want to admit it.
I like this category because it is where most single figure handicappers should be unless they are elite amateurs or blade masochists.
The trick is to balance feel and forgiveness and usually it is in the short irons where this all falls down, but with the Callaway XR Pro the wedge was excellent for a semi cavity back. The sound and feel was very good from a mid-sized head and it was great having a wedge you could go after if you wanted to, even though my coach says I shouldn't.
As you go up the set though the increasing size of the cavity started to make the irons sound and feel a little duller to me, which was a bit of a shame as I cannot fault the performance.
The flight was a lovely mid-high trajectory and there was a good level of forgiveness with just a hint of shaping ability if you wanted it. However these irons are meant to go straight so single handicappers can aspire to greater heights, or recreate the good old days, and the XR Pro is excellent is this regard.
But I am afraid I am going to give some tough love here, which is hard as I really wanted to celebrate the return of the Callaway Pro series to the top of the charts.
Since the Pro Series was king, semi-cavity/blade hybrids have really moved on and some come with forged faces or even fully forged heads that give that little bit extra feel and sound right through the set, which is crucial in this category.
Even some of their fellow cast competitors manage this too, so I feel the cast XR Pro's just need to get back in the studio to fine tune the output to match all the other excellent things that they do, because for around £100 extra you can get a set of the excellent forged Callaway Apex irons which will do all this for you.
And maybe that is your price trade off within the Callaway brand, but if the XR Pro series is to top the charts again then we need a little more action.