Callaway have stuck with the Paradym name for 2024, after a hugely successful year which saw them win both major championships and the favour of amateur golfers all around the world.
Once again this year, they are looking to their AI super computer to take things to the next level, producing what they describe as the 'most sophisticated face' in their history in the new Paradym Ai Smoke range.
If you know Callaway, you'll know that they're not shy in bringing out lots of golf clubs to try and cater for every golfer, and the new range features three different hybrids. I took the 'standard' Paradym Ai Smoke Max Hybrid for a spin.
Who Is It Aimed At?
Callaway themselves explain that the Paradym Ai Smoke Hybrid "is designed for players with average to high swing speeds looking to maximise distance and improve dispersion".
It's a great option for golfers who like playing hybrids and want something that goes a long way whilst offering forgiveness. It's not the most workable of hybrids, but it's easy to hit and the numbers are impressive.
If you're a low handicapper or a confident ball-striker, you might find that the profile is a little on the bigger side, in which case you could look at the Apex range which is more suited to better players.
Callaway are using an all-new Ai Smart Face across the Ai Smoke range this year, which uses swing data from thousands of real golfers to optimise performance.
The computer looks at swing speed, club delivery and face orientation just as the club comes into impact, and provides a face structure which maximises distance with tight dispersion into the green.
The new hybrid comes with a new contemporary design, featuring a larger overall profile to add more forgiveness and give golfers more confidence at address.
There's also a more pronounced sole camber which improves turf interaction for clean contact and better results from the variety of different lies that you're likely to see out on the course.
Including a Tungsten Speed Cartridge has allowed Callaway to reposition the centre of gravity so that it is moved lower and further forward in the head, which is said to lower spin rates and provide extra ball speed.
Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max Hybrid Review
The first thing that struck me when I first got my hands on this club was the size of it - considering that this is the 'standard' model in the head it was larger than expected.
Last year we tested the Apex 24 Utility Woods which were somewhere between a hybrid and a fairway wood, and while the Paradym Ai Smoke is not on that level it's definitely a friendly look at address which will should golfers plenty of confidence.
The Ai Smoke range features more of a grey and blue colourway compared to the navy and black of the Paradym last year, and the matte grey crown looks simple and smart and has the added bonus of reducing any glare that you might get from the sun.
I was a big fan of the design of Paradym last year, and whilst the Ai Smoke doesn't quite live up to the same standard in my opinion, it's still a good looking club that strikes you as premium.
Straight away this club felt hot, loud and solid off the face, meaning that you really know about it when you hit it. I usually prefer quite a muted feel with most golf clubs, but this actually seemed to suit it well.
The stability was fantastic, even when I missed the middle of the face, and the overall feedback was nice as it gave you confidence that you'd hit the ball well almost every time.
Due to the pretty appalling Manchester weather at this time of year, I have only been able to test this club indoors so far so I can't give a true verdict on the turf interaction, but the club did seem pretty forgiving to me. I'm looking forward to getting this club out onto a golf course soon to see whether than new sole camber does improve things when hitting from grass.
Callaway have made claims that this hybrid is going to provide better performance across the face thanks to the Ai Smart Face, as well as plenty of forgiveness, so that's what I was looking to see when I put it to the test on the GCHawk at Hukd Golf.
First things first, an average ball speed of almost 130mph and average carry of more than 211 yards was really impressive for me, and makes it one of the longer hybrids I have tested for quite some time, particularly when you consider that a couple of shots got up towards 220 yards carry.
With hybrids it is more about the club going the correct number and filling a spot in my bag rather than all-out distance, and in an ideal world I would want the front-back dispersion to have been a bit tighter than 17 yards. But as someone who doesn't always get on with the 3 wood it would be useful to know that my hybrid does have that bit of extra firepower.
I did find that both the launch (12°) and the peak height (23 yards) were lower than I expected, which was similar when I tested the Paradym Ai Smoke Max Fairway too.
The generous head size and shape meant that it wasn't the most workable hybrid I've ever used, and I think some better players would prefer the kind of sleeker shape offered by the Apex range. But for ease of use and as something that gives you plenty of launch and distance, it's as good as you're likely to see.
Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max Hybrid Verdict
If you're looking for a new hybrid for 2024, the Ai Smoke Max could be a fantastic option for lots of golfers. It looks smart, it's easy to hit, the distances were excellent and there's plenty of forgiveness there too in a friendly-sized package.
The RRP of £299 does seem a lot for a hybrid, but it is actually about the going rate these days and is the same price as last year's Paradym range - so it's nice to see that we're not being charged any extra this year.
There's two other hybrids available in the range this year, the Ai Smoke HL which is designed for golfers who want to get the ball up in the air more easily, and the Ai Smoke Max Fast which uses lightweight materials to help golfers looking to increase their swing speed and get a bit more out of every shot.
Compared to last year's Paradym, there's no huge new technologies or improvements but I did find that the Ai Smoke produced better numbers, so if you think you're due an upgrade then they are worth considering.
Would I Use It?
I need to test this club outdoors to see how it performs off the deck and out of the rough, but the easy distance does have me tempted if I can get used to the larger head and slight lack of workability.
Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max Hybrid Pros & Cons
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Callaway Paradym Hybrid Review
Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max Fairway Wood Review