Epic is back for 2021, and I for one am glad to see it.
When I was a kid, Callaway were known for the quality of their fairway woods. There were iconic lines such as the Warbird and Steelhead which were really successful, but then they seemed to experience a bit of a dip (let's not talk about the Diablo...)
When the Epic was first released however, I thought that it put them back on the map both in terms of performance and with a great, iconic name. The Mavrik name never really did too much it for me and it didn't wow me like the Epic did when it first appeared.
The updated range for 2021 is said to be all about 'framing the future of speed'. Callaway claim that your ball is going longer, faster and straighter thanks to some new ball speed technologies... haven't we all heard that before?
What's It All About?
Callaway has once again employed the use of their AI super computer in the design and development of their golf equipment, allowing them to run through thousands of formulas and iterations to find the best combination for creating maximum ball speed and forgiveness.
New Jailbreak AI Velocity Blades appear to be a similar idea to the Jailbreak Frame in the Epic Drivers, but a few things have to change due to the shallower face and lower hitting location.
There are only two bars in the fairway wood, which are vertical but they have been redesigned so that they are more angled, which stiffens the body and allows the cup face to flex more, producing faster ball speeds right across the face.
On the sole of the club you can now see the two framed medallions rather than the two circular ones on previous models.
As with the rest of Callaway's releases these days, you get the AI designed Flash Face SS21 which is different for every single model and loft in the range and is intended to keep ball speeds up on off-centre strikes for more forgiveness across the face. This cup face is designed from C300 Maraging Steel which increases flex and speed across the face and is particularly good for strikes low on the face - a common pattern for golfers with fairways woods.
The Epic 21 Fairways feature two different models, with Callaway doing away with the low-spin version due to a lack of demand:
Epic Speed - this replaces the Epic Flash fairway wood, and features a forward CG along with a new leading edge design to help create a more penetrating ball flight with consistent spin level and dispersion. It's available in 13.5, 15, 16.5, 18 and 21 degrees.
Epic Max - The Max is Callaway's most forgiving head shape with an oversized profile and shallow face, making it extremely easy to launch. There is also an Adjustable Weighting system which allows you to switch between 2g and 14g weights in the front and back of the club head to fine-tune launch and spin. Available in 13.5, 15, 16.5, 18, 21, 23 and 25 degrees.
I visited The Belfry in December for my first try with the new Epic Fairway Woods on the PGA National course in the afternoon. It was sunny but the ground was very wet and then temperature was low so it was a good chance to test the fairways on the long par 4s and 5s.
I then took both heads back to LSH Auto, Mercedes Benz Stockport to give them a thorough whack on my Trackman 4 with Titleist Pro V1x golf balls.
Callaway Epic 21 Fairways Review
Looks and Feel
As you'd expect Callaway have brought back the green for the new Epic range, although the colour isn't quite as strong as in the Epic Flash and the yellow touches have gone too.
On the top you can see that the mesh pattern has been quietened down although the glossy black finish still remains and it still clearly looks like a Callaway head at address.
The sole has taken on more of the Epic Flash look, but with the simplicity of the Mavrik in terms of shape and writing. You can clearly see the two medallions and weighting on the different models - one weight towards the face on the Speed, and two at the front and back of the head on the Max.
These heads do look like a mini version of the new Epic Drivers so it's ideal if you're thinking of adding those two as it'll fit right in. I've always thought that Callaway's Max models could be called the Massive as the head is just that, and it should give you plenty of confidence over the ball.
Golf in December in the UK is, as I'm sure you can imagine, not ideal. My main concern during my on-course testing was trying to keep the lovely headcover from dropping in the mud! It turns out that I would've been better leaving it in the hotel room anyway as I ended up hitting the 3 wood so often.
The consistency felt really good throughout the round despite testing from a range of different lies, and I felt it produced a nice ball flight that was pretty easy to hit considering the fact I had so many layers on.
On the course I thought that the fairways stood out a little more than the driver, but this was before I'd had the chance to get myself properly fitted so I wouldn't read too much into it.
I then took the clubs inside for a deeper dive into the numbers on Trackman. First up was the Epic Speed in 15 degrees with a Project X HZRDUS Smoke iM10 Shaft.
The Speed was just incredibly consistent in shot shape, distance and strike. Callaway talk a lot about 'spin robustness' and I saw just a 350rpm average variation in spin which was really impressive.
I wouldn't say that I'm the best 3 wood player but an average carry of 193 yards, as well as the minimal difference between the good and bad, meant that I was delighted with the performance.
It was longer than the Titleist TSi2 fairway in it's numbers and that was the benchmark for me last year, so a massive kudos to Callaway for beating those numbers.
I then switched to the Epic Max, and after the first few shots the ball was flying lower than the Speed with less spin... and then I realised that the heavy weight was situated at the front to lower the CG. So at least I can confirm that this works!
Switching the weights around, I had another go and my numbers were a lot more varied. I hit my longest shot out at 199 yards carry, but also my shortest shot down at 175 yards.
The flight was a little more left-biased as is to be expected with a club that has this look at address, and I did hit my highest shot of the day at 88 feet. I actually found the bigger head meant that my strike was a little more variable which probably went some way to explaining the inconsistencies in the numbers.
Callaway Epic 21 Fairways Verdict
To summarise, the Epic Speed and Epic Max are really good fairway woods. The new Jailbreak stability makes sense when you see it, but it also produces in terms of performance too which is the main thing.
I could really feel the stability in the head through the strike, and the consistency off the face was also excellent. After my first couple of shots I was saying "Yep that's nice, struck that well". I'm looking for more consistency with my fairway woods, to make my bad shots better, and I found that I did that with this club.
Make sure you get fitted though, as there isn't an Optifit hosel on the fairways so you can't dial in the performance in the same way that you could with the likes of Ping, and I think it's important on a fairway wood.
I also thought that the weighting system in the Max was a real success and helped to offer different ball flights that the Speed didn't have.
All in all, the Epic Speed made me feel really good about my fairway wood game and with a performance as good as the Titleist, I'd put this right up there in my recommendations for you to test in 2021.
Who Is It Aimed At?
The Epic Speed fairway is a beauty. The performance was easily as good as anything else I have tested in my time at Golfalot and will suit so many golfers. If you're a player who's looking for a low spin, penetrating ball flight you may find that you miss the Sub Zero version, so I'd suggest trying out the Max with the weight forward to do the job.
Yes the Max has a more oversized shape but its only actually 6cc bigger, and the option for changing the weight makes it a really versatile fairway for different conditions.
For example, imagine playing your golf course in strong winds one day and then in soaking wet conditions the next day - you could change the weights around before each round to get the ball flight you need.
I'm not sure that the Max is named correctly for the new Epic range as it suggest a huge head and clear draw bias. The head size has actually decreased from 200cc to 179cc in the Epic Max compared to the Mavrik Max.
Callaway say that this is their most forgiving metal wood but if you're fighting a big slice, then I'd go for a Mavrik Max instead. I wonder if Callaway could've put the two weights into the Speed and made the Max a little bigger and a little more offset?
Would I Use Them?
I feel like the Epic Speed could easily go into the bag. The lack of adjustability would have put me off if I was playing on tour as I always liked to tweak my lofts and weights for different playing conditions - but the 3 wood was the worst club in my bag so maybe I shouldn't have!
This is why you are best to get fitted as the experts can tweak things to really the make the difference for you. The Max description on paper put me off, as I didn't think it was aimed at me, but the weight options really opened my eyes in terms of adjusting flight, as it ended up going just as low as the Speed when the weight is pushed forward.
- Premium looks
- Weight adjustment worked well
- Incredibly consistent spin and distance
- Great looking headcover
- As good as any fairways I have tested
- No Optifit hosel
- Price is expensive
- Ball flight was pretty high
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Callaway Mavrik Fairways Review
Titleist TSi Fairways Review