Another year, another extensive range of metals courtesy of Callaway, who as a brand have gone from strength-to-strength over the last few years both thanks to their equipment and the popularity of their Topgolf driving ranges.
2024 sees the introduction of the Paradym Ai Smoke line, which continues on the same theme of using pioneering AI technology in the development of Callaway's clubs that we have seen for quite some time now going back to the days of the GBB Epic.
There are four new Ai Smoke Fairways, looking to cater to every type of golfer from tour professionals all the way down to beginners and the highest handicappers.
Who Is It Aimed At?
The Paradym Ai Smoke Max would be classed as the 'standard' head in the range which is suited to the widest number of golfers. It provides a combination of distance, forgiveness and feel and the friendly head shape should mean that most golfers will be able to hit it.
For elite players, the Triple Diamond may be a better option this year as I felt like the Ai Smoke Max leant slightly more towards the 'game improvement' than the 'better player', but it is still a great club which will do the job for lots of people.
This time around Callaway have used something called their 'Swing Code' to help categorise how each golf club in their range is going to be set up to best help golfers.
This works in conjuction with the new Ai Smart Face to analyse thousands of swings from real players to optimise performance - in the Ai Smoke Max, the face is optimised for golfers who tend to hit from the low heel to the high toe on the face, have a mid swing speed, with a moderately down angle of attack and slightly out-to-in path.
In other words, this is probably the most common pattern that you'll see across all golfers.
The Carbon Chassis has been redesigned to promote enhanced weight redistribution, with 24g of total weight repositioned throughout the head. 12g has been place low and forward in the head for enhanced launch and spin, with 12g pushed to the back for increased forgiveness.
Callaway have also added a tungsten speed cartridge which enables the CG to be moved low and further forward in the head, resulting in optimal launch and spin rates for maximum distance.
The Ai Smoke Max also has progressive shaping as you move through the lofts (it's available from 15° to 27°) and has the most extensive offering of the range, making it the choice for players who want consistent launch and a neutral ball flight.
Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max Fairway Wood Review
Last year's Paradym range was incredibly popular and it's easy to see why - Jon Rahm started the year winning pretty much every event possible using the new metals, and the clubs themselves featured a new premium dark blue and gunmetal grey colourway which looked fantastic.
For the Paradym Ai Smoke this year, Callaway have added an extra, much lighter colour pigment into the forged carbon head which makes it stand out a little bit more and adds a paler look in comparison to the Paradym.
In all honesty, I probably preferred the darker navy finish of the Paradym but I can understand that Callaway want to make sure their technology stands out a bit more this time around, and I do still think it will be popular with lots of golfers.
The crown itself also has a slightly lighter grey finish and features new 'Ai Smoke' detailing on the heel, similar to what we have seen in last year's Stealth 2. All in all it's a really smart look by the ball, with the iconic chevron logo making it easy to line up, and the head size is friendly without being too big.
It also sits pretty flat to the ground which actually gave me a bit more confidence when hitting off the deck, as it feels as if it's going to be easier to strike.
Straight off the face, this club felt fast and I was surprised at the distances I was able to achieve from my first couple of shots whilst I was still getting warm, before I was properly recording the data.
There's a pretty loud sound at impact which provides you with reassurance that you've struck the ball well and I also felt plenty of stability too.
The face has been optimised to improve performance even on mis-hits and I certainly felt lots of stability when I struck shots from lower on the face or more towards the toe.
Testing golf clubs in December is not always ideal and with golf courses all over Manchester shut for days on end, I headed inside to the warmth of Hukd Golf to use their Foresight launch monitor and gather all the data I needed for this fairway.
I was really impressed with both the ball speeds and carry distances I was able to generate with the Ai Smoke Max, making it one of the longest fairways that I have tested to date, especially when hitting off the deck.
I'm not a particularly high spinner of the ball so an average of just under 3000rpm is a little lower than I'd ideally like, which probably went some way to explaining why my peak height was pretty low at less than 24 yards on average. This then resulted in an average roll-out of about 30 yards, but obviously this club is a great option to hit off the tee too so you can expect it to fly a little higher then.
I also found good levels of forgiveness too, whilst there was obviously a drop-off in distance when I mis-hit some shots, a total of 17 yards carry between my shortest and longest shots was really good, whilst the left-to-right dispersion was not too bad either.
I did find that there was a hint of draw bias in this club but I found it pretty controllable and by the end of my testing I really started to trust the ball flight that was being produced.
When it comes to testing fairway woods the most important thing for me tends to be whether I feel confident enough when hitting it off the deck, and the Ai Smoke Max definitely passed this test.
Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max Fairway Wood Verdict
The Paradym Ai Smoke Max might not look quite as good as last year's Paradym in my opinion, but there's no denying that the performance is excellent and if this is anything to go by, then the whole Ai Smoke range could be hard to beat in 2024.
It's priced at an RRP of £379 which is actually the same price as the original price of the Paradym Fairway, and it's nice to see that Callaway have been able to resist the usual year-on-year price rise that we've become used to in the equipment market.
Would I Use It?
Absolutely, I found it really easy to hit and was really impressed with the numbers produced too. We'd all like to gain a few extra yards at the top end of the bag and that's exactly what the Paradym Ai Smoke offered.
Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max Fairway Wood Pros & Cons
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