Martin Hopley

As you will know, drivers are about hitting the ball as far and as straight as possible and one of the major factors is how fast the club head is moving when it strikes the ball.

This in turn depends on how fast you deliver the club head to the ball and that in turn will depend in part on how aerodynamic the head is.

However with drivers you are moving a flat face through the air and as it accelerates into impact it also rotates. Not the ideal scenario for a moving a metal object at speed, which is why for the XR 16 driver Callaway went to have a chat with the boffins at Boeing.

Callaway XR 16 Driver

Both parties gained in different ways from the liaison and what Callaway took away was learning how to manipulate air flow over an object to alter the amount of air friction.

Callaway XR 16 Driver

Boeing had researched this for their planes and use dots along the front of the wings to break up the airflow to reduce drag and make their planes more fuel efficient.

Callaway had already done work in this area as was seen from the Speed Step Crown on the original Callaway XR driver. What their pow wow with Boeing gave them was an insight into the airflow over their head, which was almost the opposite to an aerodynamic wing because they need to keep the air flow attached to the head for longer before it disperses.

I saw wind tunnel images of the airflow and it looks like a giant Elvis quiff shaped wave rolling back over the toe side of the crown.

Callaway XR 16 Driver

Using the raised Speed Step on the leading edge of the crown seems a bit counterintuitive to keep the airflow attached, but that is what it does.

Callaway XR 16 Driver

So that is a long way of saying that Callaway has reshaped the Speed Step on the crown of the XR 16 driver, but at least you now know that a whole lot of thought and time has gone into it from the best brains from two of the top aerodynamic engineering companies around.

Callaway XR 16 Driver

As you can see the Speed Step is a little shorter in length and also closer to the leader edge of the crown. The result is the XR 16 driver that has a 30% lower head drag and a 10% lower face drag than the original XR driver.

But this is not all, as one of the other tenets of driver design is that a bigger head is more forgiving, but slower through the air due to the extra mass. Ignoring this Callaway also made the XR 16 driver bigger front to back to move the Centre of Gravity (CG) lower and further back to make it more forgiving.

Not only is the head more aerodynamic, but it is also 5g to 15g lighter than its current competitor drivers, which makes it easier to move through the air. This is done through using lighter 8-1-1 Titanium that has more aluminium in it than before to reduce weight whilst maintaining strength.

The new material makes the head chassis is 2g lighter than before and works with the 9g lighter R-MOTO face. The R-MOTO ribs are also longer and enable the face to flex a little more at impact to increase the ball speed.

Callaway XR 16 Driver

This 11g weight saving is then used to move the CG back in a deeper head, that is longer back to front than the previous XR head in order to make it more forgiving.

Callaway XR 16 Driver

It does look a little stretched when you first put it down in the same way as other drivers of this style do, but you get used to it pretty quickly as the shape is not as extreme as other models.

Callaway XR 16 Driver

The CG height is also lower and so that should help the launch of the driver, so with the weight saving and the more aerodynamic and more forgiving head, the key question is, does it go further?

Using the usual Callaway Optifit adjustable hosel I tested both heads with the shaft I had been fitted into by Callaway for the XR 16 which is the Fujikura Speeder 565 Evolution II.

Callaway has always been really good at creating drivers with good sound and feel and the XR 16 delivers here again with a responsive face and solid sound that gives the feeling you have nailed it again.

Callaway XR 16 Driver

The deeper head was very forgiving and provided enough spin that I had to use the Optifit hosel to lower the loft of the 10.5 edge head down by 1° to get the optimum performance for me.

There is a choice of lofts from 9°, 10.5° and 12° each of which can be adjusted up or down 1° or up 2°. Therefore you may need to work with a fitter to get the right loft as if you need exactly 10° you will need to go up 1° from 9° as you can't get there by delofting the 10.5°.

Callaway XR 16 Driver

There is also a draw setting that will close the face a little too, which could be useful as thankfully the XR 16 sits a little less closed than the previous XR and for this reason I can see it appealing to more single figure golfers than before.

The sole of the club looks very dramatic with the wavy lines, but I have it on good authority that these don't do anything for the club aerodynamically and are purely cosmetic.

Callaway XR 16 Driver

They do however give the designers some wiggle room on the volume measurement and that helps with the larger footprint of the head.

Callaway XR 16 Driver

On the face of it, the changes to the XR 16 don't visually look like much, but having seen behind the scenes the lengths that Callaway has gone to improve the XR 16, then I would have to say that it is a more complete driver than before.

Callaway XR 16 Driver

The deeper head is just on the right side of being too stretched for most golfers' eyes and the slightly squarer position at address and flight performance makes this a driver that will suit more players across the handicap range.

It is medium to high spin depending on the set up and shaft, so if that is an issue then there is also a lower spinning Pro version.

Callaway XR Pro 16 Driver Review

In order to make it lower spinning, the Callaway XR Pro 16 driver has a more traditional shape with a taller face than the standard model to make it more compact.

Callaway XR Pro 16 Driver

It also sits squarer at address and if I was basing a decision purely on head style then I would probably go for the Pro version.

Callaway XR Pro 16 Driver

However it has to be based on more than that and my optimum performance came when I had a setting with about 2 degrees more loft than I did with the standard version. Tee it high and hit it in the middle on the up and there is not really much between them.

Callaway XR Pro 16 Driver

The smaller head sounds a little more muted and solid as you would expect, but if you stray from the centre the forgiveness is less with a resulting greater variance in performance.

Callaway XR Pro 16 Driver

This is really the trade off between the two models of lower spin and a squarer set up versus a larger head with more forgiveness. If you are a high spin player, or hit it out of the middle more often than not, then you probably have a choice depending on what your fitting numbers say.

Callaway XR Pro 16 Driver

For these players, the standard XR 16 could still be an option in the 9° head, as the set up means it can go further down the handicap range than before. Therefore, the XR Pro 16 may prove to be more of a niche play for those who want it, even though it is also an excellent choice.

Golfalot Rating: 5 stars
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Callaway XR 16 Driver - Product Details

UK Launch29 January 2016
UK Launch RRP£289
USA Launch29 January 2016
Handicap Range
Hand AvailabilityLeft, Right
Left Handed Lofts9°, 10.5°
Right Handed Lofts9°, 10.5°, 13.5°
Head Volume460 cc
Club Length45.75 inches
Swing WeightD3
AdjustabilityLoft, Face Angle
Shaft NameFujikura Speeder Evolution 565 Shaft
Shaft TypesGraphite
Shaft FlexLight, Regular, Stiff, X Stiff
Manufacturer's WebsiteCallaway Website

User Reviews

September 2018

A+ Performance from Callaway on the XR16 line in general. I'm playing the XR16 in a stiff flex 9* head at standard loft with draw bias.I've had it for about two months now. Massively confidence inspiring. I used to feel like I was taking a gamble when I took my driver out of the bag and bring a spare ball up to the tee box with me. I'd be lying if I said I didn't take the odd mulligan still, but I'm frequently reaching par 5s in two strokes now.

February 2018

I have an XR, a Epic Subzero, hit the Rogue Sub Zero a lot, hit the 2018 M3 and have the 2017 M1/M2. Out of all of them I was/am going back and fourth between the Epic Sub Zero and the XR 16. I like the XR because it’s seem to be a bit draw bias and the Epic for whatever reason seems to fade a bit on me. My swing speed is 113. My shafts are Diamana White 70x and the Atmos Black 70x. XR is just a baaaaad boy - I'm playing it in 2018. Great review you were spot on with it.

Gareth UK
August 2017

I've been using my Callaway X16 in conjunction with my Big Berth and am very pleased with both. Recently though I have been taking the X16 out more and am really getting a lot better direction and distance. I am a high handicapper (26) but loving my golf more now and the X16 helps me compete with the low guys. I have. 10.5deg which i adjust up to 12.5 which suits me just great. Great driver.

October 2016

I got the XR 16 last month playing off 19 and struggling for distance and direction. One month later I win my monthly medal and am cut to 17! The club has given me confidence from the tee box and I now expect to hit a decent drive where I used to hope! Ball flight is generally a nice draw and I'm hitting way further than previously (20-30 yards).

August 2016

I always have Callaway drivers and the XR 16 is the best yet.

May 2016

I was struggling with my driving and not getting great distance.Normally around 220 yards.Went to the driving range with this club and I was hitting the nets from the back of the range which are 240 yards frequently so with roll and on hard fairway ground should be getting 260-270 yards.Even on miss hits it goes some.Great club and well worth the money.

April 2016

I got the XR16 last week and couldn't be happier! I've been hitting the SLDR for about 3 years and love how long it is when you pure it but the sweet spot is soooo small! I'm finding the XR16 is also super long but you don't have to hit it right in the middle to get a lot out of it!! I work in the golf industry and am able to hit all the new stuff that comes out and they all go to the same spots until I hit this club. My off center hits are going as far as I hit my old driver and when I flush the XR16 it really does go about 15-20 further. I'm coming up on 50 years old and have been getting shorter the past couple of years because of a loss of flexibility and swing speed but this club is turning back the clock! Playing a par 5 last night I hit a hybrid over the back of the green in 2 that I haven't reached in 2 for years. I have the XR16 9 degree turned up to 10 degrees with the red speeder 565 Evolution stiff shaft. My club head speed is around 104-5 and am hitting not so good ones around 250 and good ones around 280. It works for me and I would highly recommend trying it

March 2016

I purchased the XR 16 driver on Monday last week. By Saturday I had won two tournaments on two couses. I had a stiff shaft on my previous driver but chose a regular shaft and 10.5 degree driver. My swing speed is 102-105 mph. The first drive I hit it off the toe and it ended in the middle of the fairway with a slight draw 280 yards. I now swing slightly slower or I have a tendency to not allow the regular shaft to fully close at impact. I hit almost all fairways with an average distance of 270 and several over 300 each round. The golf balls explode off the face and even missed drives are over 240 yards. I have never had such accuracy and distance before. The confidence on the tee when you just know you will crush the drive straight is priceless. I am 71 and out driving the young guns. Thank you Callaway. I use Callaway X2 irons with 2 degrees higher loft and stiff shaft and l Iove them too. All the 7 longest drivers at my country club had been using and bragging about their XR 16 driver and love this driver too. They are now sorry I bought one too.

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