Martin Hopley

For some time the goal in distance irons has been to bring the technologies from woods into irons to increase distance and forgiveness by using a flexing face with a deep centre of gravity. Usually you end up with a closed, cavity back iron and to date most of these attempts have resulted in irons with plenty of 'booty', as I believe certain R&B singers call it.

Not any more though as Callaway has brought their face cup and internal standing wave from their woods into the XR irons, but in a form that looks like a normal set of irons right through the set.

Callaway XR Iron

The Cup 360 is a single piece of thin metal for the face that wraps around at the top and the bottom and then is attached to the rest of the chassis by a thin piece of metal. This allows the face to flex at impact and increase the ball speed so you get more distance, just like they do in the excellent Callaway XR Driver and Callaway XR Fairway.

Callaway has also used the Internal Standing Wave from the woods in the sole of the club. This is effectively a line of metal looking like a breaking wave that moves the CG lower and forward and increases the MOI, but stands alone and does not touch the face.

Now Golfalot aficionados will know that all this is not new as the recent Callaway Big Bertha irons featured the Cup 360 and the Internal Standing Wave. However this came in a hollow, closed cavity design that was on the bootylicious side.

What is new with the XR irons is that they have managed to do this within the framework of what looks like a classic Callaway distance iron with a visible cavity in the back, which is no mean feat given the narrow sole width they have to work with.

At address there is a medium amount of offset and a thick top line just like the X2 Hot iron it replaces and I think it looks very good for an iron of this type.

Callaway XR Iron Address

The two white lines on the bottom two grooves are classic Callaway and make lining up the club easier. Compared to the more compact sister Callaway XR Pro iron, the standard version has a shiny chrome finish rather than the brushed chrome and both look good.

Callaway XR Iron Face

Sometimes in game improvement irons you can see all the gubbins in the cavity at address in the longer irons, but with the XR irons as you go down through the set, they all look the same which I like. The shorter irons, especially the wedge maybe get a little chunky on the soles.

Callaway XR Iron Set

Start swinging the XR irons and you immediately feel the benefit of the speed features as there is almost a slingshot feel at impact from the lovely large heads. This was more noticeable in the longer and mid irons and less so in the shorter irons, which is to be expected given the smaller heads have a smaller face to flex.

The sound was lovely too, which is impressive given these are big cavity backs and whilst there are aimed at your mid-handicap golfers, I actually think a lot of single figure players will be looking at these for the forgiveness in the long irons.

Callaway XR Iron Sole

Special mention should also go to the stock True Temper Speed Step 80 steel shaft, which is light, stable and suits the Callaway XR irons very well.

What you will need to watch is your gapping as these babies will go further than your current irons. The lofts are the same as the X2 Hot irons and Callaway say that the XR is two clubs longer than some iron in their recent past, so the chances are they will be longer than X2 Hot, even if it is not two clubs more.

This means you will probably need a set from the XR 4-iron to 49° A-Wedge, if you can take the chunkiness, before transitioning either more XR wedges or to more regular bladed pitching wedges at 50° or 52° to allow for the bionic AW. This does create the five wedge issue I highlighted in the Callaway Big Bertha iron review, so just start quoting the loft you used when asked.

Callaway XR Iron Cavity

Enough wedge whinging, because overall I think the XR irons are one of the best game improvement irons I have tried this year and they are worthy descendants of the genre of Callaway iron which made the company great in the first place.

They look, sound and feel great, offer a high level of forgiveness and with a competitive price tag all you should do when presented with the bill is put an XR in the box marked 'yes please'.

Golfalot Rating: 5 stars
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Callaway XR Irons - Product Details

UK Launch20 February 2015
UK Launch RRP£549
Handicap Range
Hand AvailabilityLeft, Right
Swing WeightD2
Shaft NameTrue Temper Speed Step 80, Project X SD
Shaft TypesSteel, Graphite
Shaft FlexRegular, Stiff
DesignCavity Back
Set Makeup4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW
Additional Clubs3, GW, SW, LW
Manufacturer's WebsiteCallaway Website

User Reviews

ken in Fl
January 2018

When I went to golf shop to get fitted, the fitter asked me how far I hit my 7 iron. I told him 150, he said "I guarantee you will hit this 7 iron 170".I only hit it 145, lost 5 yards. I play top end soft, low compression balls . Regular shaft. They do have a great feel but no added distance.

Big Dog
December 2017

After a few year hiatus from the game, I bought the XR Irons after hitting and reviewing several models. I added an inch to the shaft length but made no other changes. I am now hitting my irons further in my 60s than I did in my 40s. The clubs are amazing. Even more impressive is the fact that I have always hit 6-9 irons well and struggled with my 5. I am now hitting my 5 more consistently than my 9. The feel is exceptional and the sound is great. I can tell I have hit a good shot when I hear the "raspy" zing from the club face. After 15 years away, I worked by handicap down from 25 down to 11 by summer's end. While I have made changes in my woods, I am sticking with my XR's for next year. Couldn't be happier with the clubs.

March 2017

Been playing these irons for almost a year now. I'm a fairly beginning golfer so as my swing gets better, these irons keep getting longer and longer. I'm running into the issue of needing a gap wedge now myself. This a welcome problem. I have more control on the shorter irons and the distance they provide is getting my gir percentage up dramatically. If you're looking for distance without compromising forgiveness, you found the right irons.

September 2016

I wanted to upgrade my irons so went for a fitting today. I tried the newer versions of my set of Pings. I tried the Ping G Series and G30's which were very good and an obvious improvement on my old ones. Then I tried the Callaway XR's and my first shot was -- WOH! Straight and true with high loft and almost a club further than the Pings. I continued to hit similar shots. I have a new set of irons on order. Sorry Ping, But I have gone Callaway.

June 2016

After a back injury at work I stopped playing golf for 8 years but recently got back into golf with a set of Srixon irons. They hit sweet as butter but I battled them as you needed to hit it sweet for good shots. These Callaway XR irons are amazing, even the mishits, which fly really high and long. The only draw back is that I need a gap wedge as these go to far. On shorter par 4 holes I tee off with my 4 iron -really amazing product.

July 2015

Recently purchased these irons, and I am extremely happy with them. They play about a club longer than my previous set, which really is causing a gapping issue. I play 4-PW and go 50-54-58 in 588 Cleveland wedges, and the gap between PW and 50 is too big.

Other than that it's a great iron. Workable. Forgiving, but with feedback on mishits.

Topline maybe a bit thicker than I'd wish it, but I guess that's life when playing game improvement irons.

July 2015

I bought mine today. I went to the store with the intention of buying something different but wanted a set that would bring back some of my old distances I used to hit before going to a forged set with stiffer shafts. I tried the 7 iron on the launch monitor and immediately saw that I was hitting it around 180-185 yards consistently with an occasional 190 yard shot. I used to hit my 7 iron around 175 yards but saw reductions over the last few years with my forged clubs where I was only hitting my 7 iron about 160 yards. I took this newly found distance with a grain of salt since its a launch monitor, not the course where it matters. I went out and played nine holes which was only what I had time for. I warmed up on the range and was absolutely hitting the ball the best I've hit it in a long time. I didn't have distances to gauge but I know I was hitting it further than my previous irons. while out, I hit my 8 iron 180 yards, my nine about 165 and hit a nice pitching wedge about 150. While I wasn't expecting this type of distance gain, what I really like is the feel when I put a good swing on it. As mentioned by others, the shaft weight really warrants a smooth swing which is when most of us hit the ball the best. The ball felt great coming off of the club face and I was truly much more impressed with the feel of these irons than I thought I'd be. Very happy with the purchase.

April 2015

I am a single hcp at 9.9 and I changed to the XR recently from the TaylorMade steel burner. Yes the oldies, but they always performed to my wishes. So I always thought why change? I tried many different irons such as Nike Vapor forged, Mizuno MP54, JPX 850 and EZ forged, TM tour preferred MC and CB and Titleist AP1 and 2 and last but not least the Callaway legacy and XR/XR pro. And what struck me was the XR performance. What a fine great iron!! So easy to hit, long distance with excellent feel. It actually feels like a forged one. They are a little chunkier at address, but that doesn't hinder you when hitting. You don't see the cavity at address and the medium off set is not an issue as it so good to handle and gives excellent control. You can curve the ball nicely in fades or draw. Why go for a forged or semi blades when you get everything in the XR. And it truly suits even with low handicappers. I know hcp 2-4 playing these XR's and they love them. Make sure that you custom fit your irons as it impacts control and distance. Enjoy them and make them work for you.

April 2015

I tried these at the weekend at an open day at my local range. I was fitted by an independent pro with all the equipment and after several makes and options eventually ended up with the XR with a dynamic gold S300 shaft, half inch longer and 2 degrees up. Although I only hit a 7 iron I loved the weight and feel. I hit a high ball and have a fast swing of 95 mph according to machine so the change in shaft from standard lowered my ball flight nicely. I normally hit a 7 iron around 150 to 155 yards (reduce this by 20% with range balls) and with this set up I consistently hit straight out to 150 with range balls, I did place one standard ball and hit it 170. Loved the feel, look and weight and will be ordering soon. Will need to look at wedges as may be better options for me out there but 6 through 9 (I don't carry a 5 use a hybrid) I will be ordering next pay day. At £75 a club not over expensive I do not think . I play off 18 (but that's mainly as I am wild with my driver) with these I hope to get down to low teens or better.

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