Here I’ll be fully reviewing the Callaway XR 16 game-improvement driver. Labelled “forgiveness meets fast”, the XR 16 aims to produce maximum clubhead speed through minimal drag (with the help of Boeing), increased ball speeds and more forgiveness than the previous model XR driver.
So, how well does the XR 16 live up to its performance claims? Is it worth it? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Read on to find out everything you need to know about it to make an informed purchase.
Want a high-resolution look at the XR 16? Click on the composite image at the top of the page and navigate the photos on the left-hand side of the screen.
Scroll down to the end of the review to see my rating!
Recommended for: Slower swingers, mid-to-high handicappers or anyone looking for more clubhead speed and quality forgiveness off the tee.
What are the reviews like?
I’m not at all surprised to see that the XR 16 driver has been received beautifully since its unveiling and debut in January. It has average customer ratings of 4.8/5 on Amazon, 4.8/5 (100% recommended) on the official Callaway website, 4.8/5 (100% recommended) on the Dick’s Sporting Goods website and 5/5 (100% recommended) on Golfsmith (those helpfuls here).
Many users love how much the XR 16 helps slower swingers (such as seniors) deliver a good clubhead speed to the ball. The driver has also been lauded for its fantastic ball speed/directional forgiveness, awesome feel, easy hitting and amazing distance potential overall. To get a sense of the great value per dollar of the XR 16, consider the fact that critics have remarked its performance nearly rivals that of the Great Big Bertha which is currently $100 more expensive.
Some golfers, particularly strong swingers with a naturally high trajectory, tend to experience overly high spin rates with the XR 16 that adversely affect distance. Additionally, some consider the overall look and the graphics on the clubhead to be a bit too busy and tacky.
What are the features?
With the help of experts at Boeing, Callaway reached a “new threshold of club speed” and developed their most aerodynamic driver head shape yet with the XR 16 driver. The optimized aerodynamic shape combined with the redesigned Speed Step together enable some of the fastest clubhead speeds on the market today. The size and placement of the Speed Step on the crown (shorter and closer to the leading edge as compared with the original XR) leads to substantial weight savings and less drag in the downswing for more clubhead speed, ball speed and distance. The shape of the crown and the clubface reduce air resistance by approximately 30% and 10%, respectively, over the previous XR model.
The XR 16 driver is also built with extreme forgiveness in mind. A 19% thinner and 9 gram lighter next-generation R•MOTO clubface allows for a low and deep center of gravity (CG); this, in turn, contributes to a high moment of inertia (MOI) for added stability and forgiveness. Not only that, but the thin face and the light body help to increase ball speeds at every impact location on the face. The end result of all this is an absolute increase in ball speeds across the face as well as a relative increase in ball speeds with respect to center and off-center locations on the face.
The XR 16 also features the usual OptiFit adjustable hosel for dialing in your optimal ball flight. Allowed are face angle adjustments and loft adjustments of up to 2° in the positive direction and 1° in the negative direction.
Stock shafts available are the Fujikura Speeder Evolution 565 Red graphite and the Mitsubishi Bassara 52 graphite for men and women respectively. Several premium shafts are also available at no extra cost for those who aren’t satisfied with the stock selection. The specs of the stock XR 16 driver are expressed in the table below; more information on shafts can be found on the Callaway website.
|9° (Speeder)||Adjustable (8°-11°)||RH/LH||45.75"||Adjustable||460||D3|
|10.5° (Speeder)||Adjustable (9.5°-12.5°)||RH/LH||45.75"||Adjustable||460||D3|
|13.5° (Speeder)||Adjustable (12.5°-15.5°)||RH / LH Custom Only||45.75"||Adjustable||460||D3|
|10.5° (Bassara)||Adjustable (9.5°-12.5°)||RH||44.75"||Adjustable||460||C8|
|13.5° (Bassara)||Adjustable (12.5°-15.5°)||RH/LH||44.75"||Adjustable||460||C8|
How does the driver perform?
Distance: Distance results are generally very good with the XR 16 driver. Do keep in mind that your exact carry and rollout numbers will depend on your swing and your specific driver configuration. Also keep in mind that while the deep CG placement does increase MOI and forgiveness, it also tends to increase spin which can be undesirable to those who could use less of it. My personal experience with the driver was a large amount of hang time and carry with less rollout than some of the really low-spinning drivers out there; in the end yardages were among the longest I’ve tested. The more demanding golfer always has the option of testing the different adjustable sleeve loft/lie options to find a ball flight that gives them the distance results they want.
Forgiveness: Some of the best offered. Mishits seem to go nearly as far as sweet-spot strikes (the sweet spot is very large), and even severe mishits don’t tend to lose too much distance — in that respect it’s one of the best drivers available. The XR 16 also does a really great job of straightening out (but not completely curing of course) hooks and slices to keep the ball in the first cut of rough or even the fairway. It’s apparent that even if you’re not right on with your driving game, you can still hit plenty of terrific tee shots with the XR 16.
Playability/Trajectory: Typical ball flights with the XR 16 are high and straight, although natural draw and fade flights are not unheard of. As I touched upon above, the loft and lie settings can be adjusted to alter the height and curvature of your flight if desired — this won’t produce radical changes but it can have a noticeable effect. I would suggest that strong swingers and natural high-spinners get the 9° loft to avoid potential problems. Shot shaping is quite achievable by capable players.
What about look, sound and feel?
Look: The XR 16 driver has a streamlined, rounded shape with a large face and a large 460cc footprint that is substantially more elongated than the original XR. The non-distracting black matte finish on the crown makes a return again. Compared with the previous XR, the Speed Step of the XR 16 is now shorter and closer to the leading edge. One of the concerns I had with the original XR was that the alignment arrow appeared to actually point a little north of the sweet spot towards the toe; this isn’t the case with the XR 16, however, which I’m glad to see.
When it comes to the aesthetic, I find the overall design and decal markings on the sole and face to be a little excessive for my tastes, but that’s just me. I would say it’s a somewhat polarizing look, to be loved by some and disliked by others.
Sound and Feel: Both are quality. The sound produced by the XR 16 driver at impact can be described as a crisp “swoosh” or solid “crack”. Feel is solid. While feedback isn’t as distinctive as it might be with certain players drivers, it gives you enough information to discern the general area of impact; specifically, off-center strikes tend to feel more hollow as you move away from the face. The stock Speeder shaft generally compliments the head quite well by helping with the loading and unloading process in the swing.
Where should I buy this driver online?
At this time, due to the newness of the XR 16 driver, there is virtually no price differentiation between different retail locations. With that said, you can actually find substantial discounts off the fixed manufacturer’s price right here on this eBay page (also excellent for used buys). New XR 16 drivers of all types are also being sold on this Amazon page and this Global Golf page — both stores have excellent return policies. You can also order off the official Callaway website or get fit to an XR 16 driver for free right here. No matter where you end up buying, I strongly recommend checking out these links first!
Rating: 4.8/5 (highly recommended to try!)
Pros: Very forgiving with a large sweet spot; aerodynamics are truly effective in increasing clubhead speed throughout the swing; a lot of value for the price; easy to hit; easy to get the ball up in the air; feel is smooth during the swing and solid at impact
Cons: Decals seem to fade fairly quickly with use; some find the graphics to be overly busy and cheap; golfers who need to lower their spin rate could run into problems with ball flight
The XR 16 driver is a tremendous game-improvement offering from Callaway; an excellent all-around performer and a definite improvement over the previous model XR. If you’re someone who’s looking for an extra boost in clubhead speed without sacrificing forgiveness, and if you don’t need the extra adjustability that the more-expensive Great Big Bertha provides, this is a club I would seriously recommend trying out.
Feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions about the Callaway XR 16 driver in the comment section below!