This is a full review of the Callaway XR OS iron, a Golf Digest Hot List 2016 gold medal winner designed to be forgiving, long and easy to hit.
With wider soles and Callaway’s leading 360 Face Cup technology, the XR OS iron is supposed to be a best friend to high handicappers. Is it? Read on to find out just what it’s really made of so that you can make an informed purchase decision.
In a hurry? Here’s the quick overview and verdict for you…
Rating: 4.8/5 (Excellent)
Pros: Better forgiveness and distance than the XR; feels good across the face yet provides enough feedback to recognize mishits; high launch helps slow swingers and low hitters realize more distance with softer landings; large head inspires confidence for an easier hit
Cons: Short irons and wedges in particular look too fat/thick at address than many players prefer; touch shots around the green with wedges can feel a bit clunky for more skilled players; high trajectory encouragement doesn’t suit everyone
Best suited for: Beginners; high-handicappers; golfers who like large clubheads with a ton of forgiveness, high launch and reliability
Best places to buy online (open all links in new tabs to compare prices quickly): For new XR OS irons (sets, individual, ladies), see this Amazon page or the Callaway website. For new and used XR OS irons (often at unbeatable prices), check out this eBay page. I recommend also checking the current deals on Global Golf (credit refunds available for clubs that show normal wear) and Golfsmith.
Want a high-resolution look at the XR OS irons? Click on the composite image at the top of the page and navigate the photos on the left-hand side of the screen.
What are the reviews like?
The reviews are extremely positive overall, both in the consumer space and critic space. Including the ladies version of the XR OS as well as the hybrids (not reviewed here), the iron has average customer ratings of 4.8/5 on Amazon, 5/5 on the DSG website, 4.7/5 (94% recommended) on the Callaway website and 5/5 on Golfsmith.
What people like: Added distance (high ball speeds reulting from hot 360 Face Cup) and forgiveness over the regular XR (full review here); solid feel; easy hit; straight and high ball flight
What people don’t like: Large head can feel a bit clunky with touch shots around the green; for some players (particularly strong swingers) trajectory is too high and distance is underwhelming
What are the features?
Not surprisingly, the features and technologies of the XR OS are similar to those of the XR. We start with Callaway’s “industry-leading” 360 Face Cup: they have designed it to produce faster ball speeds than ever before. It has a multi-piece construction, has undergone a new heat treatment in the face cup for increased ball speeds and a soft heat treatment on the body for softer feel at impact.
The center of gravity (CG) in these irons is positioned low and back for high launch and high MOI (and hence better forgiveness). Further contributing to the forgiveness is a wider sole that squeezes more distance out of mishits.
Iron lengths and lofts are both progressive, with lofts increasing and lengths decreasing as you move from the long to the short, to optimize distance through the set.
You have the option of replacing the long XR OS irons with XR OS hybrids if you prefer; the hybrids are typically easier to get up in the air and are longer than equivalent numbered irons. While I don’t discuss the hybrids in this review, you should look out for a full review of them to be posted on Golfstead some time in the near future.
The stock shafts offered are the True Temper Speed Step 80 in steel and the Mitsubishi Fubuki AT in graphite. I thought the TT shaft, which I used during testing, provided nice balance through the swing and was light yet stable, although this can depend on the flex and the individual. Here are the specs of the irons:
|Name||Loft||Standard Length||Lie||Offset||Swing Weight (Steel)||Availability|
How do these irons perform?
Distance/Distance Control: The XR OS are definitely one of the longer irons I’ve tested in terms of pure ball speed potential, but perhaps not the longest. What’s important about these irons though is their ability to send the ball in the air with both speed and height for soft landings into greens. It’s easy to control your distances once you groove in your swing; once I did myself I was hitting my numbers very consistently.
Forgiveness: This is arguably the iron’s strongest attribute. Hits toward the heel and toe often see minimal loss in ball speed. How minimal? Well, for all but the worst of shots, mishits during my testing usually reached the green instead of coming up short — I can’t say the same for many other modern irons I’ve tested (even some GI irons). The XR OS irons also tend to straighten out slices and hooks and keep your ball from sailing too far off line. Yes, true to the claims, these are quite a bit more forgiving than the XR. Quite impressed overall.
Playability: Natural trajectories are high and straight, but with effort the flight can be altered. The XR OS irons are terrific for getting the ball up in the air from a wide variety of lies — rough, bunker, fairway, you name it, I found them to be playable and reliable in just about every situation.
What about look, sound and feel?
Look: As a more forgiving alternative to the XR, the XR OS naturally has a very thick top line, wide sole, large cavity and good amount of offset. This iron actually has one of the thickest top lines I’ve ever seen. One thing I’m not really crazy about is the look of the short irons at address: the shorter, round blade coupled with the ultra-thick top line makes for a look that’s a little too fat and stout for my tastes, but I can understand how it would inspire confidence for beginners and high-handicappers. It’s larger than the XR, there’s no doubt. Shape aside, the XR OS has a similar badge design to the XR with a Callaway logo in the bottom-left and a blue/red/white striped XR logo through the center. These irons really look awesome in the bag.
Sound and Feel: The XR OS irons feel stable and solid across the entire face. During my testing I found that center strikes tended to have a touch of “clicky” hollowness that differentiated it from mishits which felt more solid and muted. This means that you get a confidence-inspiring feel at impact without completely throwing useful feedback out the window; kudos to Callaway for managing to pull this off.
Where should I buy these irons online?
Right now it’s difficult to find prices lower than the manufacturer’s price for the XR OS irons. Currently, XR OS sets, individual irons, ladies sets and ladies individual irons are all available on Amazon and the Callaway website. You can also find XR OS irons on Global Golf and Golfsmith among other places. Prices change and things go on sale, which is why you should visit all these locations and compare the prices for what you’re looking for — scroll up to the overview at the top of my review and open up new tabs for all the links I provide to do so quickly and easily.
The XR OS irons are perfect for the golfer who wants more forgiveness, excellent ball speed potential, more height on their iron shots and a larger head than the original XR can provide. This is a serious contender in the game-improvement market, one that I recommend all beginners and high-handicappers who have the budget at least try.
If you have any thoughts or opinions about Callaway’s XR OS irons, be sure to leave a comment below!