In this review, I’ll be taking a look at the Callaway Epic MAX driver.
The Epic MAX has the highest MOI in the new Epic line of drivers, and is the most forgiving in the conventional sense.
Like its predecessor, the Epic Flash, it delivers speed and adjustability, but it takes everything to the next level with a new A.I. Jailbreak Speed Frame, Flash Face SS21, and lightweight Triaxial carbon material.
How does the Epic MAX actually perform on the course? How does it compare with previous Callaway offerings like the MAVRIK MAX, and does it set a new bar in forgiveness? Is it worth putting in the bag?
Read on to find out what you need to know to make an informed purchase.
What are the reviews like?
The Epic MAX driver has been rated very well, although it seems to be a little less popular than the other drivers in the Epic line.
It has an average rating of 4.9/5 (96% recommended) on the Callaway store, 5/5 on Global Golf, and 4.2/5 on Amazon. Amazon, in particular, often tends to have lower ratings because people who have shipping issues drag down the average of a low number of reviews.
The driver has also been received very well by professional critics, but many acknowledge that it won’t suit everyone’s tastes.
What People Like
- very forgiving with a tight dispersion
- tends to be longer than the MAVRIK MAX
- adjustable hosel and sliding sole makes it much easier to dial in a setting that suits your swing
- surprisingly workable for a GI driver
- great for golfers with slower swing speeds in particular
What People Don’t Like
- quite expensive
- some are surprised to learn that the driver doesn’t suit their eye
What are the features?
The Epic MAX driver mostly has the same core technologies as the Epic Speed:
- Jailbreak A.I. Speed Frame: an improvement on the original Jailbreak technology, the new Speed Frame not only vertically connects the crown and sole to produce more ball speed, but through artificial intelligence, it also adds horizontal and torsional stability that improves ball speed towards the heel and toe.
- Flash Face SS21: this is the latest iteration of Callaway’s Flash Face, designed through machine learning and made of high-strength titanium. It produces faster ball speeds over a large area of the face and improves spin robustness as well.
The first area where the Epic MAX differs slightly is in the Triaxial carbon material. The crown is made of a very lightweight and strong Triaxial carbon composite that saves 19 grams of weight as opposed to 16 grams in the Epic Speed.
This allows for even more weight savings that are redistributed to move the CG deep and back, increasing MOI, stability and forgiveness, tightening dispersions, and adding a natural draw bias as well.
The second difference is the size: a larger profile than the Epic Speed with a flatter sole shape.
The third difference is sole adjustability. The Epic MAX driver features a 16g sliding perimeter weight that, combined with the OptiFit hosel, offers up to 20 yards of shot shape correction. You can position the sole weight towards the heel to add more draw bias, or keep it back to maximize forgiveness.
The Epic MAX driver is available in 9°, 10.5°, and 12° standard lofts at 460 CC.
Also available is the Epic MAX driver for women, in 10.5° and 12° lofts. The women’s version has lofts, swingweights, lengths, shafts and grips that are tailored to women to maximize their performance.
The Epic MAX comes with an Optifit hosel that allows you to adjust loft and lie. The loft settings are -1, +1, 0 and +2 (a range of 3°). The lie settings are N (neutral) and D (draw), giving a total of 8 possible configurations.
The stock graphite shafts are the Project X Cypher (40g) and the Project X HZRDUS Smoke IM10 (50g, 60g). The stock grip is the Golf Pride Tour Velvet ALIGN. Custom shafts are available.
If you’re interested, full information on the driver, shafts, grips and their specs can be found on the Callaway website.
Below are the specs of the Epic MAX driver for men and women. Click or zoom to enlarge.
How does the driver perform?
In an absolute sense, the Epic MAX driver is not quite as long as the Epic Speed.
This is for two reasons: the first is that the Epic MAX doesn’t feature Callaway’s “Cyclone Aero” shape that is designed to squeeze out extra clubhead speed.
The second is that, despite the fact that Callaway classifies both the Speed and MAX as having “mid spin”, the Epic MAX does indeed give slightly higher spin numbers. This isn’t surprising given that the CG is farther back; no matter how you slice it, there’s going to be a tradeoff when increasing the MOI.
With that said, I think that the Epic MAX will give more golfers an opportunity to see the best distance they’ve ever had on the course. This is because the high launch characteristics of the driver suit slower swing speeds, and the added adjustability from the sliding sole weight gives golfers more flexibility in finding their optimal configuration.
The Epic MAX is generally regarded as being the most forgiving Epic driver Callaway has ever produced. Having tested all of them, I think I can safely vouch for this claim.
Similar to the Epic Speed, which itself is very forgiving, the forgiveness of the Epic MAX is influenced by A.I. Jailbreak and Flash Face SS21, which combine to produce some of the best ball speeds in mis-hit areas. Rounding this out is a high-MOI design that minimizes face twisting at impact.
This means that even if you miss the center of the face, you’re going to see ball speeds that are very close to what you would see off the sweet spot, as well as tight dispersions that give you quite a large margin for error in hitting the fairway off the tee.
But what really puts the Epic MAX over the top in terms of forgiveness (making it superior to comparable game-improvement drivers like the MAVRIK MAX) is the natural draw bias and adjustable weighting.
Sliding the weight towards the heel will provide up to 20 yards of draw ball movement, which means that for many higher handicappers who suffer from a moderate to severe slice, this driver is likely to be a game-changer.
The normal ball flight of the Epic MAX driver, with the sliding weight in the middle of the track, is higher than the Epic Speed with more draw bias. Putting the weight back increases the trajectory slightly.
During my tests, I found it very easy to get the ball up in the air even on my poorest shots.
Depending on the pattern and speed of your swing, you may even produce trajectories that are too high. Fortunately, you have several options to address this beyond going to the 9°: you can adjust down the loft on the OptiFit hosel or slide more weight towards the heel if you don’t mind the extra draw bias.
Moreover, the Epic MAX driver is surprisingly workable, which is a nice bonus if you want to engineer a bit of shape to some of your tee shots.
The stock shafts, in this case, are very good options because they have a comfortable weight and are well-balanced.
What about look, sound & feel?
The Epic MAX driver looks like a slightly expanded version of the Epic Speed: green accents characteristic of Epic clubs, an “X” pattern on the face indicating the horizontal stability added by the A.I. Speed Frame, and other aesthetic elements borrowed from previous Callaway driver models like the Epic Flash, MAVRIK and Big Bertha B21.
The Epic MAX sports a traditional, pear-like shape and sets up square at address, although like the Epic Speed, the alignment aid and sweet spot appear to set up a little closer to the heel.
The crown wraps around the edges of the club and takes up quite a large area of the head.
On the sole, the A.I. Jailbreak Frame medallions are visible; they extend in a line just behind the face, representing the increased area of stability. There’s also the weight track, which isn’t very long but extends from the rear-most point of the sole towards the heel.
This is one of the best “oversized” head designs I’ve yet seen in a driver. It’s a look that will give a lot of confidence to golfers who need some help with their drives, and not only is a draw bias inherent to the Epic MAX, but the way it sets up at address also encourages you not to make an outside-in swing.
The Sound & Feel
I found the Epic MAX driver to have terrific sound and feel at impact that was very satisfying.
The driver makes a nice “crack” with a whoosh at impact that isn’t too muted or hollow. The feel is roughly in line with the sound in that it’s very solid, but at the same time, not overly dull.
Strikes in the sweet spot sound quite similar to mis-hits. The small difference that exists lies mainly in the feel, which maintains an element of explosiveness across the face but doesn’t feel quite as firm on mis-hits.
The variance in sound and feel across the face is similar to the Epic Speed but, predictably, less pronounced.
Where should you buy this driver online?
Currently, the best place to order an Epic MAX driver with custom specifications (loft, length, shaft, grip, etc.) is this page on the Callaway website. If you’re interested in the women’s variant, go here.
Callaway is also allowing you to, for a limited time, order a special Epic MAX driver with custom colours in the crown, medallion ports, and sole rails, as well as a clean crown option. You can do that here.
Callaway’s Epic MAX driver is a beast off the tee: excellent distance, a very high level of forgiveness, rock solid feel, and adjustability that will allow a large subset of golfers to find success with the club.
It’s difficult to think of anything that the Epic MAX does poorly — it more or less delivers as advertised, and in today’s world of hyped-up marketing, this is increasingly rare.
If you’re looking for the latest and greatest GI technology in a driver, the Epic MAX is probably the first model you should consider. On the other hand, if you don’t place such a large premium on forgiveness or a higher trajectory, the Epic Speed or Epic MAX LS would likely be better options.
In many respects (including distance and playability), the Epic MAX outclasses the MAVRIK MAX. So, you probably shouldn’t bother looking at those kinds of older Callaway models unless you’re on a really tight budget where every dollar counts.
Are you interested in the Epic MAX driver? Have you tried it yet? What’s your experience? Let us know in the comments below.
Callaway Epic MAX Driver
- Extremely forgiving with tight dispersions
- Longer than comparable GI drivers
- Sliding sole weight makes it easy to optimize the driver setting
- Workability is surprisingly good
- Plenty of draw bias to straighten out that slice
- Excellent sound and feel
- A little expensive
- May not be ideal for skilled golfers or those with high swing speeds