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This is a full review of the Callaway Epic MAX fairway wood.
The Epic MAX takes Callaway’s latest cutting-edge speed technologies including Jailbreak A.I. and the Flash Face SS21 and integrates them into an oversized head with a shallow face for easy launch.
The Epic MAX fairway wood is designed to be long and easy to hit, but how does it actually perform when it comes down to it? How does it compare with other Callaway fairway wood models? Who is it best suited for?
Here’s what I’m going to be covering in this review:
- Features & Technologies
- Look, Sound & Feel
- Where To Buy This Fairway Wood Online
Read on to find out everything you need to know to make an informed purchase decision.
Note: Unless otherwise stated, stock shafts and stock grips are used when evaluating this club. In most cases, the golf clubs reviewed on Golfstead are acquired temporarily for testing purposes and are not purchased. The review that follows is based on the personal experience and research of the author. Because everyone’s swing and body are different, results with a particular club may differ from person to person.
What are the reviews like?
With a gold medal on the Golf Digest 2021 Hot List, the Callaway Epic MAX fairway wood has been received very well by both critics and consumers.
Compared to its sister wood, the Epic Speed, the Epic MAX has a wider appeal and a little bit of an edge in the ratings department. It has average scores of 4.8/5 (96% recommended) on the CGPO website and 5/5 on Global Golf.
What People Like
- super long and straight
- easy to get the ball up in the air
- easy to hit (including off the deck)
- nice, consistent feel at impact
- shallow face helps inspire confidence at address
What People Don’t Like
- expensive with limited gain over previous models
What are the features?
Naturally, the Epic MAX fairway wood shares the core A.I. technologies found in the Epic Speed:
- Jailbreak A.I. Velocity Blades: spreaded, angled blades designed with artificial intelligence stiffen the body and allow the forged face cup to flex more, resulting in higher ball speeds all across the face.
- Flash Face SS21: the latest iteration of Callaway’s Flash Face, designed through advanced artificial intelligence and forged using a high-strength C300 Maraging Steel. It produces faster ball speeds over a large area of the face and also improves spin consistency.
The first unique feature that distinguishes the Epic MAX is its oversized head and shallow face. This is designed to make the fairway wood both easy to hit and easy to launch.
Next, the Epic MAX contains two adjustable weight ports in the sole containing 2g and 14g weights. These weights influence launch and spin — putting the 14g one in the back will increase forgiveness and launch, while putting it in the front will reduce spin and launch.
There are a lot of lofts to choose from with the Epic MAX fairway wood: 3+W, 3W, 5W, Heavenwood, 7W, 9W and 11W at lofts 13.5°, 15°, 18°, 20°, 21°, 23° and 25° respectively. The hosel is fixed.
Also available is the women’s Epic MAX fairway wood in 15°, 18°, 20°, 21°, 23° and 25° lofts. It’s basically the same as the men’s Epic MAX, but the stock shaft, grip, swing weights, length, etc. are meant for women to maximize their performance.
The stock graphite shafts are the Project X CYPHER 50 and Project X HZRDUS Smoke iM10 (60/70). The stock grip is the Golf Pride Tour Velvet ALIGN Black. Custom shafts are available.
If you’re interested, full information on the fairway wood, shafts, grips and their specs can be found on the CGPO website.
Below are the specs of the Epic MAX fairway wood. Click or zoom to enlarge.
How does the fairway wood perform?
With the Epic MAX fairway wood, distance results will depend on several factors including the configuration of the sole weights and your individual swing.
Firstly, if you normally have trouble getting your woods up in the air and your length suffers because of that, you could potentially see big distance gains with the Epic MAX, simply because it’s so easy to launch.
Secondly, if you have the 14g weight in the back, you should see a marginally higher spin rate and a little less distance on sweet spot strikes compared to the Epic Speed. If you have the 14g weight in the front, distance (and performance in general) will be very similar to the Epic Speed.
What’s great about the Epic MAX is that mis-hits tend to go longer and straighter than with the Epic Speed — a natural result of the Epic MAX’s more forgiving and larger profile.
To sum up, the Epic MAX is one of the longest fairway woods out there while maintaining a high level of forgiveness. That’s quite the achievement.
Overall forgiveness with the Epic MAX is excellent, roughly on the same level as the Big Bertha B21 which could be considered Callaway’s “max game improvement” model.
Having said that, mis-hit performance is noticeably better than the Epic Speed even though the forgiveness of the Epic Speed isn’t something to scoff at either. During my test, mis-hits only lost 8-14 yards of distance relative to center strikes.
The forgiveness will depend on the sole weight positions as well. With the 14g weight in the back, there will be a healthy amount of stability and forgiveness. Putting the 14g weight in the front will bring the Epic MAX’s forgiveness in line with the Epic Speed while still maintaining a slight edge.
The launch of the Epic MAX fairway wood will tend to be 1°-2° higher than that of the Epic Speed, depending on the loft you’re using. It has a fairly pronounced draw bias, which should be welcomed by high handicappers.
The Epic MAX’s shallow face makes a real difference in being able to get a good launch on the ball. From my perspective, it’s as easy to launch as the Big Bertha B21 and one of the easiest fairway woods to launch period. The shallow face also makes it much easier to hit “off the deck” or off tight lies.
The Epic MAX isn’t as workable as the Epic Speed, but you can still shape shots quite nicely if you have the ability for it.
Because the available lofts for the Epic MAX run so deep, you can go from woods straight to the mid irons while skipping hybrids or long irons in your bag. This can be a very good choice if you hit the Epic MAX well.
What about look, sound & feel?
Compared to the Epic Speed, the Epic MAX fairway wood is more elongated from front to back. And as you would expect, the CC rating is six more for the 3-wood (179 vs 173) than the Epic Speed.
For the higher-lofted woods, the CC is practically the same, which you might find surprising given the oversized design. However, the volume ends up being about the same because of the Epic MAX’s shallower face.
At address, the ball appears to set up in roughly the middle of the face, but the face itself sits slightly closed. This is meant to encourage a draw shot shape and minimize the right miss (for a right-handed golfer).
The sharp, attractive aesthetic is basically the same as it is with the Epic Speed, with the one noticeable difference being the addition of a weight port at the back of the sole.
The Sound & Feel
Like the Epic Speed, the Epic MAX fairway wood has a fairly sharp “metal wood” sound at impact, also characteristic of previous Callaway models like the MAVRIK MAX. The feel is very solid and there’s a satisfying resonance.
As I’ve said before, I personally prefer woods that sound tighter and more muted at impact, but I don’t dislike the sound and feel of the Epic MAX by any means.
The sound and feel of the club as you move from the sweet spot to mis-hit areas is very consistent, so you don’t have to worry about any jarring vibrations. At the same time, there is enough feedback there to be able to feel through your hands whether you made solid contact or not.
Where should you buy this fairway wood online?
The Epic MAX fairway wood is now at least a season old, and you can no longer order it custom-made directly from the official Callaway website.
The best you can do now is look for it on Callaway Golf Pre-Owned and eBay. CGPO has a bunch of these fairway woods on offer with a 90-day buy-back policy, 12-month warranty, and free headcover included. The women’s variant can be found here.
The Epic MAX is undoubtedly expensive. If you want to save money, you can find discounts on eBay.
Most of my reviews of golf equipment are positive, and Callaway’s Epic MAX fairway wood is no exception. In fact, I can’t praise it enough; it does practically everything well.
The Epic MAX is best suited for the mid or high-handicap player focused on forgiveness, but it can be used successfully by golfers of any skill level.
Compared to the previous generation MAVRIK MAX, the Epic MAX tends to be a little longer, more forgiving, and straighter with a higher launch. I do think it’s definitely worth upgrading if you can handle the cost.
I also think that, unless you want maximum speed with lower spin and a little more workability, it’s worth playing the Epic MAX over the Epic Speed.
The only real negative to speak of is the very steep price tag. Many people just won’t be able to afford it straight out, especially if they need multiple lofts, but there are options for financing and club trade-ins that can soften the blow considerably.
Have any thoughts or opinions about the Epic MAX fairway wood? Go ahead and leave a comment below.