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Today, I’ll be reviewing the Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D driver.
The Paradym Ai Smoke hits the market on the heels of Callaway’s original Paradym line of drivers, with four new models. The MAX D model, in particular, is engineered for high MOI and a draw bias to help slicers stay in the fairway.
How does the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D actually perform when put to the test? How does it compare to the original Paradym? Who is it best suited for? Is it worth putting in the bag?
Here’s what will be covered in the review:
Read on to learn what you need to know to make an informed purchase.
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?
The Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D driver won a gold medal on the 2024 Golf Digest Hot List in the performance, innovation, and look/sound/feel categories.
The handful of reviewers who have gotten their hands on the driver view it positively in general. It currently has a 5/5 (100% recommended) rating on the Callaway store.
What People Like
- extremely forgiving with healthy draw bias
- easy to launch
- premium, bold aesthetics
- sublime sound and feel
- easy to swing
What People Don’t Like
- no groundbreaking gains over previous draw drivers
The Paradym Ai Smoke drivers, including the MAX D, revolve around the idea of having “multiple sweet spots” via an Ai Smart Face. Callaway really honed in on optimizing performance in mis-hit areas.
This driver packs more or less the same core technology as the MAX model, namely:
- Ai Smart Face: a variable-thickness face, developed from over 50,000 face iterations and using data from over 250,000 swings from real golfers, that promotes optimal launch and spin as well as tight downrange dispersions.
- Micro Deflections: part of the Ai Smart Face, these occur in mis-hit areas, improving spin and launch to achieve results similar to sweet spot strikes.
- 360° Carbon Chassis: an internal titanium support structure is added to make the carbon chassis 15% lighter than the previous generation. The mass is redistributed to enhance launch and forgiveness.
What differentiates the MAX D from the other Paradym Ai Smoke models is:
- a stretched profile from front to back
- higher MOI for added forgiveness
- an internal draw bias with a 7g back weight
The Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D driver is available in 9°, 10.5°, and 12° standard lofts at 460 CC.
Also available is the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D driver for women. The women’s version has the same head technologies, but the swingweights, lengths, shafts and grips are tailored to women to maximize their performance.
The driver 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 2.0 40 and Mitsubishi TENSEI AV Series Blue 55 & 65. The stock grip is the Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360. Custom options are available.
If you’re interested, full information on the driver, shafts, grips and their specs can be found here.
Below are the specs of the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D driver. Click or zoom to enlarge.
In the sections that follow, I’ll talk about my experience with the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D driver. Let’s jump right in.
As expected, the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D driver isn’t quite as long as the MAX model, although the difference is small. The CG is located a little farther back, resulting in slightly more spin and launch.
That’s not all there is to the story, though. This driver might actually be longer than both your current gamer and the MAX, particularly if you tend to hit cuts off the tee — the draw bias will help straighten out these shots and you could gain considerable distance as a result.
The Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D is the most forgiving model in the Ai Smoke family along with the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX Fast.
Based on my field test, this driver gives you more forgiveness than any of Callaway’s previous offerings, except, perhaps, the Paradym X, whose forgiveness is comparable in certain respects.
Dispersions are phenomenal, and ball speed retention on mis-hits is as good as you can get. Consistent enough ballstrikers will likely have a hard time deviating from the draw-biased shape this driver produces, which means more fairways and lower scores.
As with the MAX model, I found heel and toe strikes in particular to retain quite a bit more ball speed and carry than the previous generation.
The Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D driver tends to produce a high launch. Spin is rather high for a driver, which is expected given the forgiveness profile.
There is a moderate draw bias that is not too subtle nor too excessive, so players who naturally hit the ball straight or with a slight draw shouldn’t find this driver unplayable. At the same time, workability is limited; the better options for shaping different shots are the Triple Diamond and MAX models.
More than anything, I found the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D to be a straightforward and predictable driver; higher handicappers can just “grip-and-rip” without too much thought, letting the forgiveness and draw bias keep you in the fairway.
The Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D driver is largely similar in looks to the MAX, with the striking grey smoke texture that marks the Paradym Ai Smoke family, grey carbon crown texture, and new face geometry.
With the MAX D, however, the head shape is more elongated from front to back, which was done in order to shift the CG back more and increase MOI.
In addition, the MAX D lacks the sliding perimeter weight of the MAX and features a fixed 7g back weight instead. This back weight replaces the front weight port found in the MAX, which gives a bit more room for the logoing on the sole.
My general feelings about the look remain the same here. I find the smoke texture to give the club an added sense of premium and luxuriousness, although I would have liked more contrast and pop between the logoing and the smoke texture surrounding it.
The Sound & Feel
The Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D driver feels solid and responsive at impact — almost identical to the MAX, although I found the MAX D to feel just a touch more back-weighted.
Impact produces a satisfying “crack” sound that makes no illusions you’re swinging a driver with a carbon body, in contrast to the more reverberating and metallic sound of a titanium driver.
The sound in mis-hit areas is less crisp than center strikes, but is probably a little more consistent than the MAX. Feel is remarkably consistent across the face, with mis-hits resembling center strikes more than previous models.
Where To Buy This Driver Online
The natural place to go to order a Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D driver with custom specifications (loft, length, shaft, grip, etc.) is this page on the Callaway store. If you’re looking for the women’s variant, go here.
If you want to save some money, you can find discounts on eBay.
Optionally look at what’s available on PGA TOUR Superstore, Global Golf or Amazon. The first two vendors may offer club trade-ins, performance guarantees, and/or financing plans to help you minimize the financial hit.
Looking for a draw-biased driver with high forgiveness and the latest cutting-edge performance technologies? Have a preference for Callaway? Then the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D should be at the top of your consideration list.
I wouldn’t think of the driver as having “multiple sweet spots” as this is mostly marketing hype, but ball speed retention in mis-hit areas is certainly outstanding. Distance is certainly up there as well, and the driver is easy to swing and easy to launch.
The Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D will tend to appeal to high or mid handicappers who need help finding fairways, but any golfer who appreciates a draw bias can have success with it.
Are you interested in the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D driver? Have you played it? What’s your experience? Tell us about it in the comments below.