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In this review, I’ll be taking a comprehensive look at the Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke MAX 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, in particular, is designed for maximum forgiveness and distance as well as adjustable perimeter weighting to alter ball flight.
How does the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX 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 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 highly positively in general.
What People Like
- more forgiving than the Paradym
- premium, bold aesthetics
- launch is just right for optimal carry
- easy to swing
- great Callaway feel
What People Don’t Like
- not much different than the original Paradym apart from improved forgiveness
Ai Smart Face
The Paradym Ai Smoke drivers, including the MAX, 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 for optimal launch and spin as well as tight downrange dispersions.
The new Ai Smart Face is a variable-thickness face that was developed from over 50,000 face iterations and using data (swing speed, face orientation, club delivery) from over 250,000 swings from real golfers.
The unique topography of the face also enables what Callaway calls micro deflections. These deflections occur in mis-hit areas and optimize spin and launch to achieve results similar to sweet spot strikes.
Callaway did robot testing comparing the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX with the original Paradym driver, and they found that the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX produced an average of 7.4 yards more distance across the entire face, with the biggest gains being in the extreme heel and toe regions.
360° Carbon Chassis
The body of the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX is almost entirely made of carbon fiber instead of the traditional titanium.
While the idea is carried over from the 2023 Paradym driver, some improvements and refinements have been made in order to save additional weight, which is then used to enhance launch and forgiveness.
Namely, an internal titanium support structure is added to make the carbon chassis 15% lighter than the previous generation.
Adjustable Perimeter Weighting
The Paradym Ai Smoke MAX driver features a sliding 14g rear perimeter weight. This weight can be slid towards the heel for a draw bias, slid towards the toe for a fade bias, or kept in a neutral position for more stability.
This sliding weight allows golfers to benefit from an average of 19 yards of shot-shape correction, according to robot testing. This is seven yards more than the original Paradym.
The Paradym Ai Smoke MAX driver is available in 9°, 10.5°, and 12° standard lofts at 460 CC.
Also available is the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX 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 Paradym 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 driver. Click or zoom to enlarge.
When it comes to strikes off the center of the face, I don’t see much difference in distance between the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX and the Paradym.
In my case during my field test, carry distances were somewhere in between the Paradym X and Paradym given the spin and launch profile, although ball speeds seemed to have a very slight edge of up to 1 mph.
I think whether or not you’ll see more distance with this model compared to the previous generation will depend on your swing and the configuration of the driver. I did find an ever-so-slight gain in ball speed and clubhead speed, which is appreciated even though it should sort of come with the territory.
In my view, this is the shining star of the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX.
My data suggested that results in mis-hit areas are similar to Callaway’s robot test. In particular, I did find heel and toe strikes to retain quite a bit more ball speed and carry. Also remember that having the adjustable weight in the center position should set you up for the most forgiveness possible.
Relatively speaking, this driver has a clear advantage in forgiveness over the original Paradym and a smaller, but still real, advantage over the Paradym X. The biggest improvement is in ball speed, but dispersions are tighter as well.
Callaway lists the launch of the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX driver as “mid-high”. I can vouch for this, but I should note that I was getting a slightly higher trajectory than the Paradym which is also listed as having a “mid-high” launch.
Spin is low, but a bit below average as far as drivers go. This is a large-headed, forgiving driver built to have a certain degree of MOI, so you should naturally expect spin to be a little elevated.
Often times, adjustable sole weighting is sacrificed in order to make a driver really forgiving, but I’m pleased to see that Callaway kept it this time around. The capacity for healthy draw and fade biases adds another dimension to the driver, allowing for flexibility that really helps to widen its appeal.
Above all, the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX is just super consistent in launch, direction and spin, whether you hit it dead center or deviate a little bit. Consistency will always be limited by the quality of the strike, but this driver helps you out about as much as it can.
The Paradym Ai Smoke MAX driver has a large shape that is similar to the Paradym X. The face pattern is largely the same, but the upper and lower lines in the sweet spot are a little longer, and a small vertical tick through the center line gives it more visual appeal.
Probably the most polarizing aspect of the look will be the grey smoke texture on the underside of the club. It’s certainly pretty “out there” and unlike anything I’ve ever seen, but I really like it personally as I find that it gives the club an added sense of premium and luxuriousness.
I also find the grey carbon texture of the crown to jive better with the dark grey strip near the face, as opposed to the navy blue of the Paradym.
The one thing I’m not crazy about, however, is the lack of contrast between the smoke-textured sole and the font on top of it. I would have preferred more contrast and pop for the logoing.
Callaway leaves the tungsten cartridge behind with the Paradym Ai Smoke. I liked it in previous models, but at the same time, I don’t really miss it now that it’s gone as it’s still a fantastic-looking driver.
The Sound & Feel
Given the lack of Jailbreak and the Tungsten Speed Cartridge, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX would feel and sound noticeably different from the Paradym.
In practice, this is partially true, but I found that the larger difference was in the feel. This feel strikes a great balance between solidness and explosiveness but is a little softer than the original Paradym.
The sound is very similar between the two, although the Ai Smoke MAX seems to sound a touch quieter at impact. Impact produces a satisfying crack; the sound is very carbon-like and lacks the reverberation and metallic quality of a titanium driver.
The sound in mis-hit areas is less crisp than sweet spot strikes, but I was really impressed with the consistency in feel across the face; mis-hits are surprisingly responsive and feel more like center strikes than previous models.
Where To Buy This Driver Online
The natural place to go to order a Paradym Ai Smoke MAX 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.
I don’t think you could ask for much more with Callaway’s Paradym Ai Smoke MAX driver, despite the fact that its performance is very similar overall to the original Paradym.
It’s at least as fast off the face as the original, but it’s even more forgiving, and the sliding sole weight can add even more correction to your shot shapes this time around. 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 the best I’ve seen.
The adjustability and forgiveness of the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX helps it appeal to golfers across the skill spectrum from high to low handicap. Having one in your bag for the upcoming season will certainly turn heads, and I think in many cases it’s worth upgrading from the Paradym, especially if you can get a good trade-in value.
Are you interested in the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX driver? Have you played it? What’s your experience? Tell us about it in the comments below.