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In this review, I’ll be taking a look at the Callaway XR 16 Sub Zero driver.
The XR 16 Sub Zero goes even farther down the better-player path than the XR 16 Pro does. It’s built for super-low spin and has been used on the PGA Tour by the likes of Phil Mickelson.
So, how well does the XR 16 Sub Zero live up to the XR 16 name? Just how low of a spin rate does it generate? Is it worth trying out?
Read on to find out everything you need to know about the driver 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 XR 16 Sub Zero driver has excellent reviews from both consumers and critics.
Consider that it has a 4/5 (83% recommended) on CGPO, although this score was dragged down because a couple of people couldn’t get a hold of a left-handed version. It also has a 4.5 with over 700 reviews on RBG.
What it boils down to is that if your swing and game fit the better-player aspects of this driver, chances are you’re going to see great results with it.
What People Like
- simple and compact head shape appeals to many
- exceptional sound and feel
- great shaft options
- low spin can produce amazing distance
What People Don’t Like
- no left-handed option
- low spin can be a problem for some golfers
What are the features?
The XR 16 Sub Zero driver has many features in common with the other drivers in the XR 16 lineup.
These are, namely, the next-generation R•MOTO clubface, aerodynamic shape, and OptiFit adjustability. These features are discussed in more detail in my XR 16 review.
However, there are some major differences.
One is that the XR 16 Sub Zero doesn’t feature the Speed Step due to the addition of the Carbon Triaxial Crown, which is the lightest ever used.
Another major difference is the location of the center of gravity.
The XR 16 Sub Zero has a CG that is below the neutral axis (the lowest ever up until this point). The result is very low spin, ideal for players with high swing speeds.
Another difference is the introduction of two interchangeable weights in the sole, at 2g and 10g.
Putting the 10g weight in the front or the back will alter the spin and trajectory. For example, putting the weight forward will lower the spin even more, while putting it in the back will add some spin and forgiveness.
The XR 16 Sub Zero driver is available in RH only at a 9.5° standard loft.
The length and lie are adjustable, and there are many premium shaft options to choose from. See the specs below:
How does the driver perform?
Callaway was serious when they said that this thing has low spin rates. In fact, I think they’re too low for me; I wasn’t able to get the ball up in the air high enough to increase my distance over the XR 16.
However, what I did was have my associate, who has a high swing speed, take a few swings with it, and I observed the results.
If you have the speed and power, this thing will go a mile. In fact, distance results were probably the best that I’ve seen up until this point. It can sail past the XR 16 and even the XR 16 Pro.
To understand the kind of distance that you can get out of the XR 16 Sub Zero, I definitely recommend giving it a try and, if necessary, taking advantage of the OptiFit adjustability.
I’ve found that one area where the XR 16 Sub Zero driver seems to lack a bit is forgiveness.
This is completely expected because of the changed CG and low-spin traits. There’s usually a trade off between lower spin and forgiveness, and the XR 16 Sub Zero is an example of this.
In particular, many of my mis-hits ended up being pretty bad in terms of ball speed and my intended line — noticeable worse than the XR 16.
Expect moderate to severe mis-hits to miss the fairway. But if you’re using the XR 16 Sub Zero driver, you should be skilled enough to be able to consistently hit the sweet spot anyways.
I love the workability and playability of the XR 16 Sub Zero. The smaller 440cc head makes it easier to finesse the ball a bit off the tee and hit the shape you want. If you want a driver that is long but also workable, this is it.
The ideal ball flight with the XR 16 Sub Zero driver is low-mid, straight, and penetrating.
Your ball flight is going to depend on a lot of factors including your clubhead speed, swing, and shaft. You’ll likely need to experiment a bit before you can find what works.
What about look, sound & feel?
The XR 16 Sub Zero driver has a streamlined, rounded shape. It’s 440cc, so compared to the XR 16, it’s a little smaller and less elongated from back to front.
The crown has a non-distracting black matte finish, but this time, there’s no Speed Step.
At address, the sweet spot doesn’t appear to be too far towards the toe or heel, which is great.
When it comes to the aesthetic, I said before that I find the decal markings and design of the XR 16 to be a little too flashy and unappealing for my tastes. However, with the XR 16 Sub Zero, this is somewhat lessened by the fact that the surface area is smaller, so it takes up less of your field of vision.
Overall, it’s a nice, smooth look that can inspire a lot of confidence in better players when they set up over the ball.
The Sound & Feel
I tell you: when you hit the sweet spot, this thing feels amazing. It’s just so solid and crisp. The sound is a solid “thwack” with a touch of tinniness.
However, off-center strikes to feel quite hollow and are a bit harsh through the hands. Again, this is expected.
The upside to this though is that feedback is excellent. It’s easy to tell where you made contact with the face, whether high, low, towards the heel or towards the toe. The sound gives you a bit of information, but the most helpful indicator by far is the feel.
The sound and feel are what you would expect from a quality players driver.
Where should you buy this driver online?
The XR 16 Sub Zero driver is now more than a few seasons 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 few of these drivers on offer with a 90-day buy-back policy, 12-month warranty, and free headcover included.
You can find some really good deals on the XR 16 Sub Zero driver on this eBay page.
The Callaway XR 16 Sub Zero driver, used by Tour pros like Phil Mickelson, is the go-to driver for better players who really want to get their spin rate down.
If you have a fast clubhead speed and want to reduce your spin, I would definitely recommend giving the XR 16 Sub Zero a try. You won’t get forgiveness like you do with the XR 16, but once you dial in your ball flight, the results can really be worth it.
Interested in the XR 16 Sub Zero driver? Have any questions about it? Feel free to leave a comment below.