We Tried It: Callaway XHot Driver
Callaway's Pro Long Driver Edition
With my natural swing, I immediately recognized the added 1.5 inches in extra shaft length, as my first few drives flew hard right and a little low. I even hit the ground a few times before striking the ball. After a small adjustment in my stance and ball position, I was quite surprised at not only the heap of forgiveness the Pro LD has over other long drive drivers I've tried, but how high I was hitting the ball. I fully expected the 7-degree loft to fire line drives, but I was actually hitting tee balls that flew with a moderate-to-low trajectory, not with a low-to-wormburn trajectory as I had expected. Understandably, trajectory isn't solely derived from the loft of the head—shaft flex and length also play a part in how the ball flies. Nevertheless, the ball flew with a trajectory I was happy—and surprised—with. The longer shaft instinctively forced me to put the ball more forward in my stance and tee it a little higher. That helped get the ball higher, too.
I know what you're thinking, though. Nobody cares how high it went; this is a long driver club. How far did my drives go? Measurably, my hits with the Pro LD flew at comparable distances to what my regular driver produces (drives that carry around 275 to 280 yards), but the slightly lower trajectory meant some extra forward roll, so I'd contend that I hit the ball about five to 10 yards farther than I usually do. That's pretty good, considering I'm particular about my go-to driver and I've had it tweaked for maximum distance. Shots fired off the heel and toe, however, didn't fair quite as well as I'm used to, as shots flew lower and more offline the more I missed from side to side. But, on the occasion I hit it solidly, I hit some serious bombs down the fairway.
Let me be clear, though: The Pro LD definitely produced some long drives, and it's not that it wasn't forgiving. It's forgiving compared to other long drive drivers. But compared to my driver, it's clear that it's a driver for pure power and not power/forgiveness like my usual driver is billed as.
That said, it wouldn't be a conclusive test if I didn't try to ratchet up my swing speed (which, ahem, is already more than 105 mph) and see what happens. At first, I made some wild swings and realized that there was a limit to how hard I could swing and how hard I should swing. (They're not always the same swing, by the way.) So, even though I swung harder and faster than normal, I still had to scale back so I could—you know—actually make contact with the golf ball.
What happened was quite interesting. It seemed the faster I swung, the farther the ball went. Duh, right? That may seem obvious, but for me, what happened is rarely the case. Typically, the harder or faster I swing a driver, the more backspin I generate, which actually shortens my overall distance. This club, on the other hand, showed little to no difference in trajectory when I swung really hard. And, I took a few real pops at it, expsecting either to balloon the ball or drive it into the ground, and the results were so long and consistent, I actually felt like a long drive competitor for a moment. The results were astonishingly better than when I swung excessively hard with my normal driver, both in terms of distance and, surprisingly, accuracy. I didn't have a Trackman on the course, but I did hit a handful of tee shots, and my solid shots with the Pro LD were easily 10 to 15 yards longer than my good ones with my standard driver, that is, when I swung with some extra oomph. When I missed the sweet spot, I lost out on some distance and control, but that was excusable in my book. After all, my weaker-shafted normal driver was wilder than the Pro LD when I tried to really nuke it. And, like I've said already, even though the Pro LD has some forgiveness built in to its DNA, this driver isn't supposed to be easy to hit. It's meant to be long and nothing else.
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