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Review: Callaway X Hot Driver
The Callaway X Hot driver was, for me, pretty much the golf-club equivalent of a cheese sandwich: there’s nothing bad here, nothing offensive or dramatically underperforming. It’s a forgiving club that, for the most part, goes where you hit it, which, I suppose, is a nice enough trait in a driver. It provides everything you need but makes no effort to go beyond your expectations. And in a market crowded with innovative new technologies and competitors striving to give their clubs every new advantage their design teams can come up with, the X Hot driver seems a generation behind, content to stay in its lane, which simply isn’t good enough to make it worth your hard-earned money. But let’s dive deeper into why this club is such a lukewarm offering.
The biggest area the X Hot driver falls short in, for me, is distance. It’s painfully average for a modern club, giving me zero added yards compared to my now-three-year-old TaylorMade driver, and coming up short of my expected carry yardages with alarming frequency. In exchange for its lukewarm distance off the tee, the club provides only average accuracy, doing no more to keep my ball in the fairway than any other club I’ve hit, modern or otherwise. As quickly as other companies and drivers are stepping up their games, you’re simply not getting my money if you’re not adding yards; there are too many other better options available.
Again, nothing to write home about here. The X Hot driver gives you a little leeway on off-center hits, but less than you’d expect from a driver sold in 2013. It’s not at all unforgiving, but it’s not going to blow you away. Much like with the club’s overall distance, unless you haven’t bought a driver in the past ten years, you’ll likely find yourself wondering what improvements over your previous club you’re getting.
Intentional draws and fades are fairly easy to pull off with the X Hot driver, but dialing in the precise amount of curve you want out a particular tee shot can be tricky. Ultimately, though, I found little remarkable with the club’s shot-shaping ability.
If there’s one element I did really like about the Callaway X Hot driver, it’s the sound. Many of today’s drivers sound like a trainwreck at impact, an explosion of sound designed, I imagine, to make a player feel like he or she is imparting a herculean force upon the ball. The X Hot, being very traditionally designed with a surprisingly small clubhead and classic, rounded profile at address, has an equally traditional sound, an understated “ping” reminiscent of the way an old persimmon wood’s satisfying “click” when you got one right on the screws. The club’s aesthetics are so retro-feeling, in fact, that I can’t help but wonder, given the way the club lags behind the times from a performance aspect, if the X Hot wasn’t designed as something of a persimmon-style metalwood for the modern era.
I certainly don’t mean to make it sound as if the X Hot is a terrible club. It’s perfectly acceptable on its own merits, outside of the context of its competition. My problem with it is that it feels like such a rehash of clubs released two, three, or even more years ago that I can’t figure out what the point of making this particular club designed this way might be. Technology or design advances from previous models don’t seem to show up in increased ball speeds or fairways hit, meaning that this feels like Callaway making a new club just to have a new club to sell. Unless they’re aggressively targeting the golfer who pines for the days of persimmon woods, I can’t figure out who this club benefits. Like a cheese sandwich, it’ll get the job done, but you could probably find something much better with just a little bit of effort.