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Review: Callaway X Hot Hybrids
Callaway X Hot Series golf clubs have proven to be the most forgiving and high handicap-friendly offerings the major manufacturers have had to offer in 2013. From the driver to the fairway woods to the irons, the X Hots universally have offered exactly what the golfing world has come to expect from Callaway products: big, forgiving sweet spots; long, straight distance; and high, soft trajectories. It is a series that continues the long tradition of Callaway constantly (and successfully) working to make the game easier for the casual player.
The Callaway X Hot hybrids are no exception to this rule. If you’re a 20+ handicap looking for something easy to hit, that will travel farther, higher and straighter than any other hybrid, you’re just not going to do better than the X Hots. Better players, however, may be better off looking elsewhere, as the same game-improvement qualities that make this an excellent club for the weekend hacker are going to make life a bit more difficult for players with higher swing speeds, or that want more control over the ball. Why? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
We start with accuracy and trajectory because I think it’s here that the X Hot hybrids define themselves. Because these are first and foremost game-improvement clubs, the X Hots are designed to elevate the ball fast, flying high and landing soft. For players with low swing speeds that have trouble getting the ball in the air or holding greens on long approaches, this is a godsend, adding distance and providing a legitimate way to reach greens from the 200-yard marker and beyond, instead of flailing wildly with a 3- or 4-iron and hoping to miraculously catch it square. Balls come off the X Hot’s face with a soft, parabolic trajectory, drifting lazily through the air in the general direction of the target.
And this is exactly why the club would likely be troublesome for better players. Shots with the X Hot don’t penetrate through the air, don’t hold their line in the wind, and can balloon if you put too much spin on them, actually reducing distance and in general making for erratic and unreliable carry distances. The club is generally accurate, with balls always going in the vague general direction of the target; but something about it doesn’t feel pinpoint, likely because it doesn’t hold its line particularly well in the wind. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t feel at all like a precision club, and that’s a problem for mid- and lower-handicaps.
No serious complaints here, other than the aforementioned trajectory issues for higher swing speeds. This club goes far, and it goes far pretty much wherever on the face you happen to make contact. Callaway consistently produces clubs with some of the biggest sweet spots you’ll find, and the X Hot hybrids hold true to that ethos. If gripping it and ripping it is your game, this is definitely the club for you.
The most immediately noticeable thing about the club is how bottom-heavy it feels. The combination of an ultralight shaft and the clubhead’s low center of gravity means you feel the club all the way through your swing. This feels like another of the club’s game-improvement features, as the effect is to smooth out tempo and slow down your swing — two things most high-handicappers could stand to do. The look is nice, with a clubhead that appears bigger at address than other hybrids in its class, inspiring confidence. Sound-wise, the club is fairly unremarkable; nothing wrong with it, but nothing noteworthy either.
For the better player, this could be another strike against the X Hot hybrids, as this club is forgiving to the point of offering very little in the way of intentional fades or draws. These Callaway hybrids are designed to go where you point ‘em, and they generally do just that. Try and get fancy with a big slice around a tree and you’ll end up on the tee box of the adjacent hole.
If you’re a 26-handicap that plays 10 rounds a year, this is, in all likelihood, the club you’re looking for. Big distance, forgiving, high-flying – there’s not much more you could really ask for, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a club with more room for error. If you have a more consistent, grooved swing, however, you’re better off finding something with slightly tighter tolerances that will give you a more driving ball flight in windy conditions and allow for greater intentional left-to-right or right-to-left shot shaping. It’s not in any way a bad club, and it achieves exactly what it was designed to do: make the game easier for the casual player. But if you’re not the casual player, look in another direction.