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Review: Callaway X Hot Irons
I have an obsession with forged irons. I know this is not wise, given my double-digit handicap, but I love the feedback a forged iron gives you: the club gliding through turf like so much soft butter on a well-struck shot, or, conversely, biting at your hands like an angry snake on a poor strike. But with that feedback comes unforgiving tolerances, smaller sweet spots, and, in general, significantly less margin for error. Part of this is surely a kind of stubborn egotism or snobbery on my own part; I want to be the kind of player that uses forged clubs, because good players prefer forged clubs. But there’s also something aspirational to it as well, in that every year I think, “This is the year I overhaul my swing, get it consistent, and become a really solid ballstriker.” I’ve been playing golf since I was 14, and have yet to realize this delusion. I consciously use irons that I know for certain have an adverse effect on my game, yet stick with them – even sort of adore fighting with them – because cast clubs have always just seemed inferior.
The Callaway X Hot Irons, however, may change my mind. These are rock solid irons, providing the playability and forgiveness you’d expect from Callaway, while offering surprisingly responsive feel and even more surprising workability for game improvement clubs. Nothing about these irons feel inferior in any way to the forged clubs I’ve tried, and the performance boost has me wondering how I’ve managed to be such a dope in not giving game improvement clubs like the X Hot irons more of a chance before now.
Distance & Accuracy
The X Hot irons added about five yards of carry over my current irons, which is nice, but what really struck me about the X Hots – and had me debating the merits of some fuzzy accounting that might let me rationalize buying a set for myself – was the fantastically tight shot dispersion. I am by no means a sharpshooter: my game is usually about trying to hit four or five greens a round and the rest of the time getting close enough with approaches to chip and putt my way to a halfway decent score. So when I say that about 90 percent of the swings taken with the X Hot irons ended up within ten yards left or right of the target line, you can hopefully appreciate that included some pretty god-awful swings that the clubs saved my keister on. You’re going to hit more greens with these irons. A lot more.
I was less surprised by how forgiving the X Hot irons are, but only because I would expect nothing less from a Callaway product. You have to mishit a ball pretty bad to lose serious distance with these clubs, and even then, the remarkably accuracy of this iron set means you’re more than likely to at least keep it in front of you. Knowing that you have a bit of room for error inspires confidence, which inspires a more aggressive move through the ball, which is going to give you better results. That’s really all there is to it.
As someone that enjoys misguided attempts to carve errant tee shots around trees for miraculous second-shot recoveries, workability is something I care about in an iron set (which is how I’ve justified fighting with my forged performance irons for more than a decade now. I’m fairly certain this fits Einstein’s definition of insanity. But I digress…). I was worried a cast, game-improvement iron set like the X Hot would limit my (probably nonexistent) ability to impress my playing partners with shot-shaping magic. Suffice it to say the X Hot irons impressed, not only preserving my ability to shape shots in both directions but actually providing increased control over the amount of bend and trajectory I wanted to impart. The X Hots just have a seemingly mystical ability to make the ball do just what you want it to do. I have no idea how the physics of this are possible, but I’m not complaining.
Look and Feel
The most immediate thing I noticed about the X Hot irons is that they feel heavy, in a really nice way. The clubheads are huge, providing the lower center of gravity and higher trajectory most of us are after, and with the very light standard shaft (True Temper Speed Step 85 Lightweght steel) Callaway ships these with, you get a really excellent feel for the clubhead throughout your swing (and in my personal case, a nice reminder to slow down my tempo) without making the club so heavy as to negatively impact your clubhead speed or swing plane.
I love these irons, plain and simple. They’ve ruined other iron sets for me, including the ones I currently own, and I say that having used demo clubs without the benefit of a full custom fitting. The Callaway X Hot irons are absolutely worth your time and attention if you’re in the market for a new set. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have fuzzy accounting, intense personal budgeting, and a lot of self-deluding rationalization to do…