Callaway Epic Flash Driver Review

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Callaway Epic Flash Driver

The future of design engineering

Every year, club manufacturers tout their newest technology as being not only better than last year’s model, but also the best on the market.  The problem is, breakthrough advances in technology come far less often than annually.  Year-over-year, little tweaks to club designs usually don’t provide substantial improvements to ball striking, but every 4-5 years, a new idea or new technology is introduced that paves the way for club designs going forward.

A History in Innovation

In 2004, TaylorMade came out with the adjustable weight screws in their R7 Quad, which let golfers alter the center of gravity to tailor their shot shape.

In 2009, Nike’s SQ Dymo 2 Str8-Fit (are those nuclear launch codes?) introduced hosel adjustments to provide eight different face angle and lie settings.

In 2013, TaylorMade unveiled their SLDR driver, allowing golfers to slide a weight based on a golfer’s desire to draw or fade their shots.

I could keep going, but you get the idea.  About every 4-5 years, a breakthrough idea is introduced to the golfing world by one OEM, which then gets generally adopted by other OEM’s in a similar fashion going forward, being careful not to infringe on the original patents.  Not including the PXG vs TaylorMade fiasco.

Golf’s newest breakthrough idea comes in the form of Flash Face Technology in Callaway’s Epic Flash.The most intriguing part isn’t the actual club design itself, but rather HOW it was designed, and how it likely will change the way golf clubs will be designed in the future.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

I’ll admit, artificial intelligence is starting to scare the bejesus out of me with every YouTube video I see of robots doing backflips and opening doors.  Terminator 2 is looking more like science non-fiction every waking day.  Seriously, the stuff of nightmares.

But I think we have finally come across a use for AI that every golfer (and human) can get behind, and I believe Callaway has paved the way by using it to design golf clubs.

The engineers at Callaway programmed a super-computer with machine learning to analyze and test 15,000 different face iterations for the Epic Flash to optimize launch conditions.  Not five… not six… not seven... fifteen thousand.  The winning result is a wildly unconventional face design that almost resembles ripples of water centered around the point of impact.

Now that artificial intelligence has been introduced to perfect the club face design, it will likely change the way other OEM’s approach their club designs with their research and development teams.

Results

I have to admit, I have not been able to hit a driver consistently in what feels like years.  My current driver came out maybe 5 years ago, which in golf years may as well be about 15 years.  It has weighted screws that can be adjusted to fit my golf swing, with a shaft I was fitted for.  It’s a solid club; I just felt I was still leaving something on the table.

Well, the first ball I hit with this club, I immediately turned back to the Golf Unfiltered OG (Adam), and we both had the same reaction.  Oh… shit… this thing is HOT!  The shot felt great, looked great, and sounded extremely solid.  Below are the average numbers compared to my 5 year old driver:

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For my game, that is pretty significant improvement because I thought I was near maxed on distance, give or take a few yards.  But the number that really sticks out to me is the smash factor difference.  Basically saying with the same swing speed, the ball will jump off the club face faster, which is a testament to the club design.

Overall Impression

There are plenty of websites that run the numbers through the gamut, comparing all the new drivers.  If you’re basing your next driver decision solely on those numbers and those tests, be my guest.  What is optimal for one golfer is far from ideal for the next.  But one thing I was curious about was how often golfers replace their drivers, and I went to Twitter to test the waters.

To me, this says most golfers will replace their driver when a new idea or technology is introduced that really catches their eye from a performance aspect.  77% of golfers are swinging a driver that is at least 3 years old.  If you are one of them, and wonder whether it’s time to upgrade to the newest technology, the answer is:  probably to very likely.

Now, whether or not shelling out $500+ for the upgrade is worth the uptick in performance (or even within your budget) is another question.  But if you are serious about your golf game and looking to take the next step, seeing a club fitting specialist should be at the top of your to-do list.

And the first driver you should test is the Callaway Epic Flash.

Matt Hackett is a former collegiate golfer and equipment reviewer for Golf Unfiltered.