March 12, 2014
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- (Callaway Golf)
Callaway's X Hot 3Deep fairway wood was one of the most talked-about clubs on the PGA TOUR last season. The taller-faced fairway wood made a splash at the Shell Houston Open when Phil Mickelson put it in play -- Mickelson liked the club because it was almost as long as his driver and gave him the ability to produce a draw with ease -- in the run up to the Masters.
Three months later, it played a major role in Mickelson's come-from-behind victory at the Open Championship. During the final-round on the par-5 17th hole, Mickelson hit the 13-degree club from the fairway -- he also hit it off the tee -- to reach the green in two and put the tournament out of reach with a decisive birdie.
What few people know is that Mickelson actually struggled to hit 3Deep off the fairway last season. Designed with a taller face to be another option off the tee, the club lacked the versatility to be used consistently from the fairway.
"I was actually talking to Phil a couple weeks ago about this club in particular, and he said he could not hit it off the fairway, that he really struggled to hit it high enough," said Evan Gibbs, Callaway's senior product performance manager. "But in those conditions [at Muirfield], it was kind of the perfect ball flight."
When Callaway's R&D department started designing the next version of 3Deep, versatility was at the the top of the list. At 182cc, X2 Hot 3Deep has a similar head volume -- the 13-degree X Hot 3Deep was 184cc -- to the previous version.
Where the clubs differ is in MOI and the club's roll radius. X2 Hot 3Deep has a higher MOI, making it more forgiving and consistent than its predecessor. Designers also made the roll radius flatter, which in turn made the club more forgiving from the fairway and tight lies.
"This doesn't really impact shots when you hit it in the center of the face off the tee," Gibbs said. "But when you hit it low on the club face off the fairway, the flatter roll radius helps the launch get a little bit higher and spin a little bit more."
According to Gibbs, initial feedback from Phil Mickelson, who currently uses a custom X2 Hot 3Deep with 12 degrees of loft, was that the club was "significantly easier" to hit off the fairway and had a similar feel off the tee to last year's model.
The new X2 Hot 3Deep also features a high-strength Carpenter 455 forged face cup and Hyper Speed face that's thinner and more responsive for improved ball speeds.
While X2 Hot 3Deep only comes in one loft (14.5 degrees) -- last year the club came in 13 and 14.5 degrees -- Gibbs said there was a reason behind the decision to stick with only one loft option.
"Last year we noticed players gravitating to the 14.5-degree model were looking for more versatility off the tee and fairway," Gibbs said. "That's why we tried to make this year's 3Deep more versatile. Players who were using the 13-degree 3Deep, like Phil [Mickelson], were using it almost exclusively as a driver club."
Instead of continuing with 3Deep in two lofts, Callaway added a slightly stronger 12.5-degree X2 Hot 2Deep to the new lineup. The 203cc head is 21cc larger than X2 Hot 3Deep and was designed to be used almost exclusively off the tee.
"We wanted to take 2Deep and 3Deep in slightly different directions," Gibbs said. "X2 Hot 2Deep has a higher MOI and is even more of a driving club, and 3Deep, although it retained the same size as last year, there are a couple elements in there to make it more versatile."
X2 Hot 2Deep also has the same Carpenter 455cc forged face cup and Hyper Speed face as 3Deep that boosts ball speeds across the face for increased distance.
Along with 2Deep and 3Deep, Callaway added an 18.5-degree X2 Hot 5Deep fairway wood. Through PGA TOUR feedback, some players noted that they preferred to see a little bit of the club face at address.
Callaway designed X2 Hot 5Deep with a deeper face than the standard X2 Hot Pro fairway wood and made a slight adjustment to the spin characteristics.
"One of the other things we heard from players was that our fairway woods had a penetrating ball flight with fairly low spin," Gibbs said. "So if you're going at a green in two, you may have trouble holding the putting surface. Even though you can still use 5Deep off the tee, this club was meant to be a great option off the fairway for players looking for a little more spin and control going into a green."
Callaway's X2 Hot 2Deep (12.5 degrees), X2 Hot 3Deep (14.5 degrees) and X2 Hot 5Deep (18.5 degrees) will be available March 14 and come standard with Aldila's Tour Green shaft. The clubs retail for $230.
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