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Equipment Report
  • EQUIPMENT

    Detailed look at Callaway's Epic Flash drivers and woods

  • John Daly put the Epic Flash Sub Zero driver in play at the 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge. (Andrew Tursky/PGA TOUR)John Daly put the Epic Flash Sub Zero driver in play at the 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge. (Andrew Tursky/PGA TOUR)

To follow up two lines of number-one selling drivers in the GBB Epic and Rogue, Callaway has turned to Artificial Intelligence (AI) to design the faces of the new Epic Flash and Epic Flash Sub Zero drivers, a technology the company is calling “Flash Face.”

Here’s how it works. To design the new Flash faces, Callaway used AI coupled with “Machine Learning,” which means that a computer uses statistics to “learn” data instead of being programmed, according to the company. So instead of engineers making 8-10 prototypes for new faces and testing them out, as per usual, the computers cycled through 15,000 different designs before delivering the Flash Face.

Callaway’s last few iterations of drivers – designed by human engineers – used Variable Face Thickness technology and X-face designs that made the faces thicker in the center and progressively thinner toward the outer regions of the face. They were designed to pick up ball speed on off-center hits, and to maximize ball speed on center strikes. They were also symmetrically designed, for the most part.

Now, if you look behind the Flash faces, they have dozens of ripples varying in size, depth and configuration. Callaway says that while the ripples appear to be random, they work in conjunction to elevate the COR (coefficient of restitution) in the center of the face for a ball speed boost on center hits. Also, the Flash faces are forged from titanium and heat treated for maximum flexibility and strength.

“We wouldn’t have gone in this direction without A.I. because it’s non-intuitive compared to previous face technologies, including our own VFT and X-Face,” says Dr. Alan Hocknell, Senior Vice President of R&D at Callaway. “The wave configuration isn’t symmetrical, nor does the pattern seem logical. Yet the ripples work together in a complex manner to maximize ball speed. There’s never been anything like Flash Face before in golf equipment, and the effect on performance is intense.”

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A detailed look at the Flash Face. (Courtesy of Callaway)

Also new in the Epic Flash and Epic Flash Sub Zero drivers is a “triaxial carbon fabric” that Callaway calls “T2C.” The crown is said to have a tighter weave that saves weight from the top of the club head, and is then repositioned to create higher MOI (Moment of Inertia) and thus more forgiveness.

With Callaway’s original GBB Epic drivers, the company introduced Jailbreak technology, which was essentially two vertical and parallel bars that sat behind the face, connecting the crown to the sole, to stiffen the structure while allowing the face to flex more at impact. With its newer Rogue drivers, Callaway refined the shapes of the bars to be in an hourglass shape; this helped save weight from the bars – located in the front portion of the club head – and repositioned that saved weight in the rear of the clubheads to raise MOI. The new Epic Flash drivers, according to the company, have the hourglass-shaped Jailbreak bars that were introduced in the Rogue drivers.

Like the GBB Epic driver, the Callaway Epic Flash and Epic Flash Sub Zero drivers utilize Adjustable Perimeter Weighting to shift center of gravity (CG) and produce draw or fade biases – this is the first time a Sub Zero driver has CG-adjustability. The Epic Flash driver has a 16-gram sliding weight, while the Epic Sub Zero has a 12-gram sliding weight.

Each of the Epic Flash drivers will be available at retial on February 1, and will sell for $529.99.  The Epic Flash drivers come stock with either a Project Even Flow, a Project HZRDUS Smoke or a Mitsubishi Tensei AV shaft, while the Epic Flash Sub Zero drivers come stock with a Project X HZRDUS Smoke or a Mitsubishi Tensei AV. Both come with Golf Pride Tour Velvet Align grips.

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A detailed look at the Epic Flash Sub Zero driver. (Andrew Tursky/PGA TOUR)
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A detailed look at the Epic Flash driver. (Andrew Tursky/PGA TOUR)

Epic Flash and Epic Flash Sub Zero fairways

The new Epic Flash fairway woods incorporate the new Flash Face designs, with Callaway’s familiar Face Cup technology, to increase ball speeds on both center and off-center strikes. Instead of a titanium face like the drivers, however, the fairway woods are forged from 455 carpenter steel.

Additionally, the fairway woods use Jailbreak technology behind the face, and they have a new “OptiFit Hosel” that’s lighter in order to save weight. The more compact Epic Flash Sub Zero fairway wood also has adjustable sole weighting by way of 2- and 16-gram interchangeable weights in the front-and-back portions of the sole.

The Epic Flash fairways hit retail on February 1, will sell for $299.99 apiece, and they come with Golf Pride Tour Velvet Align grips that have green reminder ridges special for Epic Flash.

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A detailed look at the Epic Flash fairway wood. (Andrew Tursky/PGA TOUR)