REVIEW: Callaway Steelhead XR 3-wood (and 5-wood)

Iconic Name Returns as a Beast
Callaway has been bringing back many of their iconic names from previous clubs.  The Big Bertha, Apex irons, and now Steelhead.  The Steelhead line was their best selling fairway wood ever.  That was 18 years ago,  which might not seem that long ago for golfers that still have one in the bag, but in golf terms that was ages ago.  Callaway decided to bring back the name, the shape, the design, but went full “Beast Mode” with the performance.  While it may appear to be a simple club, it has bells and whistles hidden inside that make it worthy of such an iconic name. 
I’ve been really happy with the Callaway Big Bertha Epic SZ 3-wood so when the Steelhead arrived it had a tough task of supplanting the Epic SZ 3-wood.  It seems so simple, there are not weights, no adjustable hosels, nothing seemingly fancy about the Steelhead to make me think it would win the battle for the 3-wood slot in my bag.  The shape is certainly different.  The Steelhead shape is little more compact and more trapezoid shaped face compared to the more oval shape of the Epic 3-wood.  The Hawkeye sole was brought back with an almost identical shape as the original.  The CG of this shape is certainly key to the performance of this club along with the carbon crown, cup face and short hosel.

The Callaway Steelhead XR is shaped like the original, but the guts are very different.  One key change is the carbon crown.  This multi material design has been used by Callaway for years now.   This new version retains a more metal feel than others.  Comparing it to the Big Bertha Epic Sub-Zero was interesting.  It is much more metal feeling and sounding.  That isn’t a bad thing, I’ve often played full steel fairway woods so this has a really nice tone and metal crack at impact.  The feel is certainly hot.

The Callaway Steelhead XR shape and Hawkeye sole make this a very versatile 3-wood.  Since the toe and heel have some relief, you can go after shots even from the rough.  Sure the deep rough still is off limits for this 3-wood as with any other 3-wood, I did find I could hit the ball out of moderate rough better than other 3-woods.  The face shape and low weight allowed the club to cut through and elevate the ball quickly out of taller grass. 

FlightScope Xi Tour Launch Monitor

Callaway Steelhead XR 3-wood

  • Spin: 2680 rpms
  • Launch Angle: 16.1*
  • Dispersion: 4.7 yds
  • Club Head Speed: 99.7 mph
  • Ball Speed: 144.1 mph
  • Total Distance:  252.7 yds
  • Carry Distance:  232.4 yds

At the end of the day, there was simply one feature that keeps this club in the bag, confidence.  I’ve hit more quality shots with this club than any other 3-wood.  It simply does what it claims; straight, long and easy.  I’ve had almost no mishits with this club.  I’ve reached more par 5 greens in 2 with this club than any other 3-wood.  On tight fairways, I can step up without fear of missing the fairway.  The Flightscope Xi Tour numbers weren’t off the charts in any category, they are really good, but the “wow” is certainly on the course.  I could confidently hit this club 250 yards off the tee or fairway.  I typically notch a couple eagles a season, I’ve already had 4 with this club in the bag.

The Callaway Steelhead XR 3-wood comes with a great stock shaft, Mitsubishi Tensei Blue.  While I typically prefer a heavier shaft in my 3-woods I surprisingly really liked this lightweight shaft.  It is a 50 gram model, yet the stability of a stiff flex to hold up to a 100 mph swing was impressive.  The load is smooth and kick is moderate into the ball, but the spin and stability are impressive since there was rarely a hook or slice with this club attributed to the shaft.

When I opened the box for the Callaway Steelhead XR 3-wood, there was a bonus club inside, the Steelhead XR 5-wood.  While I haven’t played a 5-wood in years, I gave it a fair shake to make the bag too.  Much of what I said about the 3-wood above is true of the 5-wood.  The main factor is the higher launch.  This comes as no surprise, but what did surprise me was the distance.  I hit the ball almost as far with the 5-wood as the 3-wood, they averaged withing 8 yards of each other.   It was certainly longer than my hybrid (which it replaced) but not quite as versatile.  I could see it replacing a the 3-wood or the hybrid under certain conditions but not sure it fits into the way I play on a regular basis.  That isn’t a knock on the club in anyway, if you need more length at that end of your bag, this 5-wood is a beast.  Very impressed, but doesn’t fit into my normal needs on the course.

Callaway brought back an iconic name and built a beast of a club.  It certainly impresses on the course.  If you are looking for versatile distance, easy launch and a classic feel, this club is for you.  This update certainly is an upgrade.  If you still play an original Steelhead, you need to try the Steelhead XR to see the improvements.  I’ve been impressed by this club on the course, especially seeing more eagles and eagle attempts.  The Callaway Steelhead XR is a new icon that went full beast mode.

Check the price online here

For more information:

Quick Hits:
+Classic shape
+Improved CG
+Easy launching
+Straight hitting
+Great feel
+Excellent stock shaft
+On-course confidence

–5-wood almost as long as 3-wood

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