WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: In the new Epic Super Hybrid, Callaway mustered all its current metalwood technologies in one place. That menu includes a multimaterial titanium and carbon composite body, tungsten heel and toe weights, an artificial intelligence-designed face insert and interior support bars (“jailbreak velocity blades”) that stiffen in a vertical direction while allowing for optimal face flexing.
PRICE: $599.99. Five lofts (16, 18, 21, 24, 27 degrees). At retail from September 9.
THE DEEP DIVE: In the modern era of club design, it has been a given that the most complicated, technologically sophisticated and futuristic product on the market is the driver. Callaway’s new Epic Super Hybrid, however, posits the question, “What if instead the technology superstar of the industry was the lowly hybrid?”
It seems a hard argument to make until you look at what’s at work with the company’s second foray into this niche club within a niche category. Originally introduced a couple of years ago as a sort of mix in size and function between a fairway wood and a hybrid, the first Super Hybrid combined titanium in the body and face and a carbon composite crown in a head size of what amounted to a compact fairway wood.
The new Epic Super Hybrid says to its predecessor, essentially, “hold my beer.”
“There are a lot of objectives for a club that is meant to be a bomber hybrid,” said Alan Hocknell, Callaway’s senior vice president for research and development. “This is a club that people want to hit far but has to have a certain degree of utility in it. They have to be able to launch the ball well, it has to be forgiving for off-centre impacts because sometimes the lies you find yourself in don’t allow you to hit the ball as consistently as you would want. But also people are using it as a replacement club off a tee.
“The total package is really the sum of the best of our technologies that we have available at the moment all brought into one head.”
That diversity of uses required a panoply of technologies. Given Callaway’s documented use of artificial intelligence to aid its designs, the Epic Super Hybrid also liberally employs A.I., both in the variable face thickness design (distinct from those on the company’s fairway woods and other hybrids), but also most dramatically within the head. First seen in the company’s Epic Speed fairway woods, two angled bars are positioned wide apart and stretch from crown to sole to stabilise the frame for that thin titanium face. It’s the latest iteration of what was first known as the company’s “jailbreak” technology, which debuted in the Epic driver introduced in 2017. In this form, they’re called “jailbreak velocity blades.”
“We used the A.I. to give us the vertical stiffness while allowing the face to be as flexible as possible,” Hocknell said, noting the face is a proprietary titanium alloy that’s stronger than the traditional Ti 6-4 alloy used in the body.
Unlike most other hybrids, the Epic Super Hybrid uses a titanium body underneath a carbon composite crown (similar to the company’s current drivers and fairway woods). That allows for an oversize shape – about 20 percent larger than the current Apex hybrid, for example – and some built-in extra forgiveness.
“It gives you the ability to create volume and then to put other heavy elements within that volume to steer mass properties to create forgiveness and the kind of launch characteristics that people are looking for,” Hocknell said, noting that as much as 90 grams of tungsten are split into deep recesses within the heel and toe of the sole. “The larger body shape creates places to put these weights that you don’t normally get in a hybrid. By custom shaping them to the body we can put them very close to the perimeter. They’re also affixed to the sole so you can’t really get any lower than where they’re at.”
The use of multiple materials is a big lever in the design of this “bomber hybrid,” but unlike its predecessor, the new Epic Super Hybrid also employs subtle shaping technique so that it plays differently depending on the loft. From face on, the lower lofts (16, 18 degrees, shown) take on more of a fairway wood look, while the higher lofts (21, 24, 27 degrees) feature an iron-like shape including a more squared off toe.
“The lower lofts are really intended to be fairway wood replacements, while the upper lofts are for players who are choosing these lofts to replace irons,” Hocknell said.
Each head also features an adjustable hosel that allows loft to decrease by one degree or increase by one or two degrees with independent draw or neutral settings.