Let me begin this review of the Callaway X Tour fairway woods by saying
that I currently have a 9.1 handicap index, so I've never really
considered hitting a "tour" version of any club (my handicap will have
to go lower before I'll start thinking in that direction). But, I did
find a friend who owns a 15 degree 3-wood in this series (he's better
than me), and he was kind enough to let me borrow it for a few rounds
while he was away.
Callaway's fairway woods have always been very forgiving, and it seems like every new line of clubs the company comes out with is right on the mark. These Callaway X Tour fairway woods fall right into place in the company's lineup, at least for skilled players.
There are two versions of the Callaway X fairway woods - the regular X fairway woods, and the "tour" model, which was inspired by comments from tour professionals and designed to provide the distance and playability they demand while still being forgiving enough for less skillful players. This review, of course, will give you my impressions of the Callaway X Tour fairway woods - the version Callaway created based on the suggestions of the pros.
So, here we go.
When the Callaway X Tour fairway woods were introduced in 2008, they were said to be Callaway's most innovative woods since the Steelheads that so many of us loved playing with. Back then, you could buy one with a steel shaft for around $225 (graphite was about $250) but time marches on, and you can find these woods for a lot less than that now.
Like the Steelheads, the X Tour woods have stainless steel heads. The faces are square (no draw or fade bias) and they have a balanced, modified "X-Sole" that's similar to the sole of Callaway's X460 driver. Designed to make club alignment easier and improve club head interaction with the turf, the X-Sole rests on the ground on two points that project slightly from the remainder of the sole (as opposed to a more traditional design where the entire sole rests on the ground).
In theory, this design helps launch the ball higher and minimizes the club head's tendency to rock back and forth at address, increasing the chances that the ball leaves the club face on the intended line. I say "in theory," because in reality, results are mixed - at least for me. Supposedly, the sole design helps the club head cut its way through nasty rough but still be able to handle tight fairway lies. Personally, I think it looks "okay" at address but it does seem a bit odd to me.
Apparently I'm not the only one, because reviews by other players of all different skill levels are decidedly mixed. Some report the sole works quite well, but others say the design actually makes proper club head alignment more difficult. That's not good.
Naturally, the Callaway X Tour fairway woods also feature the three "core" Callaway technologies that have made the company's clubs so successful throughout the years: S2H2 (the short, straight, hollow hosel design which permits weight to be lowered and also moved to the perimeter for increased forgiveness); Tru-Bore (the shaft extends completely through the hosel and club head, all the way to the sole, to improve feel and control); and VFT (Variable Face Thickness, to maximize ball speed and perimeter weighting for additional distance and forgiveness).
The club head is slightly larger and deeper than Callaway's earlier clubs. These changes were made to provide additional stability (through increased MOI), expand the effective hitting area and boost player confidence at address. I only tried the 15-degree 3-wood, but a little research told me that Callaway X Tour fairway woods also come in a 13-degree 3-wood version to provide the more boring ball flight highly skilled golfers prefer. I also learned that the Tour clubs have slightly smaller club heads than the "regular" version of the Callaway X fairway woods. Not surprisingly, no "light" (read "senior") shaft is available in the Tour model - just regular, stiff and extra-stiff.
The Bottom Line: The X-Sole used by the Callaway X Tour fairway woods will probably be the deciding factor in how you feel about these clubs. I thought it was easy to hit off the deck and gave me about the same distance as a Big Bertha Titanium, but was a bit less forgiving. Not my favorite fairway wood, but some players love theirs.