Replacing the revived Steelhead XR irons was going to be a tough thing for Callaway. The name recognition of a beloved brand blended with modern performance to bring in buku bucks for the Chevron from their rebirth in Fall 2016.
However, with a new year comes a new line called Rogue. The drivers and fairways are a big deal for the company, but so too is the Rogue line of game-improvement irons. With the new Rogue irons, Callaway put distance forward but is offered a refined feel more players will like with a new way of getting there.
The standard Rogue irons are pretty much what you'd expect in terms of base features, so to speak. The 360 Face Cup is a big feature, which also has variable face thickness to maximize ball speeds across the face. It's been improved, though there's always a danger in improving a feature while keeping the name that most people won't appreciate the differences over prior generations.
They're trying to drive down center of gravity to help get the ball in the air, and they do that with a tungsten-infused, metal injection-molded internal standing wave also found in the Epic irons. This allows them to specifically place the CG to a friendly spot for each iron.
Callaway's standout innovation in the standard Rogue really comes in how they improved feel. The engineering team believes the use of urethane (namely as a TPU) as a vibration-dampening tool inside a hollow-construction iron actually limits the face's ability to flex. In effect, they're claiming that TPU kind of defeats some of the purpose of the rest of the distance-oriented construction. So they can up with a concept called elasticurethane microspheres to deliver the sound and feel benefits needed without negatively impacting distance. The somewhat porous nature of the microspheres is particularly the kicker here, allowing them to flex with the club at impact to create room for the face to also flex, doing its job to deliver distance.
So, then the next challenge is to take an iron like Rogue and make a model more-discerning golfers will like. That's Rogue Pro, which has all of the trappings of a better-player model of an iron: thinner topline, smaller overall profile, shallow cavity and minimal offset. All of the lofts in the Rogue Pro are weaker than the standard Rogue, meaning you're going to not hit it as far, but the better player is more looking for consistency from shot to shot than massive distance. The other major Rogue features come through in this smaller package: 360 Face Cup, MIM-med tungsten-y internal standing wave and the microspheres behind the face.
The third Rogue iron is derived from the Star iron style that's proven so popular overseas with players with slower swing speeds. It's called Rogue X. It has the same basic DNA as Rogue standard, but the big changes here are in the club's overall weight and length and lofting. The Rogue X irons are lighter and longer than the standard Rogue, and they have even stronger lofts (but not just for manufactured distance gains). The design features a forgiving, hacker-friendly wide sole which also helps move the center of gravity low and deep for higher launches and longer carry. Lighter is better for slower swing speeds and older players, but Rogue X is not limited to them.
The Rogue and Rogue X irons will sell for $900 in steel and $1,000 in graphite. For Rogue, the stock steel is the True Temper XP 95 and stock graphite is the Aldila Synergy 60. On the Rogue X, the choices are the KBS Max 90 in steel, and the Aldila Synergy 60 in graphite. Women's Rogue irons are available as well for the same pricing.
The Rogue Pro irons are only available in True Temper XP 105 steel, and they're priced at $1,000. Other shaft choices are, of course, available.
All of the sets hit retail Feb. 9, except the women's variation, which drops March 2.
So, we've got three Rogue drivers, two Rogue fairway wood styles, three Rogue iron styles. What's missing? Hybrids. And, actually, the hybrids are as important to this lineup as the fairway woods, and they're the star of this release in my view. Why? Because the two hybrid styles -- standard and X -- both bring in Jailbreak technology for the first time.
Both models feature a pair of steel Jailbreak bars (they're titanium in the drivers, steel in fairway woods) to help stiffen the club body to allow the face to take on more load of impact. A Carpenter 455 steel face combines with the Hyper Speed Face Cup design to maximize ball speeds across the face. An internal standing wave helps create a precise center of gravity location.
The difference between the standard and X Rogue hybrids is similar to what you see in the irons: bigger profile, stronger lofts, lighter and longer shafts. The goal is easy-to-achieve distance, plain and simple.
The Rogue hybrids both run $250 each with a stock Aldila Synergy 60 Hybrid shaft, are available for pre-order on Jan. 19 and hit retail on Feb. 9.