What is Flash Face? The story behind Callaway Golf's new A.I.-designed driver

What is Flash Face? The story behind Callaway Golf’s new A.I.-designed driver

You're going to hear a lot about Flash Face in 2019. Callaway Golf engineers -- and a massively powerful computer -- put in a lot of time to develop more than 15,000 virtual prototypes before they arrived at what is now the faces of the Callaway Golf Epic Flash and Epic Flash Sub Zero drivers.

What the artificial intelligence-powered computer came back with as the optimal driver face surprised Callaway's engineers. The shape of the face had a series of somewhat concentric thick and thin shapes around the face (ripples, if you will), going against convention that says the thickest part of the driver face is the sweet spot and it progressively thins out from there.

Callaway's team took that answer and started working with it in reality, and it turned out, the computer was right. Even though the ripples aren't spread out evenly. Even though the computer's answer defied how Callaway had engineered drivers with variable-face technology and the X-face. So, they started with that as the basis to make the Epic Flash drivers.

The good news for consumers is the investment in A.I. led to an innovation Callaway says would have taken a normal iterating computer decades to produce with regular computing power. Without that kinda of computer-aided design (CAD) capability, it would take a human perhaps centuries to figure this out.

Machine-learning technology, combined with powerful computing, took rapid prototyping to a whole new level. Needless to say, Callaway is high on the idea of using A.I. in their design process moving forward.

The actual end product, the Callaway Epic Flash and Epic Flash Sub Zero, then employ this new face technology and bring in other components that carry forward from recent Callaway launches.

The Flash Face is forged from a special titanium that's then heat-treated for two hours to create a face has a low-modulus measurement, meaning it offers enough flexibility for delivering ball speeds while retaining strength to handle the impact of a driver swing.

Of course, Jailbreak Technology carries through from Epic to Rogue to Epic Flash.  Two internal, hourglass-shaped bars connect the crown to the sole, designed to offer stability and strength at impact so the face can on more of the load at impact and deliver that load back to the ball.

On the crown, the Epic Flash uses a new carbon-fiber fabric called T2C, which has a tighter weave and makes its use more efficient to give engineers even more discretionary weight to position in the head for more moment of inertia and better CG positioning.

Epic Flash vs. Epic Flash Sub Zero

So far, Callaway has announced the Epic Flash and Epic Flash Sub Zero. The Epic Flash Star -- a lighter clubhead for slower swing speeds, popular in Asia -- hasn't been announced yet, but it's potentially coming.

The Sub Zero model is designed to offer significantly lower spin than the standard Epic Flash, while boasting a high MOI profile for a better player. Sub Zero has the same design philosophy, but it has a different face and some other different features. The Sub Zero has a visible weight in the forward portion of the sole, designed to move CG forward and get it closer to where the ball is struck on the face. The weight can be customized, but the goal is generally to kill spin.

Both models feature an adjustable perimeter weight -- for the first time in a Sub Zero driver model -- along the back of the sole to adjust shot-shape bias. In the Epic Flash, it houses a 16-gram weight. In the Sub Zero, it's a 12-gram weight.

Pricing and availability

The Callaway Golf Epic Flash and Epic Flash Sub Zero drivers are available Feb. 1, for $530 each. Pre-orders start Jan. 11

The Epic Flash has three stock shaft options: Project X EvenFlow, Project X Hzrdus Smoke and Mitsubishi Tensei AV. The Smoke and Tensei AV are available in the Sub Zero.

Through the Callaway Customs program, a number of custom colorways are available for the head.

Fairway woods, too

A new driver announcement wouldn't be complete without complementary fairway woods, and there are Epic Flash and Epic Flash Sub Zero metalwoods to accompany their driver cousins.

Callaway engineers took on the learning from the drivers in the lineup to create fairway woods with a thin Carpenter 455 steel face, complete with Jailbreak technology (also using steel for the bars) and a cup face. The idea, like with any club, is to generate maximum MOI and create consistently higher ball speeds across the face.

After bringing Jailbreak to the fairways in the Rogue line, Callaway re-engineered the OptiFit hosel that's lighter and easier to use and added it in to improve over the bonded hosel in the prior generation.

In the Sub Zero model, there are two adjustable weight positions to dial in center of gravity and spin preferences. There's a 2-gram and a 16-gram weight, with the heavier weight forward for lower spin and lower trajectory.

Both the Callaway Epic Flash and Epic Flash Sub Zero fairway woods are available the same dates as the drivers, and they retail for $300 each. The same stock premium shaft offerings carry through to these fairways, ranging from the lower-weight EvenFlow to the heavier Smoke and Tensei AV.

About the author


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

Ryan occasionally links to merchants of his choosing, and GNN may earn a commission from sales generated by those links. See more in GNN's affiliate disclosure.

What Viktor Hovland’s lost golf clubs can teach us about traveling with sticks Vokey SM9 wedges revealed this week on the PGA Tour Trump, PGA of America settle over cancelled PGA Championship The one thing Tiger Woods will never do in a golf tournament The new TaylorMade Stealth driver hits the USGA conforming list