Whilst we all might be concerned about how Artificial Intelligence is going to take over our lives, if the Callaway Epic Flash driver is the future of golf club design, then I am all for it.
This is because Callaway has spent around $5m on a super computer to design the face for the Epic Flash driver. What it came up with had even their R&D guys scratching their heads at first.
Basically, you put in the legal parameters and a few other rules into the computer and let it go and work out the optimum design. It fails quite a lot, but then learns from its mistakes and 15,000 iterations later you have the Flash Face.
As you can see from the reverse side below, the Flash Face is a series of thick and thin swirls that looks a bit like an ear.
It is very different to the human designed X face, which has a more uniform shape with a thicker section behind the middle to keep it legal.
Like the computer, Callaway is still learning how the Flash Face works to increase ball speed, but all you need to know is that it does.
The extra ball speed requires a stronger face to cope with it and the Epic Flash Face is made from 595C Super Aged Forged Titanium, which is tempered for strength and then laser welded on to the head.
The face is forged on the inside then milled on the front in order to get the thickness down from 5/1000 to 2/1000 of an inch so that it is consistently closer to the limit.
The laser etched lines give a pretty cool look and the five larger rectangles at the end of the lines around the sweet spot are actually etched grooves. This means that when the club is at address you can see two lines of white dots framing the ball for alignment, which is a nice touch.
There is also a new T2C Triaxial Carbon in the crown that is lighter and uses a tighter carbon weave. It weighs just 9.7g and helps to save weight and lower the CG.
Thereafter the tech includes the now familiar Jailbreak bars to stiffen the chassis by connecting the sole to the crown to maximise ball speed.
Finally, the sliding weight that was in the Epic, but left out of the Rogue, is now back. It now weighs more at 16g and moves across a shorter track than in the Epic, so that the weight does not start to creep too far forward and raise the CG location.
So as you can see, there is a lot going on in a head that sits in between the Epic and the Rogue for size and depth.
The Epic was renowned for speed, but it could have been more forgiving if you weren't hitting it right. The Rogue solved that issue for a lot of people, but I wasn't a fan of the drawn back shape and in terms of performance I was not getting any big increase in distance.
With the Epic Flash I think they have managed to take the best bits of both and then add a faster face. The sound is a little more solid than the Epic, but still with a hint of Callaway carbon in there.
It sits well at address and has the classic Callaway curved line set back from the leading edge.
This reminds me of previous FT drivers, but it is not my favourite look for alignment. If the line is replacing the Speed Step, then it is being very subtle about it, as you can just feel something as you run your finger over it.
The OptiFit hosel provides the usual adjustment of -1° to +2° and using it to get to around 10°, I prefer going up from 9° rather than down from 10.5° to keep the face angle squarer.
Each of the three stock shafts come with a Golf Pride Align grip that has a raised ridge on the back to help with hand alignment. You can keep this in the correct place when you adjust the loft as both the OptiFit rings are free to rotate independently.
I took the Epic Flash, Rogue and original Epic drivers on GC2 with Titleist Pro V1x balls and the Project X HZRDUS shaft that I was fitted for with Epic.
In this set up I was getting similar ball speed to the Epic with the Epic Flash. However with a deeper CG than the Epic, I was able to get a higher launch with the Epic Flash for a gain of a couple of yards.
Like the Rogue, I was able to go down in loft compared to the Epic, as the deeper head gave good launch with less spin. This means that you get more forgiveness from the deeper head and more ball speed from the straighter face, so it's a bit of a win-win if you can do this.
However this was not the optimum setting for me, as I will reveal below with the Sub Zero version.
Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero Driver Review
The Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero driver has the same features as the standard model, but in a more compact head.
The weighting is slightly different to move the CG forward and reduce the spin, with a lighter 12g weight in the rear and a screw weight just behind the face.
At address it looks closer in size to the original Epic driver, so it will be larger than the first Epic Sub-Zero.
Compared to the standard model, the Epic Flash Sub Zero is the better option for me, because the set up of the head gave 2.5 mph more ball speed, with less spin and the same launch, for an extra 6 yards carry.
The Sub Zero version of the Epic Flash is pretty close in size to the standard Epic, but it seems more forgiving as the head is a little deeper. Therefore you really need to go through a proper fitting process with both the Epic Flash heads and different shafts to find the right head and set up to maximise your distance gains.
Callaway Epic Flash Driver Verdict
Overall this is a pretty impressive bit of innovation by Callaway and the amazing thing about the Flash Face is that the design of the back is unique to this size and shape of head. Therefore in a different type of head, the inside will be a different design, as you can see from the Flash Face shape in the Callaway Epic Flash Fairway.
Like Jailbreak before it, the Flash Face does deliver additional ball speed, so if you can get a set up that creates the right launch and spin then you should also see a distance gain.
It's also great to see the Epic name and colours back, as the blue of the Rogue left me a little cold, even if it performed well and was the top selling driver in the market.
If you love your Rogue then it might be worth hanging on to for a bit longer given the premium price of the Epic Flash. In the short term it will still be around and some higher handicappers may appreciate the extra forgiveness it offers.
However if you have the original Epic, then I would consider upgrading in a Flash for the better looks, forgiveness and extra ball speed that the new model offers.