10 Rounds with Rogue

For the 2017 season Callaway Golf hit the market with the Great Big Bertha Epic featuring the unique Jailbreak technology and it quickly took over the number one spot in sales. Building on that success in 2018 Callaway’s new Rogue model shares—Callaway says improves—Epic’s technical breakthrough.

For the first time in Epic a driver was constructed with rods linking the sole and crown. Called Jailbreak technology, the rods reduce flexing of the crown when the club meets the ball and the energy usually lost is redirected to the face to produce more ball speed and more distance.

The Rogue driver ($500) has Jailbreak rods but now they are hourglass shaped, thinner and lighter saving weight which was relocated to decrease shot dispersion. Callaway points out there’s also more distance potential with increased forgiveness and the Rogue has their variable thickness face design called X-Face. Completing the package is a lightweight carbon fiber crown with the Speed Step configuration developed in conjunction with Boeing to reduce aerodynamic drag on the downswing for more clubhead speed.

The adjustable-hosel Rogue driver comes in three variations: Standard, Draw and Sub Zero. The Draw model has weight moved closer to the heel to compensate for the typical outside-to-in swing shape of those who slice and the Sub Zero is targeted for players needing a driver delivering lower spin…as much as 300 rpm lower than the Standard.

Rogue fairway woods ($300) are similar in construction and significantly Jailbreak rods have been added with the cup face construction Callaway has used in the past and as a side note, Callaway also figured out how to put the rods into Rogue hybrids. The fairway woods make use of a carbon fiber crown with a Speed Step to improve air flow. In addition to the standard Rogue fairway wood there’s also a Sub Zero model which has a 5-gram weight screw that moves the center of gravity forward to produce a more penetrating ball flight.

The purpose of taking the Rogue Sub Zero driver and Rogue Sub Zero fairway woods to the course was to find how they did with the variety of conditions encountered over ten rounds on different courses, certainly a different approach than simply standing on the range and banging out ball after ball.

On the course it was easy to see why both have been so quickly accepted by touring professionals and recreational players alike. Over the ten rounds playing the Callaway Chrome Soft X ball plus, at times, two other premium category balls there was no question the Rogue Sub Zero driver distance was longer compared with last year’s GBB Epic but what was also apparent was the lower amount of dispersion. My “good” swings produce a medium trajectory draw that can become a pull-hook or a block to the right if I’m not paying attention. The ball flight of the Rogue Sub-Zero was just where I like it, but the amount of right to left movement was less and the ball often went straight, both shots being very playable.

However, the Rogue Sub Zero fairway wood (15-degrees loft) unquestionably produced more yardage than my two-year old 3-wood from another manufacturer as measured both by a GPS app on my smartphone and by judging locations from previous times playing the course. My approximation was the Rogue Sub Zero easily produced 10 yards of additional carry…and maybe even more than that, with about the same amount curvature but a higher launch.

During the year many of the new drivers and fairway woods will be reviewed with some becoming part of this series “Ten Rounds With…” There is no question any player ready for a new driver or fairway wood should put the Rogues from Callaway on their short list for testing with a professional fitter. They are that good.

Callaway’s Rogue Arrives

Callaway Golf had a banner season last year with the Epic club family, especially the driver, and hopes to do the same this year with the new Rogue driver and fairway woods. Like the Epic, Rogue has titanium bars (named Jailbreak technology) connecting the crown and the sole that are now hourglass shaped saving about 25% of the weight compared with those used in Epic. According to Callaway’s research the bars or rods have the effect of stiffening the club body, so energy is more efficiently transferred producing added ball speed. The second feature not to be overlooked is Rogue’s new X Face VFT variable face thickness profile which combined with the Jailbreak rods helps to preserve ball speed if impact is off center. This design also allowed mass to be moved altering the center of gravity for a better launch and added to the head’s resistance to twisting.

Compared to the Great Big Bertha, Epic and XR model drivers the face of the Rogue can be made thinner because of the improved Jailbreak rods and after doing an impact probability distribution a pattern for the thinner and thicker portions of the face was developed.

Boeing Aerospace was consulted on the crown’s Speed Step first seen on the XR driver and for the Rogue they were brought back to modify the geometry of the leading edge and head curvature for 0.6 to 0.7 mph increase in speed. The carbon composite crown is similar to the Epic driver but larger, in fact the largest Callaway has ever been able to produce. Measuring total MOI, i.e., both vertically and horizontally, the XR 16 driver had an MOI of 7,400, the Epic of last year tested at 8,000 and the Rogue a significant advancement to 8,600. Any driver over 7,000 is considered a “forgiving.” Company testing also shows the Rogue gave a 16% tighter shot dispersion.

While most of the attention, as it was last year with the Epic driver, will probably be focused on the titanium rods inside the head the Rogue’s face design is worth a bit more explanation. This X-Face with VFT has raised ridges in the shape of a large X in the middle of the inner side of the face with the thickness varying in strategic areas. The result is in addition to producing a minimum thickness overall it helps ball launch parameters and allows the areas of the crown and sole flange near the face to be thinner while still lowering energy loss from vibration.

Callaway says “X-Face with VFT technology expands the area of the clubface that delivers fast ball speed to promote more distance on off-center hits, and more consistently fast ball speed and distance overall.”

There are three Rogue models. In addition to the standard configuration there is a draw model which has weight moved towards the heel…an anti-slice configuration to reduce side spin without a closed face angle, a more upright lie or lots of offset between the head and the shaft. Compared with the standard Rogue it has about 17 yards less slice and compared with the Epic driver with weights moved close to the heel, about 7 yards less. The Rogue Sub Zero for better players is a low spin model but still has a high MOI and has two weights in the sole, a 14-gram and a 2-gram to adjust the trajectory and spin. The Epic Sub Zero had 12-gram and 2-gram weights.

Each Rogue driver model is priced at $500 and will be available February 9. The Rogue fairway woods have the Jailbreak rods (made of steel not titanium as they are in the Rogue driver) with Callaway’s well-regarded face cup design. There are two models, the standard and the Sub-Zero. Both are priced at $300.