What’s that you say? Callaway has a set of “secret” clubs?
Is the company selling to invisible golfers now? Have leprechauns taken up the game?
Ohhhh, you mean the Callaway Edge set? Oh, they’re not secret – at least, not anymore. They’re just a masterstroke in marketing discretion.
Yes, it’s true, when the Callaway Edge set was launched, they… well, they really weren’t “launched” at all in the traditional sense.
No hoopla, no announcement, no million handfuls of dollars spent in promoting them to golf stores or in magazines, as read by jaded golfers in search of their next new club fix.
Nothing. Nada. Zip.
They were to all intents and purposes tiptoed out of Callaway HQ by the muted light of a waxing moon, on trucks with their engines muffled.
And at least at launch, they maintained the secrecy even to the point of distribution. They. Were. Nowhere. Not on Amazon, and very probably not in your friendly neighborhood golf store, either. Not at Wal-Mart. Not at Sears. They didn’t even appear on the Callaway website.
This might be considered an… unusual way to launch a set of golf clubs – and so it would be.
It’s a great way to start a mystery, though.
When people finally discovered them in branches of Costco, word spread relatively fast. So much so that you can now get them on Amazon.
But still, Callaway keeps up the pose that they’re all very secret and exclusive, because – well, why mess with an effective strategy, right?
The interesting thing about all this is that you can see it being proposed as a novel sales idea for a set that was… perhaps less than optimal, or that needed a particular boost to ensure initial sales.
It makes you look not once but twice at your Callaway Edge set when you get it.
You look a third time when you check the price, because there must be something wrong with them, to be not so much rushed out as hushed out to the public, and to come with a price tag around half that of most regular Callaway sets.
What the ever-loving heck gives with the Callaway Edge?
Well, we’ve had time now to look them over, put them through their paces, put them through more paces when the original paces didn’t turn up the kind of obvious defects we could point to smugly and go “Ah, but…”
Do you want to know the truth?
Be sure. Be very sure.
All right, we’ll tell you the truth.
There’s nothing wrong with them. Not a thing. They’re not especially sub-optimal in any way whatsoever.
They’re a set of perfectly good Callaway clubs with a seriously above-average driver and putter, available for a much lower price than most Callaway sets, at Costco, some golfing stores – and now, for the sake of convenience, at Amazon.
In a way, Callaway has played a dangerous game here – the way the Callaway Edge set was non-launched, plus the tattered price, almost predisposes us to imagine there’s something wrong with them, and to shun them as a result, flinging them from us with a passion and clinging to something much more straightforward and reliable, like Callaway’s own Strata set.
The Callaway Edge clubs have a certain something though that makes them irresistible beyond the point of mystery.
So – enough shrouding. What do you get for your money with the Callaway Edge set?
- 1x Titanium Driver with head-cover
- 1x 3-Wood with head-cover
- 1x 5-Hybrid with head-cover
- 4x Cavity back Irons (6–9i)
- 1x Pitching wedge
- 1x Sand wedge
- 1x Odyssey White Hot Pro Putter with the positively obscene-sounding SuperStroke grip and head-cover
Now, there are things to say before we get into a club-by-club assessment.
Firstly, if you get your Callaway Edge set from Amazon, you’re looking at paying several hundred dollars more than you would if you bought it at Costco. What, we say again, the ever-living heck gives with the Callaway Edge?
Well, three things.
Firstly, if they’re mostly available at Costco, and you can get them with a beverage in one hand and a credit card in the other while sitting at home and not fighting traffic, finding somewhere to park, and hauling the clubs home in your car – that right there incurs a convenience tariff.
If you can order golf clubs without having to put on pants and deal with other people, they’re cheap at the price – so the price is adjusted to compensate.
Secondly, the clubs were mostly available at Costco. Costco’s not like a normal store where you stroll in, pay your money, take your goods and stroll out again.
It’s a membership-based shopping venue, which means if you’re not a member, you’re now able to pick up items previously only available to people who paid the membership fee. Ker-ching – that’ll be a little extra money, please.
And thirdly, the market economy is based on supply and demand. If it turns out that a really good set of golf clubs is available at certain retailers for significantly less money than similar sets normally cost, that drives up demand.
The price follows it as a seller’s market is created. You want the clubs. Callaway has the clubs. The price for the clubs goes up in response to quite how much you want it.
God bless America.
So that’s that. What about the set itself? Value for money?
Well, on the one hand, you have to consider what you would need to add to the set to make it a fully functioning golf machine with which you could play and win a round.
In terms of distance, you’re probably set with what you have in this set – there may be some drop off in average distance between the 5-hybrid and the 6-iron, but it shouldn't be anything catastrophic enough to make you drop a stroke.
Maybe it would be worth picking up an additional gap wedge for those tricky in-between shots where neither the pitching wedge nor the sand wedge quite meets the requirement.
If you have money spare after that – and with this set, you might have – think about buying a 58-degree wedge in case you find yourself in need of a lob shot to pull out of your… erm… bag at the right moment.
It will probably be more useful to you than, for instance, investing in a 4-hybrid, because it’s in those green-approach shots, and the putt, that a set like this comes into its own and differentiates itself from cheaper sets for beginners.
By all means, get the 4-hybrid if you want – there’s nothing wrong with having one in your bag. But if it comes to a question of one or the other, get the wedge first – you’ll be able to pull more tricks and win more rounds with it than you typically will with the 4-hybrid.
One thing people habitually say when they see the makeup of the Callaway Edge set is “Well…why wouldn’t I just get the 16-piece Callaway Strata set instead? That has most of the same clubs and it’s cheaper.”
It does, and it is, and never let it be said that we had bad words to say about the Strata set. For beginners with a fast enough swing speed, it’s an impeccable base set.
But simply because the clubs are the same type, it doesn’t make them equal, and overall when using them, the Edge clubs have an almost embarrassing tendency to wipe the floor with their Strata stablemates.
Let’s look at the clubs themselves in some detail to get a sense of why that is.
The Callaway Edge Driver
The fact of the matter is, this is a driver you’d pay upwards of $200 for if you tried to buy it alone. That means it accounts for a good proportion of the purchase price of the whole set.
If you were to put it in a drive-off with the likes of the Callaway Mavrik, or, say, the Ping G410… well, on the one hand, you’d have yourself a heck of an afternoon, but on the other hand, anyone who saw you do it wouldn’t bat an eyelid, because it can stand up to such high-class competition and make a fight of it.
A couple of years ago, you’d have said it had a large club head. These days, big heads are the norm, especially with Callaway – again, we give you the Strata driver – so it doesn’t look out of place in your bag or on any tee, anywhere.
Made of titanium, it adds speed and lightness to your swing without sacrificing the ker-blam factor of your Moment of Inertia.
The shaft is made of graphite, and it’s one area in which the Edge picks up bonus points. Where the Strata driver is sometimes a little too much for beginners to handle, the Edge driver should give slower swingers more pep and more distance from their drives.
What are we talking about in terms of loft? Welllll…technically, this is an area where the Edge driver does well enough, but could stand to do better.
Given that it’s aimed at beginners, the loft of just 10.5 degrees feels a touch on the mean side – a straight 12 degrees would offer more loft, and so cut down on the natural beginner’s tendency towards slicing like a cocktail lemon.
But, to rebalance the equation, the Edge driver does have a low center of gravity, which should help any golfer get a higher launch off the tee. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
The Edge driver goes about things in a slightly more convoluted way than necessary, but it delivers the loft you’d expect.
For beginners and high handicappers, the Edge driver is a club that will feel oddly instinctive, and one which will bring smiles to golfing faces – which among beginners is not as regular a phenomenon as you might imagine on the tee.
Callaway Edge 3 Wood
That low center of gravity begins to make a little more consistent sense when it comes to the Edge 3-wood.
Long, lofty, rocket-powered 3-wood shots have a tendency to become addictive, and there’s every chance you’ll book a round simply as practice for the joy of seeing them soar.
The 3-wood also comes with perimeter weighting, that helps to keep your ball straight during its lofty flight. Lofty flights after all are entirely useless if they twang wildly off target and end up landing in the trees.
The perimeter weighting helps ensure your ball drops at least closer to where you thought it would go.
The 3-wood has a similar graphite shaft to the driver, so you’ll get that potential thwack of extra power to your shot.
Callaway Edge Hybrid
Hybrids are designed to replace traditional long irons and to be easier to hit.
Oh hybrid, my hybrid.
One of the things about the Strata set that really made people fall in love with it was the 5-hybrid. Here, you get a very similar 5-hybrid with 25 degrees of loft, instead of a regular 5-iron.
This is the Swiss Army knife of golf clubs. No, it’s the high-quality chef’s knife. It’s the do-anything club – use it off the tee if you’re just looking to find your fairway.
Use it for long approaches as a fairway ‘wood.’ Use it to get out from behind trees, out of bunkers, out from under the rough, you name it, the Callaway 5-hybrid is that eager beaver that always volunteers.
It’s quite enough to make you fall in love with a golf club, that obedience, and the difficulty you’ll find will be in not reaching for it on more or less every occasion.
Callaway Edge Irons
This is probably where the Edge and the Strata have the most in common. The Edge irons follow the Strata 16-piece set-up, going from the 6-iron down to the sand and putting wedged.
Like the Strata set, all the Edge irons are cavity backs and they’re custom-built to be absurdly easy to hit and to give you as much air as possible.
And again, borrowing from the Strata’s signature characteristic, all the irons in the Edge set have large sweet spots. Why? Forgiveness, that’s why.
What you need in your irons – what you need in all your clubs, really – if you’re just starting out or your handicap is annoyingly high, is the sweet savor of forgiveness.
There are clubs out there that are even more forgiving, like the TaylorMade SIM MAX, but if you’re looking for a full-on set, the Edge irons have more forgiveness than even the worst slicer has the sins for.
Odyssey White Hot Pro Putter
The thing about club sets is that usually, when it comes to the putter, they run out of inspirational steam and go relatively generic.
Certainly, if you’re looking for a fault with the Strata set, that’s where you’ll find it – you pay money for a full set and the putter is basic, just at the point where you need something extra. In most sets, the putter is the ‘TV dinner’ of the group.
The Odyssey White Hot Pro – that ain’t no TV dinner. You’re talking prime rib here. You’re talking T-bone.
Odyssey putters are among the best on the market right now. Plenty of PGA professionals are carrying them and winning.
Sure, you may not be a PGA pro, but you can borrow a little of their magic with the Odyssey White Hot Pro. It’s moderately insane to find it attached to any set of clubs you buy as a set, but it’s an insanity that’s worth catching.
The Odyssey White Hot Pro is an incredibly stable putter, which if you’re a pusher or a puller when you putt, is going to help your game in a big way on those irritating, nearly-there, 3-feet, 4-feet, 5-feet putts.
Bottom line, adding this putter to a set of clubs is like hitting a power-up button in a video game. It’s like taking a multi-juice smoothie shot before you work out.
It should make no sense that it’s included here, but between the Odyssey White Hot Pro putter and the titanium driver, you’re looking at a set that is dripping in achievement-bling.
Which is another reason the set flew off shelves as soon as people learned it existed, apart from the insatiable curiosity about what it was, how it got there, and why Callaway hadn’t trumpeted its existence from every hillside it could find.
The Callaway edge set was for some time one of the club-making industry’s best and most bizarrely kept secrets.
Then, people found out about it and it became one of the industry’s hottest must-haves at a ridiculously low price.
Now it’s more generally available, because frankly Amazon owns the key to the world and you can get this Faberge egg of a collection with a single click on the ‘Buy’ button.
And if you can, you really probably should. Your future self will only torment you if you don’t.
From the titanium, bottom-weighted driver that will give you a forgiving push down the fairway, to a richly satisfying 3-wood, to a 5-hybrid that’s so innovative and enthusiastic it’s a cross between MacGuyver and Scrappy Doo, all the way down through a breezy, loft-addicted set of irons and wedges to a putter that puts all-comers to shame – certainly within this kind of collected price bracket – there’s class and quality from aperitifs to dessert in this collection.
Could you stand to add a couple of extra wedges to get you out of any potential trouble and give you additional shot options around the green? Sure, but then, which ‘complete’ set can you name where that’s not the case?
Would you benefit from an additional 4-hybrid? Again, who wouldn’t? The joy being there’s a great one available in the Callaway Strata range, and no one’s going to bat an eye if you add it to your bag.
But overall, Callaway’s longest best-kept secret is a thrill not because of all the secrecy and mystery that surrounded its non-launch.
It’s a thrill because of all the Christmas Day-like presents that were revealed when people finally got their hands on the set.
The urge is to assume there must be something wrong with a set from this manufacturer that involves this much secrecy and this reasonable a price.
Fight the urge. There’s nothing wrong with this set at all – certainly nothing that should get in the way of you buying it as soon as you’re able.