Admittedly, leading up to my time here at AmateurGolf.com I was a mixed-bag kind of guy. I took pride in the fact that I had four different manufacturers in my golf bag. I would scoff at other players who had everything from one brand, wondering to myself, “Do they realize the company isn’t paying them?”
After becoming part of the AmGolf team I learned that we had a great sponsor in Callaway Golf and I decided to go for a full fitting to see what perked my interest, with zero expectations of purchasing new sticks. I had hit some of the new Paradym equipment when it was initially released to the media, but not in my specs. This was my opportunity to see what all of the 2023 Callaway noise was about, and I’ll be honest, it did not disappoint.
Spoiler alert: I bought some new golf clubs. Here’s an overview of my Callaway fitting experience and what I ultimately walked away with. Also, let’s take a look at why you, my fellow amateur golfers, should also be properly fit for your clubs.
My Callaway fitting took place at my local PGA Tour Superstore in Schaumburg, Ill. Thankfully, the Chicagoland area has a great local rep named Billy Trimble who makes sure all of the demo equipment is readily available.
I had gone through fittings in the past, as all of the clubs in my current bag fit to my specs. I also have club-fitting experience in my professional background, so I had a solid understanding of what awaited me. This was my bag setup before my fitting:
Driver: PING G425 LST
3W: Tour Edge Exotics EX10 Beta
3H: Tour Edge Exotics EX10
4-SW: Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal Pro
60-degree: Cleveland RTX ZipCore
Putter: Bettinardi INOVAI 6.0
For those who have never gone through a fitting at PGA Tour Superstore, their simulator technology measures ball speed, launch angle, spin rate, sidespin, carry, roll, and pretty much every number you need to determine the best clubs for your swing.
After getting warmed up with my clubs, my initial numbers were looked at and I was handed two iron options: Paradym and Apex 21. Which were eliminated, you ask? Apex Pro 21 (out of my league), Apex MB (same reason), and Paradym X (meant for handicaps a little higher than me). I was honestly thrilled to only have two options. Let’s keep this simple.
The Apex 21 setup was very similar to my Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metals. They’re offset, but they don’t come off as a game-improvement iron. Even the finish, a dull satin chrome, looked like what I was used to. My initial thoughts were that the Apex 21 felt a little heavier than I’m used to on the second half of my downswing, but produced good distance and spun around 6,200 RPM. On my best shots, I was averaging around 172 yards with a 7-iron, which is comparable to my current distances.
Once I got the Paradym iron in my hands I had a gut feeling they would perform better for me. My instinct was right as I saw backspin numbers approaching 7,000 RPM and total distances approaching 180 yards, which is a massive 7-iron for me. My left/right dispersion was also much tighter with the Paradym. The stock shaft is the True Temper Elevate 95 and it fit like a glove as it promotes high launch and high spin, which means I’ll hold more greens. These irons were a win all around.
My Fit: Callaway Paradym irons, 4- GW, True Temper Elevate 95 Stiff
Consider These if: You’re looking to upgrade to current technology and fall into the “player’s distance” category. Low to mid-handicaps can find plenty of benefits with Paradym irons.
After settling on the Paradym irons it was a foregone conclusion that I would slide a matching hybrid into the bag to bridge the gap between my irons and fairway wood. Then I discovered the Callaway Apex UW. Now, let me be clear, the Paradym hybrids are great. I love that whether you go with the standard Paradym or the Paradym X, they’re all fully adjustable. They have a traditional hybrid shape and are very forgiving. The Apex UW, however, is anything but traditional.
Bigger than a hybrid but not chubby enough to be a fairway wood, it had my attention. I tested the UW in 17 and 19-degree lofts. Even though the 19-degree is only one degree stronger than my new Paradym 4-iron, it’s hot off the face and gives me a full club that gapped the top of my bag perfectly. I was hitting 210-yard shots with ease and producing around 4,000 RPM in spin which allowed me to hold greens. This club was an obvious game-changer for me. Plus, it fits my preference of bagging one hybrid and one fairway wood only, even though it’s a little of both.
My Fit: Callaway Apex UW, 19-degree, Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX 70 6.0
Consider This if: You’re looking for an alternative to a stronger lofted hybrid or a weaker lofted fairway wood.
I’ve owned two fairway woods in the past 15 years. The Tour Edge Exotics CB1 and EX10 Beta. Since 2008, I’ve hit just about every fairway wood from every manufacturer with results that have come close, but never exceed what I game. With little confidence that would change, I picked up the Paradym fairway wood and took a few swipes with it. And here’s the moment in the club fitting when I was genuinely surprised.
Distance-wise, the Paradym fairway wood was just as long as what I currently use. On a really good poke, I’ll get a 3-wood to around 250 yards. A nice, easy swing lands me around 235. Where the Paradym excelled, however, was on my mishits. I purposely took a few off the toe and heel, but I was met with very good results in both distance and dispersion. In addition, I really liked how responsive the Paradym was to me trying to hit shots higher and lower (which you can also adjust with the hosel settings). Consistently good feel and results that shook everything I thought I knew about fairway woods. I had to purchase the 3-wood and I even toyed with the idea of adding a 5-wood, but the Apex UW was too close in loft.
My Fit: Callaway Paradym 3-Wood, Project X HZRDUS GEN 4 Silver 70 Stiff
Consider This if: You want something easy to hit on par 5s that is also forgiving. For those that have kept their fairway woods covered and instead play a long iron, give these a shot and thank me later.
Wedges were the easiest part of the entire fitting. The Jaws Raw models were newly released and I was eager to try them. Wedges are quite often an afterthought to those looking to re-tool their equipment. What many amateurs probably don’t know is if they’re playing the right lofts and grinds in their wedges and if they’re spinning according to what they need around the greens. I am not a professional, nor do I play my wedge shots and account for tour-like spin. I do, however, expect my bunker shots to hold and delicate chips to bite.
With my new Paradym irons stopping at a 52-degree gap wedge, I went to a 56-degree Jaws Raw wedge with the standard groove makeup. With six grind options to accommodate where you play and the type of conditions you play on, I had a lot to sort through. Based on my swing and the variety of courses that I play, I went with the S-Grind.
I kept the S-Grind for the 60-degree lob wedge but opted to go with the full-face groove version. Aside from it being aesthetically pleasing, I liked the option that I can play a high lofted shot around a green and catch the ball higher on the face with poor results. The new Jaws Raw wedges do have a standard chrome finish or you can be a little more bold and go with the sleek Black Plasma finish.
My Fit: Callaway Jaws Raw wedges, 56 (standard) and 60-degree (full face), S-Grind
Consider These if: You’ve been ignoring your wedge game. Yes, you’ll still need to practice those touch shots around the green, but your well-struck shots will spin more and get you up and down.
After being put through the wringer of irons, hybrids, fairway woods, and wedges, I ended on the big stick. I will say that I really like my PING G425, but I’ve never thought that I have the perfect marriage between head and shaft.
I first swung the Paradym X and it felt great, but my launch was much too high as was my sidespin. It was clear that if I was going to move into a Callaway driver it was going to be with the standard Paradym. First off, the crown view of this driver is incredibly sleek. It has a black portion closer to the face that seamlessly joins with a navy blue carbon-detailed head. I initially tested the Paradym with the super-popular Fujikura Ventus shaft but couldn’t get my spin and launch angle numbers where I wanted them. The second shaft I tested was an instant yes from me. The Project X HZRDUS GEN 4 Silver 60, which matched the shaft I just put in my new 3-wood. With the head set to its standard 9 degrees, this shaft/head combo produced ball speeds that touched 145 MPH, which is not something I often see. My launch angle was between 12 and 14 degrees and my side spin numbers didn’t go crazy even on my miscues. Looked good, felt good, and a few drives that reached 300 yards. Sold!
My Fit: Callaway Paradym driver, 9 degrees, Project X HZRDUS GEN 4 Silver 60
Consider This if: You’re in the market for a new driver. Plain and simple. Between the standard Paradym and the Paradym X for higher handicaps, Callaway has a driver that will exceed your expectations.
Let's Tee it up
After my full bag evaluation and fitting, over an hour later, I emerged from the fitting bay a man with a new perspective. Maybe it’s not so crazy to have only one brand in your golf bag? Or, perhaps, I’ve never come across a lineup like Callaway has in 2023 that presents so well to the golf consumer. Whether you hold a single-digit handicap or you’re graduating from your beginner set, I believe Callaway has something for you.
After the dust settled I found myself with an entirely new bag of equipment. Driver, fairway wood, hybrid, irons, and wedges. All Callaway. If I had the time I may have ended up in a new Odyssey putter as well. But hey, the season is still young.
If you'd like to learn more about the 2023 Callaway lineup and how you can get your own custom fitting, visit CallawayGolf.com