Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke fairway woods: What you need to know
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke family of fairway woods is vast, featuring 18 options across four distinct models. Those choices are so specific because the designs are built on distinct platforms developed through the analysis of thousands of swings. Fundamental to each of those offerings are the unique face designs that maximize distance and ball-flight needs for four golfer groups, ranging from tour players to grandparents.
Ai Smoke Max
PRICE: $350. Paradym Ai Smoke Max (15, 16.5, 18, 20, 21, 24, 27 degrees); Max D (15, 16.5, 18, 21 degrees); Max Fast (16, 19, 22, 25 degrees); Triple Diamond (15, 18, 21 degrees). All but Max Fast include eight-way adjustable hosel (only 15- and 16.5-degree models on Max and 15-degree on Max D models, all lofts on Triple Diamond). Available for pre-order Jan. 12, at retail Jan. 26.
Ai Smoke Triple Diamond
This head targets players who need to launch their fairway woods higher and who fight a slice with their long clubs. The shallow face, designed with thick and thin sections to address the needs of this type of player, enhances mis-hits that tend to be lower on the face and range from heel to toe. The carbon-composite crown and sole free up mass that is redistributed heavily to the rear perimeter. This back weight makes for the highest launching model in the family.
3 COOL THINGS
1. Face facts. For several years Callaway’s efforts to make the face of its woods more flexible have revolved around the structure behind the face. Known as “Jailbreak” and originally debuting as a driver technology, the idea grew to encompass fairway woods, too, in an array of forms. The basic premise was to join the crown and face with internal bars or wings that would concentrate more of the flexing in the face by stiffening the surrounding crown and sole.
Ai Smoke Max Fast
The Paradym Ai Smoke fairway woods, however, break free from some of the limitations of the Jailbreak structures, which came with a compromise in mass properties. Instead, they maximize both the distance and dispersion of the different models solely with the subtly varying face thicknesses on each model and loft.
Ai Smoke Max
“I think a lot of what jailbreak is doing is captured in our thickness optimization,” said Evan Gibbs, Callaway’s director of research and development for woods. “So we're actually able to strategically stiffen those parts of the head in a similar way that jailbreak did, but just not with the two bars that are connecting crown and sole. We're still trying to locally optimize the stiffness in each of these areas to, to give us the most flexible face.”
What Callaway’s research showed was how different the different groups’ impact patterns were. For example, the very shallow face design on the Max D and Max Fast models could help elevate launch for those players where more than half the impacts were well below the center of the face.
Ai Smoke Max Fast
In each case, the face designs optimize launch and spin through their varying thicknesses. Those swirling thicknesses create specific hot spots, what the company calls “microdeflections” that reflect where and how the target player is most likely to impact the face. The way the face flexes leads to optimal launch and distance.
Ai Smoke Triple Diamond
2. Weight and see. While the faces on these models get much of the glory, that’s not to say the mass properties aren’t a mighty contributor to successful impacts across the family. The three models geared to average golfers (Max, Max D, Max Fast) now feature a fully carbon-composite sole, as opposed to the stainless-steel-reinforced structure on last year’s Paradym models. That saves more than 24 grams over a traditional all-steel sole. Half of that savings was shifted to a front tungsten weight to lower the center of gravity for more efficient energy transfer and better ball speed, while the remaining half is pushed to the perimeter for more stability on off-center strikes.
Meanwhile, the Triple Diamond model utilizes a steel sole to provide a bit more spin than previous low-spin fairway woods because the input from tour players was the carbon-composite sole was yielding too much ball speed. An adjustable screw weight in the sole affords more swing weight tweaking to match specific shaft and length demands.
3. Four for four. The four heads mirror the player divisions seen in the Paradym Ai Smoke driver lineup. The Max model fits the meat of the market and features a shallow face and a neutral ball flight. It includes a 20-degree Heavenwood, and both the 15- and 16.5-degree models utilize an eight-way adjustable shaft. The Max D is the most draw-biased, and with the Max Fast is the highest launching in the family, including standard lofts that are a degree higher (a 16-degree 3-wood and a 19-degree 5-wood, for example). The Max Fast features an overall lighter weight to target moderate swing speed players, and like the Max Fast focuses on improving performance on impacts lower on the face. The Triple Diamond, which includes the eight-way adjustable hosel on all three lofts, remains the lowest spinning option in the series and features a more compact head.