XXIO 13 driver, fairway woods, hybrids: What you need to know

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The XXIO 13 lineup of driver, fairway woods and hybrids stays true to the high-end brand’s commitment to enhancing the distance potential for moderate swing speed golfers. Among the noteworthy initiatives besides its ultralight shaft and overall lighter total weights, these woods feature upgrades to the face structure (known as “rebound frame” to create more overall flex and a tweak to the aerodynamic crown feature (called “ActivWing”) that improves a player’s control of the clubface angle at impact for more consistency.

PRICE: Driver, $700 (9.5, 10.5, 11.5 degrees, with fixed hosel). Fairway woods, $400 (15, 16.5, 18, 20, 23 degrees, with fixed hosel); Hybrids, $300 (18, 20, 23, 26 degrees, with fixed hosel). Available Jan. 26.

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1. Twice the face.
The XXIO line continues to look for ways to inject a little more speed into the games of those golfers who will take all they can get. One of the more intriguing ideas (because it’s a technology that’s made its way into the woods of sister brands Srixon and Cleveland) is how these designs use alternating stiff and flexible regions around the perimeter of the face, crown and sole. This effect, called “rebound frame” by the company, effectively creates a secondary spring that helps to get more flex (and as a result, ball speed) from both on-center and off-center impacts.

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On the XXIO 13 driver, fairway wood and hybrid, the transition area between the top of the face insert and the start of the crown varies between the heel area and the toe. The curvature of that transition area gets broader and the crown gets slightly thinner as it moves from heel to toe. This increases both more give in the crown as impact location changes from heel to toe, which leads to more face deflection and potentially more ball speed. In short, more area of the face that’s responding at impact like the center of the face. It helps that a special high-strength titanium alloy (TIX-51AF in the driver) is again used in the face like in past XXIO drivers.

In particular, this structural change resulted in better ball speed in hits above the center of the face, said Dustin Brekke, director of engineering at Cleveland/Srixon/XXIO.

“The real evolution is in that toe region where we’re adding even more curvature there and that’s allowing us to stiffen that toe region more,” Brekke said. “There's also some opportunity for just minor reduction in thicknesses in the crown, but for the most part, it's the geometry of that curvature that's providing more stiffness, creating more separation between that face, and getting us more pure face response versus the whole body response. We determined that there was more opportunity that existed in that toe region.

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“The key was making these very small adjustments to improve performance without pushing it to where there was a durability risk. We’re really helping that face deflection grow more towards the crown and the toe.”

There’s complex biomechanical and aerodynamic forces at work here, as well as an effect on the tendency of the clubhead to droop on the downswing, essentially bending off-line in relation to the swing plane. That leads to inconsistency of impact location and face angle. The short answer is these features help golfers who struggle to deliver the club square to the target and with velocity. They don’t necessarily insure there’s maximum speed and a square face angle at impact, but they’re designed to reduce the typical effects in a wood head design that might make the best shots less likely.

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2. Winging it. Building on the crown design of the XXIO 12 models, the XXIO 13 driver and now fairway woods and hybrids feature a protrusion on the heel side of the crown that’s designed to modify the airflow around the club as it moves in the downswing. Because the club starts the downswing with that heel section leading the way, the raised wedge (called “ActivWing”) just next to the hosel increases lift and drag forces. On the fairway woods and hybrids, it’s a raised section in the front and heelward part of the crown.

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“It’s at that 9 o’clock position in the downswing where we’re trying to reduce droop and variation in droop,” Brekke said. “If we can create aerodynamic forces that reduce that droop, we can bring added stability to the shaft dynamics and the result is that we have a tighter impact dispersion on the face.”

3. The bearable lightness of being. Let’s not forget that XXIO trademark of lighter overall club weight. The XXIO drivers get as light as 286 grams, and while there are other drivers, fairway wood and hybrids on the market that are lighter, the XXIO uses a counterbalanced weight in the grip to make these clubs feel more controllable.

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The use of the weight in the butt end of the grip (10 grams in the driver, for example) shifts the club’s overall balance point closer to the hands, making the head feel lighter. According to XXIO testing, more of the target players (moderate swing speeds) are able to get the club in the proper position at the top of the backswing. That weight shift is possible because the shafts are among the lightest on planet Earth, as light as 35 grams in the driver.