Before I get rolling with this review I need to give special thanks at this time. Thanks go out to SVP of Marketing and Communications for Callaway Golf Harry Arnett. Without Mr. Arnett’s assistance and generous offer to send out a Rogue Sub Zero driver for me to try this review would never have happened. Harry… from the bottom of my heart thank-you for this opportunity.
The following review is a little different from others in the past. While there will be the usual information regarding specifications and technical data my reasoning for really wanting to do this particular testing was to do a straight up comparison. Not a comparison of Callaway Golf’s latest state-of-the-art driver (Rogue) vs one of their competitors. This head-to-head comparison was against one of their own. As some of you may recollect I simply stated in 2017 that the Callaway Golf GBB Epic Sub Zero was as close to perfection in a driver as any that I’ve come across. Also, the Epic Sub Zero was the “Top Driver” (for me) at the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show (Epic Review).
When Callaway Golf released the Rogue the first thing that came to my mind was “How do they improve on what the Epic brought to the table?”. In case you weren’t aware in 2017 Callaway Golf introduced Jailbreak Technology”. What is it? To improve the integrity of the clubface, Callaway Golf R&D implemented the use of two titanium rods to connect the sole and the crown. The result of this technology allowed the face to take on “more impact load” thus improving on ball speeds equating to more length. Technology that seemingly worked based on the results that I observed first hand in 2017. Combining this technology with a carbon composite crown and premium shaft offerings like the Project X HZRDUS T800 made the GBB Epic Sub Zero a very formidable driver.
Rogue comes in three models (Standard, Sub Zero and Draw) and each offers the same Jailbreak Technology seen initially in 2017. The Callaway Golf R&D team didn’t stop there however. The Rogue is offered in a “larger, more forgiving head shape”. How did the team at Callaway achieve this? The new chassis of the Rogue was built with higher MOI characteristics in mind meaning that forgiveness would not be sacrificed for distance. Rogue features Callaway Golf’s largest ever crown surface area ever which is constructed out of a Triaxial Carbon Fiber. In case you weren’t aware, the use of triaxial reinforcement fabrics optimizes a high strength-to-weight ratio.
Who remembers when Callaway Golf partnered with aerospace giant Boeing? When Callaway Golf released their XR 16 driver the company merged with Boeing to work on a aerodynamics package that would offer golfers more speed. The partnership has re-emerged in 2018 with the Rogue line-up. The purpose? To re-engineer and improve Callaway’s patented “Speed Step Technology”. The leading edge of the Rogue was redefined to improve airflow with the intentions of further aiding golfers to fly their golf balls faster and longer through added clubhead speed. Now that I’ve given a little bit of background information on the Rogue driver line-up as a whole the time has come to talk a little bit more about the subject of this review. The Rogue Sub Zero.
The Rogue Sub Zero is offered in both left and right-handed models. Two standard loft options are available with the standard loft being either a 9* or 10.5* head. While there are plenty of custom shafts to choose from the stock options are premium and by no means slouches in any way shape or form. Project X is featured here with both a 65 gram and 75 gram Even Flow shaft being offered. Also offered is the impressive Project X HZRDUS Yellow 75 shaft. The shaft is paired with a Golf Pride New Decade grip. If you like or need adjustability there are plenty of ways for golfers to optimize their performance. If needed, golfers can adjust their face angle (Draw or Fade) or loft (- 1* or +2*). Furthermore, with the Rogue Sub Zero golfers have the option of changing the two interchangeable weights found in the sole of the driver. The weights (14-grams and 2-grams respectively) allows golfers to either achieve less spin (place the 14-gram weight in the front) or to gain added forgiveness by having the heavier weight in the rear whilst also aiding in achieving optimal launch conditions.
For the purposes of this review and testing I opted to match the Rogue Sub Zero as close as possible to the GBB Epic Sub Zero which blew my socks off in 2017. How did I do this? I went with a head that was identical in loft and with a shaft that was as close to possible as what used at Demo Day. So the Rogue Sub Zero that I had built was one that featured a 9* head and the Project X HZRDUS Yellow 75 shaft in a stiff flex. My testing process would involve several range sessions and plenty of on-course time. Could the Rogue Sub Zero live up to the role of filling the shoes left behind by the GBB Epic Sub Zero. The testing process has involved a bevy of conditions from wet, soggy fairways to fairways that offered plenty of roll. From seasonal air temps lacking humidity to days that were quite honestly oppressive (well over 100*F).
When it came time for the unboxing I was like a kid on his or her birthday. I was out walking the dog and saw a UPS truck pull up in the vicinity of what looked to be my house. Ignoring the truck I finished my walk and as I approached the house there it was… a box with a nice big Callaway Golf logo emblazoned on it. I wasn’t feeling the greatest that day and had no intentions of making swings but the arrival of the Rogue Sub Zero changed that. So I opened the box.
Aesthetics don’t really matter a whole lot to me but I will say that as much as I liked the green colour story of the GBB Epic product range I definitely prefer the “electric” blue of the Rogue Sub Zero. The blue “pops” and is very eye-catching. My eyes lit up when I saw it for the very first time.
At any rate, I would take the Rogue Sub Zero right to the range and it was right there on the range that I unwrapped it from its plastic cocoon. I would become even more enamored with the looks of the Rogue Sub Zero. Placing the club down in the address position the footprint inspires confidence making you forget that this is a “Tour level” driver. The crown looks like it’s ready for business and it’s sleek and sexy. Towards the leading edge it has a more solid look and as your eyes shift towards the trailing edge the carbon fiber of the crown just radiates and looks sharp. The headcover itself is “snazzy” to say the least and the cover is a snug fit but not so snug that it makes it tough to remove or replace. It’s a small piece of the puzzle but the headcover is very well done and receives top marks. The stitching is great and as I write this review it’s as snug as the day that the driver arrived.
So I got to making swings at the range and this particular range supplies Srixon range balls. While these balls are very much functional quite obviously they aren’t real golf balls. As I progressed through my session the time came to put my first swings on with the Rogue Sub Zero. I admit that my first swing was a horrible pass and all of the forgiveness in the world wouldn’t have helped that swing. However, the second swing was rewarded with a golf ball that traveled well down the range. As the session wore on a couple of thoughts came to mind. The results were very good but I walked away like something was lacking. As I left the range and was driving home it came to me. The feel and results didn’t match the acoustics. I was sort of bewildered because the Rogue Sub Zero almost felt “dead” in comparison to the GBB Epic Sub Zero. In fact, my initial impression was that the GBB Epic Sub Zero was superior to the Rogue Sub Zero in the acoustics/sound/feel department. With the possibility of the Rogue Sub Zero coming up short all the way across the board.
As the testing period wore on and as I switched between different driving ranges and golf balls I started to observe something interesting. In a way similar to my softball days and breaking in composite baseball bats it was like the Sub Zero “opened up”. As good as the results were during my first session with the Rogue Sub Zero this driver really awakened from a seemingly deep slumber. Perhaps it’s a matter of this writer adjusting to a new driver but the sound, feel and “pop” really seemed to dramatically improve. Perhaps it was the change from range balls to balls like the Chrome Soft etc. While the feel of the GBB Epic Sub Zero was more “light” and seemingly more responsive the Rogue Sub Zero has a feel that I’d describe as being “authoritative”. When you make a solid swing you’re rewarded with a feeling that you’ve punished the golf ball.
I’m not going to mince words. The Rogue Sub Zero is a driver that is quite simply… LONG. To be totally truthful, it wasn’t until I put the Rogue Sub Zero into play that I started to see drives routinely going 295+ yards. This doesn’t include one drive of 354 yards as per my ShotScope V2 device that I’m currently testing at the moment. However, as addictive as length is it’s the accuracy that can really make a huge difference.
Generally speaking, accuracy has never really been a huge issue. That said, my accuracy throughout the testing process with the Rogue Sub Zero actually improved. Perhaps it’s the 75 gram HZRDUS Yellow shaft that’s a real difference maker. With my gamer (2016 M2) my Fairways Hit stats are 73.1%. With the Rogue Sub Zero in my hands my numbers increased to 84.3%. While these improved stats could be because of shaft keeping up to me better I think I’d be foolhardy to think that it had nothing to do with the engineering and improved MOI. For a driver that’s touted as being “Tour level” this is a driver that is plenty forgiving. If you’re a 15-20 handicap don’t exclude yourself as a candidate to play the Sub Zero. You’ll be fine. Toe and heel strikes aren’t severely punished from a distance standpoint but what’s real surprising was how well those “less than optimum strikes” maintained their line. Tremendous forgiveness!!
While the GBB Epic Sub Zero definitely had a lighter, crisper feel and better acoustics I will say this. The Rogue Sub Zero is a driver that feels like there’s plenty of punch behind the clubface at impact. A “powerful bruiser”. I’d suggest that the length is similar but that’s just based on me trying to compare swings on a range vs actual on-course use. I had no problem controlling the GBB Epic Sub Zero but the dispersion/accuracy of the Rogue Sub Zero was amazing. Only made better by the fact that this is a very forgiving driver. The Rogue Sub Zero inspires confidence and exudes power at address. It’s so easy to understand why Callaway Golf staffers put the Sub Zero into their bags so quickly. If you have the opportunity… please give the Rogue Sub Zero a swing you won’t be disappointed.
Until The Next Tee!!