Let’s talk about drivers. Be honest, when you head to the range, you know you’re supposed to warm up with some wedges, work on your short and long irons, pound a few fairway woods off the deck, hit a few drives, then go back and really dial in your wedges. On a golf course, those shots are the shots where rounds are either scorecards worth saving, or ones you’re embarrassed to log on your handicap sheet.
But what you really want to do, is pull the head cover off your driver, tee it up high as a kite, wind yourself up like an old watch, and release the kraken. You want to hear that explosion of the ball off the face of that titanium monster as you smash ball after ball further than your eye can see. Right?
The thing about drivers—some golfers will go decades with the same set of irons, but every year they have a new driver, hoping to eke out a few more yards off the tee. Why? Because we’re stupid and don’t listen to our golf coach—we have an addiction to buying drivers, and this article will do nothing to get you off it.
Since the Gipper relocated to the White House, Callaway has been making golf clubs that are good enough for the pros to use, but forgiving enough to make a below-average golfer, look like an average golfer. Something most golfers appreciate more than they’ll publicly admit.
To that end, let’s talk about the 460cc Callaway MAVRIK and the MAVRIK Max drivers.
They decided the human brain alone didn’t have the prowess to design this club, so they relied heavily on artificial intelligence (A.I.) to engineer their most technically advanced offering to date, at the time of their 2020 release. Callaway have always been about pushing the envelope of technology, and these MAVRIK big sticks are no exception.
According to Callaway’s website, the FS2S titanium face of the driver is six grams lighter than the previous model, while still providing more strength. This leads to higher ball speeds across a wider area on the face of the club, for all those times you don’t quite catch the sweet spot.
For the average (or worse) golfer, the sweet spot is likely the most pristine part of the face of their driver, so that forgiveness will be most golfer’s best friend, keeping them further down range, and hopefully out of the weeds looking for their ball all day.
They have also incorporated their Jailbreak technology into the head of MAVRIK and MAVRIK Max. In simplest terms, it’s two vertical bars connecting the crown with the soul of the club, just outside the bullseye of the face, which distributes the impact over a larger area giving a “more efficient transfer of energy to the golf ball,” and a higher moment of inertia (MOI), according to Callaway.
In case you’re wondering what that means, it’s a sciency way of saying, you can mishit the heck out of it, still outdrive most of your friends, and be hitting #2 off the short grass.
Using A.I. to make it function better is cool and all, but apparently their A.I. wasn’t exhausted yet, so they put it to work on acoustics. Of course, we all want a driver to hit the ball five miles uphill in a headwind. However, if it sounds like you threw a potato into a bean bag chair when you hit it, somehow, it just won’t be nearly as satisfying.
Why would sound matter? Because if it sounds good when you hit it, it just feels so…good! That sound will give you confidence, and lead to better swings, which sound even better, and before you know it, you’re basically ready for your tour card—at least, that’s what you’ll envision in your mind anyway.
As much as we’d love to believe good golf is all about knowing how to swing the club, the fact remains in all sports, that confidence just leads to better outcomes, so anything that improves your state of mind with the club in your hand, is worth its weight in platinum. The fact that the explosive crack of a center-face hit after center-face hit will annoy the dude next to you on the driving range is also a feature, not a bug.
If you are in the match of your life against your most bitter rival, there’s most certainly something to be said for the intimidation factor of such a satisfying sound coming off of your driver.
It’s not all about sound, MOI, and finding ways to let you slide on that mishit, though. Callaway have also focused on aerodynamics. As you swing for the fences, there’s lots of air between your clubhead and the ball, and it needs to be diverted quick, when you pull the trigger.
Their advanced Cyclone aerodynamic design means MAVRIK and MAVRIK Max can cut through that air like it’s not even there, reducing the total drag by nearly 60% over previous models, according to Callaway engineers. Couple that with the lighter weight, and the ability to swing faster with the same amount of effort, is at your fingertips. According to Callaway 1-1.5mph of increased clubhead speed should be expected.
MAVRIK drivers are available in 9°, 10.5°, and 12° loft models, depending on your preference, and with their “Flash Face Technology,”, each face is uniquely optimized for the loft-angle model of your choosing. According to Callaway research and development boss Alan Hocknell, “Flash Face isn’t something a human would have arrived at any time soon. Without the help of A.I. and machine learning we couldn’t have come up with this design.”
There are rules to how much “spring” a clubhead can have, and Callaway claim that after dropping a cool $5 million on an AI computer, and analyzing more simulated swings than any human could reasonably imagine, their AI essentially designed the perfect club face, while still staying within PGA rules.
Where most club faces are thicker in the middle of the face, and thinner as you move to the outer edges, Callaway’s Flash Face technology uses a unique series of internal ripples, that are seemingly at random when you first look at them.
But through digital trial and error, each peak and valley are in the ideal spot for them to be, based on the rules and assumptions of normal swings Callaway engineers gave the computer to operate under. After literally four weeks of non-stop computational analysis, this wholly unique face was ready for prime time.
They offer a wide variety of shafts, as well. You can choose from either the Project X Evenflow Riptide 61-gram shaft ranging from light to X-stiff, the UST Mamiya Helium Black 4 graphite 45-gram shafts in either light or regular flex, or the Aldila Rogue White 130 MSI 60 or 70 shafts, ranging from regular to X-stiff. Then finally finished off with the Tour Velvet Silver Align grip from Golf Pride, which not only feels great in your hands, but helps to ensure proper and consistent hand alignment with the clubface.
So when it’s MAVRIK Max vs MAVRIK squaring off like two heavyweights, what’s the difference?
They classify the MAVRIK as their mid-launch model, with a slight draw flight bias, to help correct the traditional unwanted fade or even the dreaded slice that we’ll call a fade so we feel better about what we’ve just done. While it should be noted that for all those superhuman single handicaps out there who can hit a gnat off a lily pad from 100 yards, such forgiveness will undoubtedly hinder their ability to bend it like Bubba off the tee.
For the rest of us mere mortals however, we’re more than content to lose some of that shot-shaping ability we don’t have in the first place, for something that keeps us from having to take a stroke and distance lost ball penalty, when we know damn well it’s right here in the rough somewhere.
If you’re looking for a high-launch version, and the potential to dial in a little more slice-reduction, er, I mean, draw bias, the advanced Callaway MAVRIK Max is your Huckleberry. They state it has the larger footprint of the Callaway MAVRIK vs MAVRIK Max, and it boasts the highest MOI as well.
What really makes the MAVRIK Max driver special, is that it adds interchangeable biasing weights, which can dial in maximum draw bias, making it a more flexible option if you’re willing to spend the extra money.
So which one is right for you in this Callaway MAVRIK and MAVRIK Max slugfest?
That depends on your wallet, and the advice of your golf pro. As with any modern high-quality golf club, to get the most out of it, you should get fitted. It will ensure you get the correct loft, the right shaft for your strength level, and any other adjustments their analysis says is right for you will be dialed in and tailor-made just for you. One of the biggest mistakes any amateur can make, is buying straight off the rack without taking the time to get fitted properly.
However, if you can describe your game by saying, “the left side of the golf course looks nice, and I’d like to visit it some day if I ever get the chance,” the added flexibility of the MAVRIK Max, with it’s biasing weights to help draw like Picasso with a golf ball, is likely the optimal choice for you.