Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max Driver Review

GolfMagic tests the brand new Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max Driver.

Johnny Percival's picture
Thu, 4 Jan 2024
Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Driver

Need To Know

One of the longest drivers we have tested in 2024, Produces low spin and a high launch, excellent forgiveness across the face
Smoke branding on crown takes away from overall finish, visible loft at address may not suit some golfers
Our score:
PRICE: £569.00 YEAR: from 2024

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max Driver: Key Features

  • Ai Smart Face: optimises performance using swing dynamics from thousands of real golfers to improve launch conditions and dispersion
  • Micro deflections: built into the face that activate upon impact, creating multiple sweet spots across the face
  • 360 Carbon chassis: an internal titanium support structure allows the carbon chassis to be 15% lighter, so weight can be redistributed in the head to improve launch conditions and forgiveness
  • Adjustable perimeter weighting: allows users to tailor shot shape 

When it comes to equipment launches, there are few as highly anticipated as new drivers, and this year, Callaway is first out of the gate with the new Paradym Ai Smoke range. The range features four models: the Max, Max D, Triple Diamond and Max Fast. 

In this review, we will be taking a look at the Max, which is the driver we believe will appeal to the broadest audience of golfers. 

As you can probably guess from the name, artificial intelligence plays a big part in the new Ai Smoke range, with the driver's new smart face being the main storyline for 2024. 

The newly designed face has been created using real player data and machine learning in order to create a variety of sweet spots across the face.

Combined with adjustable perimeter weighting and a lighter, stronger carbon chassis, this driver promises to provide increased forgiveness and improved launch characteristics.

To see if those promises are kept, we took the driver out on the course to see how it performed, then really dug deep into the numbers at Custom Golf Works using a GQ Quad launch monitor.

Let's get into it. 

WATCH OUR CALLAWAY PARADYM AI SMOKE VS PING G430 DRIVER COMPARISON VIDEO

 

 

Player Level

Thanks to the outstanding levels of forgiveness and distance on offer from the Ai Smoke Max, it's a driver that golfers of all skill levels and swing speeds could use effectively. 
Its ideal swing speed range is between 90-100 mph. 
While those who want to prevent a slice and who have slower swing speeds could be better suited to the Max D, the Max will undoubtedly be a good fit for the vast majority of amateur golfers.

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max Driver: Looks and Feel

The Callaway Paradym driver from 2023 was arguably the best-looking driver last year; the Ai Smoke range has some big boots to fill. In order to do so, Callaway's designers have gone for quite an adventurous approach, utilising what looks like a smokey marbled finish on the sole of the driver to give it a unique look. 

The overall aesthetic lands somewhere between urban camouflage and a futuristic kitchen countertop, and it may well divide opinion. While some may think there is a bit too much going on for their liking, we actually think the original approach makes the driver really stand out from the competition, and it provides a fresh take on what a modern driver can look like. 

The marbled chassis is paired with light blue detailing in the weights and Smoke branding. If we were being picky, we would have gone for another colour for this branding, as the light blue looks a touch on the cheap side. However, the overall look of the sole is very slick, and it's rounded out really well with the gloss panel that sits at the front of the head, leading into the face.

Flip the club over, and Callaway has stuck with a proven formula on the crown. A carbon fibre underlay takes up the vast majority of the head, while a solid strip hugs the front.

This design has proven popular with a number of brands in recent years, and we have to say, we're all for this trend sticking around. 

While the overall look of the head is very clean, there are one or two details that we were not such huge fans of. The first of those is the Ai Smoke branding. While we understand why it's there from a marketing perspective, it really takes away from the overall finish, and the crown would have looked much cleaner had it been removed. 

The second detail that immediately stuck out during testing was how closed the driver looked at the address. Fear not; we didn't end up hooking all of our drives, so there is no noticeable effect on performance. However, for those who prefer their driver to lie slightly more open, this may take some getting used to.

Overall, we would give the Paradym Ai Smoke Max an 8/10 for looks. The marbled smoke effect may well divide opinion, but we think it's a really interesting design and one that immediately stands out against its competitors. 

In terms of feel, we honestly couldn't fault this driver. 

Callaway is renowned for making some of the best-feeling drivers on the market, and the Paradym Ai Smoke Max is no different. 

From across the face, you receive a solid and stable sensation at impact, which is also partnered by a reassuringly loud crack that is satisfying without being obnoxious. 

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max Driver: Performance and Forgiveness

As you can see from the table above, the Paradym Ai Smoke is a bit of a beast in terms of distance. Without wanting to give too much away, this driver is right up there with the longest drivers of 2024, with one other yet-to-be-released model running it incredibly close.

While the distance numbers and spin rates were incredibly impressive, what really shocked us most was how high we were able to launch this driver. We had the head set at 10.5 degrees, but we were able to launch it at 13.3 degrees, which, when combined with the optimal spin rates we were able to achieve, resulted in an ideal ball flight that was both high and long. 

So, off to a perfect start. But how did it fair in terms of forgiveness? Well, let's just say Callaway's new Ai Smart Face can go straight to the top of the class. 

Now, during testing, there are always going to be errant tee shots, as is the nature of golf; however,  both on the course and in the simulator studio, we found that this driver managed to retain ball speed and accuracy incredibly well. 

Was it the most forgiving driver of 2024? Not quite, but it was right up there with the best of the best.

Strikes from the heel and toe are inevitable for amateur golfers, so being able to keep the ball straight from those poor strikes can be the difference between making par or double bogey. 

We would love to say we intentionally tested these strikes, but thankfully our natural swing took care of that for us. We witnessed some of the most horrific toe strikes we have ever seen, at times almost missing the ball, but incredibly, you would never have guessed it from where our ball finished. 

Thanks to the reinforced carbon chassis, the head managed to remain incredibly stable through impact, leaving us missing the fairway by two or three yards instead of ten or 15. 

Retaining accuracy off the tee as an amateur is right up there with the most essential parts of keeping your scores down, and we have to say the Max Driver did a fantastic job of doing just that.

All in all, it's tough to fault the performance of this driver. Callaway has been creating some of the best drivers on the market for decades now, and we've got to give it to them; they've done it again. 

Should you buy the Callaway Ai Smoke Max Driver?

If you're looking for a driver that delivers distance, forgiveness and eye-catching looks, then the Paradym Ai Smoke Max could be just for you.

Callaway has managed to engineer a driver that not only spins low but also produces a towering ball flight for increased distance, making it an excellent weapon for golfers looking to gain an advantage off the tee.

While the look of this driver may not be to everyone's taste, the performance undoubtedly will be.

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