Back in October we had an exclusive opportunity to test the latest conforming driver from Callaway at a trade demo in Spain. The ERC Callaway Fusion performed pretty well in the hands of our petite, 18-handicapper Helen Dawson, despite a few misgivings about its suitability for her 5ft 2in frame.
Since then we’ve had the chance to test the Fusion’s big, bad brother, the non-conforming Fusion+ with a hot face, that’s illegal in the hands of Tour pros. This driver exceeds 0.830 COR limits with its titanium face and generates what Callaway describes as ‘explosive performance off the tee’ – thanks also to its lightweight carbon composite body.
Myself and a handful of regular playing partners – from five to 18 handicaps – all put the new Fusion+ through its paces during the Christmas and New Year period where conditions, mostly from tee mats, were far from ideal but at least it was golf.
The general consensus about the cosmetics was that while being pretty and sleek – a cross-hatched carbon head and body and gunmetal silver band across the top – there was too much going on, too much to distract at address.
While the ‘V’ alignment arrow played its part in the set up and ball position, the rounded curves of the clubhead seemed to accentuate the loft – even though it was only a 10 degree model. It sat like a fat 5-wood threatening to balloon the ball on a high, fading trajectory. At address I found myself mentally rehearsing turning my right hand over the left at impact to keep the face square and the ball low.
Though it’s hot and, technically, an illegal driver, few of us could get much height from the club. Distances are achieved chiefly by roll, run and lack of side spin, which will no doubt be more visible after the fairways have dried out. It’s also one of the main reasons why its legal sister keeps Annika Sorenstam on top of the women’s driving stats, and will keep Mark McNulty competitive on the US Champions Tour.
Personally I found it bottom heavy at impact. Often I felt I’d made a good swing but the feel didn’t quite match the effort. In my book the best compliment you can give a golfer is to tell them they’re ‘a good ball striker’ but even in the hands of golfers I regard to be in this category, there was little positive emotion.
The longest hitter in our group, told me that while the club generated less spin and therefore promoted more roll, the dull metallic thud off the clubface didn’t compare to the emotional ‘ting’ he gets from crushing his 10.5 degree King Cobra SS 370 close to 300 yards with irritating regularity.
In terms of accuracy, the Fusion+ is up there with its composite rival, the Yonex Cyberstar but doesn’t compare with the feel of the Mizuno MP001 or the forgiveness of the King Cobra SS Ultimates. On the positive side, Callaway has terrific custom-fitting facilties and at this price you would expect to have the driver tailored to your own swing speed, action and playing ability. It's not recommended you buy one of these babies 'off the peg' and expect to rip it long and straight.
Callaway’s Steelhead III fairway metals are still incomparable but at £449 I’m not convinced the Fusion+ has yet found the secret to domination of the driver market, too.
|Golfmagic rating: 7.5/10|