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Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke MAX Fairway Wood Review

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Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke MAX fairway wood is extremely fast with strong forgiveness.  Mid-low spin and mid launch make it very long for a wide range of players.

Introduction

Callaway calls their new Paradym Ai Smoke MAX fairway wood their “most complete fairway wood offering.”  While that speaks in part to the wide variety of lofts available, it’s also a good way to describe the performance of the club.  Regardless of how you use your fairway woods, the Paradym Ai Smoke Max is likely to excel.

Looks

The address look of the Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke MAX fairway wood is very close to my Platonic ideal for a modern fairway wood.  It’s round and symmetrical with a size that’s about average.  The face height is just tall enough to be confidence inspiring off the tee without being scary to hit off the turf.  Grey carbon fiber covers the majority of the crown, but the stripe of solid grey at the leading edge keeps that from being distracting.

In the bag, the forged carbon sole gives the Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke MAX fairway wood a ton of character.  Branding is similar to what we see in the Paradym FW [review HERE] with the model name across the middle and other markings pushed the toe and heel.

Comparing the Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke MAX fairway wood (above, right) to the Paradym Ai Smoke Triple Diamond FW, there’s surprisingly little difference in size and shape.  Callaway lists the Triple Diamond as “Compact” and the Max as “Modern,” and perhaps the differences are greater at other lofts, but there’s only 1 cc difference between them in the 3W.  The Max is a little longer from heel to toe, but I’d have a hard time telling them apart if they weren’t side by side.  There is a more noticeable difference in face height – the Max is about 1/8″ shorter.

Sound & Feel

Despite its cutting edge use of materials, the Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke MAX fairway wood produces an impact sound that I would describe as traditional.  It’s fairly high pitched and metallic, medium in volume.  There’s a little too much body to this sound to call it a “tink,” but it’s not as robust as the Ai Smoke Triple Diamond FW.

The feel of the Ai Smoke Max, on the other hand, is quite similar to the 3D.  It’s quick and punchy.  The face feels strong behind the ball, but it’s most fast than solid.

Feedback comes through clearly in both the hands and ears.  You can feel the location of impact with good precision, and the sensation dulls as you move away from the sweet spot.  The sound of impact also becomes more clunky when you strike the heel or toe.

Performance

In their brief description, Callaway notes that the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX fairway wood has “consistent launch, neutral ball flight, and progressive shaping.”  This is a good starting point.  To round out the overview, I’ll add strong forgiveness, elite ball speed, and mid-low spin.  Now let’s dig into the details.

The Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke MAX fairway wood features a Carbon Chassis like the original Paradym FW, but this design has been refined to save even more weight.  Callaway split the weight savings evenly – 12 grams near the face in the Tungsten Speed Cartridge to optimize launch and spin, 12 grams at the rear for stability and forgiveness.  Interestingly, the full Carbon Chassis is only offered in the three lowest lofts.  The 7W and Heavenwood have carbon crowns with steel soles, and the 9W and 11W are entirely steel.

I noticed both the elevated forgiveness and higher, consistent launch in my testing.  The Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke MAX fairway wood produced mid-high launch angles on good strikes, and it did a good job getting my thin strikes into the air.  The spin, while higher than the Ai Smoke Triple Diamond FW [review HERE], is still fairly low.  My stock shots were getting ample roll out.

The face technology and ball speed are what continue to set Callaway’s fairway woods apart from the rest.  Ai Smart Face shines in this club, producing excellent ball speed on centered strikes and giving up very little on mishits.  The combination of the Max’s superior stability with the Ai Smart Face meant that every reasonable strike sent the ball a long way.

Finally, Callaway gave the Ai Smoke Max a neutral ball flight, allowing it to serve a wider range of players.  Often this level of forgiveness is reserved for draw biased models, but that’s not the case here.  I found that the Max was capable of shaping the ball in both directions, but it really wanted to go straight.  The 15 and 16.5 degree models do feature an adjustable hosel, so you can tune them to favor a fade or draw.

Conclusion

Off the tee and the turf, the new Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke MAX fairway wood is a consistent performer with elite distance potential.  You won’t find a fairway wood with more ball speed, so get the launch and spin dialed in with your fitter, and you’ll be reaching par 5s like never before.

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Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke MAX Fairway Wood Price & Specs

Matt Saternus
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6 Comments

  1. One of the more baffling product decisions Callaway made with this year’s lineup is failing to offer the 4W (“3HL”) in the Ai Smoke Max fairway available to lefties. The 3W is adjustable, but closing the face down is a big no-go for me, and the 5W isn’t adjustable, so cranking it down and open isn’t possible. 4W/7W seems like a great combo for a ton of people, and with their current 2X trade-in promo, I’d have ordered both if they’d made the 4W for lefties. Oh well! Glad PXG, Ping and Titleist make what I’m looking for, and I hope Callaway joins that group with next year’s fairway wood lineup hopefully having more options for lefty and/or adjustability on their higher-lofted woods. Really nice review, Matt, as usual.

  2. Nice review, Matt. I do have these (3W,5W) and agree with the ball speed results. Little rocket launchers, they are!

  3. DENNIS REID

    Just played my 4th round with my new 7 wood and could not be more impressed. I am easily 10-15 yards longer than my previous 7 wood. The ball flight is better and straighter. The feel is fantastic and I am extremely happy with my decision. I am contemplating a 3HL or 5 wood addition.

  4. Hey Matt,
    I purchased the five wood and played with it today for the first time, after hitting it on the range yesterday. Performance on the range was transferable to the course, and in fact was better, probably due to better ball. Your comments on performance are “spot on!!,” easily the longest five wood I have ever played. Excellent review, I came away, first time out, with the same impressions. Confidence and affirmation (distance, easy launch, consistent ball flight, stability, etc.) is everything. I am considering the 3w after today, do you think the added weight from the adjustable housel will change performance?

  5. Thanks for another great review! I just ordered the Ai smoke max 16.5* with a kaili blue shaft. Can’t wait to get it!

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