In this review, we’re going to take a look at the brand new Callaway Rogue ST Max irons, along with the Max OS and Mas OS Lite versions, all of which place themselves very much into the game-improvement category.
Intriguingly, these follow on from the Mavrik range, but branding wise take a trip back to its incredibly successful predecessor – Rogue – which was first launched back in 2018. Callaway may well see them as separate lines, but they broadly target the same golfer, so it was interesting to see how they performed.
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There’s no tip-toeing around it, all three of these models are chunky, but you know, somehow Callaway have crafted these clubheads to still look appealing. They are by no means disproportionate, I’d actually describe them as proudly chunky, uncomplicated, solid-looking and clearly designed to be as confidence-inducing as possible.
The Rogue ST Max is the smaller of the three (in relative terms) and offers a healthy amount of offset. The Rogue ST Max OS (oversize) is of course bigger, the thick top line becomes even thicker, and the head is slightly more offset still, and comes with a wider sole. The Max OS Lite offers the same head size with even more offset, a joy to behold for those who often battle that pesky open clubface at impact!
On the back, they are similarly bold. The perimeter weighting is fully on display, accented by the smart black, white and gold colour scheme of the new Rogue branding. These irons look like they mean business.
Callaway are keen to market the impressive distance these irons produce. They point to their use of a new higher strength steel face in combination with hefty tungsten weighting. All put together with the help of artificial intelligence – something Callaway say provides more consistent ball speeds across the face.
All 3 models performed well, and in fact, were remarkably similar to one another. I was able to generate average speeds of 120.3, 120.3 and 121.2 (Max OS) with a smash factor hovering around the 1.40 mark on average – a really good benchmark for an efficient 7 iron, and at best creeping up to 1.43. Considering some of the inconsistencies in my strike, this is pretty impressive.
In terms of carry distance, the Max and Max OS once again could hardly be separated, with just 0.4 yards between them. The Max OS Lite was around 4 yards shorter for me, however, it is not quite as clear cut as this because the properties of this iron will lend themselves well to those who hit a low ball and would benefit from greater launch and spin.
Finding the balance between producing ultimate distance whilst retaining good control is a conundrum that every manufacturer is striving towards. Particularly so in the game-improvement iron category, where irons are often geared towards greater power and ball speed, often to the sacrifice of backspin rate, which provides control and stability to both the ball flight and its reaction on landing.
Following the trend of modern distance irons, both the Max and Max OS boast very strong lofts (27.5 and 28.5 degrees 7 iron respectively), and naturally, launch a little on the low side (both around 14.5 degrees).
|Launch (deg)||Spin (rpm)||Peak Height (ft)|
|Rogue ST Max||14.6||4392||75|
|Rogue ST Max OS||14.5||4730||79|
|Rogue ST Max OS Lite||16.5||5423||90|
The slightly greater spin of around 300 rpms in the Max OS afforded a slightly increased peak height and would offer slightly more control than the Max, both though peaking under 80 ft, and unable to reach the 5000 rpm backspin mark. (These were tested with Srixon Soft Feel balls – which are not the spinniest ball on the market – a slightly higher compression ball may help here).
Of great intrigue is the Max OS Lite, a really interesting concept that I’ve been keen to see for some time. These come with markedly weaker lofts (31.5 degrees – 7 iron), and a lighter head construction/swing weight – all aimed at improving launch and spin, whilst packed into a power-friendly head.
Suddenly, launch increased by a full 2 degrees, spin by a further 600 rpm, and peak height by some 11 ft, all for the loss of just 4 yards in carry distance. To me, this approach for iron design is a great solution, and I’ll be shocked if more companies don’t follow suit here.
With Callaway specifically mentioning increased consistency in ball speeds across the face, we would think forgiveness on off-centre strikes is a key selling point in these irons.
And it is. I can comfortably admit to not finding the middle of the clubface as often as I’d like during testing, and all 3 of these models helped me out when the toe and heel areas were called into action! There was a drop-off of just 4.9mph in ball speed, between my best and worst strikes with the Max and Max OS heads, dropping to a staggering 2.8mph with the Max OS Lite.
Speed and distance are not the only markers of forgiveness. Direction is also important, and the offset nature of these heads will assist any golfer who has a tendency to hit push and slice shot shapes.
When you look at the absolute units that these irons undoubtedly are, you would be forgiven for expecting a fairly harsh feeling on impact. I was again surprised here, I’m not saying they are buttery soft, not at all, but they were softer than I was expecting, even on off-centre strikes.
This again is perhaps down to the ball I was using for testing. I’m not sure they’d feel quite so nice when propelling a Pinnacle (other brands are available).
Make no mistake about it though, they produce a very solid sound, befitting of their aesthetics.
If you’re looking for out and out feel, I’d imagine you are perhaps not the golfer looking for these type of irons. There are far softer feeling irons on the market, that usually come presented with more petite clubheads.
If a soft feel is important to you, at a similar-ish price point, and in the same iron category, these would probably only be surpassed by the Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal.
The first thing to note here is that each of these models come at the same price point. The second thing to note is that this price point is competitive when compared to other manufacturers’ irons sets that are comparable (Think Ping G425, Titleist T300, Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal, Taylormade Sim2 Max).
Value of course depends on the product meeting your specific requirements as a golfer, but I think you would be hard pushed to find something better at a similar price, these irons are excellent and reasonably priced.
Callaway offers a range of stock and aftermarket shafts in both steel and graphite including options from True Temper, Nippon, KBS, Mitsubishi and Project X. Some of these come at an upcharge but your local fitter should be able to advise you accordingly here. Nonetheless, they certainly have all bases covered.
The standard stock option in the Max and Max OS are the Elevate shafts from True Temper – a relatively light steel shaft producing a mid-high ball flight. The stock graphite option comes in the form of the new Tensei AV Blue – a mid-launch, mid-spin shaft with a smooth profile that fits quite a large proportion of golfers well.
Lighter and softer graphite options are available with the Project X Cypher a great choice for lower swing speed players looking to generate higher launch and spin. Combine with Max OS Lite head for a really impressive combination!
Golf Insider verdict
On the whole, I have to say I am really impressed with these new irons from Callaway. They do exactly what they have been designed to do with no pretensions of being something they are not.
They are bold, solid and built to propel the ball consistently good distances. The Max OS Lite in particular will prove to be an excellent option for those looking for higher launch and spin in a powerful iron.
There is just one thing I’m not sure about – namely the purpose of the Max head. Everything the Max does, the Max OS does equally well and in some cases better. They are designed to be forgiving clubs, so the notion that there needs to be a smaller headed version of the exact same club is hard to compute. If this is their rationale, it’s bizarre given that the Max is hardly the sleekest looking head out there, with a top-line to match that of any well-rendered brick wall.
Price-wise they are the same also, therefore I’d advise looking at the Max OS and Max OS Lite (my personal favourite) to find the best option for your game.
Alternative models to consider
These new Rogue ST irons will naturally be pitted against other distance and forgiveness focused irons from other Manufacturers.
If pure speed and power are what you are looking for, don’t discount the Titleist T300. For those looking for a blend of distance and control, I’d recommend cross comparing the Max OS Lite with the Ping G425 and Mizuno JPX Hot Metal.
If a larger head size is important to you, the OS heads will be worth comparing with the T300 and Taylormade Sim Max 2 OS heads.
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