Driver Test: TaylorMade M5 v Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero
This is arguably one of the most eagerly-anticipated driver comparison tests we’ve ever done and so as a result, wanted to make sure it was as thorough and fair as possible. You can read about the technology found on the TaylorMade M5 here, and the Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero here.
We tested both the TaylorMade M5 and Callaway Epic Flash drivers at Foresight Sports on the GCQuad launch monitor, then on the range at West Hill Golf Club. The M5 was in 8.5° and the Epic Flash SZ in 8°, so not exactly like for like but it was as close as we could get them given the samples available to us.
The weights were set up in the image above – both in neutral shot shape bias. We had them both in the Aldila Rogue 70x shaft, admittedly not a stock option in either, but it is what we have been fitted for in both and it allowed us to test the drivers in the same shaft.
Both drivers look cutting edge from every angle but for us, the M5 does just edge it. With the elongated silver section contrasting with the face, alignment seems to come easier and the matte finish on the carbon fibre section looks more premium. You may well disagree, and you might like the look of the grey line on the crown near the face of the Epic Flash SZ, but we don’t think it adds anything useful. One up to the TaylorMade.
The feel and sound of these drivers is also very different. The TaylorMade M5 has a short, low-pitched ‘thud’ synonymous with carbon fibre drivers of today, while the Epic Flash SZ has a loud, high-pitched ‘ping’ sound that reverberates for longer that we’d have liked. Again, personal preference may dictate a difference of opinion, but for us the TaylorMade M5 goes 2-0 up here.
RELATED: Callaway Epic Flash woods revealed
Onto the performance. Both drivers impressed in terms of ball speed, both breaking our previously unassailable 161mph ball speed barrier with certain shots.
You’ll see in the video I had 12 counting shots with the M5 against eight for the Epic Flash SZ. To make it a fair 8 v 8 shot comparison I deleted my two best and two worst shots in terms of ball speed with M5 and then compared the two. I then did the same for carry distance to see what impact that would have.
On average, the ball speed was almost identical for both comparisons although the club speed with the M5 was around 1mph slower. This suggests the M5 is marginally more efficient at transferring club speed into ball speed, and the Smash Factor numbers backed that up.
The M5 also launched and flew quite a lot higher than the Epic Flash SZ, more than the 0.5° extra static loft would produce, meaning the Callaway driver ran a touch more on landing – making the total distance quite similar. On average though, the TaylorMade M5 did carry 1-2 yards further and this was from strikes seemingly further away from the sweetspot, as I point out in the video.
Ultimately, there was hardly anything in it and the discrepancies in distance and ball speed could well be down to how I delivered the club or the strike locations rather than clubhead performance. That said, I achieved my fastest ball speeds and longest carries with the M5 and I also prefer the looks, sound and feel of it too. So if I had to choose one driver over the other, it would be the TaylorMade M5.