Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke MAX Review

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Callaway says the the new AI smart face optimizes driver performance using swing dynamics from thousands of real golfers. Last year’s Paradym driver was one of the longest most forgiving drivers I tested, so I was excited to see how this one stacked up.

Since the predecessor was good enough to make the top of the list of best drivers for high handicappers and was included on our lists of the best drivers for beginners, my expectations were pretty high.

After testing the club, I have to say that Callaway didn’t take a step back and did a good job with some minor improvements to an already great driver.

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke MAX

MSRP: $599

The Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke MAX driver is designed to increase ball speed across the face by minimizing distance lost to miss hits making it a great option for all but low-handicap, high swing speed golfers.

Overall Rating: 43/50



High MOI and lots of forgiveness

Good ball speed off the face

The somewhat classic look is much more appealing than other Callaway drivers



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Overview & Features

As expected, Callaway came up with a lot of new features to talk about in this club.

Let me say off the bat that I hate the name, especially having to type it a dozen times while writing this. Just call it the "Paradym Ai" or something, longer names don't make it more appealing.

But we can let that go and take a look at the specs...

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max Specs

  • Lofts: 9°, 10.5°, 12° (adjustable from -1° to +2°)
  • Lie: 59° (adjustable)
  • Head Size: 460cc
  • Adjustable Hosel: Yes
  • Adjustable Weights: Yes
  • Stock Shafts:
    • Mitsubishi Tensei AV Blue 55 Graphite 55g
    • Mitsubishi Tensei AV Blue 65 Graphite 65g
    • Project X Cypher 2.0 40 Graphite 40g

Callaway boasts a few key features in the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX Driver: (1) Ai Smart Face technology to optimize launch and spin on off center hits, (2) a 15% lighter carbon chassis, and (3) adjustable perimeter weighting for up to 19 yards of shot shape correction.

Let's talk about the Ai Smart Face first. Of course they put "Ai" in the name because everything has to be Ai currently, but what that really means is that they fed a lot of data from golf shots into a computer to help design the face.

I suppose that's still considered Ai, but it's not going to do your homework for you or anything.

The claimed result is that by using this Ai to design "micro-deflections" into the face, Callaway was able to recover lots of yards that would normally be lost because of off-center hits.

You can see the graphic they released below (and in poster form in every golf shop) showing the claimed gains.

Note: These numbers are supposed to be compared to distances you would get on off-center hits with last year's Paradym.

The lighter carbon chassis and movable weight are pretty self-explanatory. I think every driver designed for the average gofer should have some movable weights. They won't fix a bad slice, but it can help to fine tune things to minimize curvature and give you a little more distance.

I do like that they aren't making any massive changes and just trying to improve on the Paradym because that was a solid driver.

My Experience With The Paradym AI Smoke MAX

I tried the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX (and its variations) on a Trackman launch monitor and compared it to my old Titleist driver and last year's Paradym (I got the naming wrong but here's some of the stats I ended up with...)

As you can see I saw pretty good improvement from my current driver at the bottom of the list (that driver is now a few years old so it makes sense). The third on the list is last year's Paradym (despite my incorrect naming), second is the Paradym Ai Smoke Max, and at the top is the 3 diamond (low spin) version.

As you can see, I didn't see much difference between the Paradym and the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX in terms of distance on good strikes. But I did notice that my off center hits were a little better. I think on the course this would translate into more consistent distance off the tee.

When I switched to the 3 diamond version (I'm right on the borderline with a 106-108 swing speed) I didn't see lower spin at all, though that may be attributable to inconsistences in my own swing. I did however, see a 9 yard difference in carry distance.

I think if you can hit the sweet spot consistently, then the 3 diamond version seems to have a hot face for more distance. But you won't get as much benefit on the off center hits as that head is 450cc compared to the 460cc of the MAX version.

I didn't try the MAX D (because I already have a hook miss) or the MAX Fast which is lighter to help increase swing speed.

Paradym Ai Smoke MAX Review

Forgiveness (10/10)

Forgiveness is where the Paradym Ai Smoke MAX driver really shined. It's difficult to quantify it on the launch monitor stats, but I saw noticeable differences in distance on off-center hits compared to both my old driver and the year old Paradym driver.

To me this was the biggest difference with this driver compared to others. You'll still see some distance loss on off center hits but its lessened to a decent degree.

I didn't get to take this club out on the course but in practice terms this forgiveness means that you'll have less of those drives that are out of range of the green because you didn't catch it quite right.

Consistency (9/10)

Consistency is tough to rate on a driver as its something I would consider more when evaluating an iron, but in driver terms it goes hand in hand with forgiveness in that you want to see your drives end up in the same place when you hit them the same.

So with the excellent forgiveness (see above) you are going to end up with more consistent shots overall. I didn't see much variation at all on well struck shots and most of that variation was most likely attributable to my swing variances.

Distance (10/10)

The Paradym Ai Smoke MAX driver scores really well on distance. I saw clear gains from my old driver. However, I didn't see much of an improvement over the prior year's Paradym on well struck shots (only on off-center hits).

Overall, I was pretty happy with the distance gains. If you currently have a driver that's at least a few years old then I think you'll see some noticeable gains with this club.

I don't think I would upgrade from the Paradym unless you really need the extra forgiveness and aren't worried about budget.

Looks (7/10)

The Paradym Ai Smoke MAX has a fairly traditionally shaped head with some texture graphics on the crown. The top of the face is all black and the difference is visible at address.

It's a little more busy than the predecessor Paradym but not as bad as some other drivers I've seen.

Sound/Feel (8/10)

Nothing special here, which is good for a driver. No obnoxious sounds coming off this club. I wouldn't have any second thoughts about playing it on a regular basis. It had a nice solid "thwack" sound.

As for feel, it felt great off the face on solid hits. but more importantly, it gives you really good feedback on off-center hits despite being very forgiving.

I like this because it was fairly easy to tell when I missed the sweet spot and even where on the face I missed it.

Who Is This Club For?

With the different variations, this really could be a club for anyone.

The MAX version is going to be a great option for the vast majority of golfers. The forgiveness and distance make it a great choice for anyone that wants more help hitting fairway and maxing out their distance.

The MAX D version is a good choice for slicers to try and minimize their slice, especially if you don't want to put in the time to work on your swing.

The MAX Fast is a good choice for slower swing speed players that want a lighter club to try and add more speed.

Lastly, the Three Diamond (despite the terrible name) is a solid low spin club that doesn't give up much in terms of forgiveness while still lowering the spin so fast swing speed players can add even more yardage.

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Pete | Editor-in-Chief
Pete is an avid golfer since he was 10 years old and currently plays to a 9 handicap. He started Under Par Goals to help other golfers all around the world improve their games and learn more about the game.