Shaft: Project X LZ 95 6.0
Grips: Lampkin UTX Black
These are hands down the smoothest feeling irons I have ever hit! I hit these irons better than my previous set and other than the fitting, that was all the time I had with them, which I had been gaming just over a year if that tells you anything. I gained a half a club on distance. Also, I had never tried the CF-16s. My previous irons were the Callaway Steelhead XRs, which were good irons, but these outperform them all day every day. One thing I would like to point out is that these are true forged irons as well. Not just the face. The sound of them is so crisp! I love it! I went to #TheGrandaddy most excited about the driver fitting, but after seeing these on the first day, I couldn’t tell you what I was more excited about, these or the driver.
The more I hit these irons, I continue to fall in love with them even more! I am still seeing at least a half of a club difference. For example, I normally hit my 8 iron around 150 to 155 in summer temps and now I am seeing 155 to 160 consistently in 40 to 50 degree weather. I will be interested to see the distances when things warm up! All in all, these are my favorite irons I have ever gamed, and they haven’t been in my bag that long! More to come!
I started playing the Apex series of irons from Callaway Golf four years ago. First, I played the standard Apex for two years, followed by the Apex CF16’s for the last two years leading up to the #TheGrandaddy. I’ve been a big fan of the series with 3 Holes-In-One using them and multiple rounds where I have shot my age. I figured going into the fitting that if I could just maintain that same level of performance I would be more than pleased. That level was met and then some.
I am big on a simple, plain and clean look in a set of irons, no colorful, gaudy badging (is that a word?) on the back. I also prefer a “players” cavity back over SGI-type irons. “Pro” versions of irons don’t give me the forgiveness that I sometimes need when my game is “off”. The Apex series has always met that criteria and this set of ‘19s is no exception. The finish is a nice satin finish. The top line appears to be slightly smaller than the CF16s and the offset slightly less, but I don’t have the specs as I write this to confirm either of those things. Sole width appears to also be thinner and slightly less rounded at the back. Heel to toe length, again, very similar as well as height of the clubface. Overall I would say the Apex 19’s are a tad more compact.
During warm up for the fitting I also hit the Pro version but preferred the feel and performance of the standard Apex ‘19. So that is what we concentrated on during the fitting. I mentioned in my fitting recap that I was not getting the numbers that I would have expected during the fitting compared to what I experience at home with the CF16s. The overall distance with a 7i was at least ½ club longer but when hitting irons I look to carry distance when deciding which club to hit and that was a little shorter than I was expecting or hoping to see. I was told the distance will be there but the “loss” was due to being in the 1st group to be fit as it was very chilly and we were pretty much at sea level. Based on spin, ball speed and launch angles I was fit into the UST Mamiya Recoil 760 F2 shafts (F2 is basically a “senior flex”). Based on little stronger lofts in these, 48° AW, gapping at the bottom end was a serious discussion so I went with the 6-AW with three wedges which will be reviewed separately, as will the driver and fairway woods and the hybrid.
The clubs looked spectacular sitting in the bag when I got to my cart on day 1 of the competition. I made my club selections during the two days of golf based on my normal yardages and I was not disappointed. The feel all day was incredibly solid and extremely consistent throughout the set. I truthfully do not know if that is a characteristic of the set or because they were built by the pro department at ECPC. Turf interaction at The Hideaway was never an issue and distance control was spot on. Even strikes slightly off center saw minute losses of distance if any. I did not experience any fliers or unexpected results hitting them at any time. The lofts on these are a couple of degrees stronger than on the corresponding Apex CF16 club. However, due to the weighting this is necessary to keep the ball flight down. Otherwise one would lose distance if the lofts were kept more “traditional”.
Since returning home and using them I continue to be struck by just how solid they feel and sound, consistent from one club to the next. It truly is a “powerful” feeling in that the ball just seems to explode off the face, and they also feel “softer” than the Apex CF16s. In 50° type weather I am seeing full summer like yardages to maybe ½ club longer and the ball just wants to go straight (I’ve been using the regular Chrome Soft). Is that distance increase a function of the technology built into the clubhead or perhaps a more suited shaft? It is probably a combination if I had to guess. Distance control is spectacular and I feel like I am shooting darts when I put one of these irons in my hand.
The technology behind these is the same / similar to what had been explained in the Big Bertha irons with a “floating” tungsten weight, positioning of which is unique to each club.
The long awaited refresh to the Apex line is finally here, and this time it's more than a facelift. In the past the Apex Pros were compact forged irons with progessive CGs, and vibration dampening material used throughout the set.
This time around Callaway wanted to jam every bit of tech possible into the heads, but without sacrificing their size and profile. The result is a set of irons with beautiful looks, dimensions that firmly place it in the "players iron" category, and Callaway's legendary Cup Face tech from the long irons down to the 7 iron.
The irons feature a combination chrome and brushed finish. The main body is chrome while the face and cavity are brushed, and there are two small shiny accent badges in the upper corners of the cavity.
Top line is nice and small without being a butter knife, and the sole width is certainly on the narrower side as well. Blade length is pretty standard (not long, not short). Offset is present but it's really quite minimal and not worth spending any time on. All these things combine to present an incredibly attractive package.
The 8 iron down to the A Wedge have a nice solid forged feeling. Soft, solid, and pleasing. The feel in the 5i to the 7i is slightly livelier and higher pitched but is very surprisingly still appropriate and it matches the ball flight - if that makes any sense.
When it comes to performance these irons deliver in spades. In the long irons I have never hit an iron that looks so small & hits so big, and I've already hit some shots with the 7 iron that make me think I'm way better than I am. The short irons are precise and consistent, with a flight that's higher than expected and steep descent angles. As a set overall, they are lower spinning than some other sets in the same category, but they make up for it with added speed and height.
As a quick 7-Iron comparison to the Callaway X-Forged, I've found the the Apex Pros launch the same and spin approx. 500 rpms less, but with 5-6mph more ball speed the Pros peak higher and descend at the same angle. Basically they have more firepower and sacrifice nothing.
These are the ones I've been waiting to see! Long time fan of the Apex line but never owned a set myself actually- that may have to change soon! I got a chance to see KEV's Apex Pros shortly after his Grandaddy experience and they are absolutely stunning!
Q: What is the most technology sophisticated or technologically challenging piece of equipment from this release?
A: The Apex irons.
That was from one of the sessions with Callaway during our Grandaddy experience.
Considering how deep this release is, the answer might come as a surprise. But the answer begins to make sense when we consider the totality of what is going on here. Each individual iron has a tungsten weight internally placed in unique location to maximize feel and performance (something Callaway calls MIM), cup face through the 8 iron in the Forged and 7i in the Pro sets, variable thickness faces to improve spin and performance across the face, and Callaway’s proprietary fill materials to improve feel – all within a pretty darn small club profile. That is extremely impressive. It was not easily achieved.
A quick word about the construction / make up of these irons. We are looking at a fully forged club. Starting at the 8i the irons incorporate face cup technology. This is different from some competitors who’s irons have cast bodies with forged faces.
With that out of the way let’s take a deeper dive into the irons and explore what I have been seeing from them so far (I have a handful of range sessions with the irons and have been on the course about 5-10 times).
As you can see from the pictures, the irons clearly pay homage to the recent Apex irons. I consider that a great thing. To my eye at least, the irons looks far more polished and finished than the leaked photos of the Xander prototypes (sometimes I think we forget what the word prototype means). Again, a good thing. The overall profile of the club trend toward the more compact. The top line is a touch thicker, a deviation from true player’s irons. This is a design combination I am very used to, and one that I like a lot. The smaller profile fits my eye and the top line provides a little extra confidence over the ball. I think Callaway hit a grand slam home run.
So, we have an incredibly complex technology package in a pretty darn small profile. Does it work? In a word, “Yes.” Give me two words and I’ll say “Hell yes!”
I have played a lot of irons, including a few that are sometimes in the mix when people discuss the best feeling irons of the past 5 or 6 years. To me, the Apex Forged are every bit their equal if not superior. Now I must add that I’ve been playing courses where the 5i and 6i have not seen much use at all, but 8i (cup face) through AW (not cup face) have been getting a workout. My experience and opinion is that they feel phenomenal. Maybe a touch toward the sense of powerful through the ball over that sense of nothingness that can come with some forged irons. It is addicting.
To be fair, some of the guys are sensing something different in the 5i and 6i – maybe more of a traditional cup face feel. I just haven’t played those irons enough to form a solid opinion. I’ve hit these clubs at the range. During those sessions I didn’t notice anything in particular regarding feel vs the rest of the set. Because of that I don’t quite agree with the feedback of the other guys but I’m going to need more time to tell, and I definitely want to test this on the course off of grass instead of the range off of a matt, before making any calls. I will make a point of getting to this soon.
Callaway calls these clubs “Player’s Distance Clubs” and that is exactly what I have seen from them. Let’s start with the distance part of the equation. I am easily seeing a ½ to full club extra distance.
The 7th hole at a local course I often play is a par 3. With the pin on the back upper shelf it plays to 148 yards. There is often a disguised breeze in our face. That hole has called for a full 8i from me. With my prior set I almost always ended up on the lower shelf. With the Apex Forged I have been through the back of the green to the 1st cut or fringe about 5 times.
At a recent lesson in an outdoor bay with Trackman – the exact bay/machine I have been on numerous times – my actual carry distance on a center strike was 159 yards. That is @10-12 more yards than with my prior set. And this was on a cold winter day with a range ball. On the next two swings the impact spot was low heel. Very low heel. My carry distances were @145 yards.
I have seen these distance increases through the entire set. A 5i to a previously un-reachable number while in Palm Springs is a particularly fond memory. And no, I have not seen gapping issues transitioning from the cup face to standard face clubs.
Okay, that’s distance. What about playability? The ‘player’s iron’ half of the equation is definitely there, too. It is pretty easy to move the ball left or right if I want to; I have been seeing straight shots on default / regular swings. I have been experimenting a lot with choking down on the scoring irons and hitting partial shots. This has been insanely effective for me so far. As an example, let’s come back to that 148 yard 7th hole. One time I played it that hidden head wind was not so hidden. I didn’t think a full 8i was enough and I knew a full 7i was too much. I choked down on a 7i and hit a ¾ swing flighted shot. The ball had a piercing trajectory and ended up pin high, about 15 feet from the hole.
Speaking of trajectory, with the naked eye I would say it is comfortably at the mid-high to higher end of the spectrum (again, I’ve spent far more time with one end of the bag than the other). These are not ballooning shots. These are not shots that quickly reach a peak then fall out of the sky.
I have been seeing a tremendous amount of action on approach shots with scoring clubs. Our greens are soft this time of year and that is surely a contributing factor. But I’ve played these same courses during prior winters with clubs of a similar profile but which are designed to be high spin. I don’t remember seeing this much action on scoring shots before.
Turf interaction has been great. I typically have no divot or a shallow narrow divot. So far with the Apex Forged irons I have seen much deeper and longer divots. This is probably what proper divots are supposed to look like. What I notice is the club gets through the turf with incredible ease. I see the ball flying toward the hole. Everything seems great / normal, but when I look back I see a much different type of divot than I have been accustomed to seeing. I like it.
I’m a 15.6 handicap. I have swing flaws. Iron play is easily the worst part of my game. In 2017, my GIR rate was 30%. I did not keep tight statistics in 2018 but if anything my GIR numbers had to have been worse than in 2017. It is a very small sample size, but so far I don’t think I have been less than 50% GIRs with these irons. This is unheard of for me. Heck, I have often played two balls and have been hitting the greens with both of them. I N S A N E. In short, I have been seeing transformational type stuff from the Apex Forged irons so far. I know it is early. But so far my experience with these irons has been off the charts great. Charlton Heston “pry them from my dead cold hands” type stuff. I thought I’d keep and play my prior set forever. I sold them within a week of getting the Apex Forged irons. By all indications, these clubs really are that good.
To start out I wanted to give you a little feedback on me and my swing in case anyone wants a comparison. I’m 35 years old and 6’1. I tend to have a very flat and short backswing and my swing can become all arms, be OTT and cast the club. This last season my iron game was definitely a weakness and I had a two way miss. In the past irons have been a strength.
What I was fit in to: Apex Pro 5-AW with Nippon Modus 3 105 steel shafts.
Looks: You know those movie scenes where the girl or guy walk through the door in slow motion and the lead character gets all googly eyed and instantly falls in love? Yep, that’s what happened with these. The lines, the profile and the chrome all lead to iron perfection. Honestly looking at both the regular Apex and Pro model you can’t go wrong with either one in the looks department. The topline of the Pro is just thin enough to let you know that these mean business but not so much that it’s fear inducing. The soles are on the thinner side which provides the better player the ability to make the type of shots they want but not so thin that it takes away confidence. This is a great confidence inspiring profile with killer looks.
Feel/Sound: Plush, buttery, baby making music. Yeah that might sound weird but that’s what I feel with these, particularly the 8-AW. The 5, 6 and 7 aren’t quite as soft feeling and the only thing I can point to is the Cup Face tech in those iron. However, the feeling is still right up there with any other iron in this category. I’ve played a lot of different irons and I would put this set against anything out there in this department.
Performance: While in California I was seeing a bit of a unique situation where I was about a club shorter than my average. I found myself hitting a 7 iron where I would normally be hitting an 8. However, when I played at home in 44* weather I was back to seeing my normal yardages which has me really excited to see if I experience any gains during the summer. When playing in the simulator I seem to be seeing normal distances as well.
When it comes to forgiveness I have been pleasantly surprised. In all transparency I had been fit in to a combo set which would have given me the Regular Apex in 5, 6 and 7 iron and provide that added forgiveness. Unfortunately they weren’t available while we were there so I was given the choice between the regular and Pro. I went Pro with a little weariness about what I would see from the long irons. Fortunately for me it hasn’t been an issue so far. The winter rust was in full effect in California and I was testing the full face quite often. What I was seeing was probably at most a club’s worth of distance loss which in this type of iron seems appropriate. I found thin shots to be very impressive in forgiveness and was probably left in better spots than I deserved several times. Thin to win baby!
The most impressive thing I’ve seen, both in California and back home, has been the spin. Obviously fitting and iron shafts play a big role in this but I have seen spin that I’m not used to. I tend to be low spin with everything and I was actually backing shots up at The Hideaway. When I got out for 9 holes at home I was playing on frozen greens and couldn’t believe how little rollout I was seeing. If this continues during the summer it could really be a game changer!
I totally believe this is the best iron release since the last Apex. Between the Regular and Pro versions there should be something for everyone and both offer very high performance in a gorgeous package.
For those that gamed them in the grandaddy how was the spin on the irons?
I loved the distances that I saw with the CF16, but the lack of spin on the 5-6I made it tough to hold greens, combined with the occasional popular "flyer" that people were experiencing as well made them tough to hold on to. Which was a shame cause I enjoyed my time with them for the most part.