Apex irons are developing an almost cult-like following … Our equipment guru gets his hands on the latest instalment from Callaway to learn why.
COST: $259.99 per iron (steel), $279.99 per iron (graphite).
TESTED BY: Jimmy Emanuel, Golf Australia Writer (GA Handicap 9.4)
MODEL PLAYED: Apex 19 irons (4-iron to pitching wedge), fitted with True Temper Elevate 95 stiff steel shafts.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The previous Apexs were a seriously good set of irons and Callaway took its time producing the replacement to ensure it improved upon a model with an almost cult-like following. The time and effort seemed worthwhile to me upon unboxing a sleek-looking set of forged irons with serious technological advancements that performed tremendously.
Still rounded in shape and recognisable as a Callaway forged iron, the new Apex is slightly smaller in the short irons – a look that really improves on the CF16 model for me – while there is still enough size and offset in the longer irons to inspire a little confidence when faced with a tight tee shot, long water carry or must-hit par-3 from distance.
Feel is another area where the new Apex stood out instantly. Despite obviously large cavities, the sound and feel off the clubface is a pure, soft strike that you would expect of a smaller forged iron.
HOW THEY PERFORMED: From looking at the technology included in the new model and the set itself, it appears as if Callaway has attempted to make the Apex 19 appeal to the player who has opted for combination sets in the past, or those who like the idea of forged players’ cavity irons but need a little more help the further they get from the hole. And I certainly fit that bill these days.
As previously mentioned, the short irons are more compact, and with the 9-iron and pitching wedge not having the company’s ‘Face Cup’, are very easy to control and vary the flight of the golf ball. I had no trouble working the ball every way with the short clubs and chipping and pitching was extremely consistent. There was certainly a slight gain in forgiveness over my blade irons in the short clubs – but nothing drastic – and I thought I regularly produced a little more spin with the Apex 19s than with my own irons.
Moving into the mid irons was where the Apex’s new technology additions seemed to start to take greater effect. My carry distances increased, without being ridiculously long and inconsistent, while the flight was definitely higher than with my own equivalent irons. Slightly larger, the forgiveness on slight mis-hits was noticeable but the feel remained extremely soft and there wasn’t a shot I felt I couldn’t hit.
As I spent more time and sessions with the Apex irons, the sole grind became something that seemed to really work for me. Typically, I can get a little steep with my irons and take large divots and the Apex 19’s sole interacted really well with the turf, almost feeling as if it held the clubface squarer to the target for longer when I did hit down a little too much, rather than flipping open or shutting down as can be the case for me with thinner-soled irons.
Unsurprisingly, the longer irons were a little bigger and more forgiving again – and although I struggled a little to not feel as if the face looked a little closed from time to time due to the offset, and although the topline was definitely thicker, the total look wasn’t overly bulky.
When hitting shots with the long irons from the set, forgiveness was the real hero feature. No matter where I seemed to hit the ball on the face, I looked up to see a strong penetrating ball flight that rarely veered majorly off line. And although the flight of the mid and long irons is strong, there was no problem holding even fairly firm greens.
In the past I have often struggled with the trade-off between a more forgiving long iron and a clicky or harsh feeling off the clubface. But the addition of Callaway’s ‘Microspheres’ appears to have removed that issue in the Apex 19s. The feel isn’t a pure blade 4-iron, but it isn’t far off. And flighting the ball with the long irons was a great deal of fun.
Long irons for me are a regular safety option off the tee and as a layup club on par-5s – particularly hit with a low flight – and the Apex 19, when I tried to hit a low heater, produced exactly that. Penetrating shots that ran on when playing firm fairways and high towering longer shots were as easy to hit as each other – and when combined with the feel, had me seriously impressed by the 4- and 5-iron from the set.
Overall, the Apex 19 irons perform as three smaller sets within one, each section of the 4-iron to pitching wedge set I tested producing exactly the performance characteristics I would typically want from those clubs.
The short irons looked the best to my eye and handled everything I threw at them easily. As I moved up to the mid irons, added forgiveness without sacrificing feel and slightly longer carry distances than I am used to weren’t delivered at a major sacrifice to any other area of performance. And the long irons proved to be extremely reliable and versatile.
These irons certainly improve on the understandably much-loved previous version in all the key ways for better players. Ball flight and appearance progression through the set has been modified and improved, while the feel of a premium forging is combined with the forgiveness of a significant cavity and ball speeds of a hot face.
FACTS AND FIGURES
SUITABILITY: The Apex 19 will suit a range of players from low handicappers looking for more forgiveness and ball speed combined with soft feel, especially those who struggle to get out and practise, to players wanting forged iron feel without the ball-striking requirements of a players’ cavity or blade iron.
SHAFTS: True Temper Elevate 95 steel and True Temper Project X Catalyst graphite shafts in various weights are offered as standard in the Apex 19 irons.
LEFT-HANDED: Offered in right and left handed from 3-iron to sand wedge.
CALLAWAY SAYS: Apex is the ultimate forged players’ distance iron, and it stands alone for its premium craftsmanship and amazing sound and feel.
This is an exceptional new multi-piece construction that lives up to the Apex standard for performance. And its precision engineered to deliver an unmatched forged design, with innovative ball speed technology, and optimal ball flight and trajectory.
Extremely soft feel comes from a forged 1025 mild carbon steel body, and for the first time ever Callaway’s proprietary urethane microspheres have been incorporated in a forged iron. The forged carbon steel body provides the amazing Apex sound and feel that golfers love, and the urethane microspheres incorporate over one million tiny air pockets that absorb unwanted vibration without slowing the face.
Long, consistent distance in the long and mid irons comes from a ‘360 Face Cup’, which promotes high ball speeds across the face.
In the short irons, a spin control ‘VFT’ face allows for aggressive shot-making in your scoring clubs. Advanced ‘MIM’D’ tungsten weighting further enhances scoring performance, allowing precisely located centre of gravity (CG) position in each iron while maintaining the flexibility of the Face Cup for optimum launch and control. And all of this innovative performance technology is crafted into a beautiful progressive shaping, in a new platinum chrome finish.
For more information visit www.callawaygolf.com.au