Callaway Golf's Apex family -- like that of the Ben Hogan lineage before -- represents irons and hybrids for more accomplished players. It's for those reaching the apex of the game, or at least their relative apex.
When golfers typically think of irons for better players, they assume there's just not that much technology in them compared to game-improvement irons. However, with modern materials and construction, there's been the advent of the players distance iron and even advances in traditional forged irons that can mean substantial benefits for better players. With their new, expanded Apex line, Callaway is offering a real upgrade to past Apex players, above and beyond what the prior generations have done to advance this category.
In 2021, the Apex family has three irons: Apex 21, which is a players distance, totally forged iron; Apex Pro 21, which is also a hollow-body iron; and the Apex DCB, which are game-improvement irons with a deep cavity back (hence DCB) that can invite more players to the lineup.
The big selling point on these '21 irons is that this lineup marks the first time Callaway has used their artificial intelligence engines to design a Flash face cup -- found in all three models -- on a forged iron. The good news is that irons are now getting the same level of machine learning-driven design as drivers.
Apex '21 irons
What defines a forged iron is an art term, not a science term, anymore. The body of the Apex '21 is made of 1025 carbon steel, but the iron's face insert is high-strength steel, designed to be stretched as thin as possible to maximize distance and performance. Most people aren't going to care about the authenticity of the term if the clubs speak for themselves.
The other big design change from the 2019 generation of this iron to now is the massive increase -- fivefold -- in tungsten used for the Tungsten Energy Core. The tungsten is loaded along the bottom of the club, from heel to toe, to keep MOI high and drive down the center of gravity for forgiving, optimized launch conditions. There's more tungsten -- 64 grams -- in the 9-iron, and then it drops steadily to 34 grams in the 3- and 4-irons. The exact placement changes through the set, too, with the scoring clubs having the tungsten centralized more in the hitting zone, while the longer irons have that weight positioned lower.
The Flash face and the tungsten combine to bring the sweet spot lower on the head while making it larger. That's where more golfers mishit, so that means more consistent distance on more shots.
The True Temper Elevate ETS 95 is the stock steel shaft, while the stock graphite shaft is the UST Mamiya Recoil Dart 75. These irons will sell for $185 per club in steel and $200 per club in graphite and available at retail Feb. 11.
Apex Pro '21 irons
As you would expect, a Pro version of an iron means a smaller profile, and that has some of its own design challenges in trying to deliver as much of the Apex benefit as possible in less space. However, with a hollow-body design, Callaway says their Apex Pro body is stiffer and allows them to deliver on a lot of the benefits you'd expect from the Apex while not eschewing proper gaping and consistency of dispersion left-to-right and downrange.
The key to delivering consistency in spin, ball flight and dispersion is tungsten. There's even more tungsten in these irons -- 90 grams in the 7-iron down to 53 grams in the 3-iron -- than the Apex irons. In the scoring clubs, though, there's no tungsten at all (8-iron to gap wedge). The urethane microspheres that have become a part of Callaway's iron sauce are here, too, to dial in sounds and acoustics to feel like a truly forged iron while still allowing the cup face -- found on the 3-iron through 7-iron -- to flex for maximum ball speeds. The scoring clubs have a welded steel faceplate.
Of course, the Apex irons also have more traditional lofts, thinner everything (topline, sole) and less offset. So, choose wisely. Of course, combo sets are a great option, too.
The True Temper Elevate ETS 115 is the stock steel shaft, while the stock graphite shaft is the Mitsubishi MMT. These irons will sell for $185 per club in steel and $200 per club in graphite and available at retail Feb. 11.
Apex DCB irons
Callaway wants to get more golfers in the Apex tent, and they figured a third Apex set would do the trick. The new Apex DCBs (deep cavity back) are meant to expand the number of golfers who feel comfortable getting in on players distance-style irons. These irons are more game-improvement than players irons, but they have the Apex name and thus confer a little more, shall we say, import on them.
That's not to say the DCBs aren't really a part of the Apex family. They are. But they have longer blades, wider soles, and overall more forgiving characteristics than the Apex. It's all in the same style as the other Apex models: built from a 1025 forged carbon steel body, with an AI-designed Flash face cup and special tungsten ports on each iron to dial in center of gravity and launch profile.
The True Temper Elevate ETS 85 is the stock steel shaft, while the UST Mamiya Recoil Dart 65 is the stock graphite. These irons will sell for $185 per club in steel and $200 per club in graphite and available at retail Feb. 11.
Callaway is offering four different pre-packaged combo sets that blend these three iron lines together. That is, in part, why the shafts are common and the pricing is, too.
Looks like our European friends have leaked a pair of additional Apex sets to come out later this year, including a muscle back set and a player's cavity back set. Stay tuned for more there potentially.
Apex and Apex Pro hybrids
For 2021, the Apex hybrid family has doubled in size. The old Apex hybrid, which was sleeker and built for better players, is now the Apex Pro, while a new Apex hybrid is designed as a game-improvement hybrid to, again, get more players into this lineup comfortably.
The new Apex hybrid has a Flash Face SS21 face, what are dubbed Jailbreak Velocity Blades and tungsten weighting low and toeward to help launch and offer a bit of relief in turf interaction. The Jailbreak Velocity Blades are new, maintaining the stiffness profile to offer stability to transfer maximum energy to the ball at impact, while delivering side-to-side stiffness to help with off-center hits, too, particularly low on the face.
The Apex hybrid is available in 19-, 21- and 24-degree models in both left- and right-handed styles, while a 27-degree model is available only for right-handed players. The stock shaft is the Recoil Dart 75.
The Apex Pro looks more like a hybrid compared to the Apex, which feels more like a mini fairway wood. The Pro isn't adjustable, unlike the Apex, and it has less tungsten, so it will launch lower and spin a little more.
The Apex hybrid is available in 18-, 20-, 23- and 26-degree models in both left- and right-handed styles with thMitsubishi’s MMT is stock graphite
All hybrids are $270 each.