I’m swinging new irons for the first time in 37 years, and it feels like I just got out of prison.
As for my last set: Fred Flintstone, here’s your freaking golf clubs back.
“Are those original Ping Eyes?” people would ask me, staring slack-jawed at my golf bag as if they were meeting a Dodo bird.
“Yes, they are. Do you still point at airplanes, too?” I’d retort, but they were right. I waited too long to pull the trigger but no more. I’ve finally done it. I’ve hopped in the DeLorean and come back from the Stone Age. I’m swinging the new Callaway Apex forged irons and loving them like a supermodel.
I don’t know who started the old adage “You want new woods and old irons,” but they never played 37 years with clubs from 1979. I’ll leave the question of why I took so long to make such an important, imperative change in equipment for another day. Your more pressing question is this: How did I come to pick the Callaway Apex irons?
Fate. Dumbest luck ever.
Friends from Boston came into town for a surprise weekend visit, so en masse we invaded a local muni, a place I ordinarily never play, a real cow pasture. (That’s the kind of thing you have to do when eight random people - including one rank beginner - up and decide to go play golf at 2:30 p.m., but I digress.)
When we got to the ninth hole, a par 3, someone had left their 6-iron on the tee box, a Callaway Apex.
It looked like a nice club. Not quite a blade, but also not a sledgehammer like my Pings are. I looked at the hole: 155 yards, all carry over water to a severe false-front green. I had been hitting my Pings short and right – the weakest, worst shot in golf. This was not the time for that miss. Moreover, it was time I started looking for new irons, long past time. So for shots and giggles, I thought, Let’s hit this club and see what happens.
I smashed it -- 15 feet, pin high left. Birdie opportunity. Pure, perfectly natural feel to the swing, the low center of gravity catapulting the ball skyward, a towering moonshot of a ball flight, deep and penetrating. I hadn’t hit an iron shot like that in ages. It felt absolutely perfect.
It was love at first sight.
But irons are a major purchase -- perhaps the biggest purchase a golfer makes. So I started asking around to various head pros and distributors about the Apexes.
“Don’t get Callaways,” everyone said. “You want the Titleist AP1s.”
Seriously, two different golf professionals, including my old coach from when I was a junior, and a single-digit handicap friend – the first three people I asked - all told me to try the Titleist AP1s. So I did. I went out and played a few holes with them. They’re good clubs, but it wasn’t the same.
So I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods and tried out other shots. Again, the magic just wasn’t there and neither were the results. I felt like Harry Potter trying out wands for the first time in Ollivander’s when he was 11 years old. The club and I just didn’t have that symbiosis, that effortless feel that results in a perfect golf shot. Something was wrong.
At the same time, I asked my old coach if he could fit me. He just looked at me, sizing me up. Then he bellowed like a wounded rhinoceros.
“Fitting?!” he scoffed. “Fitting is for chumps. What do you need to get fitted for? You’ve been terrorizing me since you were 8 years old. You’re 1-degree flat because you’re short. Regular shafts because you don’t have the swing speed for stiff. Steel over graphite for control.”
I recalled a similar discussion from around 1982.
So that was that. I placed the order with Callaway and spent the last four rounds testing them out. One day, for nine holes, I hit nothing but irons, even off the tee, just for practice and gauging distance.
Upgrading from 40-year-old clubs, the results might seem obvious. But just to confirm: I’m longer, more accurate, and more consistent. That’s a trifecta. I’m back to playing lawn darts with my irons. This was complete and utter impulse buy. I purchased these clubs on one swing. I broke every rule of buying a major product, even my own!
What was it Harry Potter used to say? The wand chooses the wizard.
And now I’m a frickin’ wizard, baby! In fact, I’m frickin’ Gandalf.
Here’s a tip to all the Callaway reps – start leaving random 6-irons on tee boxes so people can try them out and fall in love with them.