Callaway Refreshes Acclaimed Apex Irons, Adds Hybrid
29 Sep 2015
by Rusty Cage

see also: Equipment Reviews

Callaway unveils new Apex irons and hybrid
Callaway unveils new Apex irons and hybrid

The wait is over. The highly anticipated follow up to the first Apex irons will hit stores at the end of October. The new Apex and Apex Pro from Callaway will replace the original models that earned gold from Golf Digest’s Hot List in back-to-back years. As a nice little bonus, Callaway is also releasing a unique Apex Hybrid late in the year with a more iron-like design that skilled players prefer.

When Callaway rolled out their first set of Apex irons in 2013, many consumers wondered if the new sticks would live up to the iconic name. The original Ben Hogan Apex iron was a classic blade. And it didn’t take long for some golfers, especially those who played the old blades or who have a fondness for nostalgia, to chirp about Callaway’s obvious departure in design and the inclusion of additional game improvement features.

Once the public had a chance to hit Callaway’s new clubs, the early criticism dissipated and nearly everyone has since credited Callaway for doing a bang-up job at blending high performance (hotter faces, tungsten weighting, vibration dampening inserts) with that precise, forged feel that better players desire.

So the new challenge for Callaway is to up the ante on performance without diminishing the compact look or sacrificing the enhanced feel. Below is a breakdown of how they went about it and what you can expect from the new Apex irons and hybrid.

Apex Irons:

The new Apex irons are designed to benefit a broader spectrum of players who appreciate a precision-engineered iron that offers a great blend of distance in the longer irons with exceptional control in the scoring clubs.

The new irons are derived from a two- piece construction that is precision milled from 1025 mild carbon steel to produce an exceptionally soft feel at impact. Unlike the old Apex irons that laser welded the forged back with a carpenter steel face plate that was uniform in thickness, the new Apex is the very first Callaway forged product to use face cups to produce greater ball speeds.

Callaway Apex irons feature 
Cup 360 technology
Apex irons feature Cup 360 technology

“In the first Apex line we used high strength materials and introduced dampening materials and tungsten weights in order to get ball speed performance while retaining feel,” said Dr. Alan Hocknell, Senior Vice President of R&D at Callaway. “Since then you’ve seen Callaway working on the development of cup faces in irons and it’s no surprise to learn that the new Apex irons feature this technology for the first time.”

Cup 360 technology, by way of contrast to the use of carpenter steel, varies in thickness and is extremely flexible throughout a greater region of the plate (relative to the original iron design) to generate higher ball speeds across the face. “In doing that,” Hocknell said, “we don’t need as strong a material in the face. We’re using the geometry [of the face cup] as well as the material. It’s more of an elegant solution and it’s less of a brute force method of creating speed.”

The longer irons in the set (3-7) use the face cups while shorter irons transition to something that is similar in construction to the original line. The Apex also features a thin TPU material behind the center of the face that tunes out unwanted audio artifacts, improving the feel of the iron without negatively impacting ball speed performance.

Apex irons: features and benefits
Apex irons: features and benefits

Callaway’s Apex irons also feature progressive offsets, variable sole widths and adjusted CG placement throughout the set. Longer irons of course include characteristics that make them easier to hit while the shorter irons emphasize a more compact shape, a better feel and sharper control. From a design perspective, Callaway wisely refrained from making too many visual changes from the original design, retaining the smooth flowing lines of the previous model. It’s only within the back cavity of the head where the bright polished metal and contrasting rubberized material clearly hint of the technical elements that enhance this new model.

The Apex irons (3-iron through SW) will be available for retail on October 30th. The MSRP for the set is $1,999.99 (Steel) / $1,399.99 (Graphite). UST Mamiya Recoil 760/780 shaft will be the stock offering in the graphite set, while True Temper’s XP 95 will be available in steel.

Apex Pro Irons:

As indicated by its name, the Apex Pro irons focus on the needs of the more accomplished player. And as you might expect, Callaway’s tour staff had a lot of feedback about what they liked in the original Apex Pro and what they wanted to see changed in the new model.

“A lot of them said that the shape and size of the profile envelope of our X-Forged 13 was actually more preferred, but the trajectory of the original Apex Pro was also preferred,” said Hocknell. “Could we combine those two things together? What that meant was we had to stay within a particular shape envelope but move weight around more aggressively inside the head to create a pattern of ascending center of gravity through the set as you go from the long irons to the short irons.”

Callaway Apex Pro irons feature optimized CG
Apex Pro irons feature optimized CG

To meet the challenge Hocknell described, Callaway engineers had to optimize the center of gravity of each club to maximize the performance gain of each iron. To do that, Callaway drilled a series of three holes under the “forged” plate badge in the back of the head.

In the long irons, two of those holes are filled with tungsten which increases the launch angle relative to the loft of the club without losing ball speed or adding unwanted spin.

The mid irons (the most moderate part of the set) are filled with stainless steel instead. They flight a little higher than the long irons and will have noticeably more bite as you attack the greens.

Apex Pro irons: features and 
Apex Pro irons: features and benefits

As for the scoring clubs, they’re unique in that the holes are actually filled with air - similar to how Callaway’s MD3 wedges are constructed, resulting in a more controlled, penetrating flight.

“What that does is really flight the trajectory of the short irons,” Hocknell said. “Better players tend to not want their short iron shots to float up in the air with high launch and low spin.”

Like the regular Apex model, the Apex Pro uses an advanced quadruple net forging process to mill the heads from 1025 mild carbon steel for better feel. While the longer irons in this set will have slightly more offset than what you’ll find as you get down to the scoring clubs, the Apex Pro offers a much more compact chassis when compared to its more playable cousin.

The Apex Pro irons (3-iron through AW) will be available for purchase on October 30th and will retail for $1,999.99 (Steel) and $1,399.99 (Graphite). UST Mamiya Recoil 95/110 shaft will be the stock offering in the graphite set, while True Temper’s Project X will be available in steel.

Apex Hybrid:

Callaway is certainly no stranger to designing hybrids, but this particular model created to meet the unique demands of skilled golfers, prioritizes a controlled flight over raw distance. The head shape is more reminiscent of an iron-like blade design that speaks to the club’s versatility.

The iron-like design of the 
Apex Hybrid
The iron- like design of the Apex Hybrid

“This hybrid is a departure for us in terms of characteristics we’re looking for in performance,” said Hocknell. “A lot of Callaway hybrids are derived from what you would think of as fairway wood DNA - they’ve got fairway wood style launch conditions (relatively low spin and high launch) which is great for overall distance and what most average players need.”

“However there is a school of players that are really looking for an iron replacement characteristic in their hybrid,” he said. “It has a higher center of gravity which is able to produce higher spin than you would otherwise get; and it produces a climbing trajectory with a steeper descent angle for more stopping power.”

Apex Hybrid: features and 
Apex Hybrid: features and benefits

The Apex Hybrid should benefit players who require more precise gapping needs at the lower end of their iron set than those players who primarily use their hybrid as a fairway wood replacement. Although the Apex Hybrid is going to climb higher and land softer when attacking pins, it is still relatively long. Callaway outfitted this model with a forged Face Cup made from Carpenter 455 steel which will generate faster ball speeds on both center and off-center strikes.

The Apex Hybrid will go on sale on December 4th and is available in four lofts (2- 5). The new club will retail for $219.99 MSRP and will be paired with a Mitsubishi Rayon Kuro Kage Black shaft.

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