Sophie Walker
By

When I hear 'Callaway Apex' I think to myself “these are going to be good". It's a range that has served the equipment giants amazingly well over the years.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

For 2021 they have added to the family and recreated the 2019 models. Why have they added to the family? Well, they want to make every golfer welcome and therefore be able to play the Apex.

A lot of golfers think “I’m not good enough to hit an Apex” or “they’re for better players”. I'd compare this a little like the attitude that people have towards Titleist.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

Well the good news is that now we can all join the fun. With the iconic feel still present, but the added bonus of more technology in the head, these irons can feature in higher handicappers' golf bags too.

What's It All About?

Once again for this review like the new Epic Fairways, Callaway sent the exploding heads to explain the below features much more easily - it really is great to see what goes on inside our golf clubs these days.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

From the off, what did strike me was how significant the weights of tungsten in the heel and toe of the clubs were. Just like with their metal woods, the placing of the weighting is very precise.

A lot of the technology in these heads appear in both the Apex and Apex DCB models. They are the first Apex irons designed with A.I. featuring the Flash Face Cup and unique A.I. face architecture in each iron, which creates high ball speeds and increased spin robustness.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

There is also a new tungsten energy core in the Apex Irons. The long and mid-irons feature up to 50 grams of tungsten per iron in the DCBs. Callaway have precisely positioned the Centre of Gravity to promote high launch throughout the set, and more forgiveness on off-centre shots.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

As you'd expect from an Apex set of irons, feel is paramount. The forged 1025 mild carbon steel body and urethane microspheres are said to deliver impressive sound and feel at impact, while the improved shaping helps to enhance feel through the turf.

The Apex DCB is the most forgiving Apex Callaway have ever made. The deep cavity back and wider sole are engineered to aid launch and turf interaction.

The Test

Using Trackman 4 and ProV1x balls at our simulator at LSH Auto Stockport, I tested the DCB and Apex 8 iron. I then headed to The Mere Golf Resort & Spa for a few holes to try more of the set out in different scenarios.

You can watch my full review via the Golfalot YouTube channel here:

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Callaway Apex & Apex DCB Irons Review

Looks

Both models are in keeping with the Apex CF irons of 2019 with slightly softer features to aid on shelf appeal/looks in your bag and turf interaction. The black Callaway tag on the back and the Apex logo still remain in what has always been a contemporary design - things have just been shifted around a little.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

What is great about the 2021 models is everybody will know you are playing an Apex when they look at your bag but nobody will ever know which one until closer inspection. So you’ll be getting the enhanced performance of launch, distance and forgiveness and everyone will be thinking it’s all down to you.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

Isn't that what spending your hard earned cash on new golf equipment is all about?

Feel

With the standard Apex I could really feel the shot and ball contact on the face a bit more than with the DCB, the stability of the face at impact with a bad strike was however really noticeable - especially when comparing it to the DCBs.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

The DCBs felt way better than the iron looked at address - they produced a different sound off the face. A bit loud inside at the simulator but I barely noticed it outside. I expected a tinny high pitched noise but with these forged irons your don’t get that.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

The DCB was unbelievably stable through the hitting zone to the point where I felt like I couldn’t turn a shot. I would say “that’s left” then look up and it was a yard left of where I was aiming. The forgiveness in terms of accuracy really was impressive.

Performance Indoors

The numbers I achieved were very similar with both of the 8 irons. The differences in ball speed, launch angle, spin and height averages were minimal.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

On closer inspection there was a couple of stand outs. Firstly I did have a few Apex iron shots that totalled over 7000 rpm spin which I didn’t have with the DCB. Secondly, my misses were both left and right with the Apex whereas the DCB had a very straight, consistent ball flight.

Even when I felt like it was a toe strike that should turn left I was surprised to see the ball hold on to a straight flight, proving the weighting and stability in the head clearly works in the DCB irons. These two factors then led to a bigger variance between my yardages.

The DCB 8 iron had a carry dispersion of between 124 and 130 yards, Apex had a carry dispersion of 121 and 131 yards. That is nearly double the DCB, so my good was good but my bad did show a slight drop in performance which was less noticeable in the DCB irons.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

These irons didn’t go a million miles like the Callaway Mavrik irons I tested last year did but you have to take into account that the lofts are a lot weaker with 8 iron in the DCB being 34 degrees, Apex 34.5, whereas the loft with the Mavrik 8 iron is 31.5 degrees.

It's also important to note that with a Forged club (Apex) you're less likely to get that seriously hot ball speed off the face compared to a cast head which the Mavrik's are.

Performance On-Course

Like indoors, the Apex irons were slightly shorter and less forgiving, however I could move the ball easier with these so shaping shots became an achievable option if required. My good shots were the same as with the DCB but my bad shots weren't any where near as good as the bad shots I hit with the DCB. You just don't get the same level of forgiveness.

The Apex irons did however look a lot more inviting to my eye than the DCB when I looked down on the shorter irons.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

With the DCB I just felt that I could swing these clubs, no need to dip for it - just go after it. The clubhead did the work. I grabbed the 4 iron for a lay up on the 9th hole at The Mere and just felt like Annika Sorenstam. They remind me a lot of the old Steelhead irons in terms of shape and distance but just with a better feel off the face and more forgiveness. The 4 iron felt as easy to hit as the 6 iron did on the tee shots.

Now don’t get me wrong I didn’t feel I could hit a low fade or anything cultured with these irons. It was a high straight shot and that was it, but is that a bad thing? I have loads of golfers who come to me for lessons that tell me “all I want to do is hit it higher and straight”.

I enjoyed the irons but would like to try the wedges too. These aren’t going to be good for a flop shot over a bunker to a tucked away pin on a downslope. But they are going to give you lots of confidence in hitting a shot over a tree to a green which is 100 yards away or over water.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

Callaway Apex & Apex DCB Irons Review Verdict

Surprisingly to the Golfalot crew I was more accepting of using the Apex DCB irons than they thought. Maybe because this is what I expect of a Callaway iron, in the 90s they came out with the first game-improvement iron and that’s what I remember. They look like a Callaway iron. It’s a bigger head and sole and more rounded at the toe.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

I didn’t get the “lefts” due to its offset or the 6 iron that went 10 yards longer than my average either - which is a very good thing. The shots were all very similar in yardage, height, dispersion and spin was higher than I expected.

I felt like Annika when using them, they flew high straight off the bat with little curve and descended on the ground with a steep trajectory for the drop and stop on the ball. Yes they are hard to curve and produce creative shots with, but are you really looking for side spin in a Deep Cavity back? No you aren’t, in fact you want to minimise slice and hook.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

They feel much better than its counterparts like: TaylorMade SIM2 Max and Max OS and Mavrik even though they are a similar looking head.

That's what happens when you play a forged head but what also happens is the increased in price... £1099 for steel and £1399 for graphite. You are paying premium price for a premium metal, so I’d put these more in line with the Ping G425 if you're comparing.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

The Apex irons may not look different, but they are. They are slightly more of a 'better players' club than the DCB and I can see why it has been so popular as it appeals to both single figure and mid handicappers. You get that bit of help but still feel your shots, be it good or bad.

We all like to know when we have hit a good shot rather than thinking "I could hit it anywhere on the face and still get a similar result". This feedback helps us to improve. Your bad isn’t a disaster like with a blade but your good feels AMAZING.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

With the introduction of DCB it will no doubt make the market smaller for the standard Apex. Having said that I still think the DCB head size will put players off and so Apex will still be the go to club in the Apex range for most. It is an iron that will last you years, will be on the journey of you reducing your handicap due to its feel and will never make you feel inferior against your mates in distance or looks.

Who Are They Aimed At: DCB

I would recommend a golfer with a 10 handicap and higher or somebody that plays sporadically to play these irons. They really do limit curving of the ball which will help keep your shot on line. You can finally feel good enough to play an Apex but you need to be somebody who likes to spend a bit of cash on their clubs and look after them. Apex are timeless and you will enjoy being a member of the club.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review

Performance-wise they’re so easy to get in the air and have a sound and feel that won’t send shockwaves across the driving range or startle your playing partners.

Who Are They Aimed At: Apex

I can see these irons being great for somebody coming back to the game that used to play a lot but not so much now. You won’t like looking down on a big head as this isn’t what you grew up with. Or for an improving golfer moving from a wide sole iron like a Ping G425 or Callaway Big Bertha as players want better players clubs. These irons will last you a long time as they’re so adaptable to all types of ability from 18 handicap down.

Would I Play Them?

We have seen with Annika coming back to the game that these irons are ideal for a female tour player that doesn’t play as much now or has the strength that she used to. The DCB 4 iron would easily go into the bag but think I’d rather play the Apex from 5 iron to wedge.

These clubs are expensive but timeless things of beauty so you’d get your money's worth due to the lack of needing to change them as your handicap improves... or gets worse.

Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review


Apex Pros

  • Great feel
  • Very consistent in terms of accuracy
  • Brilliant looks at address and in the bag
  • Timeless irons that will last

Apex Cons

  • Price will put some golfers off

Apex DCB Pros

  • Very high flight
  • Great feel for game improvement clubs
  • Very consistent in terms of accuracy

Apex DCB Cons

  • Short irons looks and feel a little to chunky
  • Price is right up there at the top end

If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

Callaway Epic 21 Drivers Review

Callaway Apex MB 21 Irons Review

Cobra Radspeed Irons Review

Golfalot Rating: 5 stars
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Callaway Apex 21 Iron

Callaway Apex 21 Irons - Product Details

UK Launch11 February 2021
UK Launch RRP£1099
European Launch11 February 2021
European Launch RRP€1399
Handicap Range
Low
High
GolferMens
Hand AvailabilityLeft, Right
ManufactureForged
MaterialSteel
FinishChrome
Swing WeightD2
Shaft NameTrue Temper Elevate ETS
Shaft TypesSteel, Graphite
Shaft FlexLight, Regular, Stiff
GripGolf Pride Z Grip Soft
DesignCavity Back
Set Makeup4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW
Additional Clubs3, GW
Manufacturer's WebsiteCallaway Website

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