Whenever I hear that Callaway is adding to it's Apex line of irons I get excited, as I pretty much know that they are going to look and feel good without having even tested them yet.
It's a range that has served the company amazingly well over the years and so it's no surprise to see that we get new models on a pretty regular two-year basis. 2021 sees the addition of five (yes, you read that correctly - five!) new iron models, from the bladed MB to a much more forgiving DCB option.
When a new range like this is released, I always like to see which models the tour pros had chosen to play. So I headed to Google, thinking that the Apex MB would be in the bag of most touring Callaway players.
I was wrong. The likes of Xander Schauffele, Danny Willett, Alex Noren and new signing Jon Rahm all have cavity back-style irons in the bag, whilst Phil Mickelson was even seen carrying Epic Forged irons towards the end of 2020 at Augusta.
Of course there were a few players who took up the option of playing the MBs, including Mark Leishman, Erik van Rooyen and Matt Wallace. But if you think that all of the tour players have true blades in the bag, then think again. They're human too and they realise that everyone needs 'help' from time to time.
What's It All About?
With a simple, pure blade like this one there's only so much technology that equipment manufacturers can squeeze in to the head, yet that hasn't stopped Callaway from trying to find one or two things to improve feel and performance.
Firstly, the club's design lends itself to the eyes of better players whilst also promoting precise play and added feel. There's a traditional topline, refined sole, compact blade length and simple chrome finish which produces the uncluttered look sought after by many elite golfers.
Precision 20V grooves on the face are designed to promote a high level of control with consistent spin rates for predictable results, helping to ensure that you don't get those damaging fliers which sail 5-10 yards over the back of the green.
They particularly aim to reduce this kind of shot from the rough, where spin rates can drop due to extra grass and moisture between the ball and the club face
Finally, there's a large weight added to the centre of the clubhead which is clearly visible on the back of the head. This allows Callaway to determine the swing weight of each iron without affecting the location of the centre of gravity.
I tested the Callaway Apex MB irons on the Trackman 4 Simulator at LSH Auto, comparing the numbers to my current TaylorMade P7MB irons with Pro V1x golf balls. I then headed to The Mere Golf Resort and Spa to test these irons on the golf course, considering the feel, performance and consistency across a number of different 'real-life' scenarios.
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Callaway Apex MB Irons Review
Looks and Feel
In my mind, muscle back irons like this will always be the best looking as they are so crafted and simple, and the new Apex MB is no different. They look like a golf club should look.
As I mentioned earlier, these irons will be quite easily recognisable in players' bags or on the shelf at your Pro Shop due to that weight screw in the back of the head, whilst the beautiful brushed chrome finish really does help them to stand out.
As you'd expect, these irons feel as soft as butter and it really gives you the confidence that you can be an artist with your golf ball and your ball flights. I had a lot of fun on my simulator drawing love hearts by hitting fades and then draws one after another.
Testing these irons on the simulator indoors, I made sure that I had hit plenty of balls to warm up and make sure I was fully ready for the MBs - you don't want to be testing irons like this with a stiff swing!
As I have said before, blades really make me concentrate and take care of my strike, and these were no different. I felt like I was swinging it really nicely and I had a great rhythm and consistency in my strike too.
When I have a blade like this in my hand, I automatically think about trying to work the ball both ways as these are the type of irons which allows you to be creative.
I started off hitting a few 7 irons and achieved the following numbers:
With fade shots, I was averaging 126 yards carry with a spin rate in the low 6000 rpms and an average ball speed of 96 mph.
Switching to a draw, I was up at 132 yards average carry, with the spin rate dropping to the high 5000s and a ball speed of 98 mph.
Following that I decided to make things a little more difficult by moving up to 5 iron:
The fades were averaging just over 143 yards carry, with spin rates just under 5000 rpm and a ball speed of 103 mph.
The draws were carrying 153 yards, with spin rates in the low 5000s and a ball speed of 108 mph.
As you'd probably expect from an iron of this type, the numbers were more consistent than particularly long - averaging around a club shorter than my own irons - but I don't really have the speed and power to make these irons go long without the additional help of technology.
However, the feedback that they gave straight from the face was brilliant. I could tell you where and how the ball had flown every time without even having to look at the fight and numbers - that's how genuine the feel was on both good and bad shots.
So far so good, and I felt like I barely missed a shot. But heading outside with winter conditions and plenty of different lies was surely going to be more difficult...
Having tested inside first, it was clear that I was going to have to 'club up' out on the course at The Mere Resort.
As soon as I got out onto the grass, particularly during winter time, I got the feeling that 'I need to put a good strike on this'. For me this helped to focus my mind, but I can see why this would be a bit of a negative swing thought for others.
Compared to the indoor testing, the irons seemed to travel slightly shorter on the course due to my strikes not being right on the money every time - well all know turf is less forgiving than an indoor mat.
Starting on the 8th hole, I hit my first 5 iron to 30 feet short of the flag, my second to 5 feet pin high and my third 15 yards short of the green into the pond.
This says it all really! You can go from the best looking and feeling shot of the day, to the worst one which results in a lost ball, in just two swings.
You have to be accurate with your strike to make sure you get the most from these clubs, but hey, you know that already. When I hit these well I was really impressed, with the feel and precision the irons offered.
I then tried the grooves out in wet rough to see how they coped with a flier, and to say it went well was an understatement.
Imagine you have a downhill lie in the wet rough, playing 105 yards to a pin with water long and left. This is exactly where you need the 20V grooves to come into play. I wanted to swing the club to the number that I know my 3/4 9 iron goes, and not have it sail over the flag into the drink.
These irons certainly didn't disappoint. The flight was high, controlled and dialled-in. I hit four shots in a row which pitched within three yards of each other and held the green easily.
All in all there were no surprises with the result and that’s what you want with an MB, you are in charge of it and your swing is the engine, not the club head.
Chipping and pitching with these irons was yet another joy, it was like having a speciality wedge in your hand rather than a 9 iron when playing from off the green. The small, sleek head sat perfectly behind the ball on all sorts of lies, and the spin gained was nice and consistent. I felt I could give every chip a chance of going in.
Callaway Apex MB Irons Verdict
I can see why these irons are played by Callaway staff members, they're sexy and they need hitting well. However, I do feel that these types of irons are getting easier to hit these days so they don't completely put me off.
If you're somebody who doesn't struggle with distance and strikes your irons consistently well, firstly I am jealous of you, but secondly I think you should definitely give these new Apex MB irons a go. The gains in precision and feel are massive, I really enjoyed creating ball flights and seeing the outcome I expected from the strikes I put on the ball.
The weighting and the new grooves certainly helped with the performance, and the closer I got to the green the more impressed I was.
I don't think I would game them as I can't afford to lose any more yardage, but this doesn't mean I didn't have a lot of fun testing them. Maybe if I grow 4 inches in height and gain 10 mph in swing speed then I might be tempted!
Who are they aimed at?
I think these irons are best suited to professional, plus handicap or scratch golfers, although you could possibly consider a combo set if you wanted to try these bladed irons for the scoring clubs and then pair them with something like the TCB in the longer irons.
As ever, get the right advice and get custom fitted before buying.
- Looks are fantastic
- Great feel when struck well
- Consistent performance even from wet rough
- Felt slightly easier to hit than 'old-school blades'
- The head tends to mark up due to the softness of the forged metal
If you enjoyed this, you may also like:
TaylorMade P7MB Irons Review
Callaway Epic 21 Drivers Review