When I hear the words Callaway Apex I think to myself “these will be good”. It's a range of irons that has served the company amazingly well over the last decade. For 2021 Callaway recreated the 2019 models but added to the range with DCB (deep cavity back).
In this review I will be trying the beautiful looking Apex Pro irons for 2021, they sit in-between the TCB and Apex models in terms of looks, forgiveness and playability. I’ve been looking forward to this review since I first laid eyes on these beauties earlier in the year.
What's It All About?
Once again Callaway sent Golfalot an exploded head to explain the below technology features easier here. Make sure you check out my full video review of the Apex Pro for a closer look at the makeup of these heads.
What did strike me was the significant weight of the tungsten spread across the full width of the face of the heads from heel to toe. This is unlike the Apex and Apex DCB models where the weights are split into two and feature only in the heel and toe. Just like with their metal woods, the placing of the weighting is precise in Callaway’s hardware.
As you can probably tell by the simple yet modern looks of these irons, there isn’t tonnes of technology on display. There are the following features:
As with the rest of the Apex range for 2021 – they are the first Apex irons to be designed with A.I. The A.I. designed Flash Face Cup provides a unique A.I. face architecture in each iron to create high ball speeds and increased spin robustness. They’re engineered for both distance and control.
The tungsten energy core I mentioned earlier is arguably the main new feature in the Apex irons. The Pro model features up to 90 grams in each head. Callaway have been able to precisely position the centre of gravity to promote a high launch throughout the set, and more forgiveness on off-centre shots.
This is an Apex review so feel is clearly going to feature quite heavily also – the forged 1025 mild carbon steel body and patented urethane microspheres are said to deliver exceptional sound and feel at impact, while the improved shaping helps enhance feel through the turf.
With a premium set of irons you also get premium shafts and grips. The irons I reviewed had True Temper Elevate ETS 115g, Mitsubishi MMT shafts, they are also available in 80/90/105g. They also had Golf Pride Z grips.
Using Trackman 4 and Titleist Pro V1x golf balls at my simulator at LSH Auto, Mercedes Benz, Stockport I tested Apex Pro 6 iron and pitching wedge. I then headed to Reddish Vale Golf Club to play a few holes to try the full set out in different scenarios on the golf course.
You can watch my full review via the Golfalot YouTube channel here:
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Callaway Apex Pro 21 Irons Review
So, what’s different from 2019? The back of the head has now been filled to make the head look more like a blade. There is no cavity back look to this iron anymore, it is a hollow body construction with a forged head.
In effect, it looks like a blade from afar but on closer inspection these irons do display a bit of help in the lower part of the head. There is a certainly a bit of meat behind the ball and you can visibly see the positioning of the weight to help launch.
I think it’s a very good looking head with a mixture of brushed chrome and chrome steel with the classic Callaway old school logo as well as the contemporary looking Apex Pro logo. They also highlight the tungsten in the head with the name printed on the back. I remember Callaway being the first company back in the 90’s to use tungsten and it was a massive deal in technology advancement and unfortunately price. I think it looks similar to the Cobra King Tour MIM iron which has tungsten in the head also, which my colleague George reviewed last year.
During my indoor testing I compared it to the 2020 TaylorMade P770 head and it was slighter with a similar offset. The lofts are also true with the 6 iron coming in at 30 degree which is only 1 degree stronger than the Apex MB. I have to say I really like the look of these Apex irons, they look great but not ‘scary thin’.
I don’t know if it’s because I knew there was a fair amount of weight in the head due to the exploded head insight or the fact that I was using 115g True Temper Elevate ETS shaft, but these irons felt heavy.
I thought this would affect me but actually after a few swings I was right at home with these irons. They sounded low key off the face and the ball seemed to stay on the face a bit longer, it wasn’t catapulted off straight away which was a nice surprise.
That cushioning feel of an Apex is what a better player wants in an iron. These feel comfortable, not too hard to hit but not “wow that’s gone a mile” either. The true lofts, the forged head combined with flash face and weight technology produce a solid all around performance. Strikes with these clubs were making me smile.
I started with a few PWs to warm up, not paying too much attention to anything other than feeling the club and getting a rhythm for my testing. After 11 shots I looked at the data casually, but it got my attention. All of my data was so stable and this led to extremely straight shots, with a consistent flight trajectory and a yardage that I could throw a rug over. A good start for any test.
Ok Callaway, you have my attention, now onto the 6 iron…
A few warm up shots made me appreciate that I need to step on these irons. They weren’t game improvement in distance but they were better to strike than a blade on average.
As I got into my stride I started to see my carry reach over 140 yards with spin rate around 5500rpm and ball speed of 103 mph. What’s important to note here is that spin is high and closer to the blade spin rather than game improvement like an Apex DCB. Just like the other Apex irons, these are all about feel not distance. They’re a club shorter than the Mavrik range but night and day in terms of feel.
On The Course
I played the first 5 holes around Reddish Vale in strong winds so I needed to play all the shots. And boy did I get them! I started on the first with a high 7 iron which stopped on the green even with a strong down wind.
The second hole I punched a 4 iron from 155 yards, low right to left into a back left pin. I hit it to 15 feet, one of the best shots I have ever executed on camera with Golfalot considering the wind. What impressed me is that the 4 iron was nowhere near as hard to hit as in the Apex MB’s I reviewed not too long ago.
My poorer strikes were thin but still flew straight and didn’t hurt the hands as much as a poor MB strike did in my past review and didn’t lose as much distance as with a truer blade.
Comparing the 6 iron to the Apex on the 4th tee shot. A par three, wind into off the right.
I required a low penetrating strike but couldn’t afford to go left of the green as it was O.B.
The Pro flew similar height to the Apex but held its line better to land 20 feet right of the flag. The Apex had a touch more left bias in flight so took the wind and finished past the flag and left of it. I felt more comfortable trusting the Pro not to turn left and to keep the ball down in the wind.
Pitching into the 5th green was a delight, the turf interaction was consistent and strike felt beautiful. Even in a strong head wind I could control the trajectory so it didn’t balloon but still dropped and stopped.
Comparing these to the Apex and Apex DCB irons I would say they tick a lot more boxes: they look better, you gain more control and they are less left biased. I could vary the flights more as when using the Apex it sometimes pops up in the wind due to its high launch conditions, but with the Pro you can lean on a shot and know it’ll fly low. Once again it's leaning slightly towards a better players club and represents its place well in the spectrum of what is available from Callaway in its impressive and very comprehensive Apex family.
Callaway Apex Pro 21 Irons Verdict
The thoughts in the Golfalot crew when these irons arrived is that they would be strong lofted and hot. But when I pulled them out of the box I knew this wasn’t the case, you can see the loft on the face. Hollow body yes, but nothing like as hot as a Ping i500 or TaylorMade P790 iron. They are more subtle than that.
I’d describe it as a fuller blade head, you gain the control and precision of a blade but with a touch more help for your poorer strikes and you feel slightly more confident at address.
I thoroughly enjoyed hitting these especially outdoor as the turf interaction was brilliant, they were a touch upright and heavy for me which caused a few left strikes but the feedback from the contact was delicious.
They are blade-like on the shelf and in the bag, blade lofts but not as hard to hit as a blade due to its technology. They still give you the good feeling in strike and workability. It is a really nice progression from TCB to Pro to Apex to Apex DCB.
Who should play these?
Better players should play these but don’t be put off with the ‘Pro’ name as I think both single figure golfers and professionals can use them. I doubt we will see them on the PGA Tour but you could certainly see them on the LPGA. They fit in the same category with TaylorMade P770, Titleist T200 and Mizuno JPX921 Tour.
There is a high level of workability and reliable lofts which means you won’t see a gain in yardage. This is a nice step down from Apex for those of you wanting to edge closer to a more players iron.
I haven’t seen these in John Rahm or Xander Schauffele’s bag as they use the TCB, maybe the weight makes them too strong for players that swing it faster than me. Might be something to bear in mind when testing…
I have seen 2019 Apex Pro’s in Georgia Hall's bag though, which supports my claim of possibly seeing female tour pro’s move into this new model eventually.
Would I play them?
Yes, I could play the whole bag of these irons. It fits into the type of iron I am looking for at the moment. Right now I want looks and feel with a bit of forgiveness. I’m not too fussed about chasing distance, I feel that if I want to put on the yardage I need to do this with my physicality rather than gaining the help from technology.
I am gaming the TaylorMade P770 currently in a Mitsubishi shaft which shows why I loved this iron.
- Amazing looks
- Great feel
- Consistency in the distance and data
- Great combination of workability and forgiveness
- Weight in the head may put players off
- Premium price will put a lot of golfers off: £1089 steel, £1399 graphite
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