The so-called 'players cavity' iron is something that we are seeing more and more of in professional golfers' bags these days, as even the best players in the world are realising that they don't have to use just blades in order to get the feel and workability they desire.
This was proven by current World Number One Jon Rahm, who had the brand new Apex TCB irons in the bag when he picked up his maiden major victory at the US Open in June.
The Apex line is the creme de la creme of Callaway's iron offerings, and the new TCB model sit right between the bladed MB and the cavity back Apex Pro in the new range.
Golfalot have reviewed every model in Callaway Apex iron range this year and you can check each review out here.
What's It All About?
Usually when it comes to these reviews I have to spend a fair bit of time googling long words or acronyms, to try and work out what these equipment brands actually mean when they try to explain their technology. It's often the case that the more of the marketing spiel you read, the more confusing things become!
Luckily when it comes to the TCB irons, things are very simple. They don't have a great deal of technology packed into the head, they just feature the master craftsmanship of 1025 forged brush metal which are designed to offer the ultimate in feel, sound and ball control.
They've been specifically designed for Tour and elite players, with lofts, bounces, blade lengths and COR specifically designed to suit the needs of this level of golfer.
In terms of style and footprint they are relatively similar to Callaway's X Forged UT irons albeit with the 1025 forged steel hollow body and new 17-4 steel face plate.
Internal and external Metal Injection Molded tungsten weighting also helps to promote precise shot control and Apex’s signature soft feel.
Essentially these irons are pretty much leaving the players to do it for themselves by coming up with a stylish, uncomplicated design which really puts the emphasis on shot-making rather than performance enhancement.
I compared the Apex TCB with Callaway's Apex and Apex Pro irons on the Trackman simulator before heading out to Denton GC for a four-hole, irons only challenge to see how the TCBs performed on the course in a number of different scenarios.
You can watch my full review via the Golfalot YouTube channel here:
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Callaway Apex TCB Irons Review
Looks and Feel
The Apex TCB irons have a petite, sleek and beautiful profile. I am a massive fan of the brushed steel finish, and having a smaller head really helps to frame the golf ball even better in my eyes.
The profile is slimmer than the Pro and it is perhaps slightly less offset too, although that its only a very marginal difference. As you start to compare the TCB and the standard Apex you do see a significant increase in head size.
The iron retains the typical styling of an Apex iron with the addition of the back plate on the sole with two screws, reminiscent of the X Forged line. This adds a touch of weight to help with a little bit of launch.
The head sizes are small which is a little daunting once you get into the 4 irons, but on the other hand it looks great on the shorter irons and the wedge.
In terms of feel, you don't get that real spring off the face with these irons like you might do with some other cavity back irons, although my swing doesn't generate particularly fast ball speeds so that's probably no surprise. I need a little more help in the longer irons and that is not what this club is built for! However it did feel very stable through the hitting zone and the deviation from left to right was pretty minimal.
The mid irons are a little easier to hit and just look and feel so pure. As soon as I hit the first couple of shots with these I found myself saying 'Oh yes, these are nice'.
The shorter irons are also great around the greens and when pitching in, with reliable spin so that the ball never feels like it's going to get away from you. I like how close they feel in performance to Callaway's specialist wedges.
The club comparison on Trackman threw up little surprises. The Apex was the longest and most consistent iron. The TCB was the shortest and least consistent in spin, due to my striking not being quite as good.
As you'd imagine with the weaker lofts (TCB 7 iron is 34°) the spin numbers were what you would call 'traditional' with the TCB, reaching nearly 6000 rpm with a 6 iron.
The spin numbers did vary much more in the TCB compared to the Apex and Apex Pro because the off-centre strikes were punished more, although it was the straightest iron out of the three models on average.
Whilst the Apex TCB and Apex Pro were quite similar at times in terms of look, feel and distance, the Apex was totally different. It felt so easy to hit in comparison and there was a big increase in distance, front-to-back dispersion and the confidence that it gives you standing over the ball.
For my four hole challenge I finished at one over par at Denton GC, although in my defence the first hole was a long par 5 which required three 4 irons and a wedge to reach the green!
I hit five 4 irons during my testing and three of them were great, but two of them were poorly struck to the left. This is the kind of ratio that I'd probably expect with this type of players golf iron - if you're not hitting it great, you will know it.
I hit a great looking 4 iron into the second hole, from 169 yards, which flew high with a soft draw. Straight away I thought 'that felt great, but is it going to go far enough?'. My question was answered a second later as I repaired my pitch mark at the front of the green.
155 yards carry and 160 total is really a club short of what I'd need for a 4 iron. My next club in the bag is a hybrid which carries around 175 yards so that would create a 20 yard gap in my bag which is too much.
I laser-beamed a 6 iron from 140 yards on an uphill lie and into a slight wind, which I though would be playing closer to 150 yards. I flushed it but it was a good 5 yards short of the flag, once again highlighting the true lofts and lack of performance-enhancing technology in the head. These clubs react to your force input rather than the club doing the work for you.
I then spent some time trying to shape these irons to see how much movement I could create. The answer - as much as I wanted! I felt like an artist painting love hearts in the sky with my draws and fades.
This is a massive part of what players want forged from forged irons and they certainly delivered.
Callaway Apex TCB Irons Verdict
The fact that Jon Rahm, Marc Leishman and Christiaan Bezuidenhout all use these irons give you a bit of an indication of the kind of player who should be using them. They are all big men with power on tap, especially compared to me at 5 foot 4!
I can find the middle of club face often enough but I can't generate the speed or strength required to send these forged beauties far enough, and the drop-offs on those occasions where you don't quite catch it well enough are just too penal.
They are fantastic looking and elegant irons with a very quiet noise from the face. They aren't as thin as the Apex MB on the topline and the brushed steel finish is fantastic. With a shelf appeal like that I can see exactly why they've made so much noise in the professional game already.
Who Are They Aimed At?
Callaway are really aiming these irons at their tour players, and the fact that half of Callaway's male staff have them in play shows that you need to be a high level ball striker. If you're an elite amateur or perhaps even a very low amateur then these may be worth a try.
They may be ideal for someone who doesn't quite want to take the plunge and use a set of blades, as they feel just as good but with a touch more help in the strike.
Would I Use Them?
With 120 gram shafts these irons aren't particularly well suited to me and as I stated in the performance section, they're a club shorter than my current irons and I can't really afford to give up any more yardage.
As discussed, if this sounds like you then maybe you should be looking more to the Pro, the Apex ort the Apex DCB.
- Fantastic looking irons
- These feel just as good as a blade, but with a bit of extra help
- Perfect shape and size, particularly for scoring with the short irons
- No nonsense marketing - old school messaging
- At £1099 for 7 irons, they aren't cheap
- Not much forgiveness if your ball striking isn't consistent
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Callaway Apex Pro 21 Irons Review
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