In recent years Callaway have, by their own admission, neglected the area that established them as one of the major names in the golf industry.
Their performance enhancing irons were a revelation in the 1990’s, and they were the first clubs I remember that were truly big and chunky as well as having graphite shafts to really try and boost golfers' confidence. Yes you guessed it... my Dad had a set and plenty of other golfers did too.
With golf booming as we emerge from COVID-19 enforced lockdowns and many new players or returning players taking up golf towards the end of this summer, Callaway believe that now is the best time to release a range which provides both distance and forgiveness.
What's It All About?
The main storyline for these irons is that they are the first from the Big Bertha range to ever be designed using Artificial Intelligence, following the success of the technology used in the Epic Flash and Mavrik launches over the past couple of years.
Callaway says that the irons have been 'engineered for players who want fast ball speed, high launch, straight shots and a new level of confidence'.
The AI has worked to improve ball speed thanks to a new Flash Face Cup, which also improves 'spin robustness' to improve consistency across the face and from different lies. This pairs with the 360 Face Cup which flexes and then releases at impact to help the ball fire off the face a little easier and generate a few extra yards of distance.
The B21 irons feature an extra wide sole to give you extra confidence over the ball, as well as helping to improve turf interaction for less fat shots. Callaway have also added more offset than in previous irons in order to help straighten up the ball flight and encourage slightly lower spin rates.
These irons are designed for those golfers who are looking for a bit more distance and so Callaway are trying to improve launch by adding tungsten weighting into the back cavity of the iron head, which moves the CG lower and deeper into the head.
Finally, urethane microspheres in the head work to absorb any unwanted vibrations at impact to improve the feel, whilst also helping to maintain fast ball speeds.
In order to find out exactly how forgiving these irons are, and which type of golfers they would be suitable for, I took them down to LSH Auto in Stockport to collect data using the Trackman launch monitor. I also compared them to the Mavrik irons that I reviewed earlier in the year to look at the potential benefit that the chunkier Big Bertha iron could provide.
I then headed out to Houldsworth Golf Club for some on-course testing, along with the Mavrik, to see how the irons really did perform in a realistic game environment.
Callaway Big Bertha B21 Irons Review
Looks and Feel
Compared to the Mavrik irons I wouldn't say that the profile of the B21 irons are hugely different. It's slightly bigger once you put them next to each other, but I wouldn't say it's instantly noticeable and particularly not to a beginner golfer.
The heads are big, chunky and curvy and they do a good job of filling you with confidence that you're going to make contact first of all, and secondly get the ball up in the air easily.
The added tungsten weighting on the back of the club does become noticeable as you move into the long irons, whilst the sole width goes up to about 50% wider towards the top end of the bag too. They are of course quite obviously offset, although Callaway has worked on the curved shape which does soften this a little.
One huge positive for me was the blue, black and white colourway as I was not a huge fan of the orange in the Mavrik. Yes, it can be changed with Callaway Customs but I think the B21 colours are cleaner and should appeal to everyone.
You don't get a great deal of feel with these irons when you strike them, and the noise is more of a click than a proper thud but I didn't find that particularly offensive. It did seem fast off the face though which I liked, and I think that most people who use these irons would be more interested in how they perform rather than whether they sound fantastic.
Indoor testing on Trackman produced very similar numbers between the B21 and Mavrik irons, as I was expecting. The Mavrik is the longest and strongest lofted iron that Callaway produces, and so I decided to pit the Mavrik 7 iron up against the B-21 6 iron as they are very close in loft and so provide accurate results for comparison.
The B21 irons launched slightly higher which is perhaps down to the tungsten weighting in the back of the club, but the ball speed, distance, height and spin rate were all very similar numbers between the two models.
The added offset in the B21, added to the fact that I naturally like to play with a bit of a draw anyway, meant that the shots were consistently drifting from right to left but it was reassuring to know that I was going to struggle to miss right with these irons. I was also pleased to see that there were no big pulls or hooks in there either, which is something that puts plenty of people off the offset irons.
On The Course
The first on-course test for the B21 irons was on the par 3 16th hole at Houldsworth which measures around 160 yards. I had a B21 4 iron and a Mavrik 5 iron, with both irons flying a very similar yardages and a really easy launch. Both approaches finished pin high, with the B21 just a little left of the flag due to that offset.
The weight in the back of the head and wider sole in the B21 were noticeable when hitting the irons straight after one another, but I think the main thing to note was that this really did inspire confidence when standing over the shot.
There's not many 4 irons out there which can do that, but it is so easy to hit straight, high and pretty long too. The spin rates aren't particularly high but if you're worried about not being able to hold the green, the extra launch and height means that the ball stops a little quicker than I feared.
Next up was testing the irons out of the wet rough, and they passed with flying colours. I hit some shots with the 6 iron from sticky lies and the club managed to cut through the rough like a jet ski across the water.
The wider sole really helped with correct turf interaction and the ball was flying straight with excellent club face stability.
I was interested to try the shorter irons because this is where I felt that the B21 may struggle a little bit - on the shorter shots where you want a little extra feel and precision.
I put myself 130 yards away into the 18th hole with an 8 iron... and that's when I got the big left miss I'd been dreading. I think if I was ever to use these irons, its short irons where I would really feel the difference in terms of precision and because I tend to draw my shorter irons more, so I think they'd be harder to control.
Callaway Big Bertha B21 Irons Verdict
These irons do exactly as Callaway suggest, they are an excellent option for high handicappers to gain a little more consistency in their game. The launch and carry numbers are good and stability through the hitting zone is excellent.
I would certainly recommend them to anyone who is starting out golf and has been given a set of irons that are older than they are. One thing I have noticed when teaching higher handicappers or golfers who are new to the game, is that they arrive with blades or clubs from the 1980’s and struggle to learn because they have such unforgiving sweet spots.
Learning golf at a later age is hard, especially as none of us can find the time we really need to practice. So if you want to enjoy your golf game without having to spend hour after hour hitting balls on the range these clubs certainly aid strike and provide more forgiveness than most.
There is so much technology in the new Big Bertha B21 irons that can make the game so much easier for you and more enjoyable at a quicker rate.
Can you buy a golf game? I believe there is an argument that you can with the B21 range of irons and woods.
Would I Use Them?
I really enjoyed how easy it was to hit the longer irons, and they are also great out of the rough, but I think that the mid to short irons are too chunky and offset for me to really consider putting them in the bag.
I'd say that these irons are really aimed for golfers who are around an 18 handicap or higher, or perhaps older golfers who struggle with generating enough club head speed.
Offset means that the ball tended to go left
Loss of feel and precision in the shorter irons
Price tag may put some golfers off
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Callaway Mavrik Irons Review
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