The Callaway X Forged UT 2018 irons were aimed at better players and have found a place in the bag of plenty of tour players, including Phil Mickelson and Marc Leishman.
With the new X Forged CB irons hitting pro shops very soon, you’d think these are a perfect fit in the top end of your bag and or if you wish to progress from Apex MB into something a little more substantial.
What's It All About?
High ball speeds are promised due to the AI-designed Flash Face Cup, seen in most of Callaway's Mavrik range for 2020 creating a sophisticated face architecture, for high ball speeds with what Callaway refer to as 'outstanding spin robustness' allowing you better control of your ball flight and more stopping power going in to the greens.
Forged from 1025 mild carbon steel and boasting a hollow body construction combined with Callaway's proprietary urethane microspheres, this new utility iron also promises an extremely satisfying strong feel.
Enhanced launch and control is said to come from Callaway's external MIM’d tungsten weighting which has allowed them to precisely locate the CG position for optimal trajectory and launch. this is then coupled with a longer blade length and a wider sole compared a traditional long iron which provides forgiveness and control.
I put the new X Forged UT to the test on the course at Denton Golf Club and inside on Trackman 4 at LSH Auto, Stockport. All tests were conducted with Titleist Pro V1x’s as usual and I compared the irons to the TaylorMade SIM UDI 3 iron which I tested recently, to see whether Callaway's latest offering can provide performance and versatility for the better player.
Callaway X Forged UT Iron Review
Looks and Feel
As you might imagine, the X Forged UT is essentially a larger version of the X Forged CB, and I'd say it looks more like a long iron with a touch of help rather than a true driving iron like the SIM UDI, with a slight bit of tungsten weight visible at address.
The look reminded more of the Mizuno HMB and TaylorMade 2020 P790 irons in size, so if you're looking for a friendly and forgiving driving iron head then you might have to reconsider but I imagine most 'better players' will enjoy the fairly sleek profile.
I’m a huge fan of brushed finish and smaller topline. I didn't really notice the longer head and bigger sole, which can only be a good thing and means that it should blend well into your existing iron set.
In terms of feel, I'd say the club was more 'solid' rather than 'hot' when striking the ball, although I liked the confidence that it gave me off the face. The strike also felt a little softer and less clicky than some other driving irons that I have tested, which have bigger, hollow heads.
I really enjoyed using the graphite shaft which has been specially tailored to the UT, and I think it could come to the relief of some golfers who may struggle a little with a steel shaft.
The X Forged UT certainly performed as an anti-left club, which is one of the key reasons why better golfers tend prefer to go for long irons rather than hybrids.
I found it really easy to hit a nice consistent fade, with a pretty low and penetrating ball flight which was giving me around 20 yards run out on Trackman.
Trackman showed that the numbers produced were pretty similar, despite the fact that the 18 degree X Forged was a little stronger in loft than the 20 degree SIM UDI. I felt like I hit the SIM a little better off the tee, which is why it actually managed to carry a little further than the Callaway, although I preferred the X Forged off the deck and this was reflected in the numbers.
This is all well and good from a perfectly flat lie in a nice, warm indoor studio. But how was this iron going to perform on a wet autumn day in Manchester?
I took the 18 degree X Forged out to Denton GC to put it head-to-head against the SIM UDI. Ok the lofts are a couple of degrees out, and the Callaway is slightly longer, but the difference in the actual ball flight was significant, and I think this is more evidence as to why you should try to test outdoors as well as indoors if possible.
From both the tee and the fairway, the X Forged UT provided a much more penetrating ball flight which was chasing up the fairway, and could be very useful in dry or particularly windy conditions.
It performed excellently in windy conditions on the course and I even got a bit of run out on the wet October fairways. From the tee I felt really confident in finding both strike and fairway.
From the fairway, I did feel as if I was a little bit disadvantaged in some ways due to the lower ball flight. The ball was landing on the green and running out about 10 yards, so in firmer conditions I'd be a little worried about holding the greens.
I think this kind of scenario is probably where the numbers I produce don't help, as the type of golfer who'd tend to use an iron like this would have more power and speed than me so they would be able to get the ball launching higher and landing softer into the green.
When hitting out of the rough, the flight was again low but the stability was good through the longer grass and the ball flight was pretty easy to control too.
Callaway X Forged UT Verdict
To sum up, the Callaway X Forged UT looks like a player's iron but with the added benefit of Callaway technology to give you a little more help. I can see plenty of better players being happy to take the Flash Face Cup in an iron like this where they are looking for some more 'pop' and a little more distance than a normal iron due to the lower loft.
As is probably expected, the X Forged produced a much lower ball flight than my own 19 degree hybrid, and it was probably slightly less forgiving but the control and curvature was much better.
You would use this club for security off the tee or if laying back from trouble, or when going for a par 5 in two shots. I think it could be especially useful if there is a hazard left as it tends to promote more of a fade shape, which is the opposite to lots of hybrids.
Callaway describe this club as a fairway finder, and that it was.
Xander Schauffele, currently the best player on Callaway's books (sorry Phil!) had been using a Mizuno MP20 HMB 3 iron at points this past year in place of a 5 wood, so I'm sure the brand will be hoping that the new X Forged UT will replace it in the bag during those weeks where he is looking for the control of a driving iron.
Who Is It Aimed At?
This club could be ideal for a confident ball-striker who fears the left miss and ballooned flight that can sometimes occur with a hybrid. Old school golfers with traditional setups should enjoy using the X Forged UT as it provides the traditional flight of a long iron without sacrificing forgiveness, looks and feel too much.
I could imagine this club going straight into the bag of a low handicap golfer who plays a lot by the coast, and so needs to content with strong winds and deep pot bunkers.
Would I Use It?
I would potentially replace one of my hybrids for an iron like this if I was playing on a course such as Royal Lytham, where
hitting fairways and avoiding the well-position bunkers is paramount.
I don't think it's ever going to launch straight up in the air and then come down to an immediate stop on the green so if there's not much trouble in front of the greens and you can use the contours of the course to run the ball, this could be a really useful addition to the bag.
- Looks and feels great
- Excellent dispersion
- Penetrating ball flight
- Could be too low-launching for some
- Doesn't stop as quickly as a hybrid and some other driving irons
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TaylorMade P790 Iron Review
Callaway EPIC Flash Hybrid Review