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101: How a muscle back player found his way into apex Pro ’21

Bryan Laroche AKA @bryangolf on the IG and Twitter is one of my dearest friends. He’s not only one of the most sought-after fitters in the country but a PREMIERE ball striker. I do not say that lightly, he’s one of the best amateur iron players I’ve seen.

Over the past few years, he’s been in a really cool-looking set of rusty Cobra MB’s. A simple, clean player’s blade that was cemented in his bag. Keep in mind he’s a fitter, he can get and do anything he wants to his clubs. The fact that after 4 years he couldn’t find the recipe is actually quite telling.

It must be said that I had ZERO influence on what you are about to read. Trust me if I could steer him towards our gear I would, I can sell. The truth is, Bryan has been looking for a new set of irons for a while now and has literally tried everything from P7TW, Rev 33, Mizzy MP20, 620MB, our Apex MB, P7MB, and a laundry list of cavity backs.

After all that still nothing.

He sent me a picture on Monday morning on what he fell in love with after a month of testing and I had to know how a player like Bryan could make the switch from a simple muscle back forging into a Tech Packed hollow bodies profile that’s usually reserved for the player’s distance category. The leap from one piece forgings into a multi-material hollow-body iron isn’t as simple as you might think. For a player like Bryan that was literally emotionally, physically, and spiritually in tune with his Cobra’s it requires getting used to not only the feel but the performance that an iron like Apex Pro ’21 will provide. There is a reason MB players stay MB players, it’s a feel, a flight window, a trust. Anything short of that or something that provides too much help is a non-starter….unless you stumble on a unicorn.

I’ll let Bryan explain how it happened.

JW: You have been in the same irons for years, tried a bunch of stuff, and wouldn’t switch. What was the issue?

BL: Simply put, nothing performed better to warrant a change.  I could’ve switched but they seemed to always be lateral moves.  As a small business owner, I don’t get to play a ton so most of my practice and grinding on my own personal game comes in the fitting bay and no matter how many combo sets I threw together, it was always too close to call.  I’m probably speaking a little out of my league here being nothing more than a scratch golfer that plays in a few competitions every year, but it just came down to trusting the sticks on the golf course and I knew I had that with my old blades.  I’ve known you for 3 years and those forged blades have been in the bag ever since.  At a minimum, I was due for a refresh.  I’ve always liked something slimmer with a minimal offset so you’d think I’d gravitate towards an Apex MB if I was going to game Callaway irons but when it came down to it, the Apex Pro just weren’t THAT crazy looking when I put the club behind the ball.  Then I hit them..

JW: Apex Pro ‘21 is a big leap in technology from what you are used to, tell me about the transition to make it happen.

BL: I started to take notice of how they were performing in fittings for players and the wheels in my golf brain started spinning.  I threw my gamer shaft on my fitting head and the first swing I took the ball went 195y and had ZERO curve on it.  10 balls later, my average sidespin was sitting around 50rpm and I said “Okay…this could be a fun way to play golf.” For about 2 weeks whenever I had 20 minutes or so between fittings or was at the shop late building up orders, I’d hit balls with the Apex Pro and it was the same story.  That’s what I’m looking for out of an iron right now. I want whatever can help me achieve the straightest flight while still allowing me to flight that ball down a little when I need to.  These seem to do that very well for a club in the hollow-bodied “player’s” iron category.

JW: What did you notice first off with Apex Pro ’21?

BL: You mentioned the tech already but you can hear it when you get into the 7 iron.  THAT was different when comparing to my MB irons. 8 iron down feels very similar to what I felt when testing the TCB.  Some players might be turned off by that sound or feel but to me, it just became addictive.  It’s literally the first thing anyone notices when hitting them in fittings.

JW: What benefits did you find?

BL: CONFIDENCE!  Does that count?  We’ve talked about it a couple of times when discussing these sticks, they’re kind of mindless.  Obviously, anyone can put a bad swing on it and get an undesirable shot but for the most part, these are about as point and shoot as it gets.  My miss tends to be a little low and towards the heel and I’ve noticed these guys do a good job of controlling spin and retaining ball speed.  That’s clearly something every player can benefit from. I play a golf course with tricky Donald Ross turtleback greens and holding those greens because difficult for even someone who hits it high like me.  The Apex Pro ’21 comes in at a little bit of a steeper landing angle without spinning too much and hitting a wall or getting affected too much by the wind.  Deep down my goals are to perform better on my worst days and I believe that’s where these irons will make a big difference.

JW: Talk to me about the look? What did you like? 

BL: They definitely look good right?  As someone who has played pretty gnarly looking rusted-up blades, I’ll be less embarrassed when the guys at the course go to clean my clubs, that’s for sure!  Down by the ball, there’s a tick of offset that I’m not used to and a thicker top line but to say that they have a thick top line and a lot of offset wouldn’t be fair.  They’re clean and just big(ger) enough to feel like you can’t miss them.

JW: What would you say to players that run away from a “players distance or hollow body” iron?

BL: Hit ’em.  Smile when they feel or sound different but don’t judge.  Someone that’s not into offset and likes to smack down on the ball might be able to bend the lofts a tick weak and take some of that offset out.  I’m not a big combo set kind of guy but the Apex Pro/MB combo might speak to a lot of players out there.  I’ve yet to fit someone for that setup but have done a few Apex/Apex Pro sets.  

JW: Any sacrifices in shot shaping?

BL: Maybe…but I’m not one to complain about a straight(er) ball flight.  That’s really what I’m looking for.  You’ve seen me carve some pretty gnarly cuts into some hard-to-reach pins.  I believe a fader will always fade and a drawer will always draw.  If we can cut that sidespin in half, that’s a pretty big win for me!  

JW: New Iron Specs?

BL: I’ve got the 4i-9i in the Apex Pro ’21 with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 Tour Issue, soft-stepped (for the first time) and lovin’ every second of that.  I’ve always played X100 but this is my first time soft-stepping them.  For the record, I soft-step X100 in my wedges (RTX Zipcore 45/50/55/59) which means I put 8 iron shafts in them instead of the 9i/W shaft that would come in a set of X100s.  I feel like the soft-step action allows them to launch a little lower and that’s something I thought would benefit me on the Apex Pro irons since they already launch so easily.  I play .5″ longer than Callaway standard and 1* upright.  All lofts are standard except the 9 iron is bent 1* strong to play at 40*.  That was done for gapping.  Funny enough, I don’t have perfect gapping in my irons when it comes to loft.  My 8 iron flies 165-170y at 37* of loft.  I had to bend my 9 iron a degree strong to get it to go 150-152y.  Kind of weird but it’s what needed to be done to hit the number!!

D4 swing weight thanks to Golf Pride MCC+4 Midsize.  The 66g grip helps keep swing weight from getting too heavy without playing super light heads.

You can find Bryan on IG and Twitter @bryangolf

The @bryangolf fitting studio is at:

Easiest way to reach us is via Instagram where you’ll talk to either me or my wife, Mel (@melshelgolf).  She’s the one who signed off on the crazy idea of owning our own golf shop!  (Thankfully!)

1960 East West Parkway #102
Fleming Island, FL  32003

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Eric

    April 29, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    I am due for new irons soon and was thinking combo between these and MBs but now I might have to rethink that!

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