I’ve been asking myself this question since joining #teamcallaway. Should a sub-5-handicap player dare look at the Apex ’21?
It’s an honest question actually, Callaway offers a full line of player’s irons via the Apex MB, TCB, Apex Pro, and X-Forged CB so why on earth would I ever consider trying a forged “game improvement” iron?
I’ll frame this by laying out where my head went when looking into Apex ’21 for my own game.
- I’m fully capable of hitting any of the player’s offerings consistently out of the middle.
- I like the workability of a less offset, smaller profile iron.
- The Apex ’21 has a stronger loft package than what I normally play by about 2 to 3 degrees per iron. This was my biggest concern FYI.
- I’ll hit them too far, get heaters, etc.
- They aren’t a “Tour” iron.
- If I weaken the lofts to something closer to my set, it’ll mess up the whole thing
The list could actually expand quite a bit if I pressed but there is a flip side to that coin that I’m not identifying. That is honesty. Yes, I hit my irons solid but when I look at my stats my GIR and proximity to the hole are nowhere near where they should be to actually see the scores I want. I can hit good shots quite often but I’m definitely leaving meat on the bone with the current setup….and I’m a gearhead and love the Tour stuff.🤷🏻♂️ So there’s that 😂
The strengths of my game have always been Driving, Chipping, and Putting. At no point in my time playing would I ever consider myself a great iron player, I’d say mildly serviceable is a more fair assessment. So why am I fighting it?
A good idea could be to just work on my swing which is 100% a valid point but I’m more curious about immediate gains when I’m not hitting it well. I was chatting with a Champions Tour pal of mine and he gave me a little nugget. He only uses smaller profile irons when he knows he can take advantage of them. An interesting way to look at it for sure. What I took from this was he prefers to make things easy in any scenario. He also said that “good” game improvement irons will give you all the workability you would ever need if you know what you’re doing. That’s why when Phil put Epic Forged irons in the bag during the 2020 Masters he was still able to hit the shots he needed all while playing with a profile that would be designated for a higher handicapper.
It’s also with noting that Apex’ 21 isn’t SUPER game improvement, I think the stronger loft setup throws people off. I’ve played well with profiles that had a bigger thumbprint and faired really well. I’m going into this trying to find NEW opportunities in my bag. The woods are cooked, the wedges dialed and the putter is on point. It’s the 4-iron to 7-iron area that vexes me. Usually, I like to combo things up with CB long irons and MB short irons but I’m also tired of that. I want to play with one uniform set again and see what that gets me.
So here is what I’m doing now, I just ordered up a set of Apex ’21 irons, exactly to the spec of my current mixed set of X-Forged CB and Apex MB. The only twist is the loft package is a bit stronger (new specs below) but what I’m losing in the loft I’m getting in the launch and descent angle. What I’m gaining here (in theory) is ball speed and forgiveness on mis-hits which I so desperately need. My frequent miss is a center thin shot that loses its steam during the last 25% of its travels. That shot has cost me more grief than any other and I’m now calling in the heavy artillery to make it go away.
There was however one question/concern I had that kept me from pressing the button on this whole thing, the lofts. It’s no secret that the loft package in these styles of irons needs to be on the stronger side to avoid players hitting uncontrollable shots. Some people call it “loft jacking” which always gave me a chuckle. No, OEMs are not making the lofts stronger to pull the wool over your eyes and trick you into thinking you’re Sam Burns. It’s a necessity for the lofts to be stronger to work in harmony with the low CG’s and multi-material design of the irons. Take Bryson for example, his PW is 41 degrees. Is that why he hits it so far? NO. It’s simple math in that case. If his PW was on the more traditional side he would hit it straight up in the air with too much spin. The same rule (sort of) applies here.
The other question I have, is, how will bending these irons a degree or two weak affect the turf interaction/flight, etc?
This is where I had to go to the experts on the truck to get the answer and the answer was a resounding “nothing”. The reasoning behind that answer was due to the leading edge relief and what is basically a pretty low bounce sole, to begin with. 2 degrees up or down won’t do much except add/or subtract a touch of spin. Any more than a couple of degrees is where you will start to see some problems. Especially in the shorter clubs. The shafts play a big part in this as well, Tour Issue X100 is a tip-stiff, heavy profile. I think that the combo of the weaker lofts, low launching shaft, and forgiveness of the head may add up to something pretty cool.
To remedy this in my case I split the difference by blending the lofts to sit right in between Apex ’21 Std and my gamers.
Here is the Apex ’21 set up im going to try:
Shafts: Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (soft stepped)
Grips: Golf Pride BCT 58R Logo Down
New loft, Gamer loft, stock Gamer Yardage
4-iron: 21.5, 23, 210
5-iron: 24.5, 26, 195
6-iron: 27.5, 29, 180
7-iron: 31.5, 33, 165
8-iron: 35.5, 37, 150
9-iron: 40, 41, 135
PW: 45, 46, 125
What am I expecting to happen?
If I was to guess id say ill get about 1/2 club longer but most importantly what I’m hoping to see is my performance from 175+ improves. When looking at my stats it’s that yardage where my GIR numbers get really funky. It’s almost like looking at 2 different golfers.
Where my concern lies is in the shorter clubs (8-PW) where my stats are pretty damn good, and it’s from 8-iron down to LW that I make most of my birdies and the par percentage is awesome. Keep in mind that those stats at 175+ could reflect a poor short game but that wouldn’t be telling an accurate story. It’s where I’m hitting it from 175+ that’s killing me. Trust me when I say that I’ve put myself in some serious pickles with a 6-iron on up.
Best case this comes off and everything gets better, the worst case is I’m still garbage from 175+ with irons that should help. That’s more of a “maybe you aren’t as good as you think you are” scenario……ouch. The middle ground is a split in improvement in the 4-iron to 6-iron and a deficiency in the shorter clubs, but that’s what combo sets are for 😉
I’ll follow up after I’ve had a chance to bang these things around, please ask away if you have any questions. Would also like some Apex’21 players to chime in on what they have experienced.
I’m going in.