Since the validation of “distance irons” by PGA Tour players in the late 1980s, golfers have had two choices when choosing irons.

Did they want to play forged irons that offered more consistency and feel, or did they want to play oversized cast irons that hit the ball higher and farther, but didn’t feel quite as good at impact.

Callaway’s new Apex irons are a serious contender in both categories, combining a forged framework with the company’s extremely hot 455 Carpenter forged steel faces to deliver explosive distance and a solid forged feel.

Click here to read about Callaway’s more compact Apex Pro irons.

The Apex isn’t Callaway’s first attempt to blur the line between distance and forged irons. In 2010, the company released its Diablo Forged irons, which featured a similar construction. And Callaway isn’t the only company that’s claiming to have bridged the gap between distance irons and forged irons, either.

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Titleist has had tremendous success on the PGA Tour with its version of a forged distance iron, the AP2, which uses high-density tungsten weighting and a 1025-forged construction to create an iron that offers increased distance, feel and forgiveness. Ping has attempted the same feat with its Ping Anser Forged irons, as has Nike, with its VR_S Forged irons.

But Callaway Manager of Performance Analysis Evan Gibbs said that Callaway has a leg up on its competitors because of its experience with its specially processed and treated 455 Carpenter steel faces.

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Above: Callaway’s 455 Carpenter Steel faces were the focal point of the company’s award-winning X Hot fairway woods.

Gibbs said that since the release of Callaway’s Diablo Forged irons, which received rave reviews from consumers and are played by several members of Callaway’s Tour Staff, the company has gained a new level of expertise on how to get the most from 455 Carpenter Steel.

“We’ve treated the material to get the most ball speed possible,” Gibbs said. “And the geometry of the forged cavity that holds the face was designed with ball speed in mind as well.”

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Above: Apex irons have a deep undercut that improves forgiveness and ball speed.

To create the Apex irons, Callaway welded 455 Carpenter steel faces to the irons’ 1020 carbon steel frames. Each iron goes through a 40-minute milling process to position weight low and deep in the iron head, as well as around the perimeter. Rubber material was also added in the cavity, along with the Apex’s badging to further reduce vibrations, which helps replicate the one-piece forged iron feel that many golfers prefer.

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Above: The Apex irons have a “rolled leading edge” sole grind, which helps improve turf interaction from tight lies. 

According to Gibbs, the long irons, which also feature tungsten weights in their soles to further lower the CG of the irons and help golfers launch them higher, offer 2-to-3 mph more ball speed than the Diablo Forged irons, which equates to about 4 to 6 yards of extra distance.

Despite the improved performance of the irons, which Gibbs said will have the lowest center of gravity of any 2014 Callaway iron model, he doesn’t expect that all of Callaway’s Staff Players will flock to them.

He said that several tour players might switch to the Apex irons to replace a hybrid or their one-piece forged long irons. That would be similar to the trend set by many Nike Staff players, who have switched to the company’s VR_S Forged irons for their 2, 3 and 4 irons but have been hesitant to switch in their mid and short irons.

Gibbs also confirmed the existence of a smaller iron slated for release by Callaway in early 2014, the Apex Pro, which he said many tour players would feel comfortable using throughout the set. He would not reveal any more specifics about the Apex Pro irons, however.

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The Apex irons have a head size that is between the company’s current X Hot and X Hot Pro irons. They also have progressive face thicknesses through the set to help with distance control and lofts similar to the company’s 2013 X Hot Pro irons: the 3 iron is 19 degrees, the 6 iron is 27 degrees and the pitching wedge is 45 degrees.

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The iron’s medium blade lengths and top lines, as well as their moderate amount of offset gives them a look and set composition that is much different than the Ben Hogan Apex irons for which they are named. But they are “the ultimate in forged performance” according to Gibbs, which he said makes them worthy of carrying the legendary Apex name.

“I think this iron, more than any iron in our [2014 lineup] is going to appeal to the broadest consumer base,” Gibbs said.

The Apex irons have Callaway’s wide-spaced 30-degree grooves, which Gibbs said maximizes spin for golfers from the rough.

They’ll be available in stores on Dec. 6 and cost $1099 with True Temper’s XP95 steel shafts (R and S flexes), and $1299 with UST Mamiya’s Recoil graphite shafts, which are available in UST’s 660 (regular flex) and 680 (stiff flex) models.

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Click here to see what GolfWRX members are saying about the irons in the forums.

Click here to see what GolfWRX members are saying about the irons in the forums.

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Zak is the Managing Editor of GolfWRX.com.

He's been a part of the company since 2012, when he was hired to develop GolfWRX's front page. Since that time, GolfWRX has become the go-to destination on the web for golf equipment news, tour news, instruction and opinion.

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He played college golf at the University of Richmond, where he took too many strokes. Good thing he also studied journalism and creative writing.

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86 COMMENTS

  1. I just tested the Apex against the AP2 and nike covert. I found the Apex had a more solid feel which most likely come from the rubber dampeners on the backside of the club. I tested the Apex with the graphite shafts and the AP2’s with the Ameritech 110 shafts. I have a three handicap do I would like to work the ball from time to time. All three if these clubs still allow for this.
    Ultimately I like the added yards and feel of the Apex irons. I can picture the added confidence with a shorter 4 iron in my hands hitting it 215 on the fly compared to my current hybrid.
    I carried the wedge 132 yards and I could hit it high or low with ease similar to my Mizuno forged irons. The difference from my Mizuno irons was drastic. My current 6 iron flies 165 and the Apex 6 iron flies 185.
    Only thing I’m not looking forward to is the invoice when the arrive.
    Have a great year on the links!

    • “I carried the wedge 132 yards and I could hit it high or low with ease similar to my Mizuno forged irons. The difference from my Mizuno irons was drastic. My current 6 iron flies 165 and the Apex 6 iron flies 185.”

      That’s because the clubs are lofted very strong.
      Comparing the spec’s of these with my Cleveland 588 CBs the Apex 7 iron is 31 degree’s which is the exact loft of my 6 iron.

    • I just recently purchased a set of the Apex forged irons. Prior to, I had purchased a set of AP2s. After a few rounds and time on the range, I realized the AP2s were not the right fit for me. My cap varied from 9 to 12 this year due to the equip changes. I am back on track after only a few rounds with my Apex irons. I have played irons from many manufactures, cast vs forged, and can say that the Apex are the real deal!! They are workable, long and have an incredible soft feel. I strongly encourage any one shopping for new irons to try these, from a low to mid capper. You will not be disappointed.

  2. Extra distance is great, but with extra distance comes inconsistency and wider shot dispersion. No technology will ever solve that problem. If you are short knocker with your irons then the extra distance may be worth the loss of accuracy, but longer players will look for consistancy in direction and carry distance. Big complaint tour players have with these “hot” iron faces is that they struggle with consistent yardages.
    Only club in the bag that you want to hit as far as you can is your driver, the WOW factor on these “Apex” irons is ‘Meh’ at best

    • you couldn’t be more inaccurate about your comments on tour players. these are forged irons and can be shaped as well as every tour players lofts are higher than the standards on both models of the apex. It is all relevant to the individual, their skill level and ability!!!

      • I have thoroughly tested the big three this year being theAPEX, AP2 and the new TM CB tour preferred. They all produce a a similar sound and feel but the Apex feels slightly softer I’m guessing due to its vibration dampening. What I have discovered is that the apex blows away the competition if you are looking for max ball speed. I was able to get 5 mph more out of the apex 6 iron. The problem was that the difference between a small mishit and a perfect strike had a ballspeed difference that was twice as much as the other two irons. The Taylormade was the most consistent maybe because of the slot I don’t know and the Ap2 wasn’t far behind. Both 6 irons were between 190 and 200 yds but the Apex was 185 to 220 yards. I’m still intrigued by the apex and will continue to test them I need to try different shafts.

    • Just returned from an event where Cally had its web.com tour van as well as their staff present. players were able to hit both the Apex and apex pro iron. My take??? Great products. Look.feel,launch, vibration, turf interaction all fantastic.

    • Really like the irons and will probably get a 6 through pitching wedge. What I don’t like are the loft gaps. From the 5 through the 3 irons you only have 2.5 degree gaps, a 3 degree gap between the 5 and 6 irons, and you get 5 degree gaps from the 9 iron on up, pretty ridiculous imho. I wish they would put the actual lofts below the numbers or instead of the numbers so to give golfers a better idea of what they are doing out there, instead of making of making the lofts stronger and making the lower lofted clubs much harder to hit. I would just as soon see the actual lofts on the clubs.

  3. I belive that these are the perfect iron ever made I have had first hand experence with these irons and i can honestly tell you that it is the best iron ever made.

  4. Its funny that most people out here complaining about Callaway using the apex name appearently dont know much about hogan irons.
    The apex name was on a entire line or irons from blades to mixed to forgiving cavity backs… and that goes back a long way. If this club performs I am glad to seem the apex name back.

  5. Hi Ian we played this years Canadien Senior Am together the 1st two rounds and you made a believer out of me with your irons. I am still looking for the right combination of shaft and club head . It is all about your confidence level in golf and if you can hit something farther it does not make a difference what it says on the bottom of the club head.The newer clubs are far superior to the old ones.i would love to see some of these guys play with the top senior amatuers in the USA they would truly be amazed

  6. Here’s my take.. 60yrs old +2 avid tournament player. Been playing Forged cavity backs with traditional lofts for several years. At the urging of a friend and excellent playing professional I tried Cleveland’s TT irons which are very similar to what Callaway it’s about to produce. Played in the British senior amateur using my Forged cavity backs through the five iron and three and four TT. The three and four irons outperformed my other clubs so dramatically that as soon as I return I filled out the rest of the set. They are a game changer. The height combined with the extra distance and just the right amount of spin made for a vastly superior iron. My eight iron covers 162 yards in the air comfortably. I understand that’s what a 7i used to do. But my 8iron is covering that distance with ease. perfect height,perfect spin, wonderful feel and the confidence I have looking down at an 8i does make a difference. So my take would be try it and see if this type of iron is appropriate for you. Technology is always changing. Today’s golfers are better than yesterday year’s.just like today’s basketball players,tennis players football players, hockey players are better than yesteryears players. Its the way of the world. And today’s equipment is , for the most part, better than yesterday’s equipment

  7. I actually just write the loft on the bottom of my clubs. It’s just easier to remember 24 degree goes 215.

    As far as the distance gaps in wedges I have been playing 5-6 degree gaps for a while since I play half, 3/4, chock down, and open face shots to get the yardage gaps I need with the same clubs.

    • I agree with the guys who say that the number stamped on the club is irrelevant. If you know your own game then the club number is merely a guide for how far a well-struck shot on level ground with no wind assistance or against will travel. The problem with the majority of amateurs is the obsession with trying to match/emulate the pros we all see on TV. I play off +1 at age 55 (180cm tall and 175lbs) and have a 7 year old set of Titleist 755s where the 7-iron has a loft of 35 degrees and it travels 150 yards absolutely max. My daughter is 13 years old, weighs 105lbs, is 160 cm tall (9 handicap)and her 8 iron goes the same distance. So what does that tell you? Nothing at all other than her TaylorMade Rocketballz have stronger lofts (off the shelf, not custom-made) for a start. Also I have a high ball flight whereas her ball flight is a bit lower (remember her 8i and my 7i have the exact same 35 deg loft). She knows how to play her 8 iron; the distance through the air, the roll-out etc etc because she’s been taught properly to understand these things but I don’t compare my game to hers and worry that I must be losing distance to a 13 yo: no, I know what works for me and we both ignore the club-manufacturer hype about all-out-win-or-bust-distance-is-everything mantra and we stick to what we know and understand about our own swings and our game – but I’m guessing that puts us in some sort of weird minority. All I’d say is know your own game and ignore the macho guy in your Saturday 4-ball who brags he hits his 9i the distance you hit you 6i..he is the mug who has been suckered in by the marketing hype that is hidden away in all the talk about lofts.

      • I totally agree with you, I think people forget that all the major OEMs are in the business of making money and pleasing their share holders with profits. Does anyone actually believe they produce something revolutionary every 6 months…..c’mon! But if it’s on TV or online it must be true lol! Save your money, get fit by a true fitter(not a store clerk from Golfsmith) and have him build you a set from scratch for your swing that will last for years….or not whatever, to each his own.

      • Mug? Bit strong…

        I’m 28, 6ft 4, 194lbs and play off 2 (Playing for 3 years). I use Tmag R9 TP’s with C-Tapers and without thrashing at it I hit my 9-Iron an average of 162yd carry. My lofts are hardly jacked up.

        I guess the fact that I bother to go to the gym working on strength and flexibility means I’m some sort of macho mug! So I guess when I upgrade to 714 AP2’s in the coming weeks then I’ll become a complete moron.

        Well done on being completely uninformed.

  8. seems most reviews of callaway apex irons have been, to date, unfavorable. the price, most definitely, isn’t nice. the look, however, at least in my opinion, inspires confidence that they could be a solid performer (distance) & possess that intangible quality that all golfers love(feel)& have forgiveness, like a cast club, all rolled into 1 neat package. with regards to lower lofts, hey, let’s skip ahead to the 21st century. balls are vastly improved, as well as clubs, so in turn, courses were lengthened to counter balance. stands to reason that companies are going to test boundaries & lower lofts on traditional clubs like irons to remain cutting edge. myself, i’ll be 56 in november. not exactly a spring chicken for a golfer. i’m embracing the new technology to increase distance, because, i’ll need all the help i can get in my “golden years.” for a younger golfer it will be an adjustment getting used to non traditional numbers. so don’t condemn until you hit it. i, like a previous writer here, am going to wait to pass judgement on them until the pro version is released, probably january. i, also, have a lot of interest in giving ust recoil shaft a try. thanks for the time.

  9. Before you get into the lofts being lower, make sure to compare the actual launch angle. These new clubs through science etc actually are lofted lower but launch higher with less spin. Although it seems to be harder for people to understand when it’s lofted lower but launches higher, so they just simply say “it goes farther!”.

      • I just spent nearly 2 hours at Golfsmith going through a club fitting. I play to an 8-9 handicap with old creaky Ping G2’s. I hit 6 and 7 irons of all the different clubs I looked at. Obviously a hitting mat and simulator are not the real world, but I thought the club was the best.

        Jack’s comment on launch angle is absolutely spot on. In comparing 6 and 7 irons for the Apex and the old Ping’s, the Apex loft is certainly lower than the old Pings, but the launch angle on all but the thinnest of shots was higher than the old set.

        I hit the AP2’s, i20’s, Diablo’s and 2 or 3 other irons the staffer put in my hand. The Apex irons were the hottest off the face, had the most consistent carry distance, most consistent flight and look absolutely terrific. Blade players will think the top line is a bit thick, but coming from a game improvement type iron, I think they look great.

        Needless to say, I am about $1,300 lighter after adding a Sand Wedge, sales tax, etc.

  10. If we are gonna get into the Hogan thing and someone wants a real set to compare to this new travesty, I have a used set of Hogan Apex 50th Anniversary, stamped with the limited edition set number. Will probably play 30 yards shorter per iron, but the feeling of ecstasy can never be matched.

    • I right how much farther the ball goes with my new irons than my old ones on the bottom of the club. That way I know which one to pick

  11. In 1988 I bought a full set, 1-SW, Hogan Forged Edge Irons with Apex 4 shafts ($899), as I had been playing with a set of Wilson Staff Tour Blades with regular shafts ($300) since purchasing them new in 1977 at the age of 14. The Hogan Edge were the greatest game improvement distance sticks of the time with 10 more yards of distance from the advanced perimeter weighting and low center of gravity on a forged platform. Alas, that set was stolen from my garage when the cleaning lady left the garage open in 2003.

    So heartbroken, I left the game till this summer when I got the itch to play due to the excitement of watching Phil win the British Open and Jason the PGA.

    I went online and found a used set of Callaway Diablo Forged Irons with Graphite Regular Flex Shafts for this 50 year old former single digit handicap hacker. I’ve practiced a bit and played five rounds so far. I’m improving every round and I have to say the irons help me on mishits by keeping it straighter. My timing is not what it once was and my distance suffers as compared to others I have played with. I’m still happy with what the irons deliver in distance and accuracy.

    If these new Apex irons are what they say, I may get a set. For any reason just to see the distance improvement. However, before that happens, I’ll seek some professional help, just in case. $1,299 is a ton for irons!!!

  12. […] Tech Talk: Callaway Apex irons – GolfWRX Callaway's new Apex irons are a serious contender in both categories, combining a forged framework with the company's extremely hot 455 Carpenter forged steel faces to deliver explosive distance and a solid forged feel. The Apex isn't Callaway's . Rubber material was also added in the cavity, along with the Apex's badging to further reduce vibrations, which helps replicate the one-piece forged iron feel that many golfers prefer. September 25, 2013 at 21:56 am. […]

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