Pros: One of the most forgiving models in its class. The Apex Pros offer fantastic looks, feel and workability, and they’re great from the rough. They’re also pretty long for a blade-style iron.

Cons: The price point ($1,099) might turn off some buyers and durability of the satin finish is questionable.

Bottom Line: These are one of the best sets of players irons introduced this year. The Hogan-inspired “Apex” name seems fitting for this set of irons, which offers all the good looks and feel golfers would expect from that name, as well as a little extra distance and forgiveness that they might not have expected.

Overview

Callaway’s Apex Pro irons for 2014 retain all the aesthetics golfers want from a set of blade-style players irons, but they add a few dashes of technology to make them playable for golfers who don’t hit shots on the sweet spot time after time.

The Apex Pro irons launch higher and fly farther than their predecessor, Callaway’s X Forged ’13, thanks to the extensive milling process that makes their faces 17 percent thinner. That allowed more weight to be moved where Callaway engineers wanted it:

  1. Lower and deeper in the long irons for a higher launch and more forgiveness.
  2. Higher in the short irons for a penetrating trajectory with more spin.

Screen-Shot-2013-11-04-at-2.32.42-PM

The long irons get an additional boost in performance thanks to the tungsten inserts added to the soles of the 3, 4 and 5 irons, which gives those clubs an even higher launch and more forgiveness. Adding technology to a set of players irons like the Apex Pros usually comes at the expense of feel, but engineers fixed that with a polymer insert behind the impact area that gives them the acoustics golfers associate with irons that have good feel.

The Apex Pros also have Callaway’s new 37WV groove that’s wider and uses fewer grooves than previous iterations to create a more consistent launch and spin from less-than-ideal lies.

82e4c2ac9c9d8601e300695f012d7e49

The irons come stock with KBS’ Tour-V shafts, which are new for 2014 and are designed to give golfers the mid-launching, low-spinning trajectory that most better players prefer in a weight range that’s 5-to-10 grams lighter than other tour-quality steel shafts. They’re available in three flexes: regular (100 grams), stiff (110 grams) and x-stiff (120 grams).

e3961dfbb8cc0fb51237218cccf41e1c

The Apex Pro irons ($1099 with steel shafts) are available in 3 iron through AW. The 3 iron has a stock loft of 21.5 degrees, while the PW measures 46 degrees. The 5 iron has a stock length of 38 inches and the clubs are built with a swingweight of D1 to D2, depending on shaft selection. They’re also available with UST Mamiya’s Recoil 95 or 110 graphite shafts for $1299.

Screen-Shot-2013-11-04-at-2.33.24-PM

Performance

This set checks all the boxes for better golfers who demand absolutely everything from a set of irons. Workable? Check. Soft and solid? Check. Penetrating trajectory, forgiving, distance? Check, check, check.

Honestly, it’s not often you come across a club that doesn’t have some significant opportunity costs. Distance irons often lack feel and workability and struggle to be aesthetically pleasing. More player-oriented irons may look runway spectacular, but can be unforgiving. The Apex Pros have all the upside and very little, if any, downside. These are the “have your cake and eat it too,” all that and a bag of chips, wunderkind of irons.

fe29f6e4aadb3103b8947441712fe2d5

In terms of performance, you really start to run out of superlatives for these. They performed remarkably on the range, on the course and in launch monitor testing. Aside from one small exception, there is nothing I needed an iron to do that these couldn’t.

Distance control with irons is paramount to scoring and you can’t score well if you can’t consistently manage your distances and trajectory. This is where the Apex Pro irons excel. The stock trajectory for me was mid-to-high, but the ball flight was penetrating. I never had any issues trying to keep the ball low when needed, but I wasn’t able to hit these as high as I have with similar forged cavity backs, probably due to the stronger lofts. This was my single and isolated concern regarding performance.

For low-spin players, the Apex Pros may cause concerns if you’re seeking a higher ball flight. High-ball hitters, on the other hand, will likely be singing their praises.

c8b02192ff2e10fd128ebbc0477a6daf
The Apex Pro irons have a sole with a moderate amount of camber, or curvature from front to back, which improves turf interaction for most players. I found it to be fantastic from the rough as well. 

Well struck shots resulted in consistent carry distances. And when I say consistent, I mean to the yard. I literally hit the same exact carry number far more often than my swing should be able to produce. Consistency breeds confidence and these clubs have that in spades.

Where these clubs really shine is out of varied lies. During my on-course testing, the performance from different lies in the rough was sublime. Other than the super gnarly lies, I was able to generate plenty of spin and flew the ball only a few yards shorter. On average, carry distance decreased by 3-to-4 yards for a standard lie in the rough. There is no cure for the flier lie and these clubs are no exception, but I don’t think you can hold that against them — or anyone for that matter —  and I did seem to get slightly fewer fliers thanks to Callaway’s new 37WV groove.

a659fc2e6e959ca6280188e5d72635a1
The Apex Pro 6 iron at address. 

About distance: I’m not entirely sure what the cause was, but the effect was a full club gain in distance for me. I’d be inclined to think it was because of a reduction in spin from the Tour-V shafts, the slightly stronger lofts or both, but in the final analysis is that they just carried farther than the other forged cavity backs that I’ve played. As confirmed by FightScope, I gained a full 8-to-10 yards of carry per club. This was the largest obstacle for me in adjusting to these clubs. Initially it was hard for me to trust the yardage and let the club do the work, but once I was able to do this it was game on.

Looks and Feel

Out of the box, the Apex Pros look dead sexy. The soft satin finish coupled with minimal offset, thin topline and rounded toe screamed excellence and luxury. For a bit, I wanted to simply stare and admire them. And for a bit, I did.

The cavity portion is a bit busy for me, but if we’re honest, when do you really spend time looking at the cavity of a club? I’m not wild about the sticker inserts, as they tend to wear and peel overtime, but no biggie. Understanding the current importance of brand awareness, it’s logical to have some visible promotional labeling.

Callaway Apex Pro irons review

That said, two weeks, five rounds and several range sessions later, the Apex Pros looked simply abused. What was once pristine now looked heavily gamed. The finish did not commensurate with the price tag at all. There’s an argument to be made that wear and tear on a set of irons adds to their beauty, character, whatever, but if I’m going to spend $1100 on a set of irons I don’t want them to wear like a $130 wedge.

7a648d3268d4889cc6152a6b3383c5b5
I’m not the only one who had durability issues. Here’s Matt Every’s Apex Pro irons from the 2014 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Maybe you like the way they look, but I dont. 

As for the feel of the clubs, the sensation at impact is exactly what you want from a forged club. It is soft, but not at all mushy. It is solid, but not too dense. It is hot, but not metallic. Pured shots are worthy of the “hot knife through butter” metaphor and it’s never felt so good to feel so little.

Given a blind test, the feel of these would certainly hold up against any of the renowned forged clubmakers in the world.

The Takeaway

At this point I’d be remiss if I didn’t give some kudos to the Callaway customer service department who did everything except move heaven and earth to make sure my irons lived up to top-shelf standards. That meant sending me another set of Apex Pros, which I hope will wear better.

Aside from the durability of the finish, these clubs are almost perfect. They are easily one of the best, if not the best performing forged players iron on the market this year. They do everything golfers ask of them, and then a little more.

Learn more from CallawayBuy Now on Amazon
Your Reaction?
  • 124
  • LEGIT21
  • WOW37
  • LOL9
  • IDHT4
  • FLOP33
  • OB2
  • SHANK6

Previous articleGolf World is now a digital weekly. Will anyone care?
Next articleEstablishing better rules for pace of play
I didn't grow up playing golf. I wasn't that lucky. But somehow the game found me and I've been smitten ever since. Like many of you, I'm a bit enthusiastic for all things golf and have a spouse which finds this "enthusiasm" borderline ridiculous. I've been told golf requires someone who strives for perfection, but realizes the futility of this approach. You have to love the journey more than the result and relish in frustration and imperfection. As a teacher and coach, I spend my days working with amazing middle school and high school student athletes teaching them to think, dream and hope. And just when they start to feel really good about themselves, I hand them a golf club!

35 COMMENTS

Not seeing your comment? Read our rules and regulations. Click "Report comment" to alert GolfWRX moderators to offensive or inappropriate comments.
  1. I just ordered a custom set through the callawaygolfpreowned site. Great customer service and they shipped out my custom spec’d irons in less than 24 hours. impressive. i can’t wait to get them out on the course.

  2. Just got these off of eBay for $450 from a reputable source used looking forward to trying them out my current miura tournament blades are amazing clubs but I have been struggling this year and looking to switch now that my index is above scratch. I hit the six iron on a tracman and the numbers where phenomenal I will update as I game them. Note they did not feel as good as my miura TB’s however, they felt much better than my backup bag of mp-68’s they are buttery while you can still feel the face and manipulate the ball with feel like a blade from what I could tell with limited testing using a six iron only (lefty all they had was the six to test with) so I have been watching the bay for a full set that was affordable finally that day came I will keep you all up to date.

  3. I was stunned by how good these felt and yet so forgiving. Plays close to Ping s55 but you get more from your weaker strikes. As to the finish, they are tools and not just gor looking at. They’ll get a nice patina from use due to the softer metal but the face has stayed great. The real value in these is on the course. Outstanding feel and forgiveness. Probably for 12 or lower HC. Love the stock shaft KBS too.

  4. I’ve been building, grinding, fitting and retro fitting top shelf clubs for over twenty years now, and this new generation of Callaway forgings are without a doubt the BEST production clubs EVER produced by a large OEM.

    the head weights on sets I’ve ‘pured’ are right on, the insert depths are exact and the hosel bore is true and tight.

    NO HOGAN, Titleist or TM Iron ever came out of the box this good. No shaft beads required in the epoxy, no crimping of the shafts….Just rock solid metal (or graphite) to metal fit, which is why they feel so great and hit so well….

    ALSO….you can select any steel shaft for NO upcharge. No one else offers that…

    IMO, the best major OEM offering ever

  5. I’ve had my set for 2 months. I play twice a week. My clubs look like I’ve had them for 5 years. The finish is horrible. In addition to that, I’ve lost 3 of the black weights outt of the back of my pw, 7iron and 5 iron. I sent my set to callaway preowned for a trade. I was disgusted with my apex pros.

  6. Well, CallAway can call them Apex all they want!

    It is NOT Hogan – far from it!

    But next year we shall – hopefully – see irons made with the Hogan spirit again.

    By the road: Does anybody know, if Callaway shall be able to use the model name “Apex” from then on??

  7. It’s not a blade style iron. It’s a classic cavity back iron for the better player. No need to make more out of it than it really is.
    Besides that it looks nice, but from Callaway a would prefer the 2012 Legacy Black, the model that H. Stensons plays.

  8. They look like they copied my COBRA PRO AMP irons. Which are a great set of Irons for any player. Easy to hit, goes high and long. I have compared them with a set of Apex, and very, very, similar. Funny how they all copy the good stuff.

  9. great irons, they basically do what you swing tells it to do.

    i will get a set early next year when they blow them out for 399 at golftown, just like how they did it for my xforged :(

  10. I went to get fitted in May with the expectation that I would walk away with AP2’s. The fitter said Callaway put out a great club this year, which I immediately thought, ‘how much are you paid to say that?’ During the range session I tried AP2’s, Apex Pro’s, Tour Preferred’s, I25’s, and two others that I really can’t remember. I didn’t mind the AP2’s feel but was bothered by the bulky head and blinding face. I spun the Tour Preferred’s too much and while I launched the I25’s, I prefer a lower flight and the feel just wasn’t there, not being forged I understand that. All heads were tested with KBS Tour V 120. NOTHING compared to the feel of the Apex Pro’s and the numbers from Trackman didn’t lie. They’re stronger than most, which takes getting used to, but I eliminated the 3 iron and added the A wedge. My 4 and 5 iron are SO easy to hit that I’m considering tossing my hybrid and adding the 3 iron. Love the set, don’t mind the wear (hardly any). I play in Arizona and have had to hit a few from the desert. There’s no evidence on the head that I did so. Been waiting for this review all summer long to see what WRX had to say and see if they love them as much as I do. Thanks for putting it up.

  11. The price tag is high but you have to realize that any shaft option callaway offers is no up charge. If you wanted to throw in a c-taper or something else high end to a taylormade, Titleist, etc. it’s a $30 up charge per club. The apex pros feel incredible and do not have a higher price tag per club than AP2, covert 2.0 forged or other high end offerings from many companies.

  12. This review is spot on.

    The clubs feel great, are very long, and pretty forgiving for a forged blade, but the finish just doesn’t cut it. They looked beat after 15 minutes on a grass range.

  13. I was dying for a set of these. Great looks and feel. Tried the pros and the regular Apex and got the regular Apex. For me they just performed better…I guess I’m getting old!!

  14. I demo’d these and loved them. I really couldn’t find another iron in the 10 I tested that was better all around. But, I read about the durability issues and that alone scared me off and I went I25. It’s too bad,because this is my favorite iron I have ever hit.

  15. I switched from 07 x forged and oh my! I hit the ball high to begin with but these go even higher AND further with the penetrating flight. And more forgiving. Best irons I ever hit hands down. I got the Pjx 6.5 in them.

  16. I’ve had a set for a few months now. They do feel great. Especially the longer irons. I’ve played blades most of my life and the feel of these lives up to the hype while being much more forgiving. Wear hasn’t been a big issue for me. I walk most of the time and some of the finish has rubbed off from clubs rubbing against each other, but after a while they all look good.

    • Also, big props to Callaway’s custom department. I ordered a set of Apex Pro’s plus 3 Mack Daddy 2’s and they all came in perfect. Shaft, weight, grips, lie angle. Dead on. Great experience.

    • Agreed. Bought a new set of cmb’s when they 1st came out with an extra iron for $800. best Irons I have ever hit. Haven’t had a full session with Apex’s though.

    • 1400 is way more than you have to pay. They list for 1100 for the full set. Having said that you get what you pay for and these are the best irons of 2014. Adams in my opinion are older players clubs. And what about feel? Do you get the same feel from the Adams? Are you comparing forged to forged? I don’t even think Adams has a forged iron. Could be wrong there though. I don’t know their lines that we’ll.

      • I hit the regular Apex and experienced an increase in distance, but my backspin came down significantly and thus I was concerned about being able to hold the greens. Unfortunately I was only hitting them into a simulator and not on the course. Anyone have a similar experience?

LEAVE A REPLY