|GolfWRX Top Rated|
Callaway's Apex and Apex Pro are leaders in their respective categories. The Apex irons offer incredible distance and forgiveness, while the Apex Pros check all the important boxes in a set of tour-quality irons.
5 out of 5
Pros: The Apex irons are incredibly long and forgiving. Slimmer short irons make the set more appealing to better players. The Apex Pro long irons are higher-launching than golfers will expect. They offer an impressively soft feel and the feedback better players want.
Cons: Given the large distance gap between the Apex and Apex Pro irons, some golfers may be left wishing for a tweener model.
Who they’re for: Almost anyone can play the Apex irons. They’ll be most appreciated by better golfers in search of more distance, as well as those who want maximum performance, but still value looks and feel. The Apex Pros are for golfers with single-digit-or-better handicaps. They’ll work best for those who already hit their irons a sufficient distance, and place a premium on shot shaping and trajectory control.
In terms of performance, it’s hard to do better than Callaway’s Apex irons. Millimeter for millimeter, they could be the longest irons in golf, but that’s just one of the reasons they’re one of the most recommended iron models by many leading custom-club fitters. They’re noticeably larger in size than the company’s Apex Pro irons, which are used by the majority of the company’s PGA Tour players, but not so much that they’re unsightly. It’s that balance of not too big, not too small, that’s a key in their popularity.
I know a lot of golfers — good and bad players — who have put the Apex irons in the bag because of how they look. “They’re beautiful,” they say. Others care more about the performance: “They’re almost as long and forgiving as the ‘shovels’ my friends are playing.” And a few can’t get over the feel. “They’re forged,” they say, adding a vocal exclamation point.
Of course, the Apex irons aren’t forged in the same way as the Apex Pro irons, which are hammered into shape from a solid block of steel. The Apex irons have Callaway’s signature 360 Cup Faces, which means that an extremely thin piece of steel is wrapped around the forged body of the irons (3-7), creating a trampoline-like club face that allows golfers to hit the Apex long and middle farther than the Apex Pros. The Apex short irons and wedges (8-SW) use a slightly different construction, which doesn’t create as much distance.
You can see just how much farther I hit the 4 and 7 irons in my testing below, but also notice that something interesting happened when I tested the pitching wedges.
My testing took place at the Launch Pad at Carl’s Golfland in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., on Trackman, and used premium golf balls. All irons were bent 1-degree strong and 1-degree flat from Callaway’s standard specifications, and both had KBS C-Taper 125S S+ shafts (standard length, same grips).
The Apex irons are long, but they’re not just one-trick ponies. The long irons are distance monsters, the short irons are tame, and the middle irons bridge the gap. That progressive distance design, which also includes progressive sizing — the irons appear smaller as the set moves toward the wedges — is what makes them playable for a wide range of golfers, from aspirational high-handicappers all the way to PGA Tour players.
As you can see in Trackman numbers, I hit the Apex 4 iron 20 yards farther than the Apex Pro 4 iron. I also hit the 7 iron 10 yards farther, but the pitching wedge flew just a few yards farther. Such a design allows golfers to extend the narrow distance gaps that are typical of their long irons, without creating a wide distance gap at the transition point between their highest-lofted iron and lowest-lofted wedge.
Related: Callaway’s Apex Black irons
So why would a golfer prefer the Apex Pro irons to the Apexes? While the Apex Pros can’t win a distance battle with the Apexes, there’s no denying that the Apex Pros will look better at address to low-handicap golfers. They check all the important boxes in a set of tour-quality irons: they’re more workable, have less offset and offer better feedback. Miss a shot one groove low on the face? Golfers might not feel it with the Apexes, but they will with the Apex Pros. It should be noted, too, that as far as blade-like irons go, the Apex Pros offer an impressive amount of forgiveness.
Since Callaway’s 2013 X Forged irons, I’ve been continuously impressed with the forgiveness Callaway has been able to add to its solid-face players irons. The long irons seem to just fly bit higher than others I have tested, too, and when I slightly mishit them, they do an admirable job holding their line.
Of course, it’s not fair to compare the forgiveness of the Apex and Apex Pro irons. But if you hit your irons on the screws most of the time, the Apex Pros can make more sense. Do you take pride in your ability to hit squeeze cuts or punch draws? You’re probably an Apex Pro player.
An argument for better turf interaction could also be made for the Apex Pros. Their soles are narrower, and cut through bad lies like Samurai swords. The curvature of their soles also makes them glide when others might stick in the turf post impact, provided you’re angle of attack isn’t ridiculously steep. It’s due to their large heavy camber, or sole curvature from front to back, something also used on the X Forged ’13 irons and the Apex Pro ’14 irons.
Torn between the Apex and Apex Pro? Callaway has a third option, an Apex-Apex Pro Combo Set ($1199).
Because golfers generally want more distance from their long and mid irons, and more control from their short irons, the company adjusted the lofts of the Apex (3-7) and Apex Pro (8-AW) irons to bridge their distance gaps at the transition point between the 7 and 8 iron. Another nice touch was giving the combo-set Apex Pro irons a satin chrome finish, which matches the satin chrome finish of the Apex irons (the standard Apex Pro irons have a chrome finish).
For the majority of golfers, the Apex irons are going to be the clear choice. They’re one of the longest irons in golf, but also one of the most well rounded in terms of looks, feel and versatility in the distance-iron category. Of course, some golfers don’t need or want to hit their irons farther, and the Apex Pros are made for them.
If you’re on the fence at all between the Apex and Apex Pros, at least consider Callaway’s Combo Set. The performance of the Apex long and mid irons is simply stunning, and can change the way golfers feel about their iron game.