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Head-to-Head Testing: Callaway’s 2016 Apex and Apex Pro Irons



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.

The Review

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.

Related: Learn more about the technical features of the Apex and Apex pro irons.

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.

The Numbers

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).

CallyApex2015_4iron CallyApex2015_7iron CallyApex2015_pw

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).

The Takeaway

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.

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  1. JM

    Jul 10, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    I play the Apex Pro irons and also have a 3 iron in my bag. I am a high single digit handicap but my hc went from a 15 to single digit in the past 2 years i have been playing the Apex Pros. I also have a swing coach i only see once a month now and I practice correctly and never hit more than 70 balls on the range.
    The author left out the most important point.
    The Apex Pros have an absolute reliable distance swing after swing. You may hit the apex 7 iron 150-170 but the Apex Pro is always within 3-5 yds consistently.

  2. Jalan

    Dec 11, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    I acquired a set of the CF16s about August of this year, and couldn’t be happier. They will be in my bag a long time. I find them easier to hit and longer, with great feel. Coupled with KBS Tour 90s I have increased distance, raised trajectory and improved accuracy over previous irons.

    I was strongly considering the TM M2 Tours, but after trying these, abandoned that idea. Glad I did.

  3. cocheese

    Sep 3, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    I had a set of the combos with all matte finish and Steelfiber shafts and they were impressive clubs. In the end, they did not spin enough and I kept going over the back. I cannot blame the clubs entirely, as it was a shaft fitting issue more than anything. As a low spin player, the heads just hit lasers. I was amazed by how forgiving the Pros are. Compared to the 716 AP2’s, I found the Apex Pro 16’s to be more forgiving by a large margin. I’m on to a set of iBlades now, but the Apex Pro 16’s and the combo set especially, are a nice set of clubs. I agree that the Pros look overly work only after several rounds. If you’re ok with that, then fine, but if you like your clubs looking new for a long time, you may want to go with Ping or something more durable. I don’t think it effects performance though.

  4. Jim

    Sep 2, 2016 at 8:50 am

    Zak, how are the apex pro’s 16 holding up for you? I recently ordered a set with steel fibers used that luckily matches my fitting numbers right down to the swing weight and lie loft tweets for $700 from one of the few reputable eBay vendors. (They are also on this site for reference and I should have them next week). I ordered them used because I am coming from Miura tournament blades and now that I play to a 3 versus my +3 from ten years ago when I acquired the Miura blades I felt it was time to try something more forgiving. I ordered these because of the feel offered versus mizuno which no longer offer LH models for a “better player” iron. I am just looking for your updated opinion on the pro’s as I have read in a few places that quality is not so good and there are some hot spots across the face even with center struck shots. I care little about distance etc I am just looking for tight shot dispersion and accuracy. I am traditionally a high ball hitter and feel that these might ballon a bit versus my board like low spinning shafted Miura tournament blades. This test set for me is my hope for finding a club that can aid in the prevention of pulling the trigger on a $3000 set of LH Miura Y grind cavity backs where there is little to zero review information available on the net! Quite a pretty penny to drop with little to no information even the top club fitters in my area do not carry the LH fitting set from Miura. Sorry for the rambling post I am just interested in your opinion as a great reviewer for this site! Also, if you feel that the Miura are far superior in cavity back design I would happily pull the trigger I am just blind to the Miura cavity backs now available for LH golfers and very skeptical about spending three large on clubs that I have not had an opportunity to hit first!

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Sep 2, 2016 at 5:46 pm


      There are definitely no hot spots in the Apex Pro ’16 irons! They do offer a little different look, sound and feel than Miura’s blades and compact CB irons, but in terms of performance — when compared loft to loft — the biggest difference is probably going to be the sole grinds. The Apex Pros are great for diggers. Miura’s blades and smaller CB irons are a little bit more geared for pickers.

  5. Matt W

    Jun 5, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Zac and everyone else,
    I got the combo set earlier this year replacing a set of XR pro’s. All my golf buddies said I would lose distance going to forged clubs, the complete opposite happened. I got these with the same shafts (project x 6.5) and I hit them if not too the number, but possibly a couple yards farther than the XR Pro’s. The lofts are exactly the same in the combo set as the xr’s but the difference in feel is amazing. These irons are butter compared to the XR pro’s.
    Your review is spot on, I am a lower Hdcp and am very happy with all aspects of these irons.

  6. EdJ

    May 28, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    A little off topic, but how would the apex or apex pro compare to forged diablos? PW is 45*


  7. WUTiger

    May 28, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    A couple of opening comments:

    Comparing lofts on 7-irons (Calla and others)…
    X20: 33° / CF16: 31° // X20 Tour (my current): 34° / Pro16: 34° // TM SLDR: 32°
    Note that COG-loft-shaft interaction have a lot to do with launch angle and distance

    Know what you mean about the XForged from 2013: The first modern forged blade I could actually get airborne. But, the XHot Pro went 15 yards farther.
    Got to test out the new Apex family irons in April and May demo days. Of note, I had been favorably impressed with the original Apex when I grabbed a 6i as a warm-up club before hitting some drivers a few months back.

    Our senior teaching pro went to Callaway, and I got to hit his Apex Pro16s in April. Combined with the Recoil 95/110 series shafts, the ball flew fairly well. Strangely, the 4i flew much better than 7i. The standard Apex seemed to be easier to hit.
    Last weekend, I went to a second demo day, and I hit several Callaway items. Again, the Apex with an XP95 seemed to fly better overall – easier to use – than the A.Pro16 with a PX 5.5 (a bit heavy for me?). Comparatively, I could do a basic fade or draw with either iron as long as I swang smoothly. – Really, you can do that with most any iron if you understand how golf clubs work.

    If I went with either Apex, I would need some launch monitor time with different shafts for each. I had the PX in my X20 Tours originally, but had them reshafted with a much lighter NS Pro 8950.
    It’s really been interesting, the new clubhead designs plus refinements and variety in the Recoil shafts.

  8. Warren

    May 27, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Interesting data on distances, I would howevervlike to see manufacturers quote the loft of the testing irons, i bet the 7 iron being tested is the loft equivelent of yesteryears 5 iron!

    • Mark Moser

      May 31, 2016 at 12:24 am

      So? It does t matter Anylonger about club loft now vs then. It’s all about your yard ages and that you can ah e the separation YOU need. Don’t be a dinasour. I’ve played every type of iron and who would want to play with some butter know each you can’t hit anywhere with Neanderthal shafts in them when today’s gear gives you way more workability, forgiveness, it easier to adjust trajectory and so much more forgiving on mishits!!!
      It’s not directed at you but at all the idiots that are going to say how their 1367 irons are still better and they don’t realize they look like idiots. Go try and play new equipment and you’ll play better and shoot lower!!! 35yrs in the industry and that’s just the truth!!

      • steven plyler

        Jan 14, 2017 at 7:08 pm

        I find your reference to idiots interesting – 35 years in the game – I am sure you are a good player – and probably never got skinned by that guy with ugly sticks – equipment is key as technology makes even an old man like me still able to play a decent game – but as a past guy willing to wager a tad, I know the hustle, mouth loses out to game every-time. Of course all lies that there are guys who have so much natural talent they beat you with a shovel – and then give you ups on the emergency nine – then standing in the parking lot as your beautiful clubs are loaded into his trunk, you still think, can’t happen – seen it.

  9. RAT

    May 27, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Great ad for callaway

  10. Rob

    May 27, 2016 at 9:18 am

    I’m scratch. Switched from a set of MP64s to the Apex irons this spring. Threw in some SteelFibers and won’t ever go back. I have no problem working the ball, baby fades, punch draws, whatever you like. I’m nearly two clubs longer with the Apex irons and it’s changed the world for me. I likely would have gone with the pros in the 9i/PW, but didn’t want to mix finishes at the time and in the end I don’t mind the Apex short irons.

    To those worried about spin, it’s a non-issue. Remember that you’ll likely need to compare the Apex irons to competitors longer irons. Don’t look at spin/launch for an 8i, for example, but look at spin/loft from 165.

  11. SB

    May 27, 2016 at 8:47 am

    How would you compare the Apexes to the Titlest AP1s?
    Thank you!

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      May 27, 2016 at 8:50 am

      The AP1s are larger and have wider soles. A golfer will definitely have a looks/feel preference for one or the other. They’re both 5-star irons, when properly fit.

  12. Kyle

    May 27, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Why is the MPF lower in the CF16 then in the PRO?

  13. Kevin

    May 27, 2016 at 8:32 am

    I bought the Apex (CF16) as a combo set, so the 8 – PW were from the PRO set but finished in the same finish as the APEX. I used them for 15 rounds before I sent them back to Callaway as the finish on the 8 – PW was coming off and they looked like I had used them for 2 years. Callaway just sent them back with a note saying ‘normal wear and tear’. I think the clubs are very good and I enjoyed playing with them (I play off 5), BUT Callaways response has soured the enjoyment of these irons. They shall be up for sale and no Callaway iron will ever be placed in my bag again. Back to a decent company – Titleist.

    • Nick Davis

      Jun 6, 2016 at 10:54 am

      YOU had to glue the 8 iron head on three times and the rest of the set twice?

      Doesn’t say much about YOUR gluing abilities does it?

  14. Mark

    May 27, 2016 at 4:33 am

    237 yards with a 4 iron? Is this Disney or Golfwrx? Love the look of the standard head but not so the Pro which looks very old fashioned. Thing is in my club Cally is not seen as a maker of low hcp irons anymore. Ping, Mizuno, TM and Titleist dominate and all are less expensive.

    • Other Paul

      May 27, 2016 at 8:34 am

      I dont understand your point about 237 yards. Is that long? If yes, its not that long. Plenty of tour players can hit it quite a bit farther then that. If you are saying it is short, then that’s not very nice. Tour players arent even very long compared to what is possible.

  15. Matty

    May 26, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    I wonder if these new 2016 Apex irons are better overall than their 2014 predecessors, and I am also curious how those irons compare to the PXG 0311 and 0311T irons.

    • John

      May 27, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      I purchased the CF16 irons. In my opinion they are a better than the 2014 model. I feel that the CF16’s are much more consistent with distance control. The feel of the Apexs are nothing like the PXG’s. I thought the feel of the APEX pros were extremely soft almost Mizuno like whereas the APEX while soft has a different sound to it especially in the long irons which I attribute to the cup face design. I put in recoil shafts which mutes a little feel and they seem great to me but if you are after a Mizuno feel I would go with the Apex pro if you like PXGs I would try one of the new Ben Hogan designs. I tried all of the these irons and I cannot honestly say one is the best but coming out of Mizuno MP54s which were amazing irons the reason I switched to the CF16 Apex was because of the lower spin I got in the mid to long irons made a big difference playing in heavy winds and I got to experiment with graphite shafts which finally came in at steel weights and flexes without being upcharged.

  16. Clifford Roberts

    May 26, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Looking at the Apex numbers, why would you want your PW to launch so high (26*) and spin so little (8300). You really want to have more spin on a PW, more like 9300 and 24* launch. If Zak is spinning the PW so little with his swing speed, its going to be even worse for the guy with an 90 mph driver swing speed.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      May 26, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Clifford. Keep in mind that the irons were fit to my swing. The lofts are 1-degree strong of Callaway’s standard, and the KBS C-Taper S+ is a low-launching, low-spinning shaft. I absolutely did not want any higher ball flight from the Apex and Apex Pro, because they were stopping quickly in my on-course testing. As you stated, however, other players may need more launch and spin to optimize their distances, and that’s easy to do with the proper lofts and shafts.

      • Cut Knuckler

        May 27, 2016 at 7:46 pm

        When you have a club that’s been bent (stronger or weaker) and ground it, does the loft go back to the original? Seems like it would with adjustable clubs but I’m not sure about irons.
        Anyone that knows please answer

      • Paul Sutt

        May 29, 2016 at 3:39 am

        Wow, how amazing. The Apex Irons are longer than the Apex Pro irons. Let us have a look.
        The Apex 4 iron has 21.5 degrees loft;
        The Apex Pro has 24 degrees
        The Apex 7 iron has 31 degrees loft; The Pro has 34 degrees.
        All Apex irons have less loft than the Pro counterpart.
        Zac, given identical shafts, less loft = more distance.
        Calloway are not the first company to reduce loft and claim greater distance
        Zac, go straight to the dunce’s corner

        • Logical

          Jun 23, 2016 at 4:10 pm

          Except your argument of lowering lofts to simply gain distance would imply a lower ball flight and inability to stop the ball on a green. Manufacturers have figured out how to strengthen lofts and RAISE launch angles. That’s why you get longer distances while still being able to use them to play golf.

          Just look at your own argument, you site a 3 degree difference in the 7 iron lofts…but magically, trackman shows only a .4 degree difference in dynamic launch angle.

          You have to stop ignoring real launch when making loft arguments, it’s time to catch up with the tech.

  17. Shanks

    May 26, 2016 at 9:24 am

    I know I couldn’t be happier with the set of Apex Pro’s I have. The 3-5 irons launch and feel like nothing else. The whole set feels like butter out on the course.

  18. Park Ave

    May 26, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Dobbs: Or launches like a 2 iron

  19. Adam

    May 26, 2016 at 9:04 am

    I was fit for the Apex irons and went with a blended set.

    5-6 Apex CF16
    7-8 Apex Pro
    9-PW Apex MB

    I couldn’t be happier. I was worried about loft difference originally but I haven’t had any problems with the way my carry distances are spread out.

    I’m very happy with my set and I wouldn’t worry about loft differences until you hit these for yourself and see how they fly.

    • Adam

      May 26, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      for me a 9 iron carries 155, so I really like starting the blades there so I can really control trajectory and distances inside 150 yards. Plus the blades usually give me a better shot at clean contact from the rough when I’m in scoring distance which becomes huge when I bomb a drive and miss the fairway by a yard or few….

  20. Mikko U

    May 26, 2016 at 8:46 am

    Looking at the specs, you should’ve compared the Apex 8 iron to the Apex Pro 7 iron and so forth. Now it’s just another pointless story of how some irons are “longer”. Another option would be to give the clubs to a consumer the Apex and other GI/SGI clubs are targeted (maybe 80 mph clubhead speed) and then figure out which club he can hit efficiently.

    If he can hit the Apex 5 iron efficiently (mostly carry and 10+ yards longer than the 6) but can’t hit the Apex Pro 4 iron, then we can talk about the Apex actually being longer.

    • Isaac

      May 26, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      My thoughts exactly, the jacked up lofts these days are kind of sad.

      • Zak Kozuchowski

        May 26, 2016 at 2:45 pm

        If the irons fly perfectly, why are stronger lofts sad?

        Jason Day uses a 44-degree pitching wedge. Lee Westwood’s is 45 degrees. Jordan Spieth’s is 46 degrees. Rory McIlroy’s is 47 degrees. J.B. Holmes’ is 48 degrees. Tiger Woods’ is 49 degrees.

        • Christopher

          May 26, 2016 at 4:33 pm

          Correction: Jason Day uses a 44-degree short-iron. It would be an 8 iron with some sets.

          The letters on the clubs are becoming more and more meaningless, I think if people could get past the Hogan style of having lofts on the bottom we’d see far better comparisons.

          Unless you compare clubs of equal length, shafts, swing weight, loft and lie then you’re really not comparing them. I’m not criticising you personally, Zak, just the process in general, taken to extremes you could compare a 4 iron muscle back with a 4 hybrid, it wouldn’t really be a comparison (I’m sure the hybrid would out perform the blade in general), it would be an entertaining read, but not really worthwhile, as both clubs are designed to achieve different results.

          Unless the clubs you’re comparing are identical, you’re just getting enjoyable range and monitor time.

          I think a lot of readers would be very interested to see comparisons with equal clubs.

          • smizzle smells

            May 27, 2016 at 4:37 am

            gotta be over Smizzle

            • Officer Smizzle

              May 27, 2016 at 11:03 am

              Typical good folks. On the attack again.. I make a comment admittedly with a little jab and you do your best to be hateful… Just remember I’m at home laughing, you’re in your mom’s basement angry. WINNING!!!
              Bet at least 80% of the people that read what’s above sees the point I was making and agrees with me… And even more thought it was funny

          • Zak Kozuchizzle

            May 27, 2016 at 8:03 pm

            5 star comment M

          • Christopher

            May 28, 2016 at 11:04 am

            Is that the Royal ‘WE’? I’m glad you speak for everyone. Anyway the suggestion (I certainly wasn’t complaining about Zak’s hard work) was that some members would love to see comparisons of equally made-up clubs … rhetorical questions notwithstanding. Have a better one.

  21. Park Ave

    May 26, 2016 at 8:39 am

    You mention that the 4 iron is 21.5* and the 7 iron is 31* on the apex. I think they need to get away from iron numbers and just stamp degrees on these irons. Getting insane.

    • Johny Thunder

      May 26, 2016 at 8:35 pm

      You understand of course that 99% of golfers (the ones who aren’t Golfwrx loft nerds) would have absolutely no clue what loft means what. If the club numbers bother you so much (the 1%), put a piece of lead tape over it.

  22. Steve Dodds

    May 26, 2016 at 8:39 am

    I hate to state the obvious, but of course the CF16 is longer than the Pro. The lofts are a club different. The Pro 4 iron, for example, has the same loft as the CF16 5 iron. If you look at the head to head, the Cf16 4 iron launches lower and spins less. Much like a 3 iron.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      May 26, 2016 at 9:01 am

      Thanks for the comment, Steve. The point you’re making is an important one. I’m not sure if you’re considering the effect of added ball speed, though. The Apex has 7 mph faster ball speed in the 4 iron than the Apex Pro. That’s a HUGE difference.

      So despite the slightly lower launch angle and spin rate, the descent angle of the Apex 4 iron was nearly as steep as the higher-launching, higher-spinning Apex Pro. Yes, the Apex 4 iron may have been going to distance of a 2 or 3 iron, but it was landing like a 4 iron should. That’s exactly what the Apex irons are designed to do.

      • jj

        May 26, 2016 at 1:38 pm

        But also the smash factors are much lower on apex pros…. perhaps the tester didn’t hit apex pro solid due to smaller size? PW data isn’t too far off from each other since the smash factor numbers are the same

        • Tom

          May 27, 2016 at 1:10 pm

          Smash Factor is a ratio of ball speed divided by club head speed. While its possible due to poor strikes after testing both of these clubs since it was a human and not a robot I believe the answer actually is in the iron designs. The CF16 is at the usga limit for COR due to the cup face design in the 3-7 irons whereas the Apex pro is more in line with tour irons around the .79 to .81 mark. Once you get to the 8 irons through AW in both sets is where you will start seeing more similar numbers between clubs.

      • Jm

        May 26, 2016 at 2:28 pm

        Ball speed is impacted by actual loft as well as club design and clubhead speed. You were swing the regular apex faster and it has a lower actual loft so if the ballspeeds should be higher. All clubs with a lower loft within a given iron design should create higher ballspeeds due to less speed lost to loft.

        • Zak Kozuchowski

          May 26, 2016 at 2:47 pm

          Exactly. So theoretically, lower-lofted irons will have higher smash factors.

          I hit all of these shots solid, so the smash factor differences were based on design, not off-center hits.

          • mctrees02

            May 27, 2016 at 12:35 pm

            The smash factor differences were based on loft more than design. The Apex 4i would be at 21.5* while the Apex Pro 4i would be at 24* (or the same loft as Apex 5i before being bent 1* strong). As both clubs should’ve been at the same length, the 2.5* of loft difference is the primary driver of the higher smash factor, lower launch, and lower spin for the Apex.

            A proper scientific test should only allow for one variable at a time while everything else is held constant. In golf, the variable is the human swinging the club. Once you add in clubs with different lofts, it’s not a fair fight and any comparison between the two is meaningless.

            If you want to test the technology, put the same length shaft in an Apex 5i vs an Apex Pro 4i. You’ll also have to bend the Apex 5i flatter to level out the lies. Once you have two clubs with identical loft, lie, and shaft length, only then can you test to see which is a “better” club.

      • Steve Dodds

        May 26, 2016 at 6:19 pm

        My comment wasn’t actually criticism of jacked up lofts. My own irons have them. It’s more that your test isn’t head to head as advertised. As mentioned above, the test should have been 5 iron to 4 iron.

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GolfWRX Member Reviews: TaylorMade 2017 M1 and M2 Irons



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For Testing Threads, the process a bit more involved. GolfWRX Forum Members sign up to test the latest and greatest products in golf, and then they provide in-depth reviews on the equipment. Being the intelligent golf-equipment users they are, GoflWRX Members are able to provide the most-informed and unbiased reviews on the Internet.


In this Testing Thread, we selected 75 members to test a TaylorMade M1 2017 7-iron and TaylorMade M2 7-iron. Each of the clubs were built with the stock lofts and shafts — M2 2017 (28.5 degrees) with a TaylorMade Reax shaft, and M1 2017 (30.5 degrees) with a True Temper Dynamic Gold S300 shaft — and the testers were instructed to post their review of the clubs here.

Below, we’ve selected what we’ve deemed the most in-depth and educated reviews out of the 75 testers. We have edited each of the posts for brevity, clarity and grammar.

Thanks to all of those involved in the testing!


To be honest, looking down on the TaylorMade M1 and M2 irons at address, there is really not much difference. I would have to pick one up to see which is which.

The first 10 balls I hit were with M1 and 6/10 felt great, while the other 4 were toe hits, which I felt and the distance reflected that. Kinda what I expected with a club design for lower-handicap players. Distance was about 1/2 longer than my Srixon iron and dispersion was close, as well. I will say they did not feel as good as the Srixon on center hits.

Next 10 (ok, 15) balls were with the M2. Wow, can you say “up, up and away? The ball really popped of the club face, but wasn’t a ballon flight. Waited for the ball to come down and WTH, with the roll out it was 5-8 yards longer than balls hit with M1, and that is with a few toe shots. I did some smooth swings and then very aggressive swings and was a little amazed at this iron. Just like the M1, it does not have the forged feeling and does have a clicky sound (which I hate).

Bottom line: M2 is the longest iron I have ever hit. I love my 545s, but I could see myself playing M2 very easily. Matter of fact, I will be taking this M2 7 iron in my bag and play it more head-to-head against my Srixon 545 on the course.


These are both beautiful clubs. What surprised me the most is how much alike the two clubs look at address. I was expecting a chunky topline and significant offset in the M2, but it’s footprint looked almost exactly the same as the M1, outside of the chrome finish on the M2 versus the frosted finish of the M1. The M2 could almost pass as a player’s iron to my eye at address. These clubs both get A’s from me in the looks department.

The M1 felt a tad thicker than most player’s irons I’m used to, but it seemed to come with a bit of added forgiveness too. Well-struck shots felt good, with a nice mid-trajectory and with the workability that I’ve come to expect from a player’s iron. But true to TaylorMade’s claims, the M1 seemed more forgiving than a traditional player’s iron. Had a nice soft feel at impact, mishits didn’t sting and left you with a more playable result. A really nice combination of the better attributes of both player’s and game improvement irons. I’ve been playing with an old set of Tommy Armour blades, but I’ve been recently wanting more forgiveness for when I’m stuck with my B or C swing. Based on the early returns, I could definitely see myself bagging these.

I’m not sure if it’s the shaft, the design of the clubhead, or a combination of both, but the M2 is definitely a different animal than the M1 at impact. This club launches the ball high, arguably ridiculously so. I was hitting Jason Day moonbombs with this bad boy. Didn’t seem to matter what kind of swing I put on it, the ball launched high, flat and dead straight. The club was super forgiving and if not for the insanely high ball flight, I would love to have a set of these for when my swing is out of sorts. I didn’t really try to flight it at all, so I’m not sure what it’s capable of at this point. One other note was that the M2 had a clicky feel at impact. It didn’t bother me since it still felt so sweet… so strange as it sounds, clicky, but smooth and sweet at the same time. I think these clubs will be big winners with the mid-to-high handicap set.

The M1 is a fine iron, but doesn’t really stand out in any way from other irons of its class.

The M2, on the other hand, is an iron on steroids. I’m really starting to love this thing. It’s super forgiving and just goes and goes. According to my laser, flush shots were going 195 yards (my usual blade 5 iron distance) and very high. I can’t help but think golf would be a whole lot easier, particularly longer courses with long par 3s, with a full set of these in my bag.


M1 feels softer than the M2 and I felt the ball flight was more consistent and what I want in an iron. The M1 did have a harsher feeling in my hands than I typically like, but I’m going to credit a lot of that to the range balls.

M2 flies very high. It was a windy afternoon and about 100 degrees. I love the high ball flight on the range, but I have a concern what that ball flight would be like on the course. I like to hit the ball different heights for different shots and I don’t think I could do that confidently with the M2, but I could with the M1. I don’t like the sound of the M2. It sounded “clicky” to me.


Initially on the range I was scared because the M1 had a regular flex in it, so I took it easy for my initial 10-15 swings with it. Ball SHOT off the face, loud crack (didn’t care for it, but not too bad) and ball just kept rising and rising but didn’t balloon. I thought, “whoa,” that’s not what I expected…did it again…another CRACK and the ball just flew. I set another down and I paid attention to how it looked behind the ball, not much offset for a game improvement and I thought…”I could actually play this club!”  The 5-7 were EASY swings, aimed at a target of 170 yards away (my normal 7 iron distance) and with a EASY swing I was flying it by 20 yards or so. The next 5-10 I really went after it, same CRACK and ball just flew but to my surprise it was a nice draw, harder draw than the first but it was a nice 10-yard draw. This time the balls were landing just short of the 200 yard marker. Damn, 200 yards with a 7 iron! I know they are jacked lofts but it feels good to say “my 7 irons just few 190-200 yards!”

P.S. LOVE the Lamkin UTX grip!

Now, this was interesting, the M2 was quieter then the M1… weird!  Now, there is more carbon fiber added to this one and there is a “Geocoustic” label on the back. I am sure that it has something to do with all that carbon fiber but it does have a better sound. Other than the sound, it played exactly like the M1: long and straight. The REAX shaft felt a little weaker than the True Temper shaft and it flew a little higher but nothing else I could pick up.


Finally got out to the range after getting these bad boys in on Friday. My first impression of them is that they look really sharp. The graphics and design really stand out and really give these clubs a cool, modern look.

They were both a little to big IMO, as I am currently bagging Mizuno MP-68s. The M2 isa definite “game improvement iron”, while the M1 was similar in size and shape to my previous irons, Titleist AP1s.

They both really launch it, high and far. Ridiculous for 7 irons. I don’t have access to a launch monitor, but it was about a 20-yard difference between my gamer 7 iron and these (stronger lofts, as well).

The M1 definitely was more suited for my eye, and produced more consistent ball flights. It felt much more smooth and solid as the M2 had a clicky, cheap feel.

The M2 just isn’t for me. I felt like it was launching too high and ballooning, which could be due to the shaft (the M1 had the S300, while the M2 just had a stock “Reax” shaft). The feel off the face of the M2 just turned me off, to be honest.

While I don’t think I’ll be putting either model in play, I can definitely see the appeal for mid-to-high handicaps. Both irons were super forgiving, and they should be a dream to the average weekend golfer who has trouble with ball striking consistently.


Looks: As expected, I preferred the M1 with less offset, slightly smaller sole and a smoother finish. Less glare looking down on the iron. I must say the M2 did not look as bulky, or have as much offset as I thought it might have.

Feel: This was a close race, probably due to the shafts as much as the heads. The M1 was just a slight bit smoother feeling on solid shots. But the M2 was not bad at all, just not quite as smooth.

Distance and performance: Our range has a slight incline up the length of the range, so specific yardage gains or losses were difficult to measure. Both irons had a higher trajectory than my gamer 7 iron. Neither sole dug onto the turf either. The lofts for both irons are a degree or two stronger than mine, so I would think they probably flew a little further than my gamers. Neither iron flew “too” high, however. Might be a little harder to hit knock down shots, though.

Final thoughts: I had hit both the M1 and M2 irons last year during a fitting day, but did not like either. This year’s model were both better in my eyes. I asked a fellow member at our club to hit both and he felt the M1 was his preferred model, and he is a 20-index player. So coming from both a single digit, and a high double-digit, the M1 won this battle of wills. I will try and see if I can locate both a 5 iron and 9 iron to see if a full set might be a winner for me.


I was surprised that the M2 was the winner in this brief session. It felt better, flew higher, easier to hit and about 1/2 club longer that my gamer Apex CF16. The feel/sound was better than I thought it might be, but really not up to the CF16. I could, however, easily game the M2’s.


Feel: I hit the M2 first, and found it to be very solid when hit on the screws. There was almost no feel off the club face at all. When I mishit it, you knew it was, but it wasn’t harsh at all. Hit the M1 next, and same type of feel when hit solid. Much more harsh when mishit though, but I knew that was coming.

Distance and performance: This is was where I was curious to see how they would play. The M2 went out high in the air, and just kept going forever. Now granted my eyesight isn’t that great anymore, but it looked like I got about 10-15 yards more from the M2 compared to my Wilson D300. The only thing I didn’t like about the M2 was how much I was able to turn it over. Got a lot more hook compared to my D300. Don’t know if that was from the REAX shaft, but would love to find a less spinning shaft to correct that.

The M1 wasn’t a great performer for me. Same height as the M2, but much straighter off the club face. Didn’t get any great distance advantage as compared to my D300. Can’t game a player’s iron anymore, and testing this one just reaffirmed that.

Final thoughts: Was very happy with the distance I gained with the M2 compared to my current gamer. Very good-performing iron for me, and something I would definitely consider changing them out if I could reduce the spin off the face. If you’re looking for more distance, you need to try these out. The M1 just wasn’t for me, but as a player’s iron, I can see it as a great option.


Like the other testers, I found the M2 to launch the ball much higher and is 10-to-15 yards longer than my Adams XTD forged 7 iron. Of the two 7 irons I prefer the M1. I like the design of the M1 and its visual appearance at address. I feel more confident in trying to work the ball with the M1. The M1 gave me more feedback as to where the club head was in relation to my swing plane. If I had my druthers I would put the M1 in the bag as it stands now. Will continue to test, what a treat to compare the two irons.


Once I started making solid contact with a decent shoulder turn, the M2 really came alive in my hands. Towering flat height, for me, and very long. No more clacky hollow feel, just a very mild pleasant sensation… then zoom. Once I started making better swings, back to the M1, which was a very nice iron. Shorter than the M2 (though not short) and a little lower ball flight. Felt nice and substantial without being heavy. Very forgiving on slight mishits.

But the M2 was the star for me. High trajectory and very long. Club felt lively and fun. Frankly, unless a player wanted a lower trajectory, or likes to hit a lot of knock downs or feel shots, I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t choose the M2. They are very attractive and a very fun iron. I think folks who say that the M2 feels and/or sounds clicky, clacky or hollow may be mishitting the iron toward the toe. I am not judging — I mishit a lot of shots at first. I agree on toe mishits the iron did not feel great. It almost felt like plastic. The ball still flew pretty well, but it wasn’t a very enjoyable experience. Not painful, just felt very dead. But when hit nearer the center, the iron felt fantastic. Light, springy and very lively. 


They are both good-looking clubs. Not too long heel to toe and toplines were not that distracting. M1 is more what I like to see shape wise, but M2 was not bad at all. Personally, not a fan of seeing the face slots. But I could see how some people may like how they frame the ball. 



– Has a very odd sound on contact, almost sounds a tad like a fairway wood “ting. Not a fan
– Looks very good at address with the brushed finish
– Most shots I hit with it seemed to fall out of the sky (very likely a lack of spin). Ball flight was much lower than I would have expected (not super low, just not much different than my 7 iron)
– Inconsistent misses. Next to no distance gains vs RocketBladez Tour 7 iron


– Doesn’t look as good at address as the M1. Chrome finish at address is not an issue in even direct sunlight for me
– Feels and sounds quite nice to my ears at impact. Not a classic sound but very good considering what type of club it is
– Ball flight is very strong (comes off hot). Ball stays high in the air for awhile. Very high and lands soft
– 10-12 yards longer on average vs my 7 iron, it even had the horsepower to hang with my 6 iron
– VERY forgiving on thin strikes. Couldn’t believe how a near-top still traveled to nearly the front edge in the air and still went as far as the M1 did on a good strike
– Shaft is too light

Even though I’m a 2-handicap and don’t fit the M2 “mold,” I could see myself playing this club from 4-6 iron (although gapping would be a major issue mixing these with almost anything else) if it had a heavier shaft in it (I can only imagine how far this 4 iron must go… yikes)

M1 = 2.5/5 stars
M2 = 4.5/5 stars


Visual first impressions: The M1 7-iron is visually appealing to me as far as the finish and overall look. Even though it is classified as a player’s iron, it doesn’t seem so tiny that it would be tough to hit. I am not a huge fan of the bright-yellow badging, but I probably could get over it. The iron inspires confidence with its topline and a little bit of offset. The “rubber” piece on the hosel is a little bit funky to me.

I thought the M2 7-iron would look clunkier than it really is. Besides the finish being a little bit different, the difference between the M1 and M2 is actually pretty small. The M2’s topline and sole are a touch wider, but not by much. Not a huge fan of the fluted hosel since it can be seen at address. The M1’s fluting is only on the rear of the club.

I did notice that the sole’s finish did scratch pretty easily. Overall, I thought the M1 and M2 are pretty good looking, but I would definitely give the edge to the M1. I also preferred the stock Lamkin grip on the M1 vs. the ribbed M2 grip.

On course action: They both feel solid. I tried hitting both irons in all different types of on-course situations over a two week period. Both clubs launch the ball high but I would not say they balloon. For me, the M2 was about 10 yards longer and higher than the M1. Compared to my Cleveland irons, they are 1 to 1.5 clubs longer.

M1 loft = 30.5
M2 loft = 28.5
Cleveland TA7 loft = 33.5

I know this accounts for the distance gain but the ball definitely comes off hot compared to my set. I was hoping I would hit the M1 better since I like the appearance better, but that was not the case. The M2 definitely felt better for me and I felt more confident with it in my hands.

Discussion: Read all 75 reviews and the responses in our Testing Thread

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Members Choice: The Best Irons of 2017



To help golfers find the best irons for them in 2017, we enlisted the services of GolfWRX Members, the most knowledgeable golfers on the internet. They not only understand the technology used in the latest golf equipment, but they also test new clubs extensively. Following their detailed experiences and words of wisdom about the latest products is the perfect starting point for anyone interested in purchasing new golf clubs.

To gather their votes and feedback, we as a company first needed to properly sort the irons into categories. We aimed to keep the categories as simple as possible with 2017’s crop of irons, and we broke them down into three general categories:

  • Players Irons: Basically, small-sized irons. These irons have sleek top lines and soles. They place workability and control over distance, and for that reason they’re irons you can expect to see in the bag of a professional golfer.
  • Game-Improvement Irons: Basically, medium-sized irons. This category includes a wide-range of clubs that blend distance, forgiveness, good looks and workability.
  • Super Game-Improvement Irons: Basically, large-sized irons. These irons are juiced with hot faces, wide soles, thick top lines, big offset and a low center of gravity, among other engineering feats, that are often unique to each company.

Note: Because of the abundance of Players Irons currently available, we divided that category into two categories: Players Irons and Exotics Players Irons. The Exotic Players Irons list included players irons from companies such as Epon, Fourteen, Miura, PXG, and Honma, which are not as widely available for testing in the U.S.

Below you can access the full results of our Members Choice 2017: Best Irons lists, as well as feedback about each iron from the GolfWRX Community. We’d like to sincerely thank all the GolfWRX Members who participated in the voting and provided feedback on the irons. We also want to thank those of you who provided feedback on the voting process itself. We assure you that we read and consider everything, and we’re going to continue to improve our process in order to provide the best and most useful information about the latest golf equipment.

Members Choice: The Best Players Irons


Vote Leader: Mizuno JPX-900 Tour

“WOW! Great mix of buttery feel and forgiveness.”

Overall, the Mizuno JPX-900 Tour irons earned nearly 15 percent of votes on the Players iron category, giving them top billing for players irons. One GolfWRX member said he was “weak in the knees from first look at the satin finish and compact size,” and that the “feel is excellent, and there’s just enough forgiveness.” Another said the JPX-900 Tour irons are the “best irons out there right now in terms of blending feel, forgiveness, and the ability to shape shots.”

Full List: The Best Players Irons of 2017

Members Choice: The Best Exotic Players Irons


Vote Leader: PXG 0311T

“I can’t say I have ever hit anything that feels as good as the PXG.”

With more 21 percent of votes for the Best Exotics Players Irons of 2017, PXG’s 0311T irons were described by GolfWRX members as “a great looking club,” and that they “felt unbelievable.” When comparing the irons to Titleist’s 716 MB irons, one member said, “The fact that you can barely tell if it has or doesn’t have more offset than the MB 7 iron just shows how little it has.”

Full List: The Best Exotic Players Irons of 2017

Members Choice: Best Game-Improvement Irons


Vote Leader: Callaway Apex CF ’16 

“Apex CF is simply the most explosive, best feeling iron I’ve ever hit in this category.”

Acquiring nearly 20 percent of votes of all models in the Best Game-Improvement Iron category, GolfWRX Members described the Callaway Apex CF ’16 irons as “simply the most explosive,” and that they “perform very well on center hits and almost as good on mishits.”

Full List: The Best Game-Improvement Irons of 2017

The Best Super Game-Improvement Irons 


Vote Leader: Ping G

“The Ping G takes what Ping has done for years and added in increased ball speed, improved feel and much better looks.”

An iron that “will appeal even to Ping haters.” GolfWRX Members described the Ping G as “stupid easy to hit,” providing a “high and straight ball flight,” and “an eye opener.” The irons also accumulated more than 22 percent of the total votes in the category.

Full List: The Best Super Game-Improvement irons of 2017

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