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Equipment

2021 Callaway X Forged CB, UT, and Apex MB irons launched

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Callaway Golf introduces the new 2021 X Forged CB, UT, and Apex MB irons.

The players iron category is the one where technology isn’t the big-ticket item in the conversation. Tour players and top amateurs alike prefer reliability over distance and forgiveness. Look into a good number of our tour pictures, and you will see countless bags with a one-piece forged cavity or muscleback irons.

Over the past four-to-five years, many OEMs have tried to integrate new tech into those irons (i.e. PXG Gen 3 T, TaylorMade P760, and Titleist AP/T100). All of these are multi-material players irons that were designed for the tour and have performed extremely well for a good number of players (Spieth, Jason Day, Zach Johnson, etc).

So what could make that idea better? The above examples all perform to the highest standard on tour and in the retail space…

Well, according to the team at Callaway, the ability to fine-tune for every player was the best place to start. 2021 callaway x forged irons

More photos and discussion in the forums.

2021 Callaway X Forged CB

2021-callaway-x-forged-cb

The Goal: To build a tour performance iron that offers the reliability of a one-piece forging while adding technology to offer enhanced forgiveness and the ability to fine-tune each player to exact, optimized specifications.

The Tech Story: The new 2021 Callaway X Forged CB is constructed from a forged 1025 carbon steel chassis and incorporates a multi-material weighting system to manipulate head weights without effecting exact CG placement.

2021-callaway-x-forged-cb

Beginning with the body, the housing of the hollow body design has the addition of external tungsten (standard at 17 grams) weighting system that can go up or down in weight depending on the needs of the player. The idea being that now Callaway has the opportunity to fine-tune swing weight without adding weight to the inside of the hosel, which is a common practice. The issue with that is it can adjust the CG of the golf club, resulting in inconsistencies throughout the set.

With head-specific MIM internal weight out towards the toe, Callaway was able to not only ensure the CG is dead nuts where it needs to be, but it also gives engineers the ability to tailor each weight (density and shape) specific to each head. In the past, internal weights were stock across the set, which can alter the consistency of the head. In this case, each head weight is dialed and cut specifically to match each clubhead.

With a hollow body design (although not taking it as far as the players distance category) there is a level of speed mitigation that is needed to help the best players in the world not hit it too far. Yes, that statement is correct. At the tour level, control, workability, and consistency will always hold a much higher priority than distance. With the 17-4 Tour Tuned faceplate, Callaway focused on adding perhaps a very small percentage of speed off the face but more to optimize the occasional mis-hit than anything else.

2021-callaway-x-forged-cb-1

What you have now is a face that will offer maybe two percent more speed off the face and an iron that is five percent more forgiving. In real terms, that’s maybe a couple of yards more distance out of the middle and 4-5 yards more carry on a center heel or toe strike. That’s it. Doesn’t sound like much, but for better players, the combination represents the difference between carrying a bunker or hitting it four feet closer to your intended target.

At the elite level, it’s in that nuance that makes or breaks an iron.

Optics/Feel

The shaping still holds consistent with the 2018 X Forged line—slightly longer blade length than its Apex CB sibling, thin top line, and medium-to-narrow sole. Turf interaction and a softer-than-normal feel were the benchmarks that make the ’18 X Forged popular. However, the 2021 version took it a bit further with a squarer leading edge and a bit more bounce based on Tour feedback. The overall impact experience will be a bit “crisper” based on early testing with Callaway staffer Kevin Kisner.

Tour Response

“Very positive,” according to tour manager Jacob Davidson. “We have multiple staff players testing and/or putting them in play including Na, Kisner, Gooch, Garnett, and a few others.” … “Players are liking the meatier feel at impact and the added forgiveness all while keeping to what they can expect from an X Forged profile.”

2021 Callaway X Forged Forged CB specs

External weighting options for fitters and builders only: Light 12 G, standar 17 G, heavy 22 G 

Loft/Lie/Offset

  • 3: 20/60/.135
  • 4: 23/60.5/.130
  • 5: 26/61/.125
  • 6: 29/61.5/.115
  • 7: 33/62/.110
  • 8: 37/62.5/.105
  • 9: 41/63/.095
  • PW: 45/63.5/.090
  • W: 50/63.5/.085

Stock steel shafts: Project X IO

  • R (105G) S (110G) X (115G)

Stock graphite shafts: Mitsubishi MMT 

  • R (85G) S (95G) X (105G, Custom Only)

Grips: Golf Pride Z

Pricing/Availability

  • $200/club
  • Pre-sale: 10/22
  • Retail: 10/29

More photos and discussion in the forums.

2021 Callaway Apex MB

2021-callaway-apex-mb-irons-1

The Goal: Tunability in a muscle back iron. The best players in the world require precision all while maintaining consistency set to set. Callaway wanted to offer this at the highest level.

The Story: The new 2021 Callaway Apex MB is forged from 1025 carbon steel with a classic shape that is similar to the 2018 but with a slightly narrower sole and less offset. 20V grooves ensure optimal spin control in and out of the rough. The chrome-plated 2018 version now has been “brushed” to reduce glare, which is becoming a more popular option.

2021-callaway-apex-mb-irons-1

External tungsten weighting (standard at eight grams) in a muscle back iron isn’t the newest idea ever, but with new technology and a better understanding of precise CG locations, Callaway wanted now to be able to maintain the exact DNA of players set regardless of a grip change, shaft change, etc.

Sounds like a trivial reason to base a new iron on, but in the case of the PGA Tour, it’s not trivial at all. Under normal circumstances, when a player loves a set but wants to make a tweak here or there, it can alter CG and swing weight rather quickly. For example, if a player makes a change into a new grip, it most often leads to a swing weight change resulting in the tour reps either having to add weight to the hosel to match swing weight, add lead tape (awesome) or build a brand new set.

The new Callaway Apex MB gives builders and players the ability to simply use the removable back weight to get the spec back to square skipping common steps and ensuring consistency.

2021-callaway-apex-mb-irons-1

Optics

From a shaping perspective, the new 2021 Callaway Apex MB has a few tweaks from its predecessor—slight offset reduction, brushed satin finish, a slight reduction in the top line, modified height in the toe, and the obvious weighting port in the back.

As mentioned in my article about the TaylorMade P7MB, it’s never the goal to completely reimagine a muscle back iron rather maintain predictability, add small tweaks for optics and turf interaction all while maybe adding in 1 or 2 percent of forgiveness, launch, or speed. That’s it.

2021-callaway-apex-mb-irons-1

Tour Response: Since the early prototype was released in late 2019 to a small number of players, the curiosity around the new 2021 Callaway Apex MB has been active. Players were excited to get their hands on them, and since seeding began, players have been switching them in rather quickly. If anything players are loving the fact that the DNA of a Callaway blade is there as well as in some cases increased launch and a bit more forgiveness.

Young Callaway staffer Akshay Bhatia had this to say

“The shaping and feel of these new irons are unbelievable. Center strikes are exactly what you want to feel and I’m loving how they get through the turf. They are simply the best feeling irons I have ever put in the bag.” 

2021-callaway-apex-mb-irons-1

2021 Callaway Apex MB specs

External weighting options for fitters and builders only (light 4G, standard 8G, heavy 8G)

Loft/Lie/Offset

  • 3: 20.5/60/.115
  • 4: 23/60.5/.110
  • 5: 26/61/.105
  • 6: 30/61.5/.095
  • 7: 34/62/.090
  • 8: 38/62.5/.080
  • 9: 42/63/.070
  • PW: 46/63.25/.065
  • W: 50/63.5/.055

Stock steel shaft: Project X IO

  • R (105G) S (110G) X (115G)

Stock graphite shaft: Mitsubishi MMT 

  • R (85G) S (95G) X (105G, Custom Only)

Grips: Golf Pride Z

Pricing/Availability

  • $185/steel, $200/graphite
  • Pre-sale: 10/22
  • Retail 10/29

More photos and discussion in the forums.

2021 Callaway X Forged Forged UT

The Goal: To pack all of Callaway’s key technology into one “players” utility iron.

The Tech Story: The new 2021 Callaway X Forged UT was designed to offer better players all of the game improvement tech Callaway offers and pack it into a utility iron that flows nicely from the top of the bag into the rest of the set. The 1025 carbon steel hollow body design has the same external and internal weighting features as the CB as well as incorporating Callaway’s patented Flash Face Technology for high launch and ball speeds across the face.

For tour players, this is the section of the iron set where versatility is very welcome. Whether it’s hitting a low fairway finder or hitting it straight up in the air, the Callaway X Forged UT gives them every option all while not creating any drama and optically working into the rest of the set. It’s not uncommon for Callaway staffers to put the UT in play in the 2, 3, and 4-iron, so having the ability to tune them to fit each player’s goal is a huge part of this. Some players use a UT as a bridge from irons to woods, and some use them as legitimate replacements for longer irons to add forgiveness and provide some launch and steeper landing angles.

With the 2021 Callaway X Forged UT, Callaway techs can dial in the UT without altering the CG at all, which is the benchmark of launch, tunability, and consistency.

Optics: The 2018 X Forged UT had a shape that the Tour staff adored, so no major changes—the goal here was to keep the look familiar and add the new Callaway tech to dial players in.

Specs: Length/Lie/Offset

External weighting options for fitters and builders only (Light 12G, STD 17G, Heavy 22G)

  • 18: 39.5/60/.090
  • 21: 39/60.5/.085
  • 24: 38.5/61/.080

Stock steel shaft: Project X U

  • R (105G) S (110G) X (110G, Custom Only)

Stock graphite shaft: Project X Hzurdus Smoke HY

  • R (80G) S (81G) X (81G, Custom Only)

Grips: Golf Pride Z

Pricing/Availability

  • $250/club
  • Retail: 10/29

Overall remarks

I think what Callaway is doing here is very wise more than anything. Being able to nail a very specific spec for better players is important. The company has always made a sharp-looking players iron and they didn’t try something starkly different here, beyond the added tech.

This is an emotional category based on trust. Callaway knows this and responded with a way for the custom team to ensure even more trust for the player regardless of any alterations one would make (shafts, grips etc). How many times have you had a set of awesome irons that you needed to reshaft and the new combo loses that bit of magic? With the new Callaway X Forged CB and Apex MB you can have your cake and eat it too. I like it.

More photos and discussion in the forums.

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Johnny Wunder is the Director of Original Content, Instagram Manager and Host of “The Gear Dive” Podcast for GolfWRX.com. He was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. John is also a partner with The Traveling Picture Show Company having most recently produced JOSIE with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. In 1997 Johnny had the rare opportunity of being a clubhouse attendant for the Anaheim Angels. He now resides in Toronto, On with his wife and two sons. @johnny_wunder on IG

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Sanjay Goopta

    Oct 14, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    I liked Gemco?Target’s Northwestern brand better!

  2. Eldrick

    Oct 14, 2020 at 3:24 am

    Roger Cleveland and Phil must have helped on these. A full set of high toes. Keeping spin off the singers and stunners will be awesome. I give it two thumbs up, and two visor tips, then two more thumbs up.

  3. TonyK

    Oct 13, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    MB looks like a one-eyed monster.
    CB looks like an uglier version of MP59.

  4. Stanley

    Oct 13, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    They look awesome. Clever design

  5. dat

    Oct 13, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    Gross design, PXG-esque and not in a good way.

  6. gwelfgulfer

    Oct 13, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    I know it’s more about performance and look at address, but I don’t like the looks.

  7. Jason

    Oct 13, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    I hit the CB and the MB this morning and they feel as good as anything I have ever hit before.

    Both are very playable, but have a divinely shaped “topline.”

    Well done Callaway

  8. Michael Constantine

    Oct 13, 2020 at 11:38 am

    Epic fail.

  9. Milo

    Oct 13, 2020 at 10:53 am

    Those muscle backs are devine!

  10. Mick

    Oct 13, 2020 at 10:35 am

    YUK !

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Equipment

Ben Hogan adds GS53 MAX driver to lineup

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Ben Hogan golf is throwing its Hogan flat cap into the ring and entering the MAX driver-category with the introduction of the all-new 460cc GS53 MAX driver.

The GS53 MAX creates extra forgiveness, thanks in part to its multi-material construction and a 22-percent larger and 11-percent taller face than the current GS53. For those that love the original GS53, don’t worry it will continue to remain in the line, with the new MAX being a line extension for those looking to get extra help on shots missed around the face.

The driver is constructed from 4 distinct pieces

  • Carbon composite crown to reduce mass around the top of the driver’s head and to push more mass low to increase MOI.
  • Forged face for precision, and ball speed
  • Titanium soleplate with perimeter mass
  • Tungsten weight at the rear of the sole to further increase MOI and help increase launch while reducing spin.

Thanks in part to the weight savings from the crown, the titanium soleplate has more mass positioned away from the face and around the edges to increase the stability of the head, and to acoustically tune the driver for a solid sound at impact.

“The combination of the lightweight composite crown and tungsten sole weight allows us to position the Center of Mass so that we maximize launch while decreasing the amount of ball spin. This provides a higher ball flight, especially for players who don’t have Tour-caliber clubhead speeds for increased carry and roll out. “
– Scott White, CEO, Ben Hogan Golf Company.

The GS53 MAX driver will initially be available right-handed and come in lofts of 9° and 10.5°. It will be adjustable using their proprietary hosel adjustment system known as “flight control”, which offers the ability to add or decrease loft by 1° and lie angle all while never having to worry about realigning the shaft/grip.

The last part of the driver puzzle is the shafts options and to increase the value to consumers the GS53 MAX comes with the choice of three premium aftermarket shafts including:

  • Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black for golfers seeking a lower trajectory
  • Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei CK Blue for golfers seeking a mid trajectory
  • UST Mamiya Helium for those seeking a higher trajectory

Price, specs, and availability 

Thanks to Ben Hogan Golf’s direct-to-consumer model, the new 460cc GS53 MAX, is available starting today fior $355.00 with the choice of the 3 premium shaft options.

For more information on other Ben Hogan clubs including fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges, and putters or to purchase the GS53 MAX Driver visit www.benhogangolf.com.

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Equipment

U.S. retail golf equipment sales exceed record $1 billion mark

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This summer, golf saw a surge in business as states emerged from COVID lockdown and equipment sales is one of the areas that has been booming.

On Wednesday, Golf Datatech, an industry research firm, announced that U.S. retail golf equipment sales surpassed the $1 billion mark for the third quarter – which is the first time sales have reached $1 billion for July, August and September.

That figure also represents the second-highest quarter ($1.013 billion in Q2, 2008) of all-time, and per Golf Datatech, golf equipment sales for 2020 are up a whopping 42% over the same period in 2019.

Speaking on the incredible surge in equipment sales, John Krzynowek, Partner, Golf Datatech, LLC, said

“The story keeps getting better as golf continues to surge coming out of the shutdown, and Q3 equipment sales suggests that 2020 will likely end up positive for the entire year. Year-to-date sales for total equipment are now up 0.2% compared to 2019, and considering the size of the hole created by the shutdown in April and May this recovery has been nothing short of remarkable. While the US economy will not enjoy a ‘V Shaped Recovery’ in 2020, if golf continues on this trajectory we will be there soon.”

Per the company, the best selling items for September were golf bags at +19% and wedges at +18%, while golf shoes were +2%.

Overall, the golf club category was +0.9% for the month, with balls and gloves trending slightly lower at -2.7%. Krzynowek also revealed that rounds played was another area with surging numbers:

“These month-over-month sales records are unlike anything we’ve ever seen since Golf Datatech started tracking performance data in 1997. Our Rounds Played data also shows similar record-breaking growth over the past several months, which is a strong indication that avid golfers and newcomers alike are driving the sport to new levels right now.”

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Equipment

‘Play a big driver. Why not big irons?’ – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the case for big irons. WRXer ‘2Down’ plays a Ping G410+ driver and has recently put Ping’s G710 irons in the bag, saying:

“Wondered how many play a large headed driver and play a draw or fade off the tee but when they pull an iron it’s some blade size thing so they can “work” the ball.

Recently I put G710 in the bag and answered my question for myself. They feel different for sure, but I am quickly adapting to only bringing the putter with me to the green.”

Our members have been discussing the combination in our forums.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Itsjustagame: “Personal preference but big irons tend to have more bounce, more offset and wider soles some or all of which may not suit a particular player.”
  • Fairway14: “Driver is played from a lie with the ball sitting on a tee, irons are played from a variety of lie types.”
  • J13: “They don’t really make “big” irons for players. Most have offset low CG for high launch, and super strong lofts.”
  • LeoLeo99: “I love my big irons. G400. Best I’ve ever used.”

Entire Thread: “Play a big driver. Why not big irons?”

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