Our 3 favorite insights from robot testing Callaway’s 2023 Apex irons
Callaway’s Apex has expanded beyond the game-improvement and player’s distance categories in recent years and transformed into a full-blown iron lineup with an option for every handicap. That includes the latest Apex Pro, Apex CB and Apex MB we recently tested with the help of Golf Laboratories’ swing robot.
All three irons underwent a 3-point strike test (center, high toe and low heel) at 81 mph to see how they stacked up against the competition. Below are our 3 favorite insights from testing.
Same but different
As the traditional, perimeter-weighted iron in the lineup, the Apex CB is geared for golfers who rely on workability and control. The Apex Pro, on the other hand, comes in a similar compact profile with a combination of heel-toe forgiveness and distance-adding technology in the long irons with increasing control in the mid and short irons.
These irons are designed with different characteristics, but they also have some similarities as well. For example, CB and Pro came out of identical launch windows (20.4 degrees) across the three strike locations tested. In the ball speed department, Pro clipped CB by just .5 mph (averaging all three strike locations) with roughly 1-degree stronger lofts through the set.
Callaway Apex CB Custom Irons
While the irons share similar characteristics, golfers considering Pro versus CB will want to ask themselves if they need more or less spin in their lives. The forged hollow construction on Pro noticeably dropped spin to the tune of 674 RPMs when compared to the one-piece CB. The difference in spin equated to just over a 3-yard difference in carry.
If you prefer to work the ball, spin is a necessary requirement to shape shots. This is where CB might be a better option. On the flip side, if you’re a better player who wants a bit more speed and tends to struggle with too much spin, the Pro could be in the discussion for further testing. It all depends on your needs.
Built for more
Unless we’re talking about a hollow construction blade — which isn’t really a “blade,” if we’re being honest — you can generally expect traditional blades to have the following characteristics: a compact profile, thinner sole, traditional lofts, higher launch and increased spin.
Blade users, for the most part, are willing to give up speed and distance for consistency and workability. What’s interesting about Apex MB is that it doesn’t feel like you have to make massive sacrifices to play a blade.
Callaway Apex MB Custom Irons
Compared to the other muscleback blades we tested, MB was anywhere from 1.5 to 3 mph faster (ball speed) with about 500 RPMs less spin — in the same launch window.
Apex MB is far from being a “speed demon,” but if you’re in the market for a muscleback that offers CB carry numbers (or better) in a classic blade shape, there’s an option out there that checks the box.
Better than most
It’s fair to say Apex Pro isn’t a game-improvement iron. The profile more closely resembled a better-player offering, even though it sports a hollow cavity filled with Callaway’s microspheres. If you’re a mid-handicapper who might initially get scared off by the compact profile and potential lack of forgiveness, keep reading.
The most common miss for most golfers is a high toe miss, which generally comes with a noticeable drop in distance, especially with irons. Most of the irons that underwent our robotic testing saw a 6-10 mph drop in ball speed on toe strikes. And when you figure 1 mph equals 3 yards, you can start to see why toe misses are particularly costly.
Callaway Apex Pro Custom Irons
Apex Pro actually beat most of the pack with just a 4.7 mph drop in ball speed on toe strikes. It was easily one of the best ball speed deltas — comparing center to high toe — we saw during testing.
That’s good news for better players who want to stay in a compact profile but still need some mishit protection, as well as mid-handicappers who’ve improved their ball striking and are currently toying with the idea of transitioning into a smaller profile.
The Apex Pro does a lot of things well, but it’s the high-toe performance that makes it a standout option.
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