A traditional-looking iron that makes shaping the ball easier than ever. The Apex Pro 21 iron very much suits the lower handicapper, but it does still have forgiveness, as well as softer acoustics and a more dense sound that golfers will absolutely love while out on the golf course.
- Stunning looks and soft feel
- Surprisingly high levels of forgiveness
- Traditional shape suits the eye
- Higher handicappers may be intimidated by the feel
With the i59, Ping has created a faster feeling and more playable iron for the better player that delivers improved consistency across the face. In testing, it produced more accurate approach shots.
- Beautiful looks
- Delivers uniform performance
- Surprisingly high level of forgiveness from a compact head
- Significant increase in price
Ping i59 vs Callaway Apex Pro 21 Golf Irons
Ping and Callaway are known for making some of the best-performing golf irons on the market, including some of the best compact mid-handicap irons and best game improvement irons money can buy. In this comparison test, we are focusing on the Apex 21 Pro from Callaway and the i59 from Ping, clubs that certainly rank amongst some of the best golf irons launched in recent years.
Both offer superb performance that caters to the needs of the better player. But do you know which model might be better suited to your game? We compare the two and find out which one will make the biggest impact on your scoring and greens in regulations stats.
Beginning with looks and certainly neither falls down in this department. For us, we think the Ping i59 slightly edges it as, behind the ball, it is slightly more compact and 'player like'. The shorter white bottom groove on the i59 narrows your focus and assists with alignment while the more satin finish just oozes class. It really does look premium to the eye.
The Callaway Apex 21 Pro is still a great looking iron, especially in the bag, although it has quite a lot of offset given the target player. You'll be happy to know that it still has that traditional shape, which is hard to fault. The only point that may divide opinion is the mirror chrome finish, which makes the head a little more difficult to see in the sun and align at address versus the Ping.
The Ping may edge the looks but it's the Callaway which we think has the better feel and sound. This is because the Apex Pro has notably softer acoustics, with the more dense sound and feel to it being preferred over the more 'clicky' sound in the Ping.
In testing, the overriding sensation that comes through the hands from the Apex Pro is stability - it feels solid from a wide area which makes it one of the best irons for low handicappers and an incredible performer in this department.
When it comes to the acoustics of the Ping i59, you will notice that it offers up a slightly louder, more metallic sound and impact. It certainly feels just as lively as the Callaway, but perhaps doesn’t quite produce that forged-like feel low handicappers often look for.
In truth there is very little to separate the irons in this department. We noticed that shots hit with the Callaway seemed to fly a yard or two lower than the Ping. One possible reason for this is that you get slightly stronger lofts (33° in the 7-iron versus 34° in the Ping i59), which meant that, on average, it was coming out lower than the i59. However, the performance was stable and consistent, with slight crosswinds seemingly having little effect on the overall trajectory and flight.
The i59 ranks as one of the best Ping irons on the market. This is, in part, due to the combination of a slightly higher launch with relatively low spin. As a result, it produced good distance, stopping power and control. What's more, we felt that we were also able to better manoeuvre the trajectory at will with the i59.
Not even the professionals hit it out the middle every single time so it's important you have an iron that provides some forgiveness. If you are wondering which one of the two is the more forgiving, we would say the Callaway edges it... just!
The forgiveness is down to its blend of tungsten weighting and a larger head size which meant the Apex Pro was arguably more consistent from off-centre strikes. However, the differences between the Callaway and Ping were marginal.
Given its modest size, the Ping was surprisingly user-friendly. In testing, it produced repeatable distances on centred strikes as well as very slight mishits and shots from the rough. Where the forgiveness wasn't so apparent was on the more severe mishits, where the performance did drop off more than the Callaway.
Both models are aimed at the low handicap spectrum, but when it comes to overall appeal we feel the Ping i59 just edges it. It looks fantastic and backs it up with an energetic feel and consistent performance, albeit with a premium price that may put some golfers off who are looking to upgrade.
The Callaway Apex 21 Pro delivers where it needs to with a stable, mid-to-low flight, and is one of the best Callaway irons that money can buy. Its bigger size arguably broadens the appeal and the extra distance on offer may well entice good players whose swing speed is dwindling.
Which one should you choose?
Choose the Callaway Apex 21 Pro if…
- You want a really solid, stable feel
- You want stronger flight with ample carry distance
- You don't mind looking down on a hint of offset
Choose the Ping i59 if...
- You want a compact iron that is easy to align
- You're not to fussed about a soft, forged-like feel
- You want to be able to shape and manoeuvre the ball more easily
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Joel has worked in the golf industry for over 12 years covering both instruction and more recently equipment. He now oversees all product content here at Golf Monthly, managing a team of talented and passionate writers and presenters in delivering the most thorough and accurate reviews, buying advice, comparisons and deals to help the reader find exactly what they are looking for. So whether it's the latest driver, irons, putter or laser rangefinder, Joel has his finger on the pulse keeping up to date with the latest releases in golf. He is also responsible for all content on irons and golf tech, including distance measuring devices and launch monitors.
One of his career highlights came when covering the 2012 Masters he got to play the sacred Augusta National course on the Monday after the tournament concluded, shooting a respectable 86 with just one par and four birdies. To date, his best ever round of golf is a 5-under 67 back in 2011. He currently plays his golf at Burghley Park Golf Club in Stamford, Lincs, with a handicap index of 3.2.
Joel's current What's In The Bag?
Driver: Titleist TSR3, 9°
Fairway wood: Titleist TSR3, 15°
Hybrid: Titleist TSi2, 18°
Irons: Ping i230 4-UW
Putter: Evnroll ER2V
Ball: 2023 Titleist Pro V1x
- Matt CradockStaff Writer
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