With the Callaway Apex 21 irons family, the brand has built on an already popular franchise. The modern yet traditional looks are combined with some impressive new technologies that deliver high levels of consistency. We loved the soft feel and simple progression across the range.
Stunning looks and soft feel throughout the range. Surprisingly high levels of forgiveness. Smooth progression in aesthetics between the iron models makes a blended set easy to achieve.
Higher handicappers may find even the most forgiving iron in the range intimidating at address. They sit towards the top end of the price spectrum.
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In this Callaway Apex 21 irons review video, Neil Tappin tests four of the new models to assess how the looks and performance stack up
Callaway Apex 21 Irons Review
Over the years, Callaway has forged a reputation for stunning looks and excellent feel within its Apex irons franchise. Of course, this means that any new Apex launch poses a challenge to the brand - how do you move the performance on without taking anything away from what made them some of best irons you could buy?
For 2021, the answer, Callaway says, lies in the new Artificial Intelligence Flash Face, which should deliver more distance and better consistency of spin.
We wanted to see how the irons performed for ourselves so we tested four of the new models - Apex MB, Apex Pro, Apex and Apex DCB - using a SkyTrak launch monitor at West Hill Golf Club. There is also an Apex TCB model in the new range, but samples to test aren't available just yet.
In terms of the looks, there is a simple, clear progression through the range. The Apex MB is the most blade-like - it has a thin topline and minimal offset and is clearly an iron that’s destined for the Tour.
As you move up, the toplines become gradually thicker and more offset is introduced. However, it is worth pointing out that even in the DCB model (the most game-improver like design), the size and shape of the blade is still fairly traditional.
During our testing it was clear to see the performance followed a similar pattern. As we moved from the Pro version to the standard Apex and onto the DCB and as the static lofts got stronger, the ball speeds increased, the spin dropped and the carry yardages went up.
These changes were nicely incremental and the ball flight remained impressively consistent throughout - there was just one yard difference between the peak heights of the three irons. It was good to see that in the Apex and Apex DCB models, as they add forgiveness and distance, the overall level of consistency was still very good.
RELATED: Best Compact Mid-Handicap Irons
We also tested a 6-iron in the Apex MB model and the data is shown below.
One of the most important areas of performance to consider with any new Apex iron is the feel. The good news is that whichever iron you are leaning towards, the feel has clearly been carefully considered.
The Apex and Apex DCB, as you would expect, feel a little hotter and sound slightly ‘clickier’ than the other two models. The difference however is not drastic and for irons that offer so much in terms of distance and forgiveness, the Apex and Apex DCB feel superb.
Any golfer thinking about investing in a new set of Callaway Apex irons will need to weigh up which of the different performance benefits will help them most. The good news is that as the changes are so incremental between models, we think these can be easily blended.
What’s more, the lure of the extra distance and forgiveness in the Apex and Apex DCB in a package that still looks appealing and feels good, will, we think, make these two in particular a very popular choice.
In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."
Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points.
Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X
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