Callaway Apex Pro irons
Friday, February 14, 2014
Callaway Golf’s new Apex Pro iron, available Jan. 17, is a thought-provoking iron that surely will generate plenty of discussion among skilled golfers.
Callaway officials believe this forged iron will become the company’s most popular iron on major professional tours, and there is a groove story to be told that could surprise more than a few players. Some experienced competitors may shake their heads at this new logic.
Here goes: With iron shots out of the rough, grooves that generate a lot of spin can be a bad thing. For excellent players, this spin can lower the trajectory or knock the ball out of the air. It dramatically can reduce the distance of a shot.
Remember, this applies to shots from the rough. Callaway engaged in extensive testing with its staff professionals, and the results were stunning. In general, less spin meant higher trajectory and extra carry distance. More spin meant just the opposite.
“Yes, it results in a bit of a flyer from the rough,” said Luke Williams, Callaway’s senior director of global woods and irons, talking about grooves that create lower spin. “The ball gets up in the air, and we found this to be the preferred pattern among most touring pros. They want to launch the ball a little higher and carry it a little farther.
“This was a little bit counterintuitive for us, that less spin would be better than more spin, but it works this way out of the rough at the speeds that are generated by touring pros. Ordinary golfers, though, usually need more spin.”
Low-handicap amateurs face the same dilemma as pros, so Callaway decided to bypass aggressive grooves in the Apex Pro. Sure, some touring pros will request custom grooves in their irons, and Callaway is prepared for this. However, the stock version of the Apex Pro iron for consumers will contain grooves that create only a moderate amount of spin.
This does not apply to Callaway wedges or game-improvement irons that tend to be used by players who need all the spin they can get.
Apex Pro will be sold with KBS Tour-V steel shafts. The retail price for eight irons is $1,099. Graphite shafts will be available as a custom order.
The KBS Tour-V shaft was made famous in 2013 by Phil Mickelson, who used it in back-to-back victories at the Scottish Open and Open Championship.
The iron is a one-piece forging from 1020 carbon steel. Tungsten sole inserts are present in the 2- through 5-irons to promote a higher ball flight.
Apex Pro was inspired by the general shape and function of the 2013 model of Callaway’s X Forged iron, although there is one important difference: The face of the Apex Pro is 17 percent thinner than that of the X Forged, according to Evan Gibbs, Callaway’s manager of performance analysis and club configuration. This thin face places Apex Pro in a new flexible-face category, composed of irons intended to provide additional ball speed because of added trampoline effect in the face.
“These irons are not only long,” Gibbs said, “but they also are very stable and provide very consistent distance control.”
The new irons feature center of gravity height progression. The CG is very low in the long irons for higher launch. In the mid irons and short irons, the CG height gets progressively higher as the ideal trajectory goes down.
Taking an overall look at the Apex Pro iron, feel will be a major point of emphasis. This is a pure forging with an old-fashioned forged feel, as well as a maximum amount of shot workability. Callaway and its touring pros will be talking extensively in 2014 about soft feel.
The No. 1 topic of conversation, though, likely will be the effect of grooves on the height and distance of iron shots from the rough.
Gibbs revealed these test results from 5-iron testing with Callaway touring pros: Less spin produced a higher trajectory with as much as 8 or 9 additional yards of carry and “upwards of 13 yards” in total distance.