Three years, three months and six days. That’s how long golfers have had to wait for the introduction of the next iteration of Callaway’s Apex and Apex Pro irons as well as its player’s-style Apex hybrid.
As one would expect given the time lag between introductions, the enhancements are substantial. The big story behind the Apex Pro iron is the addition of cupface technology to a forged 1025 carbon steel frame (the previous Apex was a single-piece forging). The cupface design, in which the iron’s face plate wraps around the sole and topline, is used in the long and mid irons (through the 7-iron) to enhance the areas of the face that produce the highest spring-like effect for a boost in ball speed.
Control, however, was not sacrificed. Any club with the name “Pro” attached to it should have the capability of helping the player create shots. In the Apex Pro, approximately 25 grams of tungsten were positioned high on the 9-iron through gap wedge to raise the centre of gravity for a more controlled flight with those clubs. To assist feel while getting the CG low in the long and mid irons, tungsten encased in urethane with microscopic air bubbles were used to achieve those desirable traits.
“You don’t want the urethane material to go all the way up to the top of the club because you shut off the COR benefit,” said Scott Manwaring, Callaway’s director of iron design. “We’re managing how we are choosing to use our energy that we’re allowed to have under USGA rules. As such, the descent angle is steeper and the spin is the same as a one-piece iron. But it’s apex height is higher, giving it a steeper angle of descent for more stop. This effect is on the standard Apex as well.”
Ah, the Apex. One of the game’s most sought-after irons over the past three years, the mandate for the new version was that “every club gets lots of attention.” It starts with the addition of tungsten encased in microspheres (tiny bubbles of air within the urethane) to not only help foster trajectory control, but allow the face to flex more at impact. The microsphere technology, not found on the previous Apex, was first introduced in the company’s Rogue line of irons.
The body is forged from 1025 carbon steel and includes expanding the 17-4 stainless-steel cupface in the set up to the 8-iron. Not only does the cupface bring a distance benefit, but it brings it to a wider portion of the face with more consistency, said Manwaring.
“A face cup expands the area a face can flex such as low centre shots, as opposed to a face plate which limits the amount of area you can do that,” he said. “Having the high-strength material for the face allows you to recover spin rate and have ball speed consistency in ways that a face plate cannot.”
In addition, in keeping with the “every club gets a lot of attention” mindset, the shaping on the pitching wedge and gap wedge – a sticking point for some on the previous iteration – has been significantly improved.
The Apex line also will include new fixed-hosel hybrids that employ Callaway’s cupface and “jailbreak” technology (first seen in its Epic driver) in the more compact shape preferred by better players. Jailbreak is a pair of steel rods that join the crown and the sole to promote even more face flexing than would be possible with just a standalone cupface.
“We cleaned up the shape and added jailbreak in a controlled manner so that the pros like it, too” said Dr Alan Hocknell, Callaway’s senior VP of R&D. “We can control it with three levels: center of gravity position, thickness of the jailbreak rods or the length of the rods.”
The new Apex ($259.99 per club in steel, $279.99 in graphite) and Apex Pro ($259.99 in steel, $279.99 in graphite) irons will be in stores January 25. The Apex hybrid ($419.99) is offered in four lofts (2-iron loft through 5-iron loft) and will be in stores on the same date.