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A Year in the Bag - What it’s like to live with Callaway’s Apex Forged 19 irons

There was a time that I played nothing but one-piece forgings - blades, players' cavity backs, it mattered little as long as I could feel that soft, buttery sensation at impact. But they were unforgiving unless you had your A-Game. As a working stiff, I just didn't practice enough to game these irons. 

So I started to look around for alternatives. Whatever I switched to had to be forged for feel and the ability to customize the irons to my specifications. They also had to be forgiving and consistent, a tall order given the technology of the time.

Then about a decade ago, manufacturers started integrating different manufacturing processes into making their irons. The first multi-component forged irons started showing up. They would take a forged iron chassis, plasma weld an ultra-thin, high-strength stainless steel face on it and use tungsten weights to put the center of gravity precisely where they wanted it. Some used urethane or another similar material to dampen the higher pitched vibes, making the club feel more like a traditional forging.

It was the start of the revolution.

Epon was one of the first to do this with their AF-501 and AF-701 irons. They were a bit chunky and had a tinny feel to them because of the thin carpenter steel face, but they hit the ball high and a long way. None of the next few models caught my fancy. Most of them still looked like agricultural implements rather than golf clubs.

Then Callaway introduced the JDM only Callaway Legacy Black irons. The chassis was forged 1025 carbon steel, it had a thin, high strength steel face, urethane in the cavity back but it looked like a proper players’ club. It was the product I had been waiting for. As perfect as it seemed, its price was beyond my meager budget.

Then Callaway did the unthinkable. They changed the graphics by basically putting a new sticker in the cavity and called it the Razr Forged iron, lowered the price and introduced it to the local market. I jumped on them. I got on so well with them that when the prices came down, I bought another set. As a backup… you know.

They weren’t perfect. I hated the Razr Forged sticker they put in the cavity. I toyed with the idea of taking it off but chose not to. The blade lengths were a bit big for my eye, especially with the shorter clubs. But they performed, so I got used to them.

Today, the Razr Forged iron lives on as the Apex Forged iron. There have been two versions in the last six years – the CF 16 and the Apex Forged 19 which is the latest iteration and the one that currently sits in my bag. I switched to them a year ago and they have endeared themselves to me with their looks and performance.

The Apex Forged 19 irons are smaller and more compact than the CF-16, which really appeals to me. Despite the smaller size, they are far more forgiving than any of the previous models. The feel better at impact too and the distances are what I’ve come to expect from a set like this.

Because the lofts are strong, purists will decry the distances they fly the ball. I’ve never cared about maxing out my distances with my irons. What matters most is the control they give you over the golf ball. Most importantly, the stronger lofts have allowed me to plug the yardage gap in my set.

Playing clubs with traditional lofts, I had trouble when left with around 200-yards to the hole. I could hit a 4-iron that distance, but I couldn’t hit it consistently under pressure. I tried hybrids, but had trouble stopping them on the greens. A 5-wood was too much club.

The Apex Forged 19 irons have alleviated that problem. It’s now a seamless transition from 5-iron to 5-wood. Some people will say that it really isn’t a 5-iron. Really, I don’t care. All I care about is that now I have a club that I can play just under 200-yards with confidence.

They feel so much better and are far more consistent. Callaway likes to talk about “spin robustness”; I’m a believer. I have no problem modulating distances with all the irons. I like being able to hit two or three clubs for a given distance since it gives me versatility depending on the conditions and what I’ve got in my head. Gone are the occasional flyers that I used to get when I really flushed one.

The results don’t lie. Less than a year with them in the bag, I got my third ace on the 15th hole of Splendido Taal GC. My handicap has gone down – I’m hitting more greens and scoring better as a result. All credit to the Callaway Apex Forged 19s for that.

They tick all the boxes for looks, feel, and performance. They’re going to be really hard to swap out of the bag.

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