Opening up a brand-new set of golf clubs always feels a bit like Christmas day…ripping open the box, carefully removing the individually-wrapped irons and woods from their protective plastic sleeves, and then, with unbridled excitement and a bit of school-age-style giddiness, gripping them and taking a bit of a half-practice-swing on the living room rug. Hope abounds as you then anxiously count down the days until you can take them out on course for the first official hit.
Such was the case last month when I received a fully-customised set of Callaway Epic woods and Apex 21 irons. Many of you will have read my write-up on my visit to the Callaway Performance Centre as I went through a complete clubfitting via their highly-advanced fitting system (if you missed it, you can read the full write-up on our website).
Now, with the full set in hand, I hit the links with a fierce determination.
The fitted set of woods and irons comprised the Callaway Epic Max Driver (10.5 degrees, Project X smoke shaft), Mavrik 3 Wood (UST Helium shaft), Apex 21 3-Hybrid (UST Mamiya Recoil Dart 65 Graphite Shaft), Apex DCB 21 irons (5-AW, MCA MMT Graphite shaft, standard loft/lie), and a Mack Daddy CB wedge (54 loft-14 bounce). All clubs featured a Golf Pride Tour Velvet Align grip with +2 wrap.
These clubs and settings were all determined (via computer shot-tracking/modelling and expert analysis of the more than 100 swings I took in the performance centre) to be the best fit for my swing. Not just for my swing/ball speed and ball flight, but also taking into account the preferred gapping between clubs, as well as my desired improvements in dispersion/grouping. (In the last few years, I’ve lost a bit of speed and accuracy, so I was looking for some help to improve in these areas.)
I approached the course with a bit of excitement, trepidation and wonder (more so than usual, that is!). Having tested hundreds (maybe thousands) of golf clubs in my day, I knew that it would take a while to “get into the groove” with a new set of clubs, so I also brought a hefty helping of patience.
After smashing my first drive, I was instantly hooked on the Epic MAX driver. The sound, weight and feel at impact were all, in a word, perfect. The Epic MAX is Callaway’s most forgiving Epic ever, and it’s designed for golfers like me who want to hit the ball longer and straighter (i.e. “Max ball speed” via the new Jailbreak A.I Speed Frame, and “Max forgiveness” via high MOI and adjustable weighting.). The Epic Max is one of three Epic Driver models, with the Epic Speed (Higher head speed) and Epic Max LS (Lower Spin) rounding out the collection.
I was noticing a bit of unexpected fade in many of my early drives. Luckily, the Epic MAX provides up to 20 yards of “shot shape correction”. So, after a few adjustments to the OptiFit hosel (I changed it to a Draw bias – while leaving the rear 17g sliding weight in neutral), I begin piping my drives straight down the middle. Like, laser-straight. And while I didn’t really gain any noticeable distance from my current Callaway Rogue driver (maybe only a metre or two here or there), the dispersion/grouping (i.e. control) was a massive improvement. This increase in shot confidence/control helped me find more fairways, and better navigate the course, which is precisely what I have been looking for off the tee.
Next up were the irons. I was fitted for The Apex DCB (i.e. Deep Cavity Back). The Apex DCB irons are the most forgiving of the new Apex line – which includes the Apex and Apex Pro irons. Now, as a 10-handicapper (that number rising rapidly), it felt a bit odd to move into a “forgiving iron” category – let alone ones with graphite shafts. Having played the game for nearly 50 years, I have almost always used steel in my irons (apart from a bit of experimentation with one set over 15 years ago.). But, with my aforementioned speed and accuracy waning in my later years, I was willing to swallow my pride and go with Callaway’s recommendations – hey, I can take any help I can get.
And BOY am I glad I did! These irons (graphite shafts and all) helped my game immensely. Granted, it took me a couple of rounds to get the feel right (not to mention the distances/yardages dialed-in), but once I did, I was able to control the ball flights better than I have in years. The pure and soft feel of these forged irons, combined with the extra forgiveness from mis-hits, saw my dispersion tighten up impressively. I was soon finding far more fairways (and definitely more greens) throughout my rounds. And I should throw in a special mention to the wedges – the PW (43 deg), AW (48 deg), and 54-degree Mack Daddy CB. All of them have exceptional feel, with a heap of spin and control around the greens.
The Mavrik Fairway Wood, as well as the Apex 21 Hybrid, were just as impressive. With a soft yet powerful feel, and excellent dispersion and distance, these clubs are perfect for safely navigating the longer par-5s, and getting that extra bit of distance on the longer approaches. The hybrid even gave me a bit of bite on a very long par-3, which was an unexpected bonus.
Over a few rounds with these new clubs, I began to have some fun with golf again (my previous set, over the last couple years, has often felt more like participating a battle in a paper sack.) Playing with the Callaway clubs felt like “Christmas week”, without the post-Christmas-gift-letdown. They just get better and better.
As mentioned, there are multiple models and configurations in all of the new Callaway Apex/Epic/Mavrik lines – with something available for golfers of all levels – so I highly recommend that you give these clubs a look-in. And be sure to schedule a fitting with Callaway’s highly-talented fitters/experts to ensure that you get the specific set make-up that can help you get the most out of your game.
RRPs and Specs:
The Epic Speed and Epic MAX Drivers are available in 9*, 10.5* and 12* lofts, and Epic MAX LS is available in 9* and 10.5* loft options. RRP: $879.99
Epic Speed Fwy and Mavrik Fwy are available in 3+, 3-, 4-, 5-, and 7-wood lofts. Epic MAX is available in 3+, 3-, 5-, Heavenwood, 7-, 9- and 11-wood lofts. RRP: $499.99
Apex 21 Hybrid Loft Offerings: 3H, 4H, 5H, 6H. Apex Pro Loft Offerings: 2H, 3H, 4H, 5H. RRP: $439.99
Apex Irons: Loft Offerings: 3-AW. Apex Pro 21: Loft Offerings: 3-AW. Apex DCB: Loft Offerings: 4-AW. RRP: Steel: $299.99, Graphite: $319.99
(Story originally appeared in Inside Golf)