With TaylorMade, Mizuno, and Titleist responsible for a significant influx of new iron product into the market over the last couple of months, it was only a matter of time before Callaway launched something(s) new.
It’s not the #1 Iron Company in Golf for nothing.
The release of something is hardly unexpected, but what is kinda wild, given Callaway’s proclivity for product launches, is that it’s been nearly 5 years since the previous iteration of the X Forged iron hit the market. Worth a mention, the 2009 iteration also had a solid run, so If you’re in the market for an iron with a shelf-life, X Forged may be the play.
To me, the longevity of this particular product line suggests that innovation in the compact players CB category may not happen as quickly as release schedules lead us to believe. I mean, if Callaway can’t crank out a new one every 2-years…
Like the MB category, the one-piece players CB category isn’t one that’s ripe with groundbreaking technology. Sure, you get plenty of subtle refinements – polishing, reshaping, thinning - that sort of thing, but nobody claiming they’ve engineered a 200 yard 6-iron for a guy with 85 MPH driver speed. What you lose because of the exclusion of things like hollow-cavity construction, ultra-thin faces, and foam fillings, you can make-up for with plenty of nebulous goodness like workability, control, and aesthetic appeal.
Obvious physical differences aside, it’s the bit of extra forgiveness (a result of clubhead geometry) and slightly stronger (though not jacked) lofts that differentiate the X Forged from the Apex MB. While not as punishing as a blade, the X Forged is still designed for tour players and better amateurs. Its position in the Callaway lineup – slotted between Apex MB and Apex Pro – should set your expectations accordingly.
As I did in our Apex MB story, I'll again draw comparisons to the Mizuno MP-18 lineup. While I didn't get the calipers out, an eyeball evaluation suggests the topline on the X Forged is thinner than any iron in the MP-18 family. Bottom line, don’t mistake X Forged for something akin to a one-piece take on the Apex CF 16. It’s not that. What X Forged is an aesthetically appealing players CB that proves that Callaway is still more than capable of producing a sexy iron for low handicap golfers.
Callaway doesn’t often lack for a clever technology story, but with X Forged the sales pitch is limited to progressive CG (optimal trajectory), 20V grooves (more consistency/fewer fliers), and the triple net forging process that creates what I’m told is outstanding feel. Toss in some sole work to ensure desirable turf interaction, and X Forged is very much what you see is what you get, and that’s not a bad thing.
Is 10 a lot? It Sounds like a lot?
Despite expanding its product line significantly over the last several years, Callaway has, until now, left X Forged’s spot in the lineup unfilled. Its release, along with the new Apex MB, brings the number of iron models in current Callaway lineup to 10 – and that’s if we don’t include Apex Black or even Epic Star in the count.
At face value, that’s an insane number of irons, but one could also argue that its breadth gives Callaway the ability to better address and fit a broader range of golfers than a competitor with only 3 or 4 or 9 models in its lineup.
Bigger picture, the 3 2 Epic models have limited distribution, and shelf-space limitations aside, it shouldn’t be about the model count. As long as there’s differentiation – either price or performance – and so long as inventory is managed properly and slash and burn pricing models don’t resurface and frustrate consumers all over again, variety is good. 10 is a bunch, but I can’t say it’s too many. Consumers vote with their wallets, and a majority seem to like what Callaway is doing.
That said, the grumbling some of you have done about the number of Callaway releases and the company’s inflated price structure hasn’t gone unnoticed around here. How much is too much – regarding both price and quantity - is probably worth discussing in more detail, but, for today, the bottom line is that Callaway’s release cadence is working and only a fool fixes what isn’t broken.
Specs, Pricing, and Availability
Retail price for a Callaway X Forged 8-piece set is $1299.99.
Availability begins 11/3.
For more information, visit CallawayGolf.com.