• Callaway Apex UW targets better players.
  • It borrows design elements from fairway woods and hybrids.
  • MSRP $299

What do you call a club that flies higher than a hybrid but has less spin than a 5-wood?

Callaway’s answer is the 2021 Apex UW. The UW stands for utility wood. It’s an uber-niche release geared toward better golfers spawned from Callaway Tour staff feedback. Most notably—the ultimate tinkerer, Phil Mickelson.

The concept, for Callaway, is relatively simple. Take the best elements of hybrids coupled with several fairway wood features, and presto, it’s a Labradoodle … I mean utility wood.

For the record, I was hoping for Hybrid McHybrid. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

CALLAWAY APEX UW QUICK HITS

For the time being, let’s throw any conventional thinking about what constitutes a fairway wood or hybrid out the window. Frankly, it’s possibly the most nebulous equipment category, anyhow.

Instead, let’s think about the objective of higher-lofted fairway woods and hybrids from a better-player perspective.

  • Step 1. Find something with more forgiveness than a 2-iron or 3-iron.
  • Step 2. Determine your preferred trajectory/spin characteristics.
  • Step 3. Assess the opportunity cost for each option and adjust as needed.

Callaway believes a segment of golfers could benefit from a quasi-fairway wood that launches higher than the Apex hybrid but with a more neutral (read: less draw-bias) CG (center of gravity) location than its Epic Speed 5-wood.

The Apex UW is also 1.25 inches shorter than the Epic Speed 5-wood which theoretically translates to a bit more control.

According to Callaway’s player testing, the Apex UW provides comparable carry distance to an Apex Hybrid. However, the Apex UW has a greater peak height and sharper descent angle. The net result is 17-percent greater accuracy compared to the Callaway Apex Pro hybrid.

So, what exactly is the Apex UW? Full disclosure: I haven’t hit or even held it yet. But the best I can tell is that it’s a smallish fairway wood with a shorter-than-typical shaft and neutral weighting.

APEX UW – NARROW AND WIDE

Callaway touts the versatility of the Apex UW as its hallmark feature. However, I’m not wild about the whole versatile descriptor. The term is tossed around more than chopped salad but it doesn’t tell the consumer much of anything.

Most often, if a club isn’t versatile, manufacturers highlight some area of suggested exceptional performance. If no such single quality exists, then the club is versatile. And round and round we go. Anyway, let’s move on. The Callaway Apex UW is engineered around several explicit criteria. As such, it won’t be for all (or even most) golfers. However, Callaway believes that, for the right player, the Apex UW is more versatile than lower-launching hybrids and draw-biased fairway woods.

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TECH STORYTIME

As with the Callaway Epic Super Hybrid, the Apex UW uses Callaway’s newest velocity blade structure. In this version, the two blades connecting the sole and crown are spread out and more angled toward the center of the face. The purpose is to move the blades away from the most flexible part of the face. The blades serve to increase structural stiffness while also promoting face flexibility.

As expected, Callaway uses an AI-designed Flash Face SS21. Part of the AI (artificial intelligence) story is a unique face iteration for each of the three available lofts (17°, 19° and 21°).  Additionally, the Apex UW face is forged from a high-strength C300 maraging steel.

Also, Callaway positions an average of 18 grams of “MIM’d” (metal injection molded) tungsten to help support a neutral CG location. For comparison, Callaway’s Epic Super Hybrid utilizes roughly four times (90 grams) this amount.

HISTORY LESSON

Once upon a time, the first hybrids (aka rescue clubs) primarily benefitted golfers who struggled to hit long irons consistently. This faction, for reasons we can get into later, exhibits swing flaws that most often produce shots that finish too far right of the target (i.e., Slice City, baby).

Equipment manufacturers poured additional resources into the rescue/hybrid category and middle-of-the-bell-curve golfers bought more equipment. You see where this is going. The opportunity cost was the absence of similar products for more skilled players.

Flash forward to 2021 and the pendulum continues to swing back in the other direction. The muscle-back 2-iron is effectively dead. As evidence, consider that Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott and Bubba Watson added 7-woods to the bag this year. The takeaway is two-fold. First, a performance benefit exists for even the most elite players. Secondly, this might be a space where we see other manufacturers offer additional creative solutions. It wouldn’t be the first time. Case in point: Rickie Fowler’s 2016 Cobra Baffler F6 5-wood was built specifically with the second shot into Augusta’s par-5 15th hole in mind.

We know fall releases for Callaway are prime time to throw several more proverbial noodles at the wall and see if anything sticks. Perhaps more correctly, it’s an opportunity for one of golf’s largest brands to address the needs of a smaller market segment.

There’s also an important historical context to keep in mind. Primarily on the PGA TOUR, this is ground under repair. And by this, I mean whatever we’re calling the space between roughly a 3-wood and 4-iron.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Personally, color me intrigued. My only hesitation is that, without an adjustable hosel, it might be tricky to get the gapping exactly correct. However, I’d like to think the golfer best served by such a club would also take some time to be properly fitted.

But let’s all pause and at least acknowledge that, in this instance, Callaway isn’t talking ludicrous ball speeds and distance, distance, distance! But rather shorter shafts, downrange accuracy and steeper landing angles for better distance control. So just what in the name of Old Tom Morris is going on here?

PRICING AND AVAILABILITY

Available lofts: 17° (RH), 19° (RH/LH), 21° (RH)

Retail availability: Oct. 14

Pricing: $299.99

Stock shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke RDX Black

For more information, visit callawaygolf.com.