Which Callaway irons are right for you?


Callaway have reworked two of their most successful irons. But how good are they?

Callaway has recently reintroduced two of the most famous iron designs they've ever created. The new Steelhead XR was inspired by Callaway's most popular ever iron, the X-14, while the new Big Bertha OS is the latest iron to take on the mantle of their most forgiving model.

So with Callaway making one of our favourite 2016 irons (the Apex CF 16) we felt it was only fair to put both new irons to the test against the brilliant Apex to see how their performance compared.

We used TG test pro Chris Ryan at The Belfry and TG Equipment Editor Simon Daddow to give us a good indication of how each model performed in the hands of two very different golfers.

We collected accurate data across all three models to allow for precise analysis. This is how each model performed.

Callaway Steelhead XR

Launch price: £649(s) £829(g)

Availability: 3-PW, AW, SW, LW (stock set 4/5-PW/SW)

Stock shafts: True Temper XP 95 Stepless(s) Matrix F15(g)

7-iron loft and length: 30º/37in

The idea is to revive the popular X-14, and add the latest ball speed-enhancing Cup Face tech. A top edge of 10mm and sole of 21mm means there's not much difference between Steelhead and Apex. Yet Steelhead has a bigger face, meaning extra flex and an average 2mph ball speed gain for both testers.

For us the standard polished finish isn't quite as alluring as the Apex or Big Bertha. The shape and look at address doesn't wow
quite as much, either, even though Steelhead XR produced Simon's joint longest carry distance and fastest ball speed.

Who they're aimed at
Fans of the original Steelhead will love the look and performance. But even though the numbers were very good, we preferred the finish and look of the other two iron models.

Behind the numbers
126mph Chris' average ball speed. Simon's was 106mph.
179 yards Chris' average 7-iron carry. Simon's was 166 yards.
3.8mm 7-iron offset.
4mph Average mistrike ball speed drop-off across both testers.

Callaway Big Bertha OS

RRP: £849 (s), £1,099 (g)

Availability: 4-PW AW, SW (stock set 4/5-PW/SW)

Stock shafts: True Temper Speed step 80 (s), UST Recoil ES 460 (g)

7-iron loft and length: 30°/37.25in

The Big Bertha range has always been Callaway's most forgiving iron. The head features a cage structure (with a face welded to the front and badge stuck to the back), meaning every last gram is removed from inefficient areas and repositioned around the perimeter or lower and deeper to improve forgiveness. The heads are more top/bottom heavy, with an 11mm top edge and 25mm sole width, and they have the look of a plus-sized model. But surely their forgiveness makes this a price worth paying.

Who they're aimed at
Golfers without egos. Our pro recorded his longest average and single shot carry along with his fastest ball speeds. If the wider-soled PW holds you back, you can get a specialist wedge.

Behind the numbers
125mph Chris's average ball speed. Simon's was 107mph.
181 yards Chris's average 7-iron carry. Simon's was 167 yards.
5.08mm 7-iron offset.
194 yards Chris's longest shot across all three irons. Simon's was 176 yards with both the Steelhead XR and Big Bertha OS.

Callaway Apex CF 16

RRP: £849 (s) £1,099 (g)

Availability: 3-PW, AW, SW (stock set 4-PW)

Stock shafts: True Temper XP 95(s) UST Recoil 760/780(g)

7-iron loft and length: 31º/37in

CF 16 was the first Apex iron to include the brand's Face Cup technology – a thinner, faster face to increase ball speeds from a larger portion of the face. It aims to deliver decent forgiveness from a nice-looking, forged head.

A top edge of 7mm and sole of 21mm is not ungenerous and means plenty of weight is around the perimeter to maximise forgiveness. With the head a bit smaller than the other two and lofts 1° weaker, it's no surprise Apex was the shortest for Simon (by six yards) and joint shortest with the Steelhead XR for Chris. But of all three sets, we preferred the look and finish of the Apex most.

Who they're aimed at
A forged iron for the masses is not something you hear everyday. A great option for golfers who love the looks of a forged iron, but need forgiveness and carry distance aid.

Behind the numbers
124 mph Chris's average ball speed. Simon's was 104 mph.
179 yards Chris's average 7-iron carry. Simon's was 160 yards.
3.8mm 7-iron offset.
5.5 mph Average drop off in ball speed between both testers.