Pros: Versatility and Playability
Cons: Appearance for some.
As a mid single digit handicap, I have struggled for a long time with finding the right 3 iron for me. I have tried hybrids in the past and I just can’t hit them with enough accuracy or off of a tee. I switched to a game improvement(GI) 3 iron this year and although I liked how it played off of the tee box and in the fairway, I could not seem to get the large head of the club through the thick rough at my home course. I also wanted to lose my breakfast every time I would look down at all that offset. It just was not working for me. After hearing good things about the Callaway X Utility Prototype iron, I decided I would give it a try. The description from Callaway is as follows:
“The new Callaway x utility prototype irons are made with a hollow forged construction and a high-strength steel face that produces high ball speeds. Available in three different lofts —18, 21°and 24°— these forged utility irons also feature a shallow face height (from sole to top line) with a deep center of gravity and a very appealing, strong sound at impact. These tour-focused utility irons provide elite players with a versatile option on tight tee shots and approach shots from the fairway or rough.”
Tour Inspired Sole:
“Callaway Chief Designer Roger Cleveland relieved the heel and toe of these utility irons so that they move through grass easier, penetrate tougher lies in the rough and create higher launch angles.”
“X Utility Prototypes have more weight at the bottom and a deep CG to provide more forgiveness from a variety of lies.”
I picked up the 21 degree version in the Project X PXi 6.0 112g steel shaft. The length is 39.25” which is a little longer than a standard 3 iron and a little shorter than a standard 3 hybrid.
The Callaway X Utility Prototype to me looks amazing. The sleekness of the club and the rounding of the edges gives it a very smooth appearance. The subtle brushed anodized look the finish has is very appealing as well. I really I like the appearance of the minimal offset compared to my GI long irons. The slightly smaller size of the head also gives a very confident feel when addressing a ball in the rough when you know it will slide right through it. The depth of the face is not too thin though that it gives me any troubles hitting it too high on the face off of a tee. The only thing that might cause some hesitation is the extrusion look that sticks out the back of the club at address. It might be a hesitation for some, but I like it. It gives me a sense of the longer sole and the deeper CG that is designed to work in your favor.
This is where the Utility X Prototype really excels. I took it out for a practice round on the course to see what it can do. I tried it from many different spots and different lies. I first tried it on a par 5 for my second shot. The green was not reachable for me so it was just a lay up shot. The feel of the shot was very nice. The club has a nice soft feel at impact. The first shot went a bit higher than expected, to me that was a nice surprise. It was not overly high though. The ball gets up quickly and moves through the air. The next hole was a long par three that plays about 195 with elevation. This was my first attempt at using it with a tee. Again the club performed exceptionally well and I was even surprised at how quickly it stopped hitting into the elevated green. It gave me about a 10’ chance at birdie that I have not been able to look at all season.(Missed it BTW)
Three holes later I had a chance to use it again off of the tee of a tightly wooded par 5. Again the ball flew with a great trajectory and even had a little run out going up hill. It left me an 8 iron and a wedge into the green of the par 5.
The next hole was a tight dogleg left par for with a downhill tee shot that runs out to 220y before the elbow cuts off. Another great ball with some run out to the end of the dog leg.
On the last hole I tried two shots from the fairway, 200 yards to the center of the green with the X Utility and here was the result of those two shots(pin is in the back):
I tried it out of the rough as well and was amazed at how it was able get through the rough and lift the ball into the air. It of course did not flight as high into the air as a clean lie would, but it got into the air nicely and stayed up longer than I thought it would.
I was able to get two more rounds in with the X Utility and I just love what the club can do. I continue to be amazed at how the club performs out of the rough. I did learn that for me at least I need to tee it a bit lower than a regular iron to get the most out of it in the tee box. I It just gives the ball a little bit better flight. A small and easy enough adjustment to make though.
The club overall was the most accurate confidence inspiring 3 iron I have ever played with. The stock Project X PXI 6.0 shaft is extremely stable feeling and it looks amazing as well. I love the non-stepped look. The one thing that I will disagree with Callaway somewhat is that it is for “elite” players. I think that golfers of many different skill levels could play this club. They might want the graphite shaft if swing speed is an issue, but overall it was much easier to hit than I thought it would be. If you want something that can get you safely off the tee when the woods are not working or you have not had much luck with hybrids or even traditional long irons like me, then this may be worth checking out as a great marriage between the two styles of clubs.