The wait is over. Well, sort of. Callaway’s X Utility Prototype irons debuted on the PGA Tour in May and hit pay dirt in July when Ernie Els captured The Open Championship with the 18°, 21° and 24° lofts. [Click here to see Ernie’s winning bag from The Open Championship.] Starting in December, these long-iron replacements will be available for purchase at retail shops nationwide.
The X Utility Prototype has a forged body, made of 1020 carbon steel and tungsten, plus a high-strength maraging steel face. The combination generates faster ball speeds than standard long irons while its hollow construction (added back weighting) creates higher launch and more forgiveness. Iron-like shaft lengths (one-quarter inch longer than Callaway’s X Forged irons) and a lack of bulge radius on the face should contribute to a straighter, more consistent flight than typical hybrids as well.
The X Utility Prototype irons come in 18°, 21° and 24° lofts and will sell for $199 each with True Temper’s Project X PXi steel shaft, or $229 each with Graphite Design’s G-Series 95 graphite shaft. -- Rob Sauerhaft
From GOLF.com (May 30, 2012)
With the U.S. Open just two weeks away, some Callaway staff pros have already added what they hope will be a secret weapon to their bag—a new X Prototype Tour Utility iron.
Utility irons certainly aren't new, but the number of Callaway staff players who tinkered with them during the HP Byron Nelson Championship and Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial—including Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Brendon Steele, J.J. Henry and Colt Knost—indicates that players may be willing to experiment with higher-flying, softer-landing irons for this year's U.S. Open. In fact, Els added three X Prototype Tour Utility irons to his bag at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
Designed by Roger Cleveland, Callaway Golf's chief club designer and resident wedge guru, the X Prototype Tour Utility irons are hollow like a fairway wood but are more compact. They have added material behind the face to help lower the center of gravity and get the ball up in the air more easily—like other utility irons—but also feature a shallow stainless steel face and a port that can hold either a 2-, 4-, 6- or 8-gram weight.
Cleveland says, "At Olympic Club, there will be a number of doglegs where players want to hit it in the 260-270 range, and no farther than that. Those holes are designed that way to protect the course. Players can sling their driver around corners but the rough will be extremely penal. So if they hit it 320, it better be curving the right way. This utility iron should really help them in those situations where they want to hit it that desired distance.”
Inspired by a prototype hybrid found in Mickelson's bag, the heel and toe areas of the sole have been designed to work more effectively through rough. However, Cleveland admits that the X Prototype Tour Utility irons won't work as well as hybrids rom thick grass, however their added stability will help them out-perform traditional irons on mis-hits.
"I designed a utility iron a while back that we never commercialized and a number of tour players in Europe and the U.S. played it,” Cleveland said. “I wanted to enhance that design into a three-loft concept with a new club design that was shallower, had a deeper center of gravity, and that created a higher launch angle which is difficult to achieve in longer irons."
The X Prototype Utility iron is being made in 18°, 22°, and 24° versions to replace 2-, 3- and 4-irons.
Unfortunately for you, Callaway has no plans to make the clubs available to the public. However, if Mickelson, Els or another player uses one at Olympic en route to winning the U.S. Open, Callaway would certainly rush to send X Prototype Utility irons to pro shops everywhere. -- David Dusek