Review: Ping i20 Irons“iSight 20/20”
Everything is an “i” these days. Phones, computers, music devices; all promising to make your existence a better one. It’s arguable if such devices improve or hinder our existence sometimes. However, with the game of golf, if you promise to make someone a better player by a few strokes a round, you’ll get people’s attention more than likely. The i20 irons to date have already garnered a fair amount of attention. It’s clear to see why. My Ping nFlight fitting from the fall of 2011
identified which shafts were best for my game, which turned out to be the KBS C-taper, and I paired the i20’s and C-tapers.
This is the third set I have played with the C-taper and it is proving to be well suited among various head types. I’ve started the season off very nicely for 2012, and I credit being fit for a good portion of this. With flatter lie angles, and slightly shorter and softer shafts, my flight has been straightened out nicely and the Ping fitting proved fruitful. I have not broken any personal bests, but with scores in the 70’s, this is as consistently as I have started a season ever. I really encourage you to get fit if it’s been a while, which it had been for me. It was definitely helpful. Specs of my i20’s ended up blue dot (slightly upright,) +1/4” KBS C-taper stiff shafts, and Golf Pride multicompound grips with two wraps. I requested slightly heavier swingweights which came to D3.5 in the 3-6 irons and D4.5 in the 7-PW. (The build ticket actually showed they built these as two separate “sets” to achieve the swingweights.)
After a short range session, it was time to hit the course. My first shot with the i20’s was just a peach of a pitching wedge, which landed about 3 feet from the cup and settled mere inches from the cup for a tap in birdie. To say I started off on a high note with the i20’s is an understatement. They’ve continued to impress, however. Positioned as a forgiving “players” type iron, there are many attributes which make the i20’s somewhat of a “hybrid” design with the progressive head sizing getting larger from short irons to long irons with increasing offsets along the way. I personally love the PW up to about the 6 iron. The heads have great lines which are easy to aim. The size is large enough to inspire confidence, yet not too bulky. While the offsets of the 5 through 3 irons are not up to the level of say the G20, they are still fairly pronounced for an iron set in this segment. I may have preferred less offset in these longer clubs, bringing this set more in line with the MP-59’s of the world, or AP2’s, which are also marketed in this forgiving “players iron” segment and have less offset in their long irons, comparatively. Still, the resulting shots have been good with the long irons, and their game improvement like qualities make them play almost like a hybrid with their forgiveness. As a driving iron, I have teed off with the 3 and 4 irons and enjoyed their easy distance. Even if I do put my S-56’s back in the bag, I may mix them with the longer irons of the i20’s for more forgiveness at that end of the bag. Pitching Wedge Address:6 Iron Address:3 Iron Address:
The important thing is that the i20’s can pull off whatever type of shot you desire. Fades are back in my shot arsenal thanks to my fitting, and the i20’s are so easy to make repeatable contact with, I’ve felt like I’m in mid-season form from the start of our season. I’ve actually found the i20’s just a little easier to fade than draw. The draws have been so straight that they might move a couple yards, and I think the toe weight may have something to do with this. The flight has been strong throughout the set, with the C-tapers providing a high, strong flight that has cut through the wind brilliantly while providing proper spin and angle of descent to hold greens very well. Most shots with the i20’s have hit and released 2-5 feet from the PW to the 3i when I’ve hit the green with them, providing an opportunity for a little roll out to get closer to the pin. The level of confidence I’ve had has been twofold with the i20’s. Their size makes them very look very easy to hit, and the resulting shots have had excellent distance control (no adjustments have been needed for yardages.) The tungsten weight out on the toe of the i20’s really makes them feel almost like a heel-toe weighted putter in that they almost feel impervious to all but really severe toe hits, and are very balanced. The offsets sometime scare me from getting too near the heel with my strikes, and when this happens, the toe weight really keeps the power of the shot in the useable range. I’ve hit low, hooking recovery shots from under and around trees, fairway bunker shots, and high fades to par 3 greens. I’ve played in some very windy conditions this spring, and the i20’s have passed that test with flying colors. If you desire a set that provides help on every shot, but is still capable of those finesse and recovery shots, the i20’s are an excellent choice. With a rounded lead edge, adequate bounce, and excellent heel to toe forgiveness, the i20’s do not dig, and they interact nicely with the turf, exiting with almost a sliding action and a minimal divot for me. The bounce never felt cumbersome or prohibitive in executing any shots.
One feature I was very glad to see in the i20’s was the inclusion of the cavity weight like that of the S-56 irons and Tour S wedges. The resulting COG location gives the i20’s a strong, flat flight, but it is still very easy to get airborne. The feel of this insert, along with the other cavity sound and feel dampening Ping accomplished, give this set a very soft feel and corresponding soft impact sound that is a slight improvement over their i15’s predecessors. I won’t go so far as to say you’ll confuse the i20’s with a forged head, but the sensations are all very positive and a well stuck shot is easy to identify by the sound and feel. The worst feeling shots with the i20’s seem to be thin hits like most sets, but there is not any resulting jarring impact sensation. Mishits have held their direction well and not suffered too badly with distance loss.
After 6 rounds, I can see the sandblasted areas of the face have some minimal wear, and while they seem like they should last a good while, the old indestructible Ping finishes of the past they’re not.
Where does Ping go from here? I thought the i15’s were a great set, and like most Ping designs for many years, each is an incremental change improving slightly on the previous design. The i20’s follow suit. I’ve played most every Ping iron ever since the i3 O-size in the early 2000’s, and the i20 may be their best combination of forgiveness, feel, and workability to date. I have progressed since those i3’s to a low single digit handicapper, and they fit my needs very well. With as much forgiveness and simultaneous workability as the i20’s provide, the audience for this set is pretty wide. I wouldn’t hesitate to say they would work well for a 20 handicap all the way to the pros. Sometimes, a Ping design has a bit of a “cult” following right from the get-go, and much like venerable “cult-like” sets of old like i3’s and i5’s, the i20’s are receiving this same “buzz.” Without much practice, the i20’s allowed me to put them in the bag and go out and pull off the shots I needed to over the course of my last 6 rounds with them. Ping has really been on top of their game with their R&D “cad/cam” design and resulting products, and the i20’s are a continuation of this “forgiveness and performance” tradition Ping has steadfastly held their course to over the years. Their eyesight seems to have been 20/20 with the i20 irons.
For more information, visit: http://www.ping.com Michael White
Independent Equipment Reviewer