Where do you begin on something like this? Normally when I start my reviews I like to give a little history of the company to familiarize our readers, in this case though I’m quite sure this company needs absolutely no introduction. I could turn this into a history lesson if you’d like, but I’m guessing that is not exactly what you’re here for so I’ll spare you the 50 year history lesson and keep this mostly about the new Ping i15 irons. I can’t continue without at least taking a quick look back at Ping’s history making irons though. Karsten Solheim first began experimenting with making a better iron clear back in 1961 with his heel-toe weighted design which was birth of the cavity back type of irons as all know and love today. It wasn’t until 1975 that the original Ping Eye iron is introduced; the club featured the patented “eye” shape in the cavity for improved feel. The Ping Eye iron would become the new standard for aesthetics on cavity back clubs, and as they say, the rest is history.
Ping irons have enjoyed a great deal of presence and success on professional tours since the birth of the Eye and of course ultimately another game changing iron with the Ping Eye 2, so here we are 25 years into it for Ping and we’ve now got an iron like the Ping i15 to help us shoot better scores. While it is fun to think about it, the i15 does not necessarily continue on from the original “Eye” series irons from the 70’s, Ping has actually been a little bit all over the map with naming irons, we’ve had Zing, Zing 2, ISI, i3, Rapture, i5, all in no particular order of course, but you get the picture clearly I think. Of all these Ping irons available I have actually never really spent much time playing or testing them at all to be quite honest, so to me the Ping i15 was somewhat of an introduction to a historical club making icon.
The stainless-steel iron features a tungsten toe insert to add forgiveness to the mid-size design. A stabilizing bar and a new Custom Tuning Port (CTP) provide the feel and sound attributes preferred by better players. The cavity design features dual stabilizing bars and a new CTP shape to support the face for a solid feel and sound across the hitting surface. The center of gravity is optimized to provide the trajectory control preferred by better players. In the design of the i15 iron, Ping engineers focused on the better player who prefers an iron set that offers the control to play a variety of shots. Created as a progressive set, the longer irons are larger for more forgiveness. The mid- and short-irons are smaller to ensure workability and control on approach shots.
I am a fan of the progressive iron set myself, I had an old set of Nike Pro Combo that originally started the trend and can say that I like it, but the thing I wasn’t crazy about was the substantial difference in the look and feel of the longer irons compared to the shorter “blade” irons. With the i15 there really isn’t much of a difference like that, to look at them you really don’t notice but when it comes to hitting those tough to hit longer irons you really notice the difference and come to appreciate not being afraid of the long irons, while I don’t think this spells death to the hybrid market I do think that a lot of better players who still like their 3, 4, and 5 irons will appreciate this.
Immediately I liked the looks of the i15 irons and the second I unboxed them I headed straight to the driving range. The first thing I noticed was how much lighter they felt than my forged Mizuno MP-57 irons. The i15 iron is made out of 17-4 stainless steel with a tungsten toe weight to help add forgiveness to the mid-sized design. At first the light weight of the club head left me expecting a less forgiving club but after a few swings with it on the driving range I was happy with the feel and forgiveness they offered. Distance wise the i15 was probably 1/2 to a full club longer than my Mizuno’s, at first I figured it had to be due to stronger lofts but it turns out that the 5-irons of each set match up lofts precisely. The Ping 7 and 9 irons are 2 full degrees stronger and a definite distance increase can be expected there, the PW compared to a 1 degree stronger loft than my set and played to about the same distance my 9 iron usually travels. At first the weight of the head messed with me resulting in my over swinging most of the time, but after using the i15 I definitely became more comfortable with them.
As I said earlier, I currently play a forged set of irons and my set prior to the Mizuno’s I’m playing now were forged so for me the biggest transition was getting used to the difference in feel. I love the soft feel I get from a forged iron and went into this review knowing that I would not be feeling the same buttery feel I’m used to, I was pleasantly surprised though, while not as soft feeling as what I’m used to the Ping i15 did actually have a pretty good feel to me. This comes from the tungsten toe weight, that and Ping’s new Custom Tuning Port really did help out in the feel category as far as I’m concerned. Again, not the soft forged iron I’m used to, but certainly not bad because of it. Just different and that was probably the thing that I had to adapt to the most.
Trajectory wise the Ping i15 is designed to produce a mid-range ball flight, I found myself hitting them quite a little bit higher than my own set, most of the time resulting in a similar overall shot distance and actually helping me to hold greens as a result. Described as a medium top line from Ping I tend to agree with them there, the iron provides a confident look at address with a top line that was not too wide, yet not overly narrow either so in that respect you’d have to call it medium, just as described by Ping. I don’t typically work the flight of my ball one way or the other, usually for me a straight shot with the distance I expect is just what I look for. I do feel that the size and dimensions of the i15 would allow for those looking to work the ball left or right without much of a problem, being a mid-sized iron with not too much off-set should give better players the feel they desire to produce whatever shot shape they’re looking for.
At the end of the day the Ping i15 is definitely a solid club in their current fleet of iron offerings, I don’t think it will quite be the industry changer that the original Ping Eye and Ping Eye 2 were, but at this point in the game I don’t see that type of innovation from anyone for that matter. For Ping fans they’re going to be very happy with the overall looks and performance from the i15, but personally I’m a forged iron guy and I think I’d be more apt to wait around and see what Ping will have to offer guys like me in the future. It’s obvious that Ping knows how to build a good solid iron; after all, they’ve got 50 plus years of experience behind them. To read more on the i15 irons and other Ping equipment you can visit their website here.