It is only natural that a company like PING, who revolutionized the game with things like perimeter weighting, would be known for producing incredibly playable iron sets, and they are hoping to add to that list of irons with their latest offering. After much talk and anticipation, PING is releasing the newest version of what may be the most un-PING-like iron series that they produce, the S-series. Considered the players iron in their lineup, PING has realized a significant amount of success with the S57 and S56 iron in the recent years and they look to build on that with the newest iteration, the S55.
For the purpose of this review THP was sent a 4-PW set of the new S55 irons paired with steel CFS shafts in stiff flex.
PING on the S55 Irons:
A compact, multi-material players’ model, the S55 iron provides added distance with control while simultaneously improving workability and forgiveness. Available in 3-PW, the 17-4 stainless steel heads feature a tungsten toe weight to increase forgiveness, and a vertical stabilizing bar for precise distance control and a solid sound and feel at impact. A machined face, grooves and back cavity, plus thin top lines, a compact head, and a brushed, satin-chrome finish create a confidence-inspiring design. PING’s CFS steel shaft (control, feel, stability) comes standard, offering a mid-high launch.
- Long Iron CG – Lower and farther back to launch the ball higher with greater ball speed for added distance.
- Short Iron CG – More forward to flight the ball lower with optimal spin.
- Enhanced CTP – The expanded custom tuning port sits lower in the back cavity to promote higher launch, and is made from a thermoplastic elastomer to soften the sound and feel at impact.
- Stabilizing Bar – The stabilizing bar is narrower in the long irons to launch the ball higher with greater ball speed. The bar is wider in the shorter irons for a lower ball flight with optimal spin.
- Tungsten Toe Weighting – A high-density tungsten toe weight stabilizes the face to increase forgiveness for improved accuracy.
- Right and Left-Handed
Stock Shaft Options:
- PING CFS (Steel – Soft Regular, Regular, Stiff, X-Stiff)
- PING Z-Z65 (Steel – Stiff)
- PING TFC-189I (Graphite – Soft Regular, Regular, Stiff)
One thing that PING irons have always possessed is a very simple and elegant finish that is incredibly recognizable, even as it has slightly evolved through the years. The number one trait of those finishes always comes back to its satin quality, and with the S55 irons it may be better than it ever has before.
Gone is the darker finish we saw with the most recent version of the G-Series and instead the S55’s carry with them a pure satin-chrome finish. When in play, the finish is excellent in preventing any glare and also wears incredibly well with extended use, another traditional PING iron trait. With minimal engraving and badging on the iron heads, the finish is allowed to truly accentuate the entire head design rather than draw away from it. It is because of that fact that it is one of the most well finished irons released in some time.
- Overall Package
A consistent comment about the S55 iron from an aesthetic standpoint is that they don’t look like a traditional PING iron. This goes well beyond the players profile of a thinner sole, smaller topline, and minimized offset that they possess compared to other PING lines, as those are all traits that the S-Series was designed to be from the start. Rather, those comments are in reference to the more subdued toe angle of the head as well as the lack of cavity badging and branding. In all, the S55 is a looker. That is also huge step for PING in producing an iron that pleases traditional along with most everyone else from an aesthetics standpoint.
With the S55 irons, PING wanted to find a way to increase launch and overall playability of the set while also creating a slightly smaller look to appease their tour players. In the end they managed to achieve not only the look requested, but through the use of stabilizing bars and weight movement, they believe they have also created truly playable “players” iron all the way through the set.
In the long irons the CG was pulled back and down within the heads and a narrower stabilizing bar was utilized in order to create a higher launch and increased distance. Naturally the long irons are the hardest for most golfers to hit consistently, so the ability to elevate those clubs easier is crucial to the amount of golfers that could viably use the set. Continued testing certainly backs what PING has claimed here, as the ball flight of the long irons gets up in a hurry. They are definitely easier to elevate off of the tee, but from the deck the ball flight still gives confidence to attempt hitting a longer iron into the green. This is not to say that the 3-iron or 4-iron have become simple to hit. These are still demanding irons with a much smaller profile to them, but it is clear that there is definite improvement from previous versions.
In the shorter irons PING has recognized that it is all about scoring, and in a players iron it is key to provide a more penetrating flight that is less susceptible to ballooning. To do this, the CG was pushed more forward and a wider stabilizing bar was utilized. The results on course showed that the higher lofted clubs definitely kept a penetrating and slightly flatter ball flight, even into the wind, and possessed an impressive amount of spin that allowed for attacking the pin with confidence in many situations.
Claims are always fun to listen to, but when they are realized on the course, true positive impressions are made. From a trajectory standpoint, PING has done with the S55’s what many other players irons have only attempted to do. They have created a set that allows for a nice, high, piercing ball flight that expands the realm of possibilities for many amateurs when dealing with a players iron.
Considering the S55’s have what most would consider more “traditional” lofts by today’s standards and possess a more demanding profile, it would be expected that distances would be significantly less than other classifications of irons out there. However, the distances consistently seen on course were a true surprise, as the S55’s provided an ample amount of distance through the set. It certainly would not be a stretch to credit this to the goal of increased launch discussed earlier.
Player’s style irons are traditionally favored from a gapping standpoint because of their perceived consistency there. With the S55’s PING has walked the fine line of not allowing the variable altering of launch throughout the set to cause the development of any gaps. From club to club, both off the deck and tee, there are no abnormal or obstructive distance variances.
On the course, the profile of the S55 irons lends to pulling off the various shots that one would expect. Even though you can work the ball with any style of iron, it is typically going to be a bit easier with an iron of this style. With the S55’s there was never any issue working the ball left or right in order to hit a specific shot. Additionally, even with the emphasis on improved launch the ability to flight the ball is definitely still easy to do when necessary.
The fact is that there is only so much that can be done from a forgiveness standpoint in an iron with a profile like the S55. The goal is typically to find a way to provide a decent amount of forgiveness overall, with as much perimeter weighting that a smaller head can handle, while keeping the balance of that more compact look. Misses with the S55’s are most certainly more penalized than what would be seen with irons in the rest of PING’s lines. However, the clubs did illustrate a solid amount of forgiveness. In particular, forgiveness off of the toe was more evident than misses anywhere else on the face, likely a credit to PING’s use of Tungsten toe weighting, which is traditional with the S-series irons.
Regarding the S-series, there has always been a debate as to them not being forged and the difference that may or may not make in the sound/feel. Traditionally however, PING has grasped that the actual design of the head itself has the most to do with the perception of feel in irons. Because of this, comments about PING irons commonly mention how “soft” their cast clubs feel and the S55’s are no different. The design of the head in coordination with the use of the “Enhanced CTP” materials help control the overall sound at impact. What all this has resulted in is an iron with a tremendously “flush” sound at impact. There is no awkward clickyness or dullness – just a well rounded sound that feels “right”. The feedback given at impact is also enough that you can tell exactly when and where a miss occurs. It would not be a stretch to say that these are among the best feeling/sounding irons that PING has released to date.
From a looks standpoint there is no doubt that the S55 irons are among the best looking that PING has ever released. At the same time, PING clearly did not rest on their laurels and instead sought to bring a true improvement on the S-series, something that they achieved on many levels. Although the S55’s are an incredibly well rounded entry into the golf world, it is good to remember that even with forgiveness they possess they are still irons that will most reward golfers that possess a consistent swing.
The S55 irons have an MSRP of $999.99 for a 3-PW set paired with the CFS shafts. For more information about the line be sure to check out www.ping.com.