As has become tradition, the release of the new i-Series irons from PING is one that has caught the attention of many golfers. With this iteration, the line is actually undergoing several changes, not just in looks, but also in technology and name. Gone is the numerical identification which we have seen from the i5 all the way up to the i25, now we simply have the new PING i irons, also referred to as iE1.
From PING about the new i Irons:
PING engineers used 431 stainless steel for its high strength-to-weight ratio and softer feel to deliver workability and trajectory control with forgiveness. Larger head sizes and low/back CG positions in the long irons offer forgiveness and distance where golfers need them most. The smaller short irons and wedges provide precision and control. Workability comes from a head and hosel geometry that ensures trajectory control for precise shot-making.
Weight savings from the 431 SS and the deeper Custom Tuning Port position allow for expanded perimeter weighting. A tungsten toe weight in the 3 thru 7 irons increases forgiveness. An elastomer CTP weight tucks into the tuning port, which is lower on the face to align with the impact area for a more solid sound and feel.
The sole glides through the turf with ease, ensuring the solid contact required to play with control and consistency. An optimized, versatile bounce profile delivers exceptional performance in all conditions.
The thin top rail and minimal offset create a confidence-inspiring look at address. Lengths and lofts are optimized to increase distance with proper gapping. With two PING shaft choices and four popular after-market stock options, golfers can match a shaft to their ball flight and feel preferences.
- Available 3-9, PW, UW
- Stock steel shaft: PING CFS Distance (Soft R, R, S, X)
- Stock graphite shaft: PING CFS Graphite (65 Soft R, 70 R, 80 S)
- After-market stock shaft options (no upcharge): Dynamic Gold S300, X100; Project X 5.0, 6.0; XP 95 (R, S), N.S. Pro Modus3 105 (S, X)
- U.S. MSRP: $135 per club w/steel shaft; $150 per club w/graphite shaft
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As always, it’s fun and enlightening to take a closer look at the technology being advertised in any new release and further explain it for those taking an interest in the release.
- Refined Perimeter Weighting:
Weight savings (3-4 grams) from the 431 stainless steel and the deeper CTP (Custom Tuning Port) position allow for expanded perimeter weighting. A tungsten toe weight in the 3 thru 7 irons increases forgiveness.
PING literally revolutionized the golf equipment industry with their perimeter weighting in the Eye irons, and ever since then they have been continually evolving it with each iteration of the i-Series. For the new i irons the biggest weighting change is the material itself. The move to 431 stainless is a major one and it has saved a sizeable amount of weight while maintaining strength. Thanks in large part to this weight savings, PING is now utilizing a much deeper undercut than what we have seen in the past, allowing even more of a weight shift to the perimeter. Combine this with the return of tungsten weights in the toe of the 3-7 irons and the CG of each club in the set has been optimized in terms of launch and ball-speed retention capabilities. The material change really is quite a big deal for PING and shouldn’t be underestimated.
- Concealed CTP:
An elastomer CTP (Custom Tuning Port) weight tucks into the tuning port to create a clean cavity design. The port is positioned lower on the face to align with the impact area for a more solid sound and feel.
The CTP has been an incredible technology and design feature for PING in their irons literally allowing for tuning the irons in a variety of different ways from weighting to dampening. The most recent i-Series irons have always surprised users with the “feel” that they have managed to capture in a cast design by controlling the sound at impact to create a much more plush/fuller sensation. Since its inception, it has been a key visible technology for each release but with the new i irons it has been concealed in an attempt not only to create a cleaner look in the rear of the clubs, but also to continue having effectiveness thanks to the increased cavity cut in this design necessitating it to sit lower on the face.
- Progressive Set Design:
Larger head sizes and low/back CG positions in the long irons offer forgiveness for attacking greens from any distance. The smaller short irons and wedges provide precision and control. Workability comes from a head and hosel geometry that ensures trajectory control for precise shot-making.
The “progressive” nature of the i irons continues the trend from the i20 and i25’s and is evident immediately as the longer irons have more offset, length (heel to toe), as well as a shorter face height and all of these features shift the other way as you move towards the other end of the set. As always, this is all rooted in the knowledge that most golfers benefit from more perimeter weighting and launch in the longer irons while still needing a flatter trajectory to prevent ballooning and maintaining accuracy into the green with the scoring clubs. It isn’t a stretch to say that PING quite possibly has the most effective progressive design, though it all comes back to if one is visually comfortable with the changes throughout the set.
The new i irons are a definite aesthetic departure from what we have come to know/expect after the i20 and i25 releases, both in badging and color scheme, as well as the physical design itself. With the massive success of the i20 irons it was no surprise to see only subtle changes as PING later released the i25’s. This release though, definitely necessitated a more significant change and it was accomplished in spades with the i irons.
With the material change allowing for a newly designed cavity which let the CTP features be more visible as with the previous renditions, PING decided to also try and produce a cleaner look to hopefully appeal to a broader range. The badging still features some of the angles and edges which PING is known for in i-Series releases, but now instead of contrasting the finish of the irons they have used a brushed metal look to blend with it. The one contrasting feature is the use of blue as they primary accent color with the i irons, though given the prevalence of the color in the rest of PING’s lines right now it really isn’t a surprise. Though some have voiced issues with it, the fact is there really isn’t enough blue on the badging to be a legitimate discussion concern in the opinion of this reviewer. Additionally, we see a new font being used on the irons to demarcate the club number and this may take long time users more time to acclimate to than anything else aesthetically. It’s a definite departure.
The other focus aesthetically needs to be on the actual finish of the irons. For all of the success the last two iterations had amongst golfers, the durability of the finish has been a constant concern with a plethora of de-lamination and face wear issues. This year though, with the i irons PING has gone back to their roots with a much more throwback type satin finish which we saw on the early iterations of the line and seemingly lasted forever. After a ton of usage on these irons, this reviewer can confirm that the durability has been improved exponentially here both on the main body of the irons as well as the face.
There are also some definite size differences in the irons from past versions too. With the i irons we have seen a slimming of the overall profile, almost like a blend of the i20/i25 and S55 designs. The topline is thinner, as is the sole width. Additionally, the progressive nature of the iron is not as extreme as in the past with the offset not being as prevalent in the long irons. In all honesty, with the addition of the Gmax irons as well as the G-Series and S-Series still being in play for PING, this makes a ton of sense and really allows them to cover the gamut in profile and looks much more than they have in the past. The jump from i-Series to S-Series isn’t as significant and that is a very good thing in the long run.
Where performance is concerned it is always important to keep in mind that fitting is a key part of getting the most out of any iron, and few companies are as focused on that as PING. One way they are trying to accommodate this even more with the new i irons is by making blue-dot (.75° upright) the new off-the-shelf “standard” lie angle. This was done because after going through the immense amount of data they have collected on past fittings the majority were fit into blue-dot. That said, for traditional black-dot users, there is no need to be concerned as it is still a fitting option, the company is simply trying to streamline things.
For this review THP spent time with the i irons in the 3-UW configuration paired with the CFS Distance shafts in standard blue-dot setup.
Always a subjective and personal topic, but one that is very worthwhile to discuss as it pertains to any of the PING i-Series irons since they really break the mold of expectations for a cast iron set. The CTP has continually been the rock-star of the i-Series where the sound/feel has been concerned thanks to the dampening effects it has. With the i irons the sound/feel has actually been improved in the opinion of this reviewer. Impact is even more of a plush/full tone which most golfers will classify as “soft”. In the end, it’s a different sound/feel than we got from the i20 and i25 irons, but in a good way. There is little doubt in the mind of this reviewer that we will be seeing PING expand their use of 431 SS from here on out.
- Ball Flight and Trajectory
Testing and data tracking showed both a consistency in the launch angle gapping through the set from the UW all the way into the 3i, as well as the peak heights all hovering right around that 30 yard “sweet spot” that so many hold as a key number to achieve. The scoring irons did reach the highest peaks as expected, but they did so with a launch angle that kept the ball on a nice penetrating trajectory. As things worked into the long irons the launch angles obviously come down, but they were grouped together much higher than anticipated entering the review, and still hitting those peak height numbers you like to see. This lead to some really nicely flighted shots that had plenty of ability to hold the green. It does need to be mentioned though, that while the 3i/4i did show good promise and will undoubtedly be a very playable option for the long iron lovers out there, they are where this reviewer had the most issue when hitting into greens, but that is completely a fitting/swing/preference thing.
While pushing the CTP even lower into the head of the i irons compared to the previous releases definitely has aided the launch and spin aspects of the set. The shaft pairing clearly plays a role too. PING has consistently had some of the best stock pairings for all of their clubs with them always being “proprietary” shafts. The CFS for example, fits a LARGE amount of golfers out there in both flight and weight. While the CFS Distance (¼” longer, but keep in mind PING has traditionally been ¼” shorter prior to this) are an available option on the i irons but they have also stepped into a new territory for them by offering four other no-upcharge options (Dynamic Gold, DG XP, Nippon Modus3, and ProjectX) that hit a WIDE range of profiles and further accentuate the importance of fitting in order to hone in the best performance for the user. While the CFS stand tall for this reviewer, it is great to see plenty of options out there for others now without the upcharge. Not a new thing in the industry at all, but new for PING to venture into and definitely shows them starting to evolve and adapt more and more.
- Distance and Forgiveness:
One thing we know for certain when it comes to golf equipment is that the launch and trajectory, which we previously discussed, plays a major role when combined with spin characteristics to generate overall distance. The key here is again to remember that the fit into a club will play a large role in distance and that no two swings are alike. The i-Series has never been what one would consider a “distance” iron, although in the past versions we have seen an increase as the technology in the clubs improves. With the i irons that trend continues as this reviewer saw about a 5-yard increase from the i25 throughout the set, still not the longest irons out there, but legitimately impressive.
While some will foolishly look immediately at the 1° strengthening in loft, the material change is what is truly making all of this happen. The move to 431 stainless has allowed for a thinner face and deeper CG which really has maximized launch and spin characteristics. With that however, the mentality from PING on one of their traditional design features of the i-Series has changed. Previous versions utilized dual stabilizing bars in the rear of the club to increase strength/stability in the face and limit face flexion. Here however, they are letting the face flex more thanks to the lighter and stronger 431 SS.
This material change and CG movement in the iron has also effected the forgiveness (ball-speed retention) of the i irons in a positive way. The i20 honestly were one of the first irons to really take toe-forgiveness to a new level. It was evolved in the i25 and now with the new i irons we have again seen improvements made, but this time across the majority of the face. Testing showed impressive ball-speed retention on misses but those shots toe-side and low had the most minimal drop-off and kept spin in a playable range as well. As always, heel-misses are going to be the most penal simply because of the lack of material an iron really has out there, and with the i irons this miss did show the largest ballspeed drop, but it was still about 6% better than data recorded on the i25’s. The real key here though, is misses had a very playable dispersion overall, and there is a significant resistance to twisting on shots away from center and once again we see stability without sacrificing feel in a design. As with distance, they may not sit at the top of the list where forgiveness is concerned, but for their profile they really do offer a lot for a wide variety of golfers there.
The release of the new i irons is a significant one for PING as they are two cycles removed from the i20’s which truly put the i-Series back on the map of golfers outside of traditional PING users. The decision to go in and change practically every facet aesthetically and to really dig in and evolve the technology/materials as well was a necessary and daunting one. While the aesthetics will be hit and miss for some, the performance traits shown in time spent with them will genuinely give them a chance to win many over as this is yet another extremely well rounded iron release from PING.
The new i irons have a price of $1099.99 for graphite and $999.99 for steel in 3-PW, for more information on them and other offerings, check out their website www.PING.com.