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Ping i25 Driver, Fairway Woods and Hybrids

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i25 Driver

Ping’s new i25 driver has a center of gravity that is more forward than the company’s G25 driver to help golfers reduce spin on their tee shots. But discussion about the i25’s engineering feats will likely take a backseat to a more obvious change to the new club: black racing stripes that run from the top of the driver’s face to the back of its crown to help golfers set up square to their target line.

Click here to see what GolfWRX members are saying about the i25 lineup in the forums.

Marty Jertson, director of product development for Ping, said it took the company three years to perfect the racing stripes because of the difficulty of placing straight lines on a club’s curved crown surface.

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According to Jertson, average golfers use a driver with a lie angle of about 58 degrees. But when they place their drivers in the address position behind the ball, their lie angle measures about 45 degrees. That’s why if you look at the racing stripes in most orientations other than the setup position, they don’t look straight. But they look perfectly straight at address thanks to the special tooling Ping created to stamp the stripe on the head and verify its proper placement.

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The i25 driver is not as forgiving as the company’s G25—its heel-to-toe moment of inertia is about 4700 g-cm2, while the G25 has an MOI of about 5500— mostly because of the i25’s shorter profile from front to back. But engineers were able to make a significant improvement in the top-to-bottom MOI of the i25; it’s 8 percent higher than its predecessor, the i20 driver. That creates more consistent spin rates on shots struck both above and below the sweet spot, leading to longer drives. The i25 also has 15 grams of tungsten weighting positioned on the rear portion of its sole, helping boost heel-to-toe MOI by 1 percent over the i20.

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Like Ping’s G25 and Anser drivers, the i25 is equipped with Ping’s Trajectory Tuning technology, the company’s slim, lightweight adjustable hosel that allows golfers to raise or lower a driver’s stock loft by 0.5 degrees. The driver is available in lofts of 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5, each with a 460-cubic-centimeter head that weighs 207 grams.

The stock shaft is Ping’s new PWR (performance, weighting, responsiveness) family, which is available in three different weights: 55, 65 and 75 grams. Each shaft has a specific balance point that keeps the swing weight of the club the same regardless of what shaft weight golfers choose. For example, an i25 driver built with a PWR 55-gram shaft will have a lighter total weight than one built with a PWR 65-gram shaft. But the lower balance point of the PWR 55-gram shaft allows both clubs to have the same swing weight.

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The stock shafts include: PWR 55 (R and S flexes), PWR 65 (R, S, Tour S and Tour XS) and PWR 75 (S, Tour S, Tour XS). The stock shaft length is 45.25 inches.

i25 Fairway Woods

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Like the i25 driver, the i25 fairway woods have a center of gravity that is more forward than the G25 models. That decreases the amount of spin the fairway woods produce, leading to a lower launch and flatter overall trajectory.

While the i25 fairway woods are made from the same 17-4 stainless steel as their predecessors, they offer faster ball speeds thanks their thinner and slightly taller faces. The saved weight from their faces, as well as their bodies, also gives the i25 fairway woods a 7 percent improvement in MOI over the i20 fairway woods.

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Like the i25 driver, the fairway woods have Ping’s patented racing stripes on their crowns, tungsten weighting on the rear portion of the soles and adjustable hosels. They’re available in three different lofts, S3W (14 degrees), 3W (15 degrees) and 5W (18 degrees), and offer the same PWR shaft options as the i25 driver.

i25 Hybrids

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The i25 hybrids are designed to be the most versatile hybrids the company has ever created thanks to their more compact overall shape and reduced bulge and roll.

According to Jertson, reducing the bulge and roll, or the curvature of the faces of the hybrids, gives golfers more control over their trajectory. For example, on a knockdown shot, Jertson said the 20-inch roll on the i25 hybrid will deliver less loft at impact than the 14-inch roll on the G25 hybrid, resulting in the desired lower-launching shot.

Like the i20 hybrids, the new models are cast from 17-4 stainless steel. But they have a more-forward hosel axis, adding offset to the clubs that will help golfers create a higher launch angle. For that reason, the lofts of the hybrids were strengthened one degree from their predecessors to 17, 19 and 22 degrees. A 26-degree hybrid has also been added to the lineup, and both it and the 22-degree model have a center of gravity that is positioned closer to their faces to help flatten their trajectories.

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While the hybrids do not feature the racing stripe that is on the crown of the i25 driver and fairway woods, they have a straighter leading edge and a more squared off toe that will help golfers with their alignment.

The stock shafts for the i25 hybrids include a PWR 80 (R, S and Tour S) and PWR 90 (S, Tour S and Tour XS), which are designed to create the same swingweight regardless of what weight or flex is chosen.

Ping’s i25 driver ($399), fairway woods ($249) and hybrids ($219) are currently available for pre-order, and will hit stores in mid-February.

 

Click here to see what GolfWRX members are saying about the i25 lineup in the forums.

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45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Geoffrey1992

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  2. Jim

    Jun 6, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    I game the i25 with motore speeder 7.2 tour spec x flex and it is ridiculous . I also have that shaft in a g25 15 3 wood again disgusting long low flat bombs that run with the driver and the ability of low and long or high and long with the 3 wood im impressed

  3. JEFF

    May 16, 2014 at 2:08 am

    Demo day- My ANSER 9.5 Ahina 70 X vs i25 9.5 TS = ANSER wins by a lot!

  4. michael

    May 12, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    I’m glad the i20 is still available for custom ordering. I really don’t like the “racing stripe” on the i25.

  5. Joel

    May 4, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    I tried the i25 on the range at my club and loved it. When you hit it on the screws the ball explodes of the club. I was hitting pines at the end of the range on the fly. Look, feel, and sound was amazing.

  6. Hamish

    Mar 15, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I am ‘Bombing’ the i25 Driver 9.5 / 75 Tour Stiff.
    I am 105mph, fast tempo. The shaft is approx 45 3/8, D2, 264cpm.
    The club feels firm and stable but not boardy. I was going to get the stiff but the tour stiff was a better fit. I bombed some 300+ downwind today. Ha! traded the block solid, low launching adams xtd 10.5 and never looked back!…
    PING i25 all the way! their internal weighting MOI is better and the club feels more stable on off center hits. Ping are quality, not just the latest marketing design of others. Trade your R1 for the i25

    • Hamish

      Mar 24, 2014 at 6:07 pm

      I re-shafted to a Fijikura F1 65x @ 45.5 / D5 / 271cpm N1…and gained another 10yards and higher launch. Its a Monster Looong.
      Don’t listen to the naysayers PERIOD! get this combo

  7. JEFF SMITH

    Mar 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Ping has decided to go 100% china. Super cheap shafts and basically the same club as last year including the i25 irons. They make some really neet hats to with big dumb stripes….. looks like something you would win at a carnival!

    • Cliff

      Mar 6, 2014 at 4:53 am

      Until a few months ago I played I20 irons and G25 driver, 3 wood and hybrid. I am an 8 handicap with a driver swing speed of between 94 and 98mph average so I am by no means a big hitter with most of my drives carrying around 230 and running out around 240-250. Anyway two months ago I changed my driver, 3 wood and hybrid to Titleist 913D2 driver with stock 72 stiff whiteboard shaft, then 17 and 21 degree 913 hybrids with stiff shafts (no 3 wood now). Titleist goes both straighter and around 5 to 10 yards further carry and more roll out in each club. I love my I20 irons with standard regular CFS shaft however, my swing speed has gradually improved this past year. I tested in Florida last month on the Swing monitor the new irons and also the new driver against existing. The I25 irons with same CFS regular shaft went almost exactly the same distance, trajectory, spin rates so I can see the clubs have not changed other than looks and maybe tiny not noticeable improvements so if you have I20’s and you like them then don’t waste money on the new ones as they will not better your game. The driver however really did ping off the face and was slightly longer than my Titleist however the strike has to be very sweet in the middle and it didn’t feel so forgiving as the Titleist but it is definitely better than the G25 especially distance wise. I would recommend the I25 driver and I do like the “Naff” stripes but I wont buy it as my 913D2 is very similar and only a few months old.I have actually last week now upgraded my irons to Ping S55 with Project X 5.5 shafts and these are a different gravy altogether. lovely trajectory and extra distance on the range but really have to hit them in the middle so I just hope I am consistent enough and can get on with them in actual play otherwise they will be on ebay and my I20’s back in the bag! Hope this exhaustive message hasn’t bored anyone too much and may be of some help!

    • SBoss

      Apr 2, 2014 at 9:05 pm

      Jeff, You don’t know what your talking about. My new Ping S55 irons are simply the best I’ve ever hit and the I25 irons are fantastic as well. I hit the XS I25 Driver and crushed it, hitting it 10-yards beyond my Amp Cell Pro, which is plenty long. I’m not as straight with the I25 driver so I need to find the right shaft before I buy it.

      I’m checking out the I25 19 degree this weekend and I’ll be shocked if it isn’t a great club. Ping makes quality equipment and their latest releases are a grand slam. I don’t care if they make them in China, Brazil, Nigeria, or East Bumble. I care about the quality of the equipment and it’s the best I’ve experienced in my 30+ years of playing golf.

      If your going to write a review, it might be a good idea to really know the equipment. And it really doesn’t matter where its made if it does a tremendous job and lasts.

  8. killerbgolfer

    Feb 14, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    How does the i25 driver compare to the Anser driver I’m currently playing? Which would be longer?

    • robert

      Sep 20, 2014 at 9:40 pm

      The i25 is longer! I have both and also the G25, and the old Rapture V2 driver, and the i25 is longer.
      It is always best you try different shafts and see which one fits you better.

  9. Ben

    Feb 7, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Forgive me if this is a dumb question but Golf magazine says the i25 driver face angle is slightly open. Anyone know if this is true? With those racing stripes as a aiming guide this seems odd to have an open face. Thanks

    • Joe Golfer

      Mar 16, 2014 at 1:14 am

      That’s a good point. If one changes the face angle slightly using the adjustable hosel, I wonder if that changes the appearance of the lines on top of the clubhead?

  10. Brian

    Jan 23, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    I took a picture of the i25 driver so people could see how subtle they look in my fitting bay.

    http://pic.twitter.com/OiXtXlm7Lw

  11. Brian Cutler

    Jan 18, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    I hit the i25 lineup this week and I fell in love. I expected I would, but the line exceeded my expectations.

    I gained 3 mph of ball speed on a 7 iron vs my i10. I also raised my low launch and lowered my high spin.

    I was blown away by the driver and my improvement in ball speed. I didn’t have the chance to hit the shaft that I will end up with, and once I get the final product it will assuredly give me a few more yards.

    My first ball with the driver was hit towards the toe, however it beat my best ball speed on existing driver.

    My existing driver was extensively custom fit in the fall. I assure you my G25 10.5+ Aldila Rip’d NV X 1/2” tip stiff was maximized for my game. My best ball speed on that driver is 170. I recall once seeing Tiger at 175 mph and have always hoped to get there. The G25 added 4 mph over my previous i20.

    So my first swing with i25 pwr 75 s shaft (I play an X with extra tip trimming) was 170.1 mph of ball speed. I look to the PING rep and tell him I missed it, and there’s more. I hit the next one a little better and get 173 out of it, then 175, then 177, 178, 178, 175…. I am in love! The spin rate was in line with my G25, and once I get my upgraded shaft I believe I will be hitting it 14-18 yards longer. Did I say I was in love?

    Also, I believe this stock offering is going to be a big hit. Anyone on plane under 100 mph clubhead speed can play the stock shaft. Players who come over the top and have excessively high spin might benefit from upgraded low spin shaft options. In my case I average 117 mph club speed and I along with liking the feel I gain confidence in playing an Aldila X shaft, often tip trimmed. As always though I was thoroughly impressed with the stock shaft.

  12. Jeff Smith

    Jan 11, 2014 at 10:24 am

    It will be tough to leave my anser driver and g25 fairways…….a racing stripe really?

  13. MJ

    Jan 4, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    If it helps me line up better I’m all for it! I want to know I am aimed where I think I’m aimed. I’ll try em. I know it will hit well. Ping makes quality stuff!

  14. Skippy

    Jan 4, 2014 at 2:46 am

    The i25 driver and woods are totally underwhelming. The driver is basically an adjustable i20 driver(not a bad thing), but with stupid looking racing stripes. The i25 woods and hybrids are a step backwards IMO.

    I’d be surprised if Ping sells even a 1/10 the amount of I25 as the G25.

    • Psimmons

      Feb 11, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      Disagree. I compared the i25 side by side with the Covert 2.0, TM SLDR, and Big Bertha Alpha. The i25 was, by far, the best of the bunch. Most solid, best feel, best look at setup. You name it. It was at least 15 yds longer with 3-5mph better clubhead speed than any of the others. I wanted to like the others better because, quite frankly, I already purchased the Covert and Big Bertha and have not received them yet. I will be listing them both for sale immediately on Ebay and flip them for an i25 with the stock tour x-stiff. My clubhead speed ranged 117-121 and it flat out felt better. Covert and alpa feel spongy in comparison. I’m not a fanboy loyal to any brand. I game 4 different brands in my bag. This club is fantastic. The flat black paint scheme is great. Can’t say enough good about it. I wish I was wrong because it would save me a ton of dough, but I’m not. Maybe not for everyone, but if you carry substantial clubhead speed, this one is the one.

      • Psimmons

        Feb 11, 2014 at 10:07 pm

        Sorry, I said clubhead speed when I meant to say ball speed at the beginning of my post.

  15. Joe Golfer

    Jan 4, 2014 at 12:30 am

    It seems that most folks are not fond of the “racing stripes”.
    I gotta be honest. I sort of like them.
    But I’m just a guy who gets out a few times per month, shoots between 88-92 on most days.
    If it was some wild color, like orange or yellow, it would look terrible (Taylor Made). Or if the head was vivid red, then ugh (Nike).
    But the stripe seems to be a very muted color, allowing the clubhead to still look classy.
    Of course, if sales are poor, then those who dislike the stripes need only wait until the next model comes out.
    I’d like to see a bit more variety in the stock shafts that Ping offers than what they’ve been doing lately, especially with regard to lowering the torque values of their stock shafts and “no cost upgrade” alternatives. While I like their idea of using a high balance point shaft to keep the swingweight reasonable while using slightly heavier clubhead weights, I just don’t think the current shaft options are that great.

  16. cmasty

    Jan 3, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    The i25 Drivers and fairways are going to flop. The racing stripe flies in the face of ping’s traditional, loyal customer.

    The i25 irons on the other hand will do fairly well, to the extent that a ‘sequel’ type club can do well.

    • Brian Cutler

      Jan 18, 2014 at 11:50 pm

      The racing stripe is very subdued when it’s in your hand. I hated it at first in the pics. It grew on me instantly when I hit it.

    • Psimmons

      Feb 11, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      Nope, wrong. The driver will NOT fail, trust me. Ping’s traditional, loyal customer will appreciate quality.

    • SBoss

      Apr 2, 2014 at 9:13 pm

      It’s not “flopping”…it’s a huge hit. I always say that it’s best to actually hit clubs before you make predictions. Because if a club is truly great, it could be pink with blue polka dots and it would sell like crazy. Smart players want performance.
      BTW, the racing stripes look great in person.

      • AC930

        Jun 7, 2014 at 12:38 am

        I didn’t picture myself liking the racing stripe. After all, the golf swing is circular motion. It is great though once I tried it… I need that stripe. There are a lot of great drivers out there but this I25 is going a mile for me – LONG. Straight into a strong wind it is amazing – the ball ignores the wind and flies straight. Thanks Ping!

  17. Mike

    Jan 2, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Go faster stripes, heh. What the heck? TM left graphics out in recent models so not sure why ping need to jump on the bandwagon now. The hybrid is still a classic club though but not too much different to the to i20.

  18. Matt

    Jan 2, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    LOL… Thought the stripe on top was a misprint/weird shadow until I saw the FW pics.

  19. LorenRobertsFan

    Jan 2, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    The I25/G25 face picture shows a non-adjustable driver for the G25.. Wrong label? It looks like an I20

    • John

      Jan 2, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      That means it’s doing its job. The hosel on the g25 and I25 is supposed to blend into the head like that. If you look at all the pics, you can see the plus symbol on some of them where you adjust.

      • LorenRobertsFan

        Jan 3, 2014 at 12:13 am

        They removed the pic but it was a long glued hosel. No big deal

  20. markb

    Jan 2, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    While I probably won’t try the i25 since I don’t see any reason why I should expect to see improvement over the g25, I like the muted racing stripe and I think it will aid set up alignment. I’ve tried painting alignment stripes on driver heads and it’s a two man job. First the users has to hold the club and hit it until he thinks he’s got the head correctly opened or closed to produce straight flight, then the 2nd guy has to lay down tape in a line that looks perpendicular to the eye of the guy still gripping the club, nudging the line this way and that around the curvature of the back. It’s tricky.

  21. jc

    Jan 2, 2014 at 11:37 am

    hit the g series AND the Anser series before you jump into the I series.
    A ping rep told me that Bubba and Hunter use the G series because it is more forgiving than the others.

  22. TJ

    Jan 2, 2014 at 10:11 am

    I really hope that the Rapture 3 wood does not have the racing stripe. I guess nothing a little matte black paint can’t fix.

  23. joro

    Jan 2, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Those designers must be great if it took them 3 years to figure how to make a straight line for the “racing stripes”, and why did the figure that would help. A straight back line promotes an over the top swing.

    • Psimmons

      Feb 11, 2014 at 10:09 pm

      Graphics……TM put them on top, now everybody wants to. Simple as that.

  24. Come on

    Jan 2, 2014 at 9:34 am

    3 years to perfect painted stripes? Seems like something that could be done in a couple weeks by some intelligent fellows. Even by trial and error an auto body shop couldn’t take more than a couple months. I don’t think throwing out there that it took you 3 years to perfect stripes is something to be proud of.

    And I love how every advancement whether it’s MOI or forward CG is always about more distance, even if the primary purpose is accuracy or consistency. Heck, if you want more consistent distance learn to hit the sweet spot more often. Every 1 mph of swing speed increase is 2-3 yards gained… work on your technique and fitness and you’ll be able to hit that old driver in the closet farther and more consistent than any of these new clubs.

  25. GJR

    Jan 2, 2014 at 9:23 am

    I’ll say it..I’m actually interested in this BECAUSE of the racing stripe. I’ve never broken 80, but I almost never shoot above 90 either. One of my biggest issues is alignment. This looks like something that would be perfect for someone like me that struggles to get their body and club aligned correctly. Two years ago I narrowly chose the G20 over the i20 driver and I absolutely love my G20. It’s long and forgiving for me and I love the feel of it at impact. This new i25 has me curious and I’m sure I’ll be giving it a long look and multiple comparisons to my G20.

    • Fred

      Jan 2, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      GJR, what on earth are you doing here on WRX if you’ve never broken 80? From what I’ve discerned in my time here, everyone on this site is at least scratch or better. That’s a serious load of courage to admit that here, man. Bravo.
      Perhaps, someday you’ll get good enough to complain that you can’t get the Tour-only gear that your game demands.

      • GJR

        Jan 2, 2014 at 4:08 pm

        Hey Fred,

        LOL.

        Now to be fair, I’ve only been playing golf for 5 years. I took it up when I turned 30 after playing baseball for 25 years so I’m still learning how to perfect my own swing and iron out a lot of rough edges. We can’t all be scratch golfers. 99% of us shoot 95-110 every time out. There is no way that only the 1% are posting around here. Besides, while I’d love to be a scratch golfer some day, I’d settle for just being the best guy in my foursome consistently. Happy New Year Fred.

      • Geoffrey Alter

        Jan 2, 2014 at 6:12 pm

        That is very funny… You would think by most posts that everyone is that good. I myself play the I20, and I absolutely love it. I find it to be forgiving and beautiful to look at. Don’t see the need to upgrade for adjustability. I am not a scratch player, but do break 80. I also get annoyed by the paint of golfing testosterone displayed here from time to time. I find it mildly amusing as well. GJR, keep playing, learning and enjoying. I actually like to be the worst player in my group. A good way to learn. As a 5, I usually fall somewhere in the middle. And I don’t have any tour issue clubs… Although, I do find it a benefit to have my clubs fitted, and I do think getting the correct after market shaft is important. But you don’t need to spend 400 on a shaft to find improvement.

        • GJR

          Jan 7, 2014 at 9:32 am

          Funny you mention the $400 shaft, Geoff. I was at my local big box golf retailer last week and was hitting the Titleist 913D2 9.5 with three premium shafts – a Blue Mitsubishi, a Black Mitsubishi, and some black and green Aldila shaft. All three of them were on average, 15 yards shorter vs the Ping Answer 9.5 with the stock stiff shaft. I realize I should be hitting the same club face with all shaft options but I was expecting the Titleist driver to be longer because of the better shafts.

          • robert

            Sep 20, 2014 at 9:38 pm

            Ping has the best stock shafts. I have tried a few of the premium shafts.

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Equipment

What It’s Like: TaylorMade Golf’s “The Kingdom”

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One of the best parts of this job, beyond the people we get to meet, is the facilities. All of the core OEMs have a “place” that is exclusive, away from anything normal, and you gotta know someone to get a ticket in.

That’s what the “What It’s Like” series is about. Those certain OEM places with no doors open to the public. Those places that if you happened to sneak in, there is no way you can Fletch your way around into two steak sandwiches and a bloody mary.

I never admit this, but I used to manage a night club in Los Angeles called Les Deux (it was cool for a minute). It was a fun although soul-sucking endeavor but the thing that made the experience stick out was the exclusivity of it. If you got in by knowing someone, greased the door guy (me), or got invited, it was four hours of awesome. Yes, it’s a lame example, but there is, unfortunately, something about getting to the other side of a closed door that is just awesome.

TaylorMade Golf’s Kingdom is location No. 1, and as you would expect, it’s nothing short of pure golf ecstasy.

My Experience

I have been to TaylorMade HQ quite a number of times, and typically those visits involve time at what I call the gear junkie mecca (short of Tiger Woods’ garage or the Nike Oven graveyard now called Artisan) AKA The Kingdom.

The coolest thing about it is how subtle the location is. Located just steps away from the front door of TM HQ (and a very random corporate basketball hoop) sits a small-yet-elegant building that if you didn’t know was there, you would fly past it. Once you pull into the side parking lot, unload your sticks, and head to the door, there is still that feeling of “will they actually let me in?”

Here’s the thing. The best (all of them) have been in here. To test, practice, hang out, get fit, get wowed to potentially be on staff and everything in-between. A schmuck like me should get nervous, but then it happens, the door opens and you are not only let in but you are greeted by the master of ceremonies and a man I truly adore Tom “TK” Kroll.

With the passion to match not only yours but anyone else who walks in, he makes sure every nuance is seen and experienced. From the lobby with current TM athletes on the wall to the locker room with your custom locker that sits next to an exact replica of Tiger’s bag. There are snacks, extras shoes, gloves, swag, coffee, beer, and all your wildest dreams…and we are barely in the facility.

From a 35,000 foot view, The Kingdom has everything a golfer would ever want, need, or wish for. Starting with Duane Anderson’s putter studio that has tested thousands of strokes from players ranging from a 20 handicap to Rory McIlroy. The data compiled in this room is staggering. We did a video (link below) that gives you the full rundown.

There are three (one with an Iron Byron for testing) main inside hitting bays with all the bells and whistles you would assume. TrackMans, cameras, big screens, fresh gloves hanging on the wall, and a club fitting matrix with every TM combination you could think of.

The outside hitting area is heaven on earth. There is no other way to describe. Huge hitting area with multiple styles of grass, lies, pins, etc. Any shot you would need to hit can be recreated here on grass with a ball flying into the air and not into a screen. My favorite area is the Flick Tee. In honor of the great teacher and longtime TM staffer Jim Flick. Its tucked up high and privately in the corner of the range under a tree and this may sound ridiculous but you can almost feel Mr. Flick standing there with you as you look out onto the facility. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

As mentioned, the man who manages your experience is Tom Kroll. He’s about as respected and beloved as anyone in the industry and for good reason. You combine passion with service you get an awesome human to hang out with. Everyone that has been through these doors has a TK story, which includes a chuckle and a smile.

I chatted with him recently about The Kingdom, and this is what he had to say.

JW: Walk me through how The Kingdom came to be what it is now? Basically origin to current day…

TK: Back in 1994, I was in R&D, running player testing, and we needed to find our own testing range. We built our headquarters in Carlsbad in the 1990s and added the range in 1998. Only robot, cannon and player testing were done at the start. Once in a while, a tour or staff pro would come out and test, but it was all operated from one building. At the time, what’s currently the clubhouse at The Kingdom was actually a maintenance building. But in 2010, The Kingdom was reimagined to the layout we have now.

Over the last three years I’ve been at The Kingdom, we’ve added GEARS, Quintic high-speed cameras, and a Foresight simulator bay. We transformed the putting lab with a Perfection Platforms articulating floor and SAM technology. Last year we resurfaced the main tee, redesigned and dedicated the Flick Tee, underwent a complete renovation of the short game area with new bunker complexes, redesigned the targeting downrange, and developed a par-3 routing. We partnered with Kurt Bowman Design, a longtime designer under Jack Nicklaus.

Our superintendent Mark Warren and his crew have done incredible work with our current maintenance equipment, and I can’t wait to see the conditions after we deliver a brand new fleet of brand new Toro equipment. We structured a long-term partnership with Toro and Turf Star Western.

JW: What is the simple function of The Kingdom? 

TK: We still have the robot bay and R&D does development work almost every day. We are mostly a resource for the entire company: Global Sports Marketing (Tour), developmental pros and ams, AJGA standouts, our Crusaders (club professionals), and commercial teams. We host pre-lines to introduce new product to our at-large teams and training events. We’re even a PR resource, hosting media, social influencers, celebrities, and professional athletes.

We also act as a hub for our Crusaders. They send their members to us, and we wholesale back to the staff account. I’ll do a significant amount of corporate events, charity events and have had “Flicks at The Kingdom” where we set up a giant projector and our employees bring their kids, beach chairs and blankets to watch a movie out on the range. Really a fun and cool event.

JW: Give me three awesome stories or experiences from your time there that you are cool sharing.

TK: It’s tough to only pick three! From Reggie Jackson stopping by to Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, President Bush. Those may be the most haughty name drops of all time! What can I say, it is beyond the coolest job I have ever had! It’s truly tough to pick, but here are my three…

Story 1: Tiger was preparing to make his first PGA Tour start after fusion surgery and he just spends the day grinding out here. He was testing an early proto of the TW irons and to see how much speed he still had. There’s a sound that only he and maybe two or three others make when they center it up. That sound is something that goes through your body, I can still hear it. It sticks with you.

He’s playing old school lofts, which are three degrees weaker than any other tour pro, but the carry distances were still there, the windows he hits it through, holding it against the wind, flighting a 6-iron even ripping a 5-wood 275 yards. His feedback and ability to discern the most minute details working with the advanced teams developing the irons was fantastic to witness.

To come full circle, I played with him in the Southern Cal Amateur when he was 16-years-old and had a front-row to his 62 at Hacienda, I was keeping his scorecard so he has my autograph. To again be standing three feet from him while he goes through the process is just special.

Story 2: I’m going to put two guys in the same bucket (because The Kingdom is so magical, I hope the golf gods are okay with it). Rory now spends a day out here the week of Farmers–he has for the last two years, and with the U.S. Open there 2021, I think he’s a lock for the next few. He went through two sets of irons in a wind quartering off the right at 20-25 mph. The consistency of launch, speed and spin were shockingly close! It was one of the greatest ball-striking exhibitions I’ve ever witnessed. We handpicked the range after his day, it took us 10 minutes He’s also the most gracious, down to earth person.

Jon Rahm stops by five or six times a year. To watch his sessions in the putting lab, to see Duane show him what’s changing and getting Jon back to baseline and see his confidence, to the 4-iron flop shots after we tell our Seve stories. Jon is part of the family. His brother and dad came out before Jon and Kelly’s wedding. He’s one of the two or three others where the sound goes through you.

Story 3: Has to be Operation Game On (OGO). We have partnered with  Tony Perez for over 15 years, we are the cherry on top of a 6-10 week program where wounded veterans take lessons and the graduation is a fitting at The Kingdom. I had a dear friend, Joe Horowitz, who’s a golfer and a musician, here late one day and I mentioned the OGO guys were coming the next day. It’s Veteran’s Day and the Marine Corps Birthday. Not to mention Jon Rahm would be here for a last tweak before he left for Dubai. Joe shows me a video of him singing the national anthem at the Jaguars game a few weeks before, and we both say let’s do that for the OGO guys. I get in early and send an email to all employees to be on the tee at 9 a.m. sharp. We have the OGO guys arrive and Jon is hanging in the locker room. I’m stalling to get all the employees onto the tee through the side gate, I walk the boys into the bay and hit the roll up door. Outside are 250 employees cheering these guys on! Joe sings the anthem (goose bumps every time), then happy birthday to Jon and the marine corps. There’s fittings, a pizza truck, Jon Rahm signed U.S. Open staff bags for the OGO boys. Then, get this, Jon goes on and wins that week in Dubai!

JW: If you could change anything about the property or the experience what would it be?

TK: At TaylorMade, the relentless pursuit of improving is in our DNA. The Kingdom is no different. We’re constantly innovating and reimagining the downrange experience. From targeting, to conditions and turf types, we’re always nuancing and squeaking out ways to be better. One example, we’re designing each of our targets with a specific purpose. When players are testing at The Kingdom, we want them to feel that every shot has a consequence. So, we want to deliver a real-world experience in every testing situation. We went through a massive redesign last fall and are currently still working with the advanced research team on new ways to enhance our testing and fitting experiences to meet the way that players perform in competition.

When it comes to the overall experience, The Kingdom has transformed from a predominantly R&D and fitting facility to the most capable environment to test, measure and understand how equipment performs and how golfers interact with their equipment. I call it the ultimate truth machine. We help golfers at every level uncover the insights they need to improve. After each session, we’re going to know everything about the club, the player and the ball flight.

So we came from a place where we were mainly focused on research, fitting, and selling. Our goals have changed. Now we obsess over how to help golfers get better.

What would I change? If you’re curious and passionate about making change, the answers are out there. The first thing we do is listen. We’re going to change everything that needs to be changed in order to meet our goals. I have an incredible focus group to bounce ideas off of. To ask our tour pros, club professionals, and teachers for feedback on the design ideas and what they like and prefer is fortunate. We’re constantly learning, we’re constantly improving, and if there’s a better way do something, then we’re going to figure it out and do it.

JW: What does the kingdom look like in 10 years?

TK: We have a lot of incredible plans for new targeting, bunker complexes, and refining the purposeful design of the range and short game area. Beyond that, we have designs for new teeing areas, a new short game complex, adding another GEARS system and Foresight Simulator, along with other new technologies. I can’t disclose all we do, since the R&D guys get a bit jumpy when I start going on about all the cool stuff and high science! I don’t know exactly what The Kingdom looks like in 10 years as technologies and our understanding continue to improve, but I do know give me six months, and we’ll have done something new. Always grinding to get better!

JW: Tell me a little bit about your career at TaylorMade.

TK: 31 years is hard to do in a “little bit” but I’ll try to give you the Clif Notes! Bob Vokey ran our Tour department and had me running his repair shop in Vista after George Willett took a job driving the Tour truck for TaylorMade. I was refinishing wooden clubs and repairing clubs for the local country clubs. I told Bob I was going broke making $4.50 an hour and driving all over San Diego. I asked if he could get me a job at TaylorMade and I started on the custom line with Wade Liles! Get to work at 2 p.m., off at 1 a.m. and golf in the morning. It was the life! Not to mention, I was lucky enough to meet my wife who worked for the company.

I started our player testing and worked for the great Dr. Benoit Vincent–the smartest man I know. I was a pretty good player, and I played a bunch of USGA and national amateur events. But when I did a TV commercial, I lost my amateur status and made the decision to turn pro. I quit my job and started that journey. Our CEO wanted me to take a leavem and I said: “I need to be all-in on this.” I had two children, a mortgage, car payments and had to buy health insurance while getting through all three stages of Q School. I realized I was a better amateur than a tour pro. We had our third child, and then I got the sales rep job in San Diego. After 10 years of sales, I moved inside the building and the ran innovations department before taking over our metalwoods category when we hit our highest market share in history. I spent a few years in product creation, ran global experiential for a few years and then got the best gig in all of golf here at The Kingdom. Been here for three years, and we’re just getting started!

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Puma Golf teams up with Ernie Els in support of Autism Awareness Month

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Puma X Els Autism

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and Puma Golf has teamed up with ambassador Ernie Els in support of the Els for Autism Foundation.

Throughout April, Puma will donate a portion of every individual sale of the brand’s Ignite Pwradapt Caged shoes with the proceeds going towards the Els for Autism Foundation.

Puma X Els Autism

Every pair of Caged shoes sold this month will include a blue Els for Autism shoe bag and puzzle piece ribbon lapel pin – with the color blue and the puzzle pieces representing Autism Awareness.

Puma X Els Autism

The Els for Autism Foundation helps deliver and facilitate programs designed to serve individuals with autism spectrum disorder. You can purchase the shoes here.

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What GolfWRXers are saying about “Boutique brands vs Major OEMs”

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In our forums, our members have been discussing both boutique brands and major OEMs and why the former “trail the OEMs in drivers and woods”. WRXer ‘gr8 flopshot’, who plays a bag full of boutique clubs bar woods, poses the question and it’s got our members talking in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • DaRiz: “Irons, wedges, and putters don’t change much, and for all the technology OEMs try to pack in there, it’s more about how they look and feel. So boutique can fit in nicely here. Drivers/FW, on the other hand, definitely benefit from the millions of dollars in R&D, and it is probably really hard to compete. You can argue that COR is maxed out, but the tiny changes in launch conditions, spin rates, and forgiveness add up.”
  • MattM97: “One reason why I and most other lefties don’t go boutique is options. At least with OEM’s for drivers and most woods we get the most of what is released, some versions and loft we don’t get but better than nothing. I’m not against boutique; I love my putters, I love the look of a lot of wedges, I would absolutely love a set of Japanese forged CB irons one day. Just woods I’ll stick to OEM options.”
  • sniper: “The Wishon 560’s I had built years ago were as good (or better) as anything I’ve had. My current set of MP-18SC’s and Wishon’s are the best feeling irons I’ve played. Both came from a club builder and not built by the OEM. Obviously on the Wishon’s.”
  • RogerInNewZealand: “Genuinely good point. It’s like why we buy JDM, Yonex Ezone 420…and the famed J33 Bridgestone driver from long ago! T.E.E is another one..always a surprise there. With your wood/driver if your sorted that’s fine! You don’t have to bag an exotic club to hit fairways.”

Entire Thread: “Boutique brands vs Major OEMs”

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