Pros: Ping packed tons of technology in the i25s while maintaining clean looks. Their progressive design offers higher-launching, more forgiving long irons and short irons that are smaller and more versatile.
Cons: Better players might prefer a more compact look at address.
Bottom Line: Tour players and average golfers love the i25 irons, and so do we. They’re reasonably priced ($699 for a seven-piece set) and offer great forgiveness, distance and consistency through the set.
Ping’s i25 irons are the next generation of Ping’s very well received i20 irons. The i20s marked the beginning of a strong run of success by Ping, so the idea then is to just give the i20s a cosmetic makeover and push them out to the public as “new,” right? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, yes and no.
Ping’s design team set out to make them better. Want more consistent distance control? How about a higher launch without higher-spinning long irons? Then how about more forgiveness? And more workability?
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Marty Jertson, director of product development for Ping, said the biggest challenge most golfers face is hitting their long irons high enough. That’s why Ping’s new i25 long irons are designed more like the company’s larger G-Series irons: they have longer blade lengths, wider soles and more offset, which helps golfers hit them higher, farther and closer to the target line on mishits. The irons also have thinner, more narrowly spaced stability bars in their cavities that make their faces livelier than their predecessors.
The most noticeable change between the new irons and their predecessors is their vertical Custom Tuning Port (CTP), an thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) insert that is positioned much lower in the head, freeing up precious grams of discretionary weight that designers used to fine tune ball flight across the set. In the long irons, the weight was placed low and deep in the head, boosting ball speed by about 1 mph and lowering spin by about 100 rpms.
“Golfers will get more ball speed, more distance and more max height, especially from the 7 iron down,” Jertson said.
In the short irons, the weight was used to move the center of gravity lower and more forward, creating a flatter trajectory for better control.
The short irons more closely resemble the S-Series irons, with shorter blade lengths and narrower soles for added versatility and less offset for more trajectory control. The stability bars in their cavities are thicker and wider-spaced, adding consistency and creating a softer feel at impact.
The i25 irons ($699 for a seven-piece set) come stock with Ping’s are cast from 17-4 stainless steel and have Ping’s “Foggy Chrome” finish. They’re available in 3-9, PW, UW, SW and LW and come stock with Ping’s CFS shaft in Soft R, R, S and X flexes. The stock graphite shafts are Ping’s TFC 189i shaft, which is available in Soft R, R and S flexes.
Ping i25 and the Ping s55 irons pictured above (i25 iron on the left). Click the images to enlarge them.
Tester: Todd Hibbert (asleep)
8 iron carry: 150 yards
Swing Speed (driver): 100 mph
Houston Country Club’s Par 3 14th hole was playing 197 yards across the ravine into the slightly uphill green. The dusk air was cool, but not blowing. I pulled the i25 4 iron, added some spine tilt and the result was a high arching ball that stopped light-footedly 15 feet below the hole.
Not all my shots were like that, however. My first rounds with the i25s were accompanied by poor setups and rusty swing mechanics that resulted in some, ahem, bottom groove shots. What I noticed while stinking-up-the-place was the frame of the i25s is very sturdy and held those shots on line to or through the green, depending on how low I made contact.
Ping’s i25 3 iron.
On the par-5 13th hole at Memorial Park Golf Course, I thinned a 3 iron out of the sparse left rough that held its line dead straight well past my intended layup distance. Again, I felt the structural sturdiness of the frame keep my ball on line and moving out there. There was much less of a clang and twist on these mishits, a notably more solid feel and outcome.
Ping i25 and the i20 comparison photos above. The i25 irons are on the left. Click the images to enlarge them.
Like the i20s, the i25s are a blended set with compact heel-to-toe dimensions and minimal offset in the shortest irons that allows for ultimate control and the better look many golfers ask for in shorter irons. Moving out to the mid and long irons, Ping introduces more offset and thicker toplines for added forgiveness and launch.
The 6th hole at Memorial Park is a short par 4 that requires a layup off the tee unless you want to risk water that cuts well into the majority of the fairway. I pulled my new 4 iron and found the center of the face for a towering (for me) 228 yard tee shot that came to rest on the fairway. My buddy Tom let out a “Wow!” after that strike, which felt like buttah and flew like Boeing Jet.
My yardages increased about three yards with the PW up to six yards in the longer irons going compared to the i20s, with the aforementioned higher ball flight in the longer irons. My distance spacing improved with the longer irons and did not deteriorate with the shorter irons. There were no “hot-face flyers” at all through 15+ rounds with the clubs, which matters most to me.
While pulling a PW from 150 yards sounds fun and all, I have zero interest in giving up one yard of distance precision because an iron’s “trampoline” face yields variable results. Zero. Thanks to improved face stabilization bars it is not a problem here, so no worries. Trajectory control is also improved. I can hit any of these irons high or low, whereas before high, long iron shots were more challenging.
Looks and Feel
The sound and feel of the i25s is a bit improved over the i20s overall, and noticeably better on pured shots. I’m able to more easily discern where on the club I’m making contact, and with center strikes it all disappears into that Ahhhh! nothingness feeling we all yearn for.
Ping’s i25 pitching wedge.
At address, the i25 are substantially larger than Ping’s S55 irons, particularly in the long irons. But Ping took care to add smoothness to the transition between the heel and top line, and rounded the toe of the irons to give them a very pleasing, traditional look. While the top lines get pretty thick in the long irons, the back of the iron stays invisible, a pet peeve for many good players. In the short irons, the top lines and blade lengths get thinner, giving better players the more compact look they’re used to seeing.
In the bag, the i25 irons look awesome, with a “Foggy Chrome” finish that removes glare at address and looks majestic in the bag. The new CTP also adds a clean look to the cavities of the irons, as well as a bit of bling that is trending in the golf equipment world.
My gamer irons are Ping Anser Forged with C-Taper shafts in them. They’re expensive, but worth it in my opinion. After too much back-and-forth, I decided to order the i25s with the same C-Taper shafts to get a truer comparison. But comparing this set to the set I demo’d at Ping with the CFS shafts I have to say I personally prefer Ping’s CFS shafts in the i25s, which was what I had in the i20s. The CFS shafts give me optimal spin across the set with the i25s, while the C-Tapers are better for the Anser Forged. Your mileage may vary.
What about the diggers and sweepers out there? Diggers get an improved sole grind that gets through Earth’s mantle more easily than the i20s. This was readily noticeable to me when I was setting up too much on my left side and coming in steep early on in the review process. Video resolved that eventually, but the i25s handled it well.
If you’re a sweeper who tends to release the club early you might request that Ping to put a heel grind, back grind or bounce grind on your set to suit your needs and playing conditions. Sweepers/early-releasers should consider the i25s, as they perform admirably with low-face strikes.
In my piece on Ping’s Play Your Best philosophy, I left you hanging with the question, what’s in Ping Chief Designer Marty Jertson’s bag for 2014? Well, I can tell you Marty will be hitting his second shots with the Ping i25 irons if he again qualifies for the PGA Championship. That’s a move from the G25s he designed, and a pretty good endorsement.
As for me, I’m torn between my Anser Forged and the i25s as to which to set I’d have in the bag at Augusta National Golf Club. Considering the sneaky and variable winds, the crowd and cameras all around me, and the ultimate second-shot golf course with tiny optimal landing zones on those greens… aww, heck man, I’m taking all the forgiveness I can get while preserving shot making capabilities. The i25s at the Masters. Wish me luck.