Editor Review By: topekareal
Ping touts this driver as the low-spin , lower launching companion to the G20 driver. Check. Tungsten weights provide a higher MOI and increased forgiveness. At address, the 460cc head sets up much smaller and the matte black finish is wonderfully inconspicuous. This driver just begs to be hit…hard.
This is the not the driver for someone who struggles to elevate the ball or wants adjustability. While delivering a nice penetrating trajectory, this is not the ball flight everyone likes to see and if you are in search of the high-launch/low-spin combination, other drivers might serve your needs better.
I’ve been waiting for this driver for quite some time. Reminiscent of other legendary deep-faced drivers, the I20 is more forgiving (thank you tungsten) and retains freakishly low spin numbers, while maintaining high ball speed numbers across the face. Given invention and innovation, driver technology is tending towards the later. Not by choice, but by necessity , our game was once filled with seemingly unlimited variables and is now being driven by the constants. OEM’s all offer drivers which are long, forgiving and come with a range of custom options. Where Ping hits the mark on the I20 is that they have produced a driver which is all business and somehow still all pleasure.
A low density titanium alloy saves weight to allow Ping engineers to strategically place tungsten weights to increase forgiveness while optimizing COG for low, penetrating tee shots. The classically shaped head is 460cc and utilizes improved aerodynamics to promote increased swing speed and ball velocity. The matte black finish is unique and purposeful. In a market dominated by adjustability, Ping makes quite a case that a driver doesn’t have to require a toolbox.
The looks of the I20 driver are classy, classic and a bit raw. The matte black finish on the crown helps hide the 460cc head and displays a tough, industrial look. Because of this approach, the head does not glare and actually absorbs light. Players wanting a stark contrast between ball and clubface at set up might be a little disappointed as the I20 has ninja-esque qualities as you know it is there and you can sense it’s power, but it remains rather enigmatic.
Some larger drivers look like an orange on the end of a toothpick and I think are the impetus for OEM’s to reintroduce sub-460cc heads. If this club is any indication, you can certainly offer 460cc of forgiveness in a visually smaller package. The rounded profile suggests more of a 400cc-420cc head. The traditional half-moon alignment aid is something I’d rather do without, but it isn’t distracting. At address it is at most a subtle hint and nothing more. The white scoring lines on the face sit in nice contrast to the black face and form a U-shaped reminder as to where the sweet spot on the club sits.
One great leap for man….uh, I digress. As we know, great leaps are not the modus operandi in the driver world right now. Two custom-fit drivers should yield similar results and should differentiate themselves based on playing characteristics and other subtle refinements. I tested the 8.5* I20 at 45” in length, SW at D2, and had the GD-DI 6x tipped ½”. The face was dead square and lie angle was 1* upright (59*) After several range sessions the most noticeable points of comparison were feel (more in the next section) and launch angle. The I20 didn’t want to go left, ever (insert political joke here __________), and it took me a bit to get used to the more boring trajectory. Despite the difference in launch angle, on course results (with the 2012 Bridgestone B330) confirmed my range experience. The I20 did a phenomenal job taking the left side out of play for me. In terms of distance, the I20 was as long as anything I’ve had in the bag. Depending on how firm the fairways were I was pushing 300 quite often . Finally, I took the I20 to the launch monitor to see if we could put some hard numbers to provide empirical evidence:
I20 – SS – 110 – Ball Speed -158 Launch Angle – 12.2 – Back Spin – 3000 Carry – 264-268
Some like the performance of a BMW, some like Mercedes – Either way, you’re driving something special.
I did not hit the I20 with either of the stock shaft offerings and we all know how much a shaft can alter the feel of a particular club. With the DI-6x at D2 the club felt perfectly balanced and I could feel the head during all portions of my swing. I really abhor clubs which are too light and at D2, this club felt poised and secure. At this point, I should probably try and objectify “feel.” I like a driver with a bit more Cee Lo Green and an ounce less Blake Shelton…that is, a bit more soul and a bit less twang. The solid “thwack” of a wooden bat is always preferable to aluminum. Again, I digress. The I20 is exceptionally solid and offers a feel of substance sure to please even the most discerning player. It may not be in my all time top 5 for feel, but that’s like being a step below Kate Upton. Are you willing to “settle” for Sofia Vergara? Anywho, this driver is a hot-knife-through-butter pure and the sweet spot is money (and there is a possibility it might not even know it) What’s more, is while both heel and toe hits lacked the feel a pure strike (as you’d expect), ball speed was still more than you’d hope for…or deserve! In summation, the feel is solid and hot, while resisting the urge to be too metallic or clincky. Think liquid metal.
Overall bottom line:
Ping driver fans have long lamented the passing of the Rapture V2. The 120 has everything needed to make them forget. Low spin with a piercing trajectory for the stronger player, this driver is forgiving, sufficiently workable and as deep as anything on the market. Paired with either stock offerings or a host of wonderful upgrades, the I20 might be the darkest place you’ve been hoping to be. Back in black…most definitely.