When Ping released its iBlade irons, our review called them “intelligent blades,” a fitting description of an iron that was designed to look and feel like a blade, but offer more forgiveness.
The Ping i200 irons are again blurring the line of blade and cavity-back irons. They’re made to have the forgiveness of cavity-backs, but deliver the clean looks and workability you’d expect from more compact irons. They’re so well rounded, in fact, that Ping expects 20-40 percent of its staffers will put the i200s in play in 2017, including Lee Westwood and Brooke Henderson… and many more Tour players will have them in play as part of a combo set.
The Phoenix-based company also has a few tricks up its sleeve with this release, including a “secret-menu option” for those who need a little boost.
Ping’s i200 irons (3-9, PW, UW) are available for pre-order today, and will sell for $135 with steel shafts ($150 with graphite shafts). Here are 10 things you need to know about them.
1) Workable AND Forgiving
How is it possible that an iron built for forgiveness can still be workable? Isn’t it impossible to both produce more side spin AND eliminate side spin at the same time? Not exactly. Marty Jertson, Senior Design Engineer at Ping explains:
“Think of iBlades as a sports car and [Ping’s] G or Gmax irons as luxury sedan,” Jertson says. “iBlades are more workable because you have more control over the face alignment and how the face returns to impact. The reduced torque pressure makes it easier for you to turn the face, but they still increase inertia around the center of gravity CG, making it the Holy Grail of blade irons… workable AND forgiving.”
Ping uses the same concept in its i200 irons, only to a lesser extent than the iBlades. While their compact head shape and thin top rails allow the golfer to manipulate the face as it moves through space, the physics of the iron’s design mean higher inertia around the center of gravity.
So if iBlades are intelligent blades, Ping’s i200 irons could be considered the sports cars of cavity backs.
2) “Smoosh Central”
You’ll notice a familiar look with i200 irons… something similar to Ping’s S55s irons, which have garnered a cult-like following.
Golfers liked Ping’s S55 irons because of their clean looks and sneaky forgiveness, according to Jertson, so Ping engineers wanted to maintain aspects of the S55 design while enhancing feel with the i200s.
The i200 irons, made from 431 stainless steel, have a soft feel that makes it seem like the ball stays on the face longer; or as Jertson calls it, “smoosh central.” That’s due to the materials and new construction.
Ping’s i200 irons have a thicker top portion of the face and a thinner lower portion, helping drop the center of gravity (CG) for a higher launch. It also gives the irons more ball speed on shots hit low on the club face, where most players tend to contact their iron shots. The i200 irons also have longer CTPs (custom tuning ports). They’re made from elastomer and have been moved closer to the face in the i200 design, helping provide golfers a squishy, yet powerful feel.
Overall, the club faces have a thickness of about 0.68 millimeters, which is about half the thickness of the S55 irons, according to Ping. That leads to both more ball speed off the face and more moment of inertia (MOI), a measure of ball speed retention in mishits.
3) A New Look, Down to the Details
The i200s are designed with straighter leading edges in the long irons (3-7 irons) and thinner top rails on the short irons (6-PW) than their i predecessors. The irons also have a shape that looks more rounded near the toe, along with a smoother transition area from the hosel to the club face. The more blended transition means they will appear to have less offset than they do.
The progressive look of the irons throughout the set will play well for golfers looking to create a combo set with the iBlades (short irons from the iBlade set for more precision, long irons from the i200 set for more shot height, forgiveness and distance).
Inspired by vintage blades, the i200 irons also have a longer ferrule than previous i irons for a more classic look. Little things like the metallic iron numbers are buffed to offer the look of precision, as well.
4) The Low-Toe Theory
Throughout Ping’s history, the company has designed irons with more weight in the toe section of its club heads in order to center mass in the head; without added weight in the toe, CG tends to be heel-ward.
Like Ping irons from the past, the i200 irons have cavities that are machined to move weight into the high- and low-toe areas. For golfers, that means a more forgiving iron, especially when hit off the toe, which is the likely miss for most golfers.
5) The Importance of Yardage Gapping
Ping looked to data from its Tour players and their past iron releases to develop iron lofts in the i200 iron sets.
The long irons, which have thinner faces, go about 6-8 yards farther than the previous i-series irons, according to Jertson. In order to prevent the short iron yardage gaps from being too wide, the short irons in the set are made with thicker faces, effectively reducing ball speed.
If you want more distance with each iron, respectively, Ping has something for you…
6) Sauced Up with the Power Spec
New with the i200 irons is a secret-menu option called the “power spec,” which systematically jacks the lofts on each iron.
“It’s like ordering animal style at In-and-Out,” Jertson says. “We’ll juice the irons with stronger lofts … golf’s supposed to be fun, right?”
Plus, the stronger-lofted irons are good for high-spin players looking to flatten out their trajectory. Here’s a look at the loft specs.
7) Full-On Swing Weight Command
A major part of club fitting is getting the correct swing weight, and Ping uses what it calls Custom Tuning Ports (CTP) to help golfers dial in those specifications.
“Swing weight progression is very important,” says Jertson. “If it’s 1.5 points light, that could definitely throw you off. [Golfers] need consistency, so tempo, speed and shaft have to match.”
As Jertson explains, you can hedge against a certain miss using swing weight. For example, if you tend to miss right you’ll want to make the head lighter, effectively lowering the swing weight and helping you to “get the club around” better, he says.
The CTPs used in the i200 irons range from 4 to 32 grams each, the “standard” being 10-12 grams. They’re longer from heel to toe than in previous Ping irons, which helps makes the clubs more forgiving. The tuning ports also have a dampening effect to improve sound and feel.
8) Ping looked to its wedges when designing the soles
Bounce, a term that’s mostly associated with wedges, is just as important in iron design. Generally speaking, more bounce means more forgiveness, so the i200s are made with more bounce than the iBlades and previous i-series irons. With a rounder leading edge that’s designed with 1-degree more bounce angle, the irons won’t want to dig as much, thus reducing divot size and depth.
The “hottest i-series iron was the i20s,” according to Jertson, and these irons will perform similarly through the turf.
Ping engineers designed the faces of the i200 irons with milling marks to help repel the water and grass that lowers spin and alters flight. At impact, the milling marks are said to create a more consistent trajectory by increasing friction, meaning less flyers and knuckle balls.
The iron’s finish, called Hydro Pearl Chrome, enhances hydrophobicity, or the ability of an object to repel water. The angle of the milling marks and the grooves is designed to do the same.
10) Custom Only
The stock AWT 2.0 shafts from Ping are made by Nippon, and increase in weight as golfers move from their long irons to their short irons. It’s a “very complex shaft thats very expensive with variable steps and variable wall thickness that’s great for the masses,” Jertson says.
There are also various aftermarket shafts available from Ping at no upcharge: True Temper Dynamic Gold, Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 105, XP 95, and Project X.
i200 Specs (3-9, PW, UW)
- Stock steel shaft: PING AWT 2.0 (R, S, X)
- After-market shaft options (no upcharge): Project X 5.0, 6.0; XP 95 (R300, S300), N.S. Pro Modus3 105 (S, X), KBS Tour (R, S, X), Dynamic Gold (S300, X100)
- Stock graphite shaft: PING CFS 65/70/80 (Soft R, R, S)
- $135 per club (steel shaft); $150 per club (graphite shaft)
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- Equipment accurate as of the Farmers Insurance Open
Driver: Titleist TS3 (8.5 degrees, B2 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Accra TZ5 M5 Proto 65 X
3-wood: Titleist TS2 (13.5 degrees @14.25, D4 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Accra TZ6 M5 Proto 65 X
Utility iron: Titleist U500 (2)
Shaft: Project X EvenFlow Black
Irons: Titleist 716 T-MB (3-5), Titleist 620 MB (6-9)
Shafts: Project X PXi 7.0 (3-5), Project X 6.5 (6-9)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (48-10F, 52-08F, 56-08M), Vokey Design WedgeWorks (60-T)
Shafts: Project X 6.5 (48, 52, 56), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 (60)
Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS Prototype
Shaft: LAGP Ozik 135P
Grip: Scotty Cameron Pistolini
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Bettinardi and Big League Chew launch special headcovers, ball marker, and limited-edition DASS BB8-Wide putter
Bettinardi and Big League Chew have teamed up to launch a full product line of special headcovers, club sets, a ball marker, a tee-shirt, and a limited 1/5 custom Big League Chew putter.
The special 1/5 DASS BB8-Wide Big League Chew putter weighs 355 grams, features a purple flame finish and contains Fancy Face milling. The custom flat-stick from Bettinardi and Big League Chew can be purchased in The Hive for $2,200.
- Model: BB8 Wide
- Weight: 355 grams
- Material: DASS
- Finish: Purple Flame
- Face milling: Fancy Face
The co-branded headcovers and golf products celebrate the passion for the game of golf as well as paying tribute to the only gum to ever be featured at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum.
Check out the full product line below:
- Big League Chew x Betti Headcover – $100.00
- Big League Chew x Betti Mallet Headcover – $100.00
- Big League Chew x Betti Club Cover Set – $300.00
- Big League Chew x Betti Players Towel – $55.00
- Big League Chew x Betti Ball Marker – $55.00
- Big League Chew x Betti Pocket Tee – $35.00
- Big League Chew x Betti Hat – $35.00
- Big League Chew x Betti Yeti – $75.00
The Bettinardi X Big League Chew collaboration items will be available to purchase in The Hive at Bettinardi.com from 10 CDT on Thursday April 2 2020.
Phase 1 vs. P7TW: An inside look at Tiger Woods’ TaylorMade irons
At this point, the story of the development of Tiger Woods’ TaylorMade irons has been told and told again. There have been numerous articles, YouTube videos, and even a TV documentary on how they were made—and even a Tour Championship and a Sunday Masters telecast to validate both models.
But I wanted to know the differences and similarities of the two TaylorMade iron models Woods has played since signing with the company in January of 2017: the Phase 1, and the final masterpiece the, P7TW.
Fortunately, in this job, you become friends with a good number of R&D people, so I went to my buddies and TaylorMade Lead Engineers Paul Demkowski and Matt Bovee to fill in some blanks.
This is what they had to say.
Matt Bovee Sr. Manager Product Creation
JW: The Phase 1 iron was based on what previous iron of TW? What inspired it?
MB: The PH1 iron was based off of the set he was playing just prior, the TGR set. Inspiration for the P7TW is really founded in all the years of TW’s career. From the numerous victories, countless hours grinding, and all his majors… the P7TW is really a culmination of what he specifically wants in an iron design after years and years of being the best ball striker in the game.
JW: What was the testing process like going from his TGR into the Phase 1?
MB: The PH1 set was a collaboration between TaylorMade and Mike Taylor with a new cosmetic design we created. We didn’t want to change any significant performance attributes because the immediate goal was to get TW into a TM iron. We partnered with Mike Taylor to help with the creation of PH1 as well as the learning process required for the development of P7TW. For us, it was a learning experience as TW went through his testing protocol for a new set. Making sure everything was dialed in and felt right.
JW: What are the similarities of the two irons, PH1 and P7TW?
MB: There are a lot of similarities between the PH1 and P7TW from a performance perspective. It’s been said before, and I’ll say it again, TW is very, very specific in what he wants. Launch, spin, carry, look, feel…he has every attribute for each iron defined in his head. Nothing more, nothing less. They use the same lofts, lie, scorelines, essentially the same CG, etc.
JW: What kept PH1 from being the “Tiger Iron”?
MB: The PH1 irons were built from an existing forging profile. By using an existing forging he was familiar with it allowed us to minimize variables as we learned and dissected what works best for him. Even after the PH1 iron performance matched what he was looking for, TW requested the MG sole technology for his irons so he could replace them more frequently with much less testing from set to set. We needed to take this into account with a new TM forging design.
*The milled grind sole was designed specifically for this benefit. It has allowed TM to duplicate the sole of irons and wedges which in turn eliminates a number of steps during testing and/or mid season replacement.
JW: The name Phase 1 suggests a new version was to come, was that always a bridge iron into the current?
MB: Yes, we knew designing a TaylorMade iron for him from the ground up would take some time and we needed a “bridge” of sorts while the new design was in development.
JW: When TW began testing irons in the beginning, (knowing the challenge which is well documented) what was the original process like? Who was involved?
- Participants: Tiger, Tomo Bystedt, Brian Bazzel, Keith Sbarbaro, Paul Demkowski, Mike Taylor, and Matt Bovee.
- The development process was a longer road than we anticipated. Much back and forth between TM and Mike Taylor to start. We needed to unpack years of learning as to what works best for the Big Cat and what he likes. From that point, it was a lot of back and forth testing of individual sticks. Starting with the 6i and not moving on from that until we got it perfect. It actually took 7 different CNCs prototypes before we nailed the 6i. From there we added in the 3i and the 9i to serves as bookends for design. After these three SKUs got TW’s blessing we filled out the rest of the set.
JW: How many PH1 sets were made?
MB: As far as we know just the 1 set. Mike Taylor would be the only person who would know differently
JW: What are the differences between P1 and P7TW?
MB: The largest differences are:
- Built from different forgings
- Addition of MG sole—when Tiger needs replacements due to wear, the Milled Grind soles are exactly the geometry that he needs and so any opportunity for slight variations has been removed. That’s why the P7TW is ultimately Tiger’s gamer irons.
- Milled channel along the back bar of the iron. Cosmetic was designed to fit with the PSeries.
- Cosmetic design is different, the back bar geometry is slightly different the milled channel was used in 730 to reposition mass, TWs is a much smaller version of that
JW: Does TW only have input (R&D) on his irons or all the TM irons (forgings of course)
MB: TW’s R&D input on irons has been limited to his P7TWs up to this point…which was extensive. All the way down to a modified font for the sole number making it easier from him to read and therefore more confident he had the right stick. He has provided some input in other categories however, wedges most specifically.
JW: In your opinion is the P7TW the best muscleback TM has ever developed?
MB: “Best” is such a relative term that lies in the eyes of the beholder… It is certainly the most prestigious with the most design iterations and R&D development.
JW: If you could project into the future, what improvements if any could be made to a TW iron?
MB: Because that iron is specific to him and what he wants, there really isn’t any way we could make it better unless his swing or style of play changes. The P7TW is dialed in for TW’s game as it exists today.
Paul Demkowski, Sr. Product Engineer was the person that worked the closest with Mike Taylor in the development of both models and this is what he had to say
JW: Are you still in close contact with Mike Taylor at Artisan? and if so is it more just to verify info or is it also for future R&D?
PD: Yes, I’m still in close contact with Mike T. He continues to build the irons for TW. He verifies all the specs as they are built and records the data.
JW: In regards to the CG placements between P1 and P7TW what is the difference?
PD: CG locations are very close. Couldn’t deviate too much as he would feel the difference and would see it in his ball flight.
JW: Random question but had to ask, did you ever attempt to make TW a specific driving iron?
PD: No, never made a specific TW driving iron. Only thing I did once make a slower P790 UDI for him. He said the standard one went too far. LOL.
It’s also noteworthy that TW’s specs don’t change much but as you can see current set up, the only real shift in his irons is lie angle which will go up one depending on his swing at the time.
Tiger Woods’ Current Iron Specs
All with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100. Irons tipped 1/4 inch, w/wooden dowels and SST Pure (Scott Garrison on Tour) at exactly 130 grams.
All lengths without grips. (Loft. Lie. Length. Swing Weight)
- 3-iron: 22.5, 59.5, 38 13/16, D4
- 4-iron: 25.5, 60, 38 5/16, D4
- 5-iron: 29, 60.5, 37 13/16, D4
- 6-iron: 32.5, 61, 37 5/16, D4
- 7-iron: 36, 61.5, 36 7/8, D4
- 8-iron: 40.5, 62, 36 5/16, D4
- 9-iron: 45, 62.5, 35 11/16, D4
- PW: 49, 63, 35 11/16, D4
Another cool aspect of Tiger’s irons (rarely spoken of) are his shafts. The shafts are True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 with no labels, and they are sorted to exact weights (130 grams) and sent to Scott Garrison (@ScottEGgolf) to SST Pure, then over to David “DR” Richey at Artisan Golf to be built. Lots of cooks in the kitchen, but it’s Tiger, so no doubt totally worth it for all involved!
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