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He’s Got Game: A Q&A with Ping’s Marty Jertson

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As Ping’s Director of Product Development, Marty Jertson is responsible for designing the new golf clubs that Ping launches each year. That’s just one of the talents of the 36-year-old, however, who has been designing clubs for Ping for almost 14 years.

Jertson belongs to the small group of golf equipment industry professionals that have competed in a PGA Tour event, and he’s done it six times. In 2010, he Monday qualified for the Shriners Hospital for Children’s Open, and he did it again in 2011, 2015 and 2016. He’s also competed in two major championships: the 2011 and 2012 PGA Championship. As a PGA Professional, Jertson qualified by way of the PGA Professional Championship, finishing 5th in 2011 and 7th in the 2012.

Jertson competed in the 2011 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.

Jertson at the 2011 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.

Enjoy this Q&A with Jertson and our Zak Kozuchowski, who asked him about club design, his game, and Ping’s latest equipment launches.

ZK: How many clubs would you say you’ve designed, or had a part in designing in your career?

MJ: Oh man. I don’t have a list in front of me, but I’d have to say it would probably be somewhere on the scale of about 25 different products.

ZK: When you’re designing those golf clubs, how much do your skills as a golfer and your experience competing against the best golfers in the world influence the way you design golf clubs?

MJ: Tremendously. And I think the key to that is to have the eye and know what’s important to the elite player. But at the same time, I have the ability to sympathize and observe the everyday golfer. I know what their challenges and weaknesses are.

ZK: I wanted to speak a little bit about iron design, because we’ve had conversations about this in the past. I think many golfers might expect, given what you’ve accomplished in professional golf, that you would play a set of blade irons. But in the past, you’ve always used larger, more forgiving irons. What irons are you playing right now, and why are you playing them?

Ping_iBlades_Review-Feat-1021x580

MJ: I’ve kind of progressed. Ironically, I’ve improved my technique pretty substantially over the last two or three years. So for the first time in a long time, I’m playing our blade irons in the mid irons to short irons. So I’m playing iBlade 6-iron through wedge, and I’m playing an i200 5-iron. And then I play our Crossover 5-iron as my 4-iron. It gives me progressively more power there in the 4-iron and 5-iron.

But in the past, I have played our bigger irons. And it’s been great for me when my swing was steeper to have the wider sole, and then also to be able to launch the ball in the air higher. Because that’s kind of the big thing for me … I would consider myself average PGA Tour distance, or maybe nowadays maybe slightly below average, so I had to hit the ball higher in the air with my irons. That’s just something that the guys with more speed are able to do just through their speed, but I had to use the equipment to be able to do that.

Editor’s Note: Shortly after this interview took place, Jertson informed us that he has replaced his Ping Crossover 5 iron with an i200 4 iron. 

ZK: Ping is obviously known for its golf equipment; its irons, its drivers, its putters. But it also has a technology niche in the golf equipment industry with its iPing app, its nFlight Fitting System and with the the tempo trainer on the Apple Watch. For someone of your level to say, “I’ve gotten significantly better as an iron player recently,” how much of that is technology? How much of that is your equipment? And how much of that is just hard work?

MJ: Yeah, it’s all those components harmonizing together. And I would say it’s just the never-ending journey to seek the best information and always have the best answers. That’s helped us develop good tools, and I think this is something important for the golf marketplace to understand. Just because there is a new high-end tool doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best tool or could be the most applicable to you. So I think seeking the right tools for what you’re trying to work on in your game, seeking the right instructional information and then obviously seeking out the right golf equipment. A big part of that is just the fitting optimization. Golfers want the best designed equipment with the best fitting optimization. And when you get that, those two things working together synergistically, that’s kind of the holy grail where you can get a major leg up on your competition that may be more talented, but you can kind of outsmart them.

ZK: One of the most challenging club decisions for serious golfers is deciding between playing a set of blade irons or something’s that’s larger and more forgiving. What would you say right now to the golfer who is making the decision between a blade and a more forgiving cavity-back?

MJ: Yeah, I think there are some questions that golfers can ask themselves. How high do they need to hit the golf ball to stop it in their conditions? How much forgiveness do they need? They kind of need to be honest with themselves about how much forgiveness they need from the turf interaction. If somebody is a good, avid player but they’re a little inconsistent in how they engage the turf — they might sweep some then take bigger divots with some — that could gravitate them away from a thin-soled blade and into something with a little more forgiving sole. If their priority is on workability — if they like being able to hit it high and low and hit little fades and draws — that’ll help them gravitate toward blades. So, I think they just need to take some time to really give an honest assessment of their skills and what their balance of forgiveness, workability and distance is. That can help guide their selection process.

It’s very challenging for all of us as golfers because as better players, we all love the looks and the beauty of a more muscle back-looking club. But try to put your ego on pause when you’re evaluating those factors. Then you can really again gain a competitive advantage over your buddies you’re playing against at the club if you make the best decisions.

ZK: One of the perks of your job is that you don’t have to pay for new golf equipment and you get to use new golf equipment well before it’s released to the public. Has there ever been a time when an old club in your bag was simply too good to give up?

MJ: Oh, that’s such a good question. I’ve kind of been in the same boat as a lot of the GolfWRX readers out there in that when you find a good 3-wood, it’s the hardest one to get out of the bag. I think back to early on in my career at Ping when we had the G2, the G5 fairway woods which were fantastic, and we had a lot of our Tour players still using the TiSi Tec and I was one of those guys. I used the TiSi Tec through a couple different generations of our fairway woods, but that really helped motivate me in the design process. For example, I worked on our latest fairway wood in the marketplace, the G fairway wood. I went back and studied; I took 3D scans of the TiSi Tec, studied the lead edge, studied the bounce configuration and tried to decode why that fairway wood was so good and that helped us learn from it. I think that’s my main example, and I think a lot of readers can sympathize with that. The fairway wood is the one that when you find a good one, it can be tough. But from a design standpoint, that’s very motivating to help try to create the new one that’s going to be hard to get out of your bag.

ZK: A counter example to a club that’s difficult to get out of your bag would be the new Glide 2.0 wedges. When they were released on the PGA Tour, we saw the vast majority of the Ping staff switch immediately. Why do you think that was?

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MJ: Well, they just were able to hit pitches and chips around the green that they just hadn’t been able to hit before with the modern-day golf ball. Maybe some of the older guys who played a Balata and were able to send them in there low with a lot of spin, it kind of created a little nostalgia for them. The young, millennial players who never even grew up with a Balata, grew up with a Pro V1, they just had never seen the ability to hit these low, squeezing, sizzling, pitches and chips. And so that just got them very, very excited and they’ve been very satisfied with the groove design to pair along with the grinds, which are just phenomenal.

ZK: OK, last question, Marty, and I’ll put you on the spot. What are the five favorite clubs that you’ve ever used or designed?

ping-g30-driver-1021x580

MJ: Five favorite used or designed. So I designed the G30 driver, that would have to be the No. 1 because it did so good in the marketplace. It was when we brought Turbulators to the table, a new face material to the table; it had a really easy fitting-optimization tool with the three different models, the shaft technology. The whole package was phenomenal. It did great in the marketplace. I have to give that No. 1.

No. 2 behind that would probably be the Ketch putter. I didn’t work on the design of it, just some of the background research on the alignment stuff, but I used the Ketch putter. And the alignment characteristics of that putter and the feel of it — I have a long putter version of it — and the ability to get it to weight for me is just phenomenal. And that putter helped so many players win tournaments. And the alignment characteristics of that putter are just phenomenal. So I would have to give that one No. 2 from a playing perspective.

No. 3, I would go with the first club I ever worked on that was launched in the marketplace, which was the Rapture hybrid a long time ago. And that one was fun because, remember, it was my first ever club, it performed really well for the time, had some amazing technology like 475 face material, a huge tungsten weight welded to the sole, some really exotic rib pattern in the crown to get it to sound good. And we just had a lot of players — that was one of those clubs that was just hard to get out a lot of player’s hands for many, many years. And it was the first that I owned and worked on here at Ping.

Ping's i200 irons.

No. 4 would be the i200 irons. So I play the i200 (4 and 5) iron, but this iron has been far and away, I think, just our best overall iron for the avid player out there. The feel of it is the best feeling iron we’ve ever made at Ping. And that same technology that gives it that soft, buttery feel — it kind of feels like the ball stays on the face forever — is the technology that gives it amazing precision. So just how high the inertia is on that iron — the i200 iron has the inertia of our G15 iron — so it’s just so much horsepower packed into that package. And it feels phenomenal. And I think it’s done great its first couple months out, and I think it’s going to keep doing wonderful as more and more players hit it and experience the feel and overall performance.

And let’s see, No. 5, I’d go with the i20 driver … We launched the matte black paint, and the shaping and profile of that driver was just very beautiful. It had a long hosel, kind of a real flow transition from the hosel into the head, had some technology to get more club-head speed out of it, had tungsten weighting, it felt phenomenal. It was just a very player’s looking and feeling driver. But it went very, very straight. And I played a lot of my best golf at the time with that driver. Nowadays, we just have so much more horsepower in our drivers from the inertia and stability standpoint. But that driver just had amazing experience to it. The look of it: the matte black, the hosel transition, the way it flowed in, even the shaft that we were using had a cool matte to it, kind of all-business, kind of murdered-out look to it. And then it felt and flew phenomenal. So I’d go with those as my top five.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. gwillis7

    Jun 4, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    *Ketsch

    Marty has the greatest job in the world, great interview!

    Played the eye 2’s forever and finally switched to the i e1 irons and love them, I’m a Ping iron and putter guy for life. Absolutely love the looks of the recent equipment the past year with the iBlade and i200’s…keep up the great work

  2. Phil

    May 31, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    JERTYBIRD

  3. Jarod O'Neil

    May 30, 2017 at 2:38 am

    Such a shame Ping are going backwards! That make amazing hardware but can’t seem to get much more out of their product!

    Thank god they are a privately owned company otherwise they would be done!

  4. Ken C

    May 29, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    Been playing the Ping G irons and Glide 2.0 wedge.
    Great clubs replaced the G25 irons and Glide wedges. Regained lost yardage and improved looks and playability and more confidence in new sticks. Ketsch is one solid putter. Thank you Ping for offering us Lefties all the options.

  5. Ken C

    May 29, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    Been playing the Ping G irons and Glide 2.0 wedge.
    Great clubs replaced the G25 irons and Glide wedges. Regained lost yardage and improved looks and playability and more confidence in new sticks.

  6. Doug

    May 29, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    I have gone back to my Ping Zing 2’s on several occasions after purchasing different sets of irons after finding nothing really better….I am using Ping G-30’s currently and cannot say they are any better. Ping eye two’s will also stand up to just about any forgiving irons on the market to this day. I would bet Ping could bring then back and still sell as many as some of their new product….

  7. Qu

    May 29, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    You need a 64* wedge to get it up and in?

  8. Richard Sutherland

    May 29, 2017 at 11:56 am

    Just got my I200 irons 2 weeks ago. Have only played 2 rounds with them and a couple of trips to range. I am loving the ball flight and regaining of yardage that I had lost over the years. When testing out other brands, the I200 also gave me the tightest dispersion of those clubs tested. This is my 5th set of Ping irons Zing, ISI, I3 Blade, S57, and now I200. Will be adding new Glide 2.0 wedges in the next 30 days.
    Great clubs, Great Company and Customer Service.

  9. JE

    May 29, 2017 at 11:10 am

    Great read! Almost all Ping bag for me. The i25 irons are outstanding as are the G series woods.

    Thank you Marty and Ping for making awesome products.

  10. Martin Chuck

    May 29, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Marty is a stick! I only play in a couple of Southwest Section events each year, and he’s right there at the top within a very competitive section.

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Whats in the Bag

Sebastian Munoz winning WITB: 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship

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Driver: Ping G400 LST (8.5 @9 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Yellow 6.5

3-wood: Callaway Epic Flash (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Yellow

Irons: Ping i200 (3), Ping i210 (4-PW)
Shafts: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI Hybrid 85X (3), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (4-PW)

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 Stealth (50), Titleist Vokey Design SM7 sand (56, 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Ping Sigma 2 Valor

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Grips: Golf Pride Z Grip Cord

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Whats in the Bag

Danny Willet’s winning WITB: 2019 BMW PGA Championship

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Driver: Callaway Rogue (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 60X

3-wood: Callaway Rogue (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana W 70X

Irons: Callaway Apex UT (18), Callaway X Forged (21), Callaway X Forged (5-9 iron)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold SuperLite X100

Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy Forged (46 degrees), Callaway Mack Daddy 4 (50, 56, 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Superlite X100

Putter: Odyssey Stroke Lab Tuttle

Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X

Related to Danny Willett WITB

 

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Equipment

New Mizuno MP-20 irons now available at retail

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The 2019/2020 Mizuno MP-20 irons family, the next series of MP irons to connect golfers to the classic  “Mizuno Feel,” with four new models (MP20 Blade, MP-20 MMC, & MP20 HMB – Hot Metal Blade), are now available at retail.

The MP-20 series was born from tradition and the idea of creating the ultimate set of irons for every player. Mizuno has accomplished that goal with modern design and an attention to detail on every level with all three models. Speaking to the Mizuno tradition, and something they touched on when these were originally teased on social channels with #LayersOfFeel, Mizuno is going back in time to the TN-87s and reintroducing a copper underlay to their irons—all of them!

Mizuno MP20 iron copper underlay

“Mizuno Feel”

It is part of the golf vernacular. It’s ingrained in golf (nerd) culture—it’s a real thing.

But where does it comes from, how did it get here, what is it really, and how is it a component of 2019 Mizuno MP-20 irons?

I’m here to give you some answers and introduce you to MP-20 family of irons from Mizuno.

2019-mizuno-mp-20-irons-7-iron-

2019 Mizuno MP-20 irons: 7-iron

Born from tradition, and the idea of creating the ultimate set of irons for every player, the 2019 Mizuno MP-20 family is the next series of MP irons that will connect golfers to the “Mizuno Feel.” Speaking to tradition, and something I touched on when these were originally teased on social channels with #LayersOfFeel, Mizuno is going back in time to the TN-87s and reintroducing a copper underlay to their irons—all of them! (Before someone tries to correct me: yes, I realize that they have done this for more recent Japan market model)

What does this copper layer mean? Here’s the funny thing, even Mizuno has had a hard time trying to quantify it. Through multiple rounds of extensive blind prototype testing with all of their staff players, the irons with a copper underlay won on feel EVERY SINGLE TIME! How’s that for dominance?

But why? They are truly still trying to 100 percent figure that out. Mizuno has used its HIT (Harmonic Impact Technology), metallurgy analysis, and every test it can to try and figure out why. Engineers even went as far as trying to prove the hypothesis the copper underlay “feel” was based on nostalgia but time and time again Cu won in blind testing. At the end day, the human element was still the deciding factor because humans are the ones that ultimately hit shots.

2019-mizuno-mp-20-7-iron-address

2019 Mizuno MP-20 irons

This brings us to the flagship MP-20 (Blade) (The Ultimate Tour Blade as described by Mizuno’s Product Manager & Engineer Chris Voshall). Evolving from the tradition built into the MP-18, and taking design cues from historic models like the TN 87 and MP14, the MP20s provide more flow throughout the set from top to bottom leading to even more control over ball flight. This flow also increases forgiveness (please remember it’s still a blade) and launch in the longer irons, with an increased ability to flight the ball in the scoring clubs…all of this AND a thinner top line.

Now about that top line: it’s an extremely important part of the look of the club, but what many don’t realize is it also plays a big role in feel and acoustics too. Let’s simplify for a moment: think of a clubhead like hunk of metal—a cube—now when you hit that thick piece of metal on something it doesn’t reverberate much and when it does, it’s at a different frequency making it sound heavy and “thuddy,” or as some would say, SOLID.

2019-mizuno-mp-20-7-iron-face

Now imagine if that same piece of metal, and same mass, was stretched out like a saw blade. Have you ever hit something with the side of a large saw blade? It’s wobbly, loud, and generally unpleasant, that’s what happens when an unsupported part of a club gets too thin, it acts like an amplifier of bad sound, creating terrible feel. By blending a small channel (think MP5) with the classic looks of yesteryear you get a club that feels and performs like no Mizuno before it, and as I said, with a thinner look from address.

What’s all this talk of “Flow”?

Center of gravity and mass placement (or as a Mizuno Engineer explained to me “Vertical Moment of Inertia”). Since each club is designed individually, you need the center of gravity to shift throughout the set to help control launch/trajectory (or “traj” as the kids say), and make sure spin is also at an optimal level.

For the MP-20, it means long irons that are “easier” to hit (air quotes, because like I said before, it’s still a blade), and short irons that can be more easily flighted lower with greater spin and control. Just like with the MP-18s, Mizuno is keeping with the continuous reduced blade length into the short irons for a look preferred by better players and for improved grass and turf interaction.

But What About the Rest?

You might have noticed off the top I called it the “MP-20 Family.” Here’s why: In golf, like with any other industry, data is important. But it’s only as good as you use it and well…let’s just say Mizuno has been paying close attention to how golfers and fitters have been making combo sets over the last few years. It’s all about understanding what golfers really need and thanks to some proprietary data they went even deeper when it comes to designing each and every iron in this family to make sure its performance is maximized. This is why I continue to emphasize how each set has a flow—to make sure each club in your bag is just right for you. Now to introduce you to the rest of the family members…

2019 Mizuno MP20 MMC irons (Multi-Material Construction)

2019-mizuno-mmc-irons-1

2019 Mizuno MP-20 MMC irons: 7-iron

I know, you think you’ve heard this story before but…NOT LIKE THIS!

The new MP-20 MMC is a BIG shift in design, not just because of the Cu underlay, but a radical change in how the whole club is put together. I know it sounds very “big biz,” but in the world of manufacturing it truly comes down to how “parts” are manufactured. Now, with Mizuno, I will reiterate a well-known story. All of its forged irons are single-sourced from one foundry (Chuo) in Japan through a handshake agreement that has been in place for decades.

Now back to the MMC. Before the MP-20 the MMC always had one tiny design difficulty (not a bad one, just a truth) and that was the titanium piece in the back was the same size throughout the whole set. This lead to a set with almost constant sole width. That doesn’t mean previous generations were constructed poorly, but it just means there were improvements that could be made to how the set flowed (there’s that word again) from top to bottom…which leads us to the tech story.

2019-mizuno-mp-20-mmc-irons-3

For the first time in the MMC’d life, the titanium piece of the iron will actually vary in mass depending on the club. It will be broken up in the middle of the set to allow better CG placement, and like its blade cousin, improved turf interaction in the shorter irons.

What is also very cool from a build and engineering perspective is the way the titanium gets into the club in the first place. Here we go down a metallurgy rabbit hole, buckle up…

  • Titanium has a mass density (rounded) of 4.5 g/cm3 – cubed
  • Carbon steel has a mass density of (rounded) 7.9 g/cm3 – cubed

That means that from every cubed cm of steel volume you replace with titanium in the head, you save 3.4g… which might not seem like much, but in a 4-iron for example that has an average mass of 248g for (4) cm3 you save 13.6g or just over five percent. I realize this is DEEP into the mass property weeds, but when you think of what a club head weights and how every half percentage point matters, five percent is a lot! That’s more forgiveness, more MOI, more spin control, and overall better performance.

2019-mizuno-mp-20-mmc-irons-3

What is also very cool is all of these parts (titanium and tungsten) have ZERO chemical bond—no epoxy. They all fit snug based on the shrinkage rates of the different materials. Ti & W( tungsten – W comes from the ore Wolframite) shrinks less than the steel so as the steel cools around the titanium and tungsten pieces it creates a mechanical (solid) bond.

All of this together adds up to an iron that looks smaller than the previous version, offers more “flow” in CG, something we mentioned earlier that creates more forgiveness and control throughout the set, and at the end of the day it means a better-engineered version than the one before it.

Hot Metal 2019 Mizuno MP-20 HMB irons

YES…you read that correctly. Mizuno is bringing Hot Metal tech to the MP line!

A hollow body blade looking iron using the same strong yet highly flexible Chromoloy material as the 919 Hot Metals except this time forged to create an iron like they never have before. The look and shape of a blade the speed of a Hot Metal.

Let’s break things down.

The look is clean as clean can be, from there the face of the HMB is thin and fast, while hidden inside the back of the club is complex geometry for both acoustics and precisely positioning mass. These will be the replacement for the MMC Fli-His but unlike that set, only going to the 6-iron, the new HMB will go all the way to the pitching wedge.

What is also different for the HMB vs. the MMC Fli-Hi is the way tungsten is used in the head to create different impact dynamics. The Fli-Hi had all the tungsten (20g worth) in one place in the head (low and towards the toe). The CG was still located right in the middle but through in-depth testing some players found that the Fli-Hi was a more difficult club to turn over and draw.

2019-mizuno-mp-20-hmb-irons

To improve the workability of the new HMB, the Tungsten was split into two 12g pieces (four more grams than previous Fli-Hi) and positioned into precisely formed pockets on the heel and toe in the back of the club. This allows the unsupported face to flex and makes the club more workable while still maintaining all the forgiveness you would expect from a hollow body iron built for speed. Seriously who doesn’t like the sound of that?

Since the new HMB is a full set and not just long irons, there is more to the tech story… here is comes… better flow and CG positioning throughout the set. This is hugely important for the mid and short irons where loft is already going to create spin so controlling ball flight and traj on approach shots is vital for scoring better.

This is again where the MP-20 Family discussion comes into play. Mizuno knows they are going to sell a lot more HMB long irons vs. blade and MMC long irons, so the entire family is designed holistically for every player to find each and every head that optimizes them on the course.

The Full Package

Like with previous generations going back almost a decade, Mizuno is keeping its industry-leading matrix of shaft and grip options available at NO upcharge. BUT… based on the growing demand for more exotic options the newly expanded shaft line up will include a few shafts that will come with a slight upcharge.

Whatever you end up being fit for, it’s important to realize that there has never been family of Mizuno irons designed like this, which could also mean you could be bringing home some new family members soon.

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