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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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Equipment

Wunder: I’ve hit THESE new drivers this year…and this is what I think

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During this lockdown, I have done quite a few “Friday Q & A’s” on my IG, and one of the questions I get asked constantly is “have you hit this?” That, and “whaddya think?”

So, in the spirit of organizing my brain, it seemed like the right time to share what new drivers I have actually hit this year…and this is what I think.

Now, it needs to be said that there is a lot of new gear out there, but, to be honest, I’ve only actually hit a select few enough to actually build an opinion. “Enough” in this case is at least 20 balls. Some of these sticks I tested during our pre-launch preview with the OEMs, at the PGA show, a friend has one, or I actually have it in the bag.

Here we go.

TaylorMade SIM

Setup tested: SIM 9 @8.25 w/ Mitsubishi Chemical Kuro Kage XTS 70TX

LOOKS: The best way to describe how SIM looks behind the ball is “comfortable.” TaylorMade has always made drivers that just look correct. The lines are clean, the shape inspires playability, and I dig the paint job. They hit a home run with this one for sure.

FEEL: Best sound out there in my opinion. Heavy, dense, and if you get one dead-nuts center, it lets you know. The feel at contact is just as TaylorMade drivers have always done, center strikes feel like Thor’s hammer and mishits don’t kill your good vibes.

VS THE M5: I get asked this a lot. I loved the M5. Still do. To be honest the two drivers data wise were legit apples to apples. The only difference is my stock shot with M5 was a low spin straight ball and with SIM its a slight draw with a touch more spin and slightly lower launch. I prefer that.

OVERALL: In my opinion, the TaylorMade SIM is the cool kid in high school for 2020. Last year it was F9 followed closely by M5. TM knocked it outta the park on this one.

TaylorMade SIM Max

Setup tested: Sim Max 9 @8.25 w/ Mitsubishi Chemical Kuro Kage XTS 70TX

LOOKS: It has a bit more of a longer face at address, which makes the head appear shallow which inspires a bit more confidence to turn it over. That’s the main thing I noticed with MAX. Other than that its a tried and true TM shape.

FEEL: Like its sibling, it has a nice solid hit audibly at the impact. So, overall its apples to apples with SIM. However, due to the front weight missing on the MAX, the actual strike doesn’t feel AS meaty as SIM. Not a negative necessarily just something I noticed.

VS M6: Both of these sticks I launched a bit too high versus the weighted versions. That’s why they never got any serious consideration to actually put in play.

OVERALL: As a high launch, more forgiving option, it’s an ace.

Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero

Setup tested: Sub Zero 9 w/ Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei Blue AV 65TX

LOOKS: To my eyes, the newer versions of the Callaway drivers have looked a bit more compact than its competition. To me, this always looked “low spin” for whatever reason. The Mavrik has the same shape which is good.

FEEL: They really fixed the sound. The Epic Flash sounded like a pop can to me, and the Mavrik Sub Zero sounds like a sledgehammer. The good thing here is the sound now matches up with what the hit feels like. I think the Mavrik is the best feeling driver Callaway has made since Epic.

VS EPIC FLASH SZ: To me, a complete improvement on all fronts. Sound, feel, and performance for me were all substantially better. Now I must say that the Epic Flash Sub Zero was a great driver, I always got great numbers out of it, but the sound took me out of it. I’m sure there isn’t that much difference audibly between the two, but in this game, even something minor can represent so much. Sound to me is huge.

OVERALL: In all honestly, I haven’t given a Callaway driver a real hard look to actually put in the bag since Epic. The sound got louder wit Rogue and Epic Flash. The Mavrik SZ  however is a fantastic driver and will def get some more testing out of me.

Cobra SpeedZone

Setup tested: Cobra Speed Zone 9 @8.5 w/ Fujikura Ventus Black 7X

LOOKS: The F9 was a winner on all fronts. The only critique I had was optically it looked like the driver was a little too fade biased. The SZ with its milled in top line gives it softer look at address and for me, softer lines mean more workability, just what my eyes tell me.

FEEL: As with F9 and the earlier mentioned SIM, the Speed Zone sounds EXACTLY how a driver should sound. It has a very heavy hit audibly and that’s across the face. I love the sound of this driver.

VS F9: Apples to apples, it’s the same. Beyond the optics, it feels, sounds, and performs like the F9. Not a bad thing though, the F9 was the driver of 2019 in my opinion.

OVERALL: Nothing wrong with repeating an already awesome driver. SpeedZone will stand up to anything out there. If I’m being fair, I think F9 elevated things in 2019, and this year the competition caught up to it. Changes nothing about how good this driver is.

Cobra Speed Zone Xtreme

Setup tested: Cobra Speed Zone Xtreme 9 @8.5 w/ Fujikura Ventus Black 7X

LOOKS: Like the other drivers in this higher MOI category, it looks a little longer heel to toe.

FEEL: No different than the SpeedZone, sounds great, the impact is solid across the face, and even thin shots feel solid.

OVERALL: The Xtreme is the sleeper hit of 2020 and I’ve heard the fitters love this thing. It’s by far the easiest to hit and overall good time of any driver on this list. Is it longer? No. But is it Xtremely (no pun) playable and competitive? Hard yes. It’s a blast.

PXG Proto

Setup tested: PXG Proto 9 w/ Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 6 TX

LOOKS: Slick. Like all PXG gear, the look is there. The matte crown and elegant lines make it very pleasing optically. I also appreciate that although it’s designed to look high tech. The lines inspire playability, and who doesn’t love a driver that looks like a stealth bomber?

FEEL: I only hit about 20 balls with the PXG Proto in the short time I had with it, but, wow, did this thing surprise me. The sound oddly enough is a bit higher-pitched than the others on the list but for whatever reason, it’s not a distraction. It actually adds to the experience of the hit. I typically detest that, but this sound matched up with the solid hit I was getting. I’m not sure if this is the final version since its a limited tour proto but what is happening is definitely interesting.

VS GEN2: It’s just better. Feels better, sounds great, more playable across the face. The Gen2 did one thing better than everyone else, it destroyed spin. The problem I had was control. The PXG Proto is still low spin but with the new 4 weight system (no intel on the tech yet) seems to add quality launch to the low spin profile and puts the player in a situation where very few to any sacrifices are made.

OVERALL: I was a fan of Gen2. No doubt. But it never flat out beat M5, F9, or SIM. The Proto has elevated PXG’s driver game. I don’t think its a matter of whether or not the driver stands up with the irons, I believe PXG is on the right track to having a driver that eliminates any “yeah, but…” to the conversation. That’s a huge leap since Gen1. These guys are trending hard.

I hope this was helpful.

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What GolfWRXers are saying about the final version of Bryson DeChambeau’s LA Golf ‘Texas Rebar’ wedge shafts

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the final version of Bryson DeChambeau’s LA Golf ‘Texas Rebar’ wedge shafts. The look of the ultra-stiff shafts, which originated from Bryson wanting a “graphite shaft that was stiffer than the Dynamic Gold X7″, has impressed our members who have been praising the final version and sharing their thoughts on the concept.

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.

  • QuigleyDU: “Awesome.”
  • My2dogs: “Really coming out with some great new stuff.”
  • HateTheHighDraw: “MMT 125TX are absolute fire, but these must be much stiffer.”
  • Robkingasu: “Sweet!”

Entire Thread: “Bryson DeChambeau’s LA Golf ‘Texas Rebar’ wedge shafts”

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Should I move to heavier iron shafts? – GolfWRXers have their say

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the strategy of moving to heavier shafts in irons. WRXer ‘Z1ggy16’ has been making swing changes lately, and the transition has been most challenging for his iron play. ‘Ziggy16’ says:

“Been making some swing changes lately, most notably working to really shallow my club into the downswing. I’m finding that I’m doing this well with my heavy wedge shafts and driver, but I’m struggling a bit in my irons. My strike pattern with my wedges is pretty good, but the irons are a bit all over. Driver is 80g raw, wedges are 132g raw, irons 120g raw. I don’t think I want to go any stiffer, but is there a chance I’ve “outgrown” this weight and need to move to something a bit heavier to help keep these feels going through my set? No idea what swing speed is at this point, but my 7i is normally a smooth/comfortable 175-180 for me.

I really like the feel of my Accra Tour Z Xtreme 475 and my S400’s in the GW-LW. I’m kind of leaning maybe soft stepping modus 120TX or X100’s.. Heck maybe even S200 straight in? Normally I’d just get a fitting, but with Rona still going around, I’m not than keen on it. 2020 is the year of the self fit for me. FWIW, I used modus 120TX 2xSS in my GW & SW last year and that was pretty good feeling. Perhaps a touch too soft… they seemed to really whip/bend hard when hitting from the rough on full swings.”

Our members discuss whether they feel a switch to heavier shafts in the irons will have the desired impact.

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.

  • Pepperturbo: “You’re not alone. Regardless of age, some of us swing better with heavier shafts. I went from 70g driver and 85g 3wd graphite shafts to 58g Ventus shaft in driver and 70g Ventus shaft in 4wd. In irons went from 130g X to 120g 6.0 PX steel shafts which lasted about fifteen years. Then last year made another downward weight change to Steelfiber (steel & graphite) 110g Stiff shafts, lightest I have ever played. Keep in mind as you transition, changing shaft weight is not the only answer. Increasing swing weight can make up for shaft weight. Though I really like them in 6-3i, not thrilled in SW-7i, so just ordered heavier Steelfiber i125g shafts for my PW-7i blades.”
  • Jeff58: “As someone who has gone through and continues to work on what sounds like a similar situation, your ideal iron shafts will likely change. Where they change to isn’t possible to predict with any degree of accuracy. Don’t change your current irons without knowing. It’s frustrating, expensive, and you won’t have any clubs while they’re being changed out. Instead, get a single club from dealsandsteals or similar and experiment with that. Also, the only relevant experience is outdoors under your actual turf conditions. Indoor and mat use can be grossly different.”
  • Red4282: “Just depends on your tempo and load and preferences tbh. My numbers are about identical to yours; I play 77g in the driver and 125 in the irons. I don’t think I could go lighter than 125.”
  • gvogel: “I have a set of hickory clubs. Of course, hickory shafts are darn heavy, maybe 150 grams or so. I probably hit straighter shots with the irons, and particularly hit better shots with the niblick (wedge). Driver and fairway woods, not so much. That might be a stupid insertion into an intelligent thread, but heavier goes straighter, lighter goes longer. You can go heavier, and it helps in transition, but don’t go too stiff.”

Entire Thread: “Should I switch to heavier iron shafts?”

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