In golf, Ping is known as a company that produces high-quality cast irons for golfers of all ability levels – everyone from high handicappers to 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson. Despite the fact that five of the PGA Tour’s Top-10 ranked golfers in Greens in Regulation in 2012 used cast irons, some golfers are convinced that cast irons are inferior to irons that are forged.
While it is unfair to say that cast irons are always inferior to forged irons, cast irons generally have two distinct drawbacks. First, they often feel harsh at impact when compared to forged clubs, which tend to produce a softer feel. Cast irons are also tougher to bend, which can make it hard for golfers to dial in their lofts and lie angles.
Ping recognized the desire of many golfers to play forged irons, which is why the company released its first forged iron in decades in 2011, the Anser Forged. The irons were smaller than most Ping cavity back irons, which made them visually appealing to golfers who preferred the look of a compact iron at address. They also offered the softer feel that forged iron fans wanted
As expected, the Anser Forged were most popular in Japan and Asia, areas where forgings have a much broader appeal. But they were also well received by a small crowd of U.S. golfers who were anxious to finally try a modern forged iron from Ping. Ping received feedback, however that the average golfer had difficulty hitting the Anser Forged long irons high enough for them to be effective. This made the clubs suitable for a very small group of golfers – players who wanted a compact forged iron but didn’t need help hitting the ball higher.
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In an effort to broaden the appeal of the Anser Forged, Ping re-engineered the irons for 2013. And they set the bar high, setting out to make “the ultimate forged iron.” Like the previous model, the new Anser Forged irons come with a steep price tag (expect to pay between $1300 and $1500 for a stock set). But if you can stomach the cost, you’ll have a set of irons that blend good looks and performance as well as any forged iron available.
Better looks and forgiveness?
The new Anser Forged are longer and more forgiving than the previous Anser Forged irons, especially in the long irons. Engineers made the soles of the long irons wider, which according to Ping senior design engineer Marty Jertson is the easiest way to make an iron fly higher.
But the added sole width came at a cost. Many good players hesitate to play an iron that has a visible sole at address. On the 2011 Ping Anser irons, golfers could only see the top line of the irons at address. But in the 2013 model, the sole is visible behind the top line on the 3 and 4 irons.
*2011 Anser Forged 3 Iron (Left) and the 2013 Anser Forged 3 Iron (right)
Engineers also added more offset to the long irons, another visual aspect that some good players can find unappealing. Offset is the space between the forward portion of the hosel and the front of the clubface. For many good golfers, offset can be a bad word. This is because the more offset a club has, the higher a shot will fly, which can cause problems for good golfers who like to hit low shots.
“The more offset you put on the club, the more the clubhead wants to catch up with the shaft,” Jertson said. “[During the downswing] the head is lagging behind the shaft, but right at impact the head kicks forward and starts to lead the shaft. The offset increases initial launch angle.”
The long irons just don’t have more offset, they also have larger heads to make them more forgiving. Good players might balk at the looks of the revamped 3 and 4 irons, but once they hit them their aesthetics will become less important. Players tempted to replace their long irons with hybrids likely won’t need to with 2013 Anser Forged. The 3 and 4 irons have the distance and forgiveness of many hybrids, but offer the trajectory control and soft feel of a forged iron.
The larger size of the 3 and 4 irons are a special case, however. Jertson and his team felt the extra bulk was worth the added performance. But the rest of the 2013 Anser Forged irons get progressively smaller and have less offset throughout the set. That’s because there are plenty of ways for engineers to add forgiveness without adding bulk.
Big forgiveness, small clubhead
Contrary to what many good golfers believe, thick toplines serve a purpose greater than adding visual confidence at address for less-skilled players. Just as heel-toe weighting adds forgiveness to shots hit on the heel and toe, weight above and below the sweetspot adds forgiveness to shots hit in those areas as well. That’s why Ping thickened the toplines of the Anser Forged irons. But unless you took a caliper and measured the toplines, you wouldn’t know they were any thicker. That’s because Ping engineers shaped the topline in such a way that they could hide mass underneath it. This makes the revamped irons more visually appealing to good players and adds better performance on mishits as well.
Jertson said that all Ping irons are designed to provide maximum forgiveness for their size. Like Ping’s most blade-like iron, the S56, engineers added tungsten weights and the strategically placed bars in the cavity of the irons that add forgiveness and tune the center of gravity. But because the 2013 Anser Forged Irons are larger than the S56 irons, they were able to add forgiveness on a larger scale.
*2011 Anser Forged 7 Iron (left) vs. 2013 Anser Forged 7 Iron (right)
Each of the 2013 Anser Forged irons have an enormous tungsten sole weight that moves the center of gravity lower and deeper for faster ball speeds. The bars in the cavity are also specialized for each iron — on the long irons, they are thinner and extend horizontally for a lower center of gravity. On the short irons, engineers made the bars thicker and more vertical. This makes them more forgiving on shots hit above and below the sweet spot and helps golfers flight the ball as well. All together, the sneaky thick toplines, tungsten soles and strategically placed bars add a huge amount of forgiveness, making the Anser Forged irons play much more forgiving than their sizes indicate.
Miguel Angel Jimenez became the first to win with the 2013 Anser Forged irons at the UBS Hong Kong Open in November 2012 and Hunter Mahan put the irons in his bag at the World Challenge two weeks later. Both players were previously playing the smaller, less-forgiving S56 irons. That’s a testament to how good these irons look, even to the discerning eye of a top tour pro.
Looks: The 3 and 4 irons are a bit on the chunky side, but the 5 iron though pitching wedge look like forged cavity back irons should. While the irons get smaller as they work down the set, they are all larger than blades. But they’re not too much bigger than the S56 and forged cavity back irons aimed at better players.
Playability and Performance: This is where the Anser Forged Irons shine. They’re not too much bigger than the top tier of players irons, but they are much more forgiving. The tungsten weighting and angled bars offer substantial forgiveness and fine-tuned trajectory throughout the set without added bulk.
Flight and distance: Long irons launch easy and won’t balloon for better players with the right shaft. The mid-and-short irons offer workability, and are able to be flighted when necessary. Distance won’t be a problem with these. No problems working the ball, either.
Feel: The irons are forged from 8620 carbon steel, but don’t feel as soft as other forgings because of their multi-material construction and their deeply milled cavities. It’s a “squish” feel at impact — an improvement over the clicky sound of most Ping irons, but definitely not the buttery feel that some forged irons produce.
Cost: The key to getting more forgiveness out of a small, forged clubhead like the new Anser Forged is the deep cavities in the back of the club. They give engineers the ability to redistribute weight in the most optimal places. It took multiple forging and milling steps to get the Anser Forged’s 8620 steel as thin as necessary in certain areas, which is why they’re so expensive.
Bottom Line: If you want one of the highest-quality, highest-performing forged irons on the planet, these irons are for you. If cost is an issue, consider Ping’s i20, which cost around $1000. They don’t feel as good or look as good as the Anser Forged irons, but they’re slightly more playable thanks to a little more offset and a larger blade size.
Byeong Hun An WITB 2020
- 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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