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iPING version 1.2 is here

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Having the right tools makes all the difference. That’s the reason golfers carry 14 clubs in their bags. After much time and practice, good golfers learn which tool is right for the job.

But even the best golfers sometimes have trouble deciding what putter to use. Since putters are offered a wider variety of options and styles than any other club, it is the most tinkered with tool in nearly every golfer’s bag. It’s also the most important club, accounting for about 40 percent of a player’s score.

That’s why the GolfWRX staff called last summer’s release of iPING a “game changer.” Click here to read the original thread

iPING is an application available for Apple iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and fourth-generation iPods that allowed players to better understand the path, rhythm and length of their putting strokes. This technology was nothing new – sophisticated hardware that studied these variables had been available for a while. But it had never been cheap or convenient.

iPING made it cheap and convenient. To use iPING, all a player needed was a $30 PING cradle that fit nearly every type of putter, a compatible iPhone or iPod, and the iPING app (available through Apple’s App Store for free). Maybe more important was that iPING was completely portable, unlike other high-tech putting devices that needed bulkier hardware and extensive setup.

Usually, affordability and convenience come with sacrifices compared to larger and more expensive devices, but iPING didn’t compromise. In fact, it added PING software called iFIT, which analyzed loft, lie angle, and length, as well as a player’s stroke tendencies. Through PING’s “Fit for Stroke” system, iFIT was able to recommend the best type of PING putter for a player. The trick to iPING was using the acceleramators and gyroscopes that were already built into compatible Apple mobile devices to measure all the movements in the putting stroke. With the hardware taken care of by Apple, all that was left for PING engineers like Dr. Paul Wood to do was design application that could interpret the raw data.

“The important thing to bear in mind is that we already had a bunch of research behind us from using other measurement devices,” Wood said. “When the idea for iPING itself came along we were ready to pounce. And from the first data we took with an iPhone to iPING being released was only about six months. That’s a very aggressive time frame.”

Today PING released version 1.2 of iPING, which includes a new “Skins Game” feature. The first versions of iPING measured a player’s consistency score, or “putting handicap,” which was based the repeatability of a player’s stroke. iPING would grade a player’s consistency based on five 10-foot putts. An iPING user could use the results to improve their putting handicap, and compare it against PING staff players featured on the app.

The Skins Game feature in version 1.2 of iPING allows users to test their putting prowess against iPING users throughout the world. Through Apple’s Game Center, a player can choose a three, six, or nine-hole match and can invite up to three friends to join, or let the Auto-Match feature locate playing partners.

“Game Center’s turn-based technology alerts users to their next turn via the new Notification Center in [Apple] iOS 5,” according to a PING press release. “The game format follows a traditional skins competition where holes have point values, which increase throughout the match, and ties on a hole carry over until someone wins a hole (and the skins) outright. The person with the most points at the end of the match wins.”

The iPING Skins Game also has a party mode for contestants in the same location, which can use Apple AirPlay to show live leaderboards on an HD television using an existing wireless network and an Apple TV. Wood said that in early stages of designing iPING, he hadn’t thought much about promoting the game aspect of iPING. But he saw that it would be fun to get people using it together – especially for him, who can now have a putting contest through iPING against his father in England. The real value to Wood and the putter engineers at PING, however, is the data that the company collects from people using the iPING app.

According to Wood, PING does not gather information such as names and locations – that would cause too many privacy issues. But the company does capture the data every time someone uses iPING to do a fitting session. The lofts, lie angles and stroke tendencies are compiled into a data base large enough to give engineers a glimpse into the putting population as a whole.

“We were surprised how wide and dispersed the numbers were,” Wood said. “100,000 sessions shows you fairly accurately what the population looks like. With numbers that large, the noise gets washed out.”

iPING’s release in the summer of 2011 corresponded with the release of PING’s Anser and Scottsdale putter series, which was an important part of the app’s success according to Wood.

“Timing is everything with these things,” Wood said. “It helps that we got the putters out at the same time as iPING. The data we collected proves that we need to have putters like the Mesquite, a toe-down mallet, and the Carefree [a mid-hang mallet].”

Click here for more discussion in the forums

“Toe down,” “mid hang,” and “face balanced” refer to the way the center of gravity is situated in a putter. By balancing a putter’s shaft on your finger, you can determine what type of putter you have. If the putter face points toward the sky, it is face balanced. If it rests at a 45-degree angle, it is a mid-hang putter. And if the face points sideways, it is a toe-down putter. Face balanced putters are best for “straight-back, straight-through strokes.” A mid-hand putter would be best for someone with a slight arc in their stroke. A toe-down putter would be best for a player with a more arc in their stroke.

Knowing what type of putter is best for a player isn’t just something for beginners, either. PING staff players such as Heath Slocum, Angel Cabrera and Rhys Davies have used the technology in iPING to help them putt better. Heath Slocum was one of the first players to test iPING when it was unveiled to Tour players at the U.S. Open. He was striking the ball extremely well at the time, but was struggling with his putting. On the iPING, Slocum’s putting stroke was measured as having a “strong arc.” At the time, he was using a face-balanced putter. Wood suggested that unless Slocum was very tied to his face-balanced putter, he should consider returning to the toe-down PING putter he had had earlier success with in his career, a PING PAL. When Slocum switched, he saw his putting handicap go down, and he played much better for the rest of the year. He finished T-11th at the U.S. Open, and had four more top-20 finishes on the PGA Tour in 2011. Prior to the U.S. Open, he only recorded one top-20 finish on Tour.

Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera also used the iPING to help him on the greens. Cabrera has one of the most straight-back, straight-through strokes on Tour, but for years has preferred the look a mid-hang Anser putter.

“Angel had always been conflicted about using a face-balanced putter, but the [iPING] scores reinforced that he needed to be using one. It got him to switch to a [face-balanced] Anser 5.”

Rhys Davies, who Wood called one of the best putters on the PING staff, used the iPING in a different way to help him putt better. He was struggling with his putting this fall, and decided to look at previous iPING sessions to see if anything had changed in his stroke. He noticed that his lie angle had become much flatter, as a result of him dropping his hands at address. By raising his hands back to the proper position, he saw his putting improve.

Wood is very excited about what’s next for iPING. He said there’s “a whole bunch more PING can do with the app,” but like all good golf company employees, he wouldn’t comment any further.

“The great thing about software is that is moves very quickly,” Wood said. “It doesn’t have a whole supply chain like building putters. There’s a ton of ideas we’re looking at, but the best part of iPING might be that it encourages people to go out and practice their putting. Any time you can do that, it’s a good thing.”

By Zak Kozuchowski
GolfWRX Staff

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

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Andrew “Beef” Johnston WITB 2017

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Equipment is accurate as of the 2017 RSM Classic (11/14/17).

Driver: Titleist 917D2 (9.5 Degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei Orange 70TX

3 Wood: Titleist 917F3 (15 Degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei Orange 80TX

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H2 (19 Degrees)
Shafts: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage 90HY TX

Driving Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB 2 & 3 Iron (17 & 20 Degrees)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 Tour Issue

Irons: Titleist 718 MB (3-9)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 Tour Issue

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (46-10F, 50-08F, 54-10S)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue

Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T Super Rat I GSS Inlay
Grip: Scotty Cameron Standard Pistol

Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T Newport 2
Grip: Scotty Cameron Standard Cord Pistol

Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T Super Rat II GSS Inlay
Grip: Scotty Cameron Standard Cord Pistol

WITB Notes: Beef was testing a variety of putters ahead of The RSM Classic. We will update this post when his choice is confirmed. 

Related:

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Beef’s clubs. 

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Equipment

The hottest blade irons in golf right now

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As we’ve written before, the decision to put a new driver in the bag is usually obvious. Better numbers at testing, perceptibly longer distance, and as long as your bank account allows, you have your new gamer.

The iron switch, however, is a trickier beast. Comfort with the variety of shots one needs to hit is key. Confidence from one’s long irons through the higher lofts is critical. Thus, even the greatest enthusiasm for a new iron release isn’t always followed by a mass exodus to gaming said irons. This is doubly true at the professional level, where the tools are critical to a player’s livelihood.

That said, the combination of forum chatter, GolfWRX member enthusiasm, and what we’re spotting in our WITB photos from tour stops are a reliable indicator of the hottest irons in the game.

And judging by the response to our recent Instagram post, we’re confident that these four models are the hottest blade irons in golf right now.

Callaway Apex MB

Buzz built steadily for the Apex MB iron when we first spotted them in Tour players’ bags at the beginning of 2017. The irons are the product of direct feedback from the company’s Tour staffers, according to Luke Williams, Director of Product and Brand Management at Callaway. Forged from 1025 Carbon Steel, these irons have the shortest blade lengths, the thinnest soles and the smallest overall heads in the vast line of Callaway irons. They’re designed for maximum workability, and for tour-desired turf interaction.

Related: Callaway (finally) launches new Apex MB and X Forged irons

Mizuno MP-18

The pioneers of Grain-Flow Forging, Mizuno went back to its roots with the MP-18 iron model. A throwback to the great muscle backs in the company’s history, Mizuno was shooting for the look of an iron that could have been forged a century ago. Shorter blade length, cambered top line, sharp, compact wedges, all combined with the most minimal badging make the MP-18 an instant classic that set the GolfWRX forums afire.

Related: Mizuno brings the MP family closer together

TaylorMade P730

TaylorMade’s P730, particularly in its prototype incarnations, made quite a splash on the PGA Tour. Building on the heritage of the TP-MB irons, P730 was developed in collaboration with the very best players in the world. The 1025 carbon steel irons irons feature a smaller profile and crisper lines than the MB series irons. The combination of the clean look and a deep rear groove have players drooling. Discussing working with Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose to design the P730, TM’s Senior Director of Irons, Tomo Bystedt said, “What these players need is a very low-inertia club that they can [manipulate] easily, almost like a surgeon’s scalpel.” Behold the scalpel.

Related: Taylormade expands forged offerings with P730 and P790

Titleist 718 MB

“For the purist there is no substitute for a one-piece, muscle back iron. The 718 MB is the modern choice for those desiring a traditional forged look and feel,” says Titleist in the 718 MB marketing materials.

It’s hard to argue with that statement from the “appearance of a classic forged iron” standpoint. Purists appreciate that the 718 MB maintains Titleist’s traditional lofts (the 6-iron is 31 degrees, the pitching-wedge is 47 degrees), thin top-line, minimal offset, and limited badging. In short, if it ain’t broke…

Related: Titleist’s 718 irons offer endless possibilities.

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Whats in the Bag

Austin Cook’s Winning WITB: The 2017 RSM Classic

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Driver: Ping G400 LST (8.5 Degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 661 Evolution TX-Flex

3 Wood: Ping G400 Stretch (13 Degrees)
Shaft: Fujifuke Motore Speeder VC 7.2 TX-Flex

Hybrid: Ping G400 3 Hybrid (19 Degrees)
Shaft: Matrix Ozik Altus Tour H8 91X

Hybrid: Ping G400 4 Hybrid (22 Degrees)
Shaft: Matrix Ozik Altus Tour H8 91 X

Irons: Ping S55 Orange Dot (5-PW)
Shafts: KBS Tour S-Flex

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 SS (50-12, 56-12), Ping Glide 2.0 WS (60)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue

Putter: Ping Sigma G Tyne 
Grip: SuperStroke Mid-Slim 2.0

Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1

5095fce33e880406a172796becbc64f8 6900daf1b0d2a2751ffa5557ac3865f7 2340677acd0b3c6d0f53ae8fa46c2024 80f602716821fd9518f148951913c9c0 4df372aac347ad61f031f519a1fd1edb 48039d9dfced6272ba047b51e6265d03 6fecf1d551cb1559587f1f17392ba7c8 0519679f5fdaaae2ffbaf2d97c0def72 5445ea5d9987cddfda04efba5d2f1efd

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