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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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Gary Woodland WITB 2018

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Equipment is accurate as of the 2018 Honda Classic (2/19/2018).

Driver: TaylorMade M3 440 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Acra Tour-Z RPG

Fairway Woods: TaylorMade M2 2017 (15 degrees)
Shafts: Accra Tour-Zx 4100

Driving Iron: Titleist 716 T-MB (2)
Shaft: KBS Tour C-Taper 130 X

Irons: Titleist 716 MB (4-9)
Shafts: KBS Tour C-Taper Limited Edition Black PVD 130 X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (48-10F, 52-08F, 56-10S), Callaway Mack Daddy PM Grind (60-10)
Shafts: KBS Tour C-Taper Limited X (48), KBS Hi-Rev Black PVD S-Flex (52, 56, 60)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T 009
Grip: Scotty Cameron Pistol

Golf Ball: Bridgestone Tour B X

Related:

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

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Cobra launches King Forged Tec Black and King Black Utility irons

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We first spotted Cobra’s new King Forged Tec Black irons (in both One-length and variable length) and King Black Utility irons (in both One-length and variable length) at the 2018 PGA Show. The company wasn’t dishing out any information related to the clubs at that time, however, electing to await for the official launch to provide details.

Well, Cobra officially launched the clubs on Tuesday, so we now have all of the tech info, specs and more.

Read below for all of the details, and click here to see what GolfWRX members are saying about the clubs in our forums.

King Forged Tec Black irons

Cobra first launched its Forged Tec irons in 2015; “Tec” stands for Technology Enhanced Cavity. They used five different materials in the club head to produce an iron with more forgiveness and distance.

The 2018 Forged Tec irons have gotten a material upgrade with a new Forged 4140 Stainless Steel face, allowing them to be made thinner and produce greater ball speeds across the face. They also have the new “dimonized” black finish that appeared on the company’s King Forged MB/CB irons in the past (and the irons that Rickie Fowler uses). Cobra says the finish is more durable than any black finish on the market.

“The handsome new Dimonized Black Metal (DBM) Matte Finish boasts the industry’s most durable satin black finish ever, reducing glare and providing extreme wear resistance while maintaining the look and feel of a classic forged iron,” Cobra said in a press release.

Additionally, the irons have tungsten weights to lower CG (center of gravity), and move CG more toward the center of the face, and they have carbon fiber medallions to dampen vibrations for a softer feel.

Forged Tec Black One Length

At the 2018 PGA Show, Cobra representatives said that One-length irons represent at least 60 percent of all its iron sales. Yea, wow. So it’s no wonder why Cobra is coming out with Forged Tec Black One-length irons in addition to its variable length offering.

The one-length irons sets match the weight and length of the 7 iron throughout the set, and have progressive tungsten weighting to achieve different launch characteristics — that means the longer irons will launch a bit higher, and the shorter irons a bit lower. New in this set is also progressive lie angle configurations; the longer irons will have a more upright lie angle, while the shorter irons will have a bit flatter lie angle.

The goal here is to allow golfers to take one swing no matter what the number says on the sole of their irons, but still produce desired results.

Both of the Forged Tec Black irons come equipped with Cobra Connect (powered by Arccos) in the butt end of the grips so golfers can retrieve data on every shot they hit during a round of golf or practice session. Golfers who purchase a set of these irons will also receive enough Arccos sensors to put in the remaining clubs in their bag, as well.

The irons come stock with steel True Temper AMT Tour White shafts, with a powder-coated black finish to match the black club heads, or graphite UST Recoil ES SmacWrap shafts. The 7-piece sets (5-PW, GW) sell for $1,099 in steel or $1199 in graphite, and will hit retail on April 6.

King Utility Black irons

Cobra also announced the launch of its King Utility Black irons, including variable length and one-length options.

They’re each made with Cobra’s familiar PwrShell face technology, which adds stability around the perimeter to make the clubs more forgiving while also allowing the faces to be constructed thinner. The faces use forged 455 high-strength stainless steel inserts to optimize ball speed across the face. Also for greater ball speeds, they have full, hollow-body constructions, and they have Tungsten toe weights (67-73 grams in the variable length irons and 90-94 grams in the shorter, one-length irons). For more precision and consistent spin, they have CNC milled faces and grooves.

The utility irons are also adjustable, with +/- one degree of adjustability using their MyFly8 hosel.

They have black PVD coats to achieve their black finishes, rather than the dimonized finish of the Forged Tec irons. Like the Forged Tec irons, however, they come equipped with Cobra Connect in the grips.

The Utility Black irons hit retail on April 6, and will sell for $219 in graphite and $199 in steel. The variable length heads will be available in 3 (18-21 degrees) and 4 (21-24 degrees) irons, while the One-length irons are available in 3 (18-21 degrees), 4 (21-24 degrees) and 5 (24-27 degrees) irons. Each come stock with steel true Temper AMT Tour White shafts with black powder coating, or graphite UST Recoil ES SmacWrap shafts.

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Cobra’s new irons here

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Equipment

The Elder and Younger 2-Ball, #teamkiradech, and a very boring wedge on the Honda Classic range

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course  in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. And there was plenty to see on the range Monday.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, making his first U.S. start since the 2016 Web.com Finals, was in his glory. We got WITB looks at (the very yellow bag) of Brandt Snedeker, Gary Woodland, and Chesson Hadley, too.

Here are a few of the best shots from t-minus three days until tournament time.

Chesson Hadley is gaming this superb, decade-old, lead tape-laden, Odyssey 2-Ball.

We also spotted Odyssey’s latest 2-Ball offering, the Exo Two-Ball. No word on whether Mr. Hadley is upgrading…

Kiradech Aphibarnrat’s putter cover is everything you’d expect (and perhaps more).

The leader of #teamkiradech also has his emoji self embroidered on the back of his shirt. This would only be made better if emoji Kiradech also had an embroidered emoji on his shirt.

Chesson Hadley is also gaming one of Vokey’s new SM7 wedges with a bit of weight removed in a very boring fashion.

As if there weren’t enough yellow in this picture… Banana Snedeker?

All joking aside, you gotta love Snedeker gaming a Tourstage X 5-wood.

…with this wear mark, no less.

Laundry service for Bronson Burgoon, please?

Chad Campbell loves three things: UNLV, shaving cream, and Arnold Palmer. The Palmer-Barbasol thing makes sense, as the King reportedly abhorred facial hair on professional golfers (really).

A lovely assortment of Piretti covers. It’s probably frowned upon as a professional to walk away with this whole bag, but tempting nevertheless…

Ditto: Bettinardi.

Check out all our photos from the 2018 Honda Classic below!

Monday’s Photos

Special Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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