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Ping G20 irons – a Players SGI Editor Review
Summary: Modern designs, meaningful engineering in a package that both low and high handicap golfs can game. Fabulous custom fitting options can help with confidence.
In June Ping Golf hosted GolfWRX < << LINK TO THE ARTICLE >>> to tour their facilities and introduce the Ping Milled Anser putters and their G20 line of irons and woods. To be frank, I’ve never given the G15 irons more than a once over as they weren’t in the category of irons I typically prefer. But my curiosity was piqued by the (surprising to me) number of G15 sets showing up in professional tour bags, most notably K.J. Choi. Then a couple of our GolfWRX members posted their “Single Digit Handicap Super Game Improvement Irons Experiment” threads < << LINK TO THE ARTICLE >>> that caught my attention, as well. And the final nail in the coffin was the number of top amateur and professional employees we met at Ping who were gaming the G20s over what I expected to be the S56 irons. So, I decided to keep an open mind come initial testing of the G20s … and hide my disappointment of not trying the S56s.
Click here to see the original thread and discussion in the forums…http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/topic/532085-ping-g20-irons-a-players-sgi/
A little about me & my game. I took up golf at 40 and quickly decided that better players had “better” clubs. So I spent about 4 years playing rounds and buying/trying/selling/buying what I learned on internet golf forums to be the best of the best golf equipment. I posted a lot of reviews – most having long since been lost/deleted off other forums – and I learned a lot about golf clubs in the process. But my handicap kind of stalled in the mid-teens even though I was playing 3/4 rounds a week. I was learning through experience that you can’t buy a better game.
A chance encounter on a golf forum led me to begin my education on the golf swing (vs. the equipment). The next 5 years were spent traveling and absorbing the smorgasbord golf swing theories of MORAD, TGM, “old school”, Stack & Tilt, and a few others — directly from the originators/top instructors who espoused each swing style. I bounced from Buffalo to Long Beach to Marietta to Los Angeles, as well as many different stops here in Southeast Texas. What I learned in that time was how to find my own golf swing. I changed irons twice in those 5 years: from Lehman Box Toes to the original AP2s: I was the anti-club-ho. My handicap dipped as low as 2, although it has settled back to 4/6. ( I’ve been off the course for the last 14 weeks due to a patella tendon injury, so I’m scoring worse than that today.) I’m average height/weight and typically carry my drives 240 yards down here.
My iron choices have all had one thing in common: little to no offset. The reason was simple and 100% attributable to a shortcoming of my own making: my inability to correctly align the blade to (or open to) the target at address. I have this maddening habit of aligning the toe of an iron to the hosel — that is what looks “at the target” to me. So the more offset an iron had the more left my iron face was/is pointed at address: irons with lots of offset equaled left of target results for me. Now, I’ve been made aware of this fault by many a swing coach, and told not to do it* by the best of the best. Unfortunately I still refer back to this, my critical alignment error. Hence, my preference for less offset.
At Ping’s factory test range I really raised an eyebrow at the offset G20 Lob wedge poking out of my test bag. Let’s just say my expectations were low. So, for fun, I started popping some high ones out towards the ~90 yard pin to warm up. I was better able to align this offset face because the last groove was painted white. Noticing a heavy shot still gave me a decent result, I began trying to hit it fatter and fatter. By the time I got to striking 4″ behind the ball and watching it still fly I was giggling. I couldn’t get any nasty results fatting the G20 Lob wedge off Ping’s firm, tight grass. This, along with my short time going through the G20 bag, opened my mind to further testing.
After production ramped Ping offered me a review set. My time to try the SGI Experiment had come. I chose a 23* bent to 22* G20 hybrid and the 4-PW G20 irons with Ping’s excellent ID8 cord grips in yellow color code (~= to NDMC mid-size). But then we added a twist…
I figured if I’m going to do an SGI test, why not take it all the way???
Ping G20 irons/wedges, 4 through Lob Wedge!
For shafts, I decided on the KBS C-Taper in Stiff. That choice was made for several reasons; 1) I’m familiar now with the shaft after testing them in other irons, 2) I prefer their heavier feel, 3) I felt the lower launch/lower spin would compliment the G20s for my swing, and 4) I have no real experience with the (very well reviewed) ZZ65 shafts that Ping’s new CFS are based on for comparison. The hybrid has the TFC 169H Tour version in it in stiff flex.
After weeks and weeks of not playing, it was somewhat comforting to have some SGIs in the bag as I started my first round. And the results were interesting. I laid up to 88 yards into #1′s front pin … perfect for the 58* Lob wedge, I thought. Down and through nicely, I expected a good result. The ball landed pin high and sucked back off the green 15 feet. As the round progressed, whenever I had full wedges into greens my playing partners and I were surprised at how much backspin I was getting. Misconception #1: For whatever reason I’ve always thought SGI or offset irons wouldn’t spin as much into the green as “player’s” irons — wrong! I’m getting at least as much spin as I do with AP2s/TM CMs on full shots.
We’ve been in a massive drought here in Southeast Texas — down over 24″ for the year — and there’s a lot of dusty hardpan around many greens. No problem, I think, for the Lob Wedge ….. it’ll just scoot it into the ball nicely with that meaty looking backside. I take a bit off the swing I’d use with my long trusted 60-M, and it goes right under the ball leaving it halfway to my target. Misconception #2: Making assumptions on performance by “eye-balling” bounce is misguided. Looking at the G20 Lob Wedge, I never would have figured it could go under a ball off dusty hard pan. I’ve tried this multiple times now with the same result. What is interesting, though, and seems somewhat contradictory: in deep rough around the greens either buried well under the top of the grass or teed up on a “whiffy” lie I’ve found it almost impossible to go under the ball! Even with a full on MORAD/Seve flop swing … go figure? Speaking of flop shots, let’s go ahead and dispel another misconception as the G20 Lob Wedge is among the easiest to flop wedges I’ve tried.
I think the “G” in G20 stands for grace, because you’re forgiven so many bad swings
The long and mid G20 irons demonstrate a level of forgiveness that I have not experienced before. I can’t count how many times I’ve hit a ball poorly, moaned/groaned/oh no’d as I finished my swing only to have my playing partners give me that “What’s wrong with that?” glare after seeing the results. Toe shots, heel shots, low groovers all, and most chunks give such undeservedly good results that you just kind of chuckle knowing what should have happened. Thin it and you’ll still be long, but just about every other miss is forgiven to what my first golf coach called a “good miss” — usually a little short. And for my rusty game I’m talking about 3, maybe 4 stroke-save opportunities per round. Tough up & downs become long two-putt par saves. You tell me what that is worth.
4-irons — G20/TM MC
The extra offset adds launch and the combination of the KBS C-Taper shafts and the G20s gives a nice high penetrating ballflight. I’m very pleased with this shaft/head combination — each enhances the strengths and minimizes the weaknesses of the other. I have to admit after 6 rounds I’m still having left & right of target issues due to my inconsistent face (and body) alignment. But distance control is spot on. The G20 lofts are jacked a bit in comparison to my usual irons, so I’ve had to adjust to my caddie (read: me) pulling the wrong club every now and again. More importantly, though, I’m not getting any springy face fliers that have marred older springy-faced SGI irons — that’s huge for me, and would have been a deal killer. Feel at impact is solid with the C-Tapers … better than the G15s. I have no issue knowing where on the club face I missed the ball. The rare center hit feel doesn’t quite melt/disappear like a pure forging, but we’re talking nearly imperceptible differences nowadays. I don’t have a big enough sample size to give you solid feedback on the G20′s performance out of the rough — even the deeper fairway rough here is still pretty sparse. Most I can say at this time is my ball flight has been a bit lower & lefter than I expect, perhaps due to some hosel grab. I’ll update as conditions improve.
Prior to my May trip to Scotland I almost always pulled my 60-M when I was close to the green, flying the ball to the pin. But in Scotland, I re-adopted the “keep it close to the ground” chipping style that I first learned at MORAD and is a must for true links courses. The G20 wedges/irons really excel with these shots. As mentioned before, I was having trouble predicting spin off the Lob Wedge, so I started chipping low runners with the UW/PW or an 8-iron even up to a 6-iron. We’re talking TGM horizontal hinge/full roll feel using the Rule Of 12. Off the face feel on these chips with the G20s is pretty good, and my distance control has been excellent. Better players can still choose their shot style, but my results keeping it low have been so surprisingly good that I’ve committed to using what I (re)learned in Scotland.
One final misconception of mine that was quickly dispelled was the idea that more offset makes low recovery shots more difficult to keep down. My wayward drives have given me plenty of opportunities to hit punch out/punch to the green shots with surprisingly good results. Getting the ball up quickly is no issue at all. Recovery slices, though, elude me with the G20s. More a lack of talent problem.
As you have read, I’ve heavily relied on my trusted 60-M for years. I pull it for almost all of my bunker shots. My results out of the sand with the G20 Lob Wedge, though, have been mixed. I’m having trouble getting the ball up in the air and landing softly. Everything is coming out low and rolling out, which is fine as long as you’re not short-sided or landing on a down-slope. I can’t tell if the face is closing down into the sand or what. So I’ll be visiting a friend here who has played on the big tour in the near future and getting a lesson on what’s happening with that. He has an incredible short game and loves a challenge. But as far as an “easy out” wedge, this one fits the bill. I’ve found that aligning only just left and barely opening the face gives the better results. If you leave the ball in the bunker too often, try the G20 Lob Wedge. It takes some getting used to, but it works for getting out. For longer bunker shots, the G20 Sand Wedge has given me and my playing partners some stellar results.
I ordered the G20 hybrid close to the 4-iron loft to compare the two. Let me say up front that I’ve never really gotten along with hybrids — my results are too often left. But the G20 impressed me enough at Ping that I opted to replace the 3-iron with the hybrid. On the practice range I’ve found excellent high long results with no left in them — exactly what we look for in a hybrid. But my 4/5 on course results have been inconsistent. I love the feel, love the no left … I just need a bigger sample size and a little more confidence to draw useable conclusions. I’ll play a number of rounds where I pull the G20 hybrid for every 200+ yard shot, get at least 40/50 strikes with it, and return to update my impressions in the thread. I must add, though, that everyone who has tried my G20 Hybrid gushes about it. Sound & feel is top notch. Well struck, it flat flies. It’s also proven a nice option for short of the green uphill putts.
Speaking of ” try & buy”, I’d say I’ve sold over 15 sets of G20s in these past few weeks. I let anyone who asks hit them, and we’re in “hit & giggle” season down here — fundraising scrambles. Now most of my competitive amateur friends won’t touch them, but the results speak for themselves for high single-digit and up players. Sound and feel is good, ball flight is high, distances are longer — the consensus response is, I think I’m working harder than I need or want to with the [irons in my bag] compared to these.
That’s the point of the G20 irons — they make golf a little easier. I’ve had more “good misses” in just a handful of weeks with them in the bag than the balance of the year with “players” irons. In casual rounds those extra chances make the game funner — in tournament golf those chances can add up to making cuts, taller trophies, and bigger paychecks. And while I may put a more traditional 60* back in the bag, there will definitely be some shots I’ll wish I had the G20 Lob Wedge for. I have no doubt most golfers will score better with the full G20 wedge compliment. As for the SGI Irons/Single-Digit Handicap Experiment: I have to say that I could play a set of SGIs … and probably score better with them. If I did, my inner club ho ego would surely choose a set that has a professional tour presence — and that means Ping. If I had to characterize the G20s today, I’d best describe them as a Players SGI … if you catch my drift. And in that category, I’m not seeing anyone who’s doing them better.
More to come…
Click here to see the original thread and discussion in the forums… http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/topic/532085-ping-g20-irons-a-players-sgi/