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The Inside Tour: GolfWRX Visits PING Headquarters

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by SheriffBooth

It started with a telephone call from Rob (HipCheck).  In a nutshell, he told me that PING had invited two representatives from GolfWRX to come to Phoenix and check out some new gear.  HipCheck’s long-planned family vacation conflicted with PING timeline, so he needed someone to take his place?

It took me about two seconds to check my schedule and say, “Yes!”  I asked him what we would be doing and he said that PING wouldn’t tell him, just that Ben Jackson and I would be flying to Phoenix on June 28.  It’s tough not be excited about a super secret trip to PING Headquarters.

Our best guess was that we were going to learn about the replacement for the S56 irons, which seemed about right in the product cycle … boy, were wrong.  Wrong, not only about the subject matter, but also the scope of what we were about to preview.

Our PING host took Ben and I out for some dinner and then it was lights out. Friday promised to be a full day.

Wake up call at 5:45am, quick shower and downstairs for a bite of breakfast before the ride over to PING.  In the lobby I bumped into none other than GolfWRX’s own Greg Moore (pga43) who was along to take all the pictures for the trip.  He had gotten in late from whichever professional golf event he had been photographing, was going to hang with us for the day, and then was off again to his next stop.  Greg is the dictionary definition of “frequent flyer”.

Our day at PING started bright and early at 6:45am.  First stop was at PING’s front door, the Redwood Building, which is their main front office where anyone off the street can pop in for a fitting, demo new PING products, or see about having their sticks adjusted.  Here we were taken on a private tour of the manufacturing facilities.  First we were shown a video on the history of Karsten Solheim and PING and then we were off to the factory floor.  As we left this first building, and even though it was still before 7:30am, there were already a couple of members of the general public milling around in the parking lot, PING clubs in hand, looking for an adjustment or a refitting.


Then it was off to the iron assembly building.  It was immediately clear that although our day had just begun, the folks assembling clubs for PING had been at it for a while already as it was bustling!  We saw the assembly of a set of irons from start to finish, from order ticket through to loft and lie adjustments.  PING’s assembly line is a series of stations, with each station responsible for a specific task in any given set of clubs, whether it be gluing or gripping or bending.  Each station rotates periodically, so every person on the floor handles any given task from time to time, and every set of irons touches a lot of hands on its way to being completed and shipped.  I was most surprised by the loft and lie adjustment stations; no robots or bending machines, just a guy with a giant wrench and a rubber mallet wailing on hosels.  You wouldn’t believe how hard they hit the clubs to make minor adjustments, but each iron gets a hard whack and then onto the laser to measure the change, and then another whack and so on until it’s right.  Very cool.

Next we were on to the building where they assemble the woods.  Very similar setup as irons, but we caught this crew on a rest break so this room was much quieter.  Since it wasn’t so busy I took the time to look around a little more and noticed a chart on the wall.  Basically, it was an employee longevity chart that showed how long everyone in that team had been with PING.  What impressed me the most about this chart was the volume of employees that had been with PING for a long period of time.  It seemed to me that the lion’s share of folks working had been there for 10 years or more.  Apparently PING employees like working for the company, and PING clearly prides itself on this point.

Next stops were the putter assembly and golf bag assembly buildings.  One of the neatest things about the putter room was watching the shaft bending – the “double bend” shaft goes into the putter head straight, and then depending on whether the putter is for a straight stroke or a slight arc, the shafts double bends are slightly different.  Very cool to watch the same head come out face balanced or with slight toe hang purely depending on the bend of the shaft.

The bag room was also amazing, with its giant computer sewing machines working overtime to personalize bags.  While we were there they were putting the finishing touches on a set of bags for the University of Tennessee Lady Vols golf team.

By this time it was almost 9am, and our host said we needed to get over to the product development and engineering area for our first looks at the real reason we were there.  Don’t get me wrong, touring the manufacturing floors was awesome, but this is where my senses really started to tingle.  We were going into the belly of the beast.

At this point we were led to a conference room and told we were going to be meeting with Brad Schweigert, Ping’s Director of Engineering, and Senior Design Engineers Mike Nicolette and Marty Jertson.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when we sat down – there on the table, cut in half, was a new driver, new fairway wood and new iron head, not to mention two wedge heads, one with grooves and one with a smooth face.  And leaning against the wall was a fully assembled set of new clubs – Anser driver, Answer fairways, Anser hybrids, and Anser irons!

Click here to read about the new Anser driver, fairways, and hybrids
Click here to read about the new Anser irons
Click here to read about the new Tour wedges

The presentation lasted about an hour, and at about the twenty minute mark I started to get ants in my pants.  I knew the next stop was the driving range and I couldn’t wait to get out there, even if it was 100+ degrees in the shade.  Oh, did I mention that PING has a 350+ yard test range on campus?

Presentation over, it was straight to the range for driver fitting.  PING had two nFlight stations set up for Ben and I, and a full complement of driver heads and shafts for us to try out.  My current driver is a Rapture V2, so I was excited to see how this new offering compared.

My first impression was that the Anser has a slightly rounder profile than the more pear shaped Rapture and i20, but nowhere near the head depth front to back of the G20.  I immediately liked the way it sat behind the ball – very square to perhaps slightly open on the neutral setting.  With my Rapture I have to manipulate the face just a bit to get it square while the Anser naturally sits the way I prefer.

We worked our way through all the shaft offerings and I had decent results with the Blur and the PING TFC shaft.  But the shining star in my testing was the Mitsubisi Diamana ‘ahina.  I didn’t get a picture of my launch monitor numbers like Ben (needless to say, I don’t hit it anywhere near as far as him), but even with my 100mph swingspeed the ‘ahina was the champ – better spin and carry numbers overall.  The great thing about the Anser shaft choices is there should be a stock shaft that works well for just about every golfer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we had our driver numbers dialed in, and we were all sufficiently wowed by watching Ben one hop balls into the fence at the end of the range, it was off to famed local eatery Chino-Bandido.  Here, I refueled on a startlingly delicious fusion of Mexican and Chinese cuisine – my plate consisted of jade red chicken (like General Tso’s), pork carnitas, fried rice, and refried beans.  It was so surprisingly good that it made me wonder why there weren’t more joints like this in every town.

Back to PING campus after lunch, and straight to the milling center.  This was the building where all of the milled putters are machined and now where the Gorge grooves on the Tour wedges will be added to the blanks.  We got to see the wedge milling process from start to finish, and also got to see a number of Nome putters through their various stages of completion. The milling room runs 22 hours a day 7 days a week producing the worlds supply of Nome putters and new Tour wedges with Gorge grooves. Wow.

After the milling room, it was back out to the range for some time with the new Anser irons, and a visit from Marty Jertson.  PING had produced special GolfWRX targets that were now out on the range for our iron testing, and Ben and I played a game of driving range “WRX” with Marty (a recent PGA Championship qualifier).  Basically, we tried to copy each others shotmaking, and the worst shot got a letter.  Neither Ben nor I could get a letter on Marty.


The next stop on this day-long PING odyssey was none other than the famed WRX department.  Yes, GolfWRX visiting PING WRX.  Our mission was to build our own set of Gorge lob wedges in each of the three sole configurations.  So with the help of the expert hands in WRX department, Ben and I assembled six wedges.  I even got to bang mine with a hammer a few times to get the lie angle right.

While our wedges were curing up, we took a walk down to the holiest of holy spots on the PING campus – the PING Putter Vault.  This is, of course, where PING keeps the solid gold putters that it makes for all of its tour winners and other special clubs.  We got to see the Bubba gold gap wedge and the Oosthuizen gold 4-iron, not to mention a gold Azinger Eye2 sand wedge and a ton of Westwood and Ballesteros gold putters.  The place was full to the brim, and it won’t be long before they’re going to need to expand or relocate.

Back out to the range for our final hour on PING campus and some testing of our newly built Gorge wedges.  This was the highlight of the day for me, as Mike Nicolette gave me an impromptu short game lesson.  All told, he spent at least a half hour giving me pointers and tweaks to get the most out of my wedge game.  The Gorge wedges have a very similar setup and feel to the Tour-S wedges that I’m currently playing, but with a Dark Satin finish that looks great.  Since we did not have them in play on the course, and I did not have my wedges with me to compare, it was difficult to evaluate the new grooves, but I take PING’s claims at face value.

By now it was after 5pm, and Ben and I had been outside in the blast furnace heat for quite a bit of the day.  I’m not sure how many balls I had hit throughout the day, but in the last hour alone with Nicolette I’d hit a large tray.  I was bushed.  Ben and Greg and I headed back to the hotel and back to our lives. It was an incredible visit and we saw some amazing things.  PING is definitely building on the success of the i20 line, and the new Anser clubs and Gorge wedges made a great first impression.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE HUNDREDS OF PICTURES FROM THE PING TOUR.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Don Hecht

    Apr 21, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    I need a soft flex replacement shaft for a Rapture Ping Driver?

  2. Joe7gd4

    Jul 29, 2012 at 8:38 am

    what Ruby replied I cant believe that a mom can profit $4871 in a few weeks on the computer. did you see this webpage (Click on menu Home more information) http://goo.gl/l4s2I

  3. hvilletn

    Jul 25, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Wish my trip to Phoenix would have been similar to yours. Unfortunately, I spent lots of money (flight, hotel, car) visiting and was underwhelmed with the experience. Was fit indoors (no outdoor fittings) and felt the fitting was not anything better than I could have received locally. Big disappointment. I still have a bag full of PING clubs so it didn’t persuade me away from their gear (great stuff). However, I read these posts and it just makes me more jealous that I didn’t have this kind of experience there. If you ever want someone to tag along for another excursion like this one please let me know and I will pony up to get there. Nice write up and looking forward to seeing the new stuff soon!

  4. 2putttom

    Jul 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Im curious…are the heads forged in USA or else where and assembled in Phoenix?

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Whats in the Bag

Anirban Lahiri WITB 2020

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  • WITB accurate as of January 2020

Driver (two models): Titleist TS3 (9.5 degrees, D4 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Silver 130 M.S.I. 60 TX

anirban-lahiri-witb-2020

3-wood: Callaway Epic Flash (15 degrees, DS OptiFit setting)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Blue 70 TX

anirban-lahiri-witb-2020

5-wood: Ping G410 (17.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Blue 80 TX

anirban-lahiri-witb-2020

Hybrid: PXG 0317 X (22 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi MMT UT 105 TX

anirban-lahiri-witb-2020

Irons: Srixon Z 785 (4), Srixon Z 945 (5-PW)
Shafts: Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 Tour 120 X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7  (50-12M)
*We were unable to photograph Lahiri’s other wedges

Putter: Toulon Design Austin Stroke Lab

Putter: OnOff Prototype

 

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A Deep Dive: The equipment timeline of David Duval, 1993-2001

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Like Tiger, David Toms, and Fred Couples there are certain players that I have been obsessed with for years. If you go to my Instagram, you can see it in plain sight. When it comes to DD it was more than the what, it was the why, the how that sparked my curiosity. Let’s face it, in 2000 with the Mossimo gear, Oakley shades, jacked-up physique, and on Titleist staff, was there ever a cooler looking player?

No. There wasn’t or isn’t.

That’s where my interest in Larry Bobka came about. I saw David and Larry walking the fairways of Sahalee at the ’98 PGA Championship.

At the time, I was already knee-deep in David Duval fandom but that experience took me over the top. Bobka had a handful of clubs in his hands and would pass DD a 970 3-wood, Duval would give it a rip and the two would discuss while walking down the fairway. Of all my time watching live golf, I have never been so awestruck.

This is an homage to David’s equipment during his prime/healthy years on the PGA Tour. From his early days with Mizuno, into the Titleist days, and finally Nike.

1993-1995 Mizuno

*This was an interesting time for Duval from an equipment standpoint. The pattern of mixing sets to put together his bag began and it was the time he transitioned from persimmon (Wood Bros driver) into metal woods. It was also the beginning of his long relationship with Scotty Cameron, a relationship that still stands today.

What was in the bag

Driver: TaylorMade Tour Burner 8.5 w/ Dynamic Gold X100 (*he also played with the Bubble XHKP Prototype)

3-wood

King Cobra @14 w/ Dynamic Gold X100

TaylorMade Tour Issue Spoon @13  w/ Dynamic Gold X100

Irons

1993: (1) Ping Eye2, (3-PW) Mizuno Pro TN-87 with Dynamic Gold X100

1994: (1) Ping Eye2, (3-PW) Mizuno Pro TN-87 with Dynamic Gold X100

1995: (2,3) Mizuno TC-29, (4-PW) Mizuno TN-87 with Dynamic Gold X100

Wedges: Mizuno Pro (53, 58) with Dynamic Gold X100

Putter: Scotty Cameron Classic Newport (35 inches, 71 lie, 4 degrees of loft)

Ball: Titleist Tour Balata 100

Glove: Mizuno Pro

1996-2000 Titleist

The beginning of the Titleist years started off quietly. There wasn’t any new product launched and David wasn’t quite the star he would become 12-18 months later. However, it gave Titleist the opportunity to get to know DD and his overall preferences, which aren’t dramatic but certainly unique. He didn’t win in 1996 but did qualify for the Presidents Cup Team and finished that event off at 4-0. So the buzz was going in the right direction and his peers certainly took notice.

It was 1997 that things took off on all fronts and it was the year that Titleist made David Duval the face of the DCI brand and with that decision spawned the greatest cast players cavity ever: the 962B—and also equipped David Duval to go on a 3-year run that was surpassed by only Tiger Woods.

Hence the deep dive article I wrote up earlier this month

What was in the bag

Driver

1996

TaylorMade Bubble Tour 8.5 w/ Bubble XHKP Prototype

1997

TaylorMade Bubble Tour 8.5 w/ Bubble XHKP Prototype

King Cobra Deep Face 9 w/ Dynamic Gold X100

Callaway Warbird Great Big Bertha 6.5 w/ Dynamic Gold X100, True Temper EI70 Tour X

Titleist 975D 6.5 (no line heavier head weight) w/ Fujikura Prototype X

1998

Callaway Warbird Great Big Bertha 6.5 w/ True Temper EI70 Tour X

Titleist 975D 6.5 (no line heavier head weight) w/ True Temper EI70 Tour X

1999: Titleist 975D 6.5 (no line heavier head weight) @ 7.5 w/ True Temper EI70 Tour X

2000: Titleist 975D 7.5 (no line heavier head weight) w/ True Temper EI70 Tour X

3-wood

1996

King Cobra @14 w/ True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

1997 

King Cobra @14 w/ True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

1998

Callaway S2H2 (1 Dot) @14 w/ Fujikura Vista Pro 90X


Callaway Steelhead 3+ @13 w/ RCH 90 Pro Series Strong

Titleist 970 (Dark Grey Head) @13 w/ True Temper EI70 Tour X (only tested this one)

1999

Callaway S2H2 (1 Dot) @14 w/ Fujikura Vista Pro 90X

Cobra Gravity Back 14.5T w/ True Temper EI70 Tour X

Irons

1996

(2-PW) Titleist DD Blank Prototype w/ True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 (w/sensicore)

(2-PW) Titleist DCI Black “B” w/ True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 (w/sensicore)

*This prototype set was a blank set of the DCI Black “B” but with sole modifications. 

1997, 1998, 1999, 2000: (2,3) Titleist DCI Black (4-PW) Titleist DCI 962B w/ True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 (with sensicore)

*David liked the original prototype version of DG Sensicore X100 that had weight removed from the center of shaft to create better feel and a slightly higher trajectory

24 Feb 2000: David Duval watches the ball after hitting it during the World Match-Play Championships at the La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California. Mandatory Credit: Harry How /Allsport

Wedges

1996: (52 @53, 58) Mizuno Pro, (56 @57) Cleveland 588 RTG w/ True Temper Dynamic Gold S400

1997: (53) Cobra “Trusty Rusty”, (57 @58) Cleveland 588 RTG, (58) Titleist Bobka Grind, (57 @58) Cobra Trusty Rusty w/ True Temper Dynamic Gold S400

1998: (53) Cobra “Trusty Rusty”, (57 @58) Cleveland 588 RTGw/ True Temper Dynamic Gold S400

1999: (53) Cobra “Trusty Rusty”, (57 @58) Cleveland 588 RTG w/ True Temper Dynamic Gold S400

2000: (53) Cobra “Trusty Rusty”, (57 @58) Cleveland 588 “Gun Metal” w/ True Temper Dynamic Gold S400

PUTTER

1996: Scotty Cameron Classic Newport 1 35 Inches, 71 Lie, 4 Degrees of Loft, Scotty Cameron Long Slant Neck Laguna Custom (double welded neck)

1997: Odyssey Dual Force Rossie 2, Scotty Cameron Pro Platinum Newport “Beached”  35 Inches, 71 Lie, 4 Degrees of Loft w/ PingMan “Blacked Out” Grip

1998, 1999, 2000: Scotty Cameron Pro Platinum Newport “Beached”  35 Inches, 71 Lie, 4 Degrees of Loft w/ PingMan “Blacked Out” Grip

2001: Nike Golf and The Open Championship

The relationship with Titleist Golf ended quickly and when David showed up to Kapalua with a non-Titleist stand bag the rumor mill went nuts. The story (although super speculative) was that David opted out in the middle of a $4.5 million per year deal with Acushnet, a lawsuit followed, but Davids’s stance was that he had a marquee player clause that allowed him to walk if he wasn’t “marquee” aka highest-paid.

Apparently he had a point, Acushnet had recently inked big deals with Davis Love and Phil Mickelson leading someone on the outside to do the math. However, I’m not an attorney, wasn’t there, and have no clue what the legality of any of it was. Point is, he walked and landed at Nike with a new head-to-toe contract. 

 

DRIVER:

Titleist 975D 7.5 (no line heavier head weight) w/ True Temper EI70 Tour X

Titleist 975E Prototype 8.5 w/ True Temper EI70 Tour X

Nike Titanium w/ True Temper EI-70 II Tour X (pictured below)

Nike Titanium Prototype 7.5 w/ True Temper EI70 Tour X (featured image)

3 WOOD:

Callaway Steelhead Plus 4+ @15 w/ RCH 90 Pro Series Strong

Nike Prototype @14 degrees w/ True Temper EI-70 Tour X

Sonartec/Excedo (SS-03 head) Driving Cavity @14 w/ Fujikura Vista Pro 90X

IRONS:

(2-PW) Titleist 990B w/ True Temper Dynamic Gold X100  (with sensicore)

(2-PW) Nike Prototype “DD” Grind MB w/ True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 (with sensicore)

(2) Titleist DCI Black w/ True Temper Dynamic Gold X100  (with sensicore)

 

WEDGES: 

(53) Cobra “Trusty Rusty”, (57 @58) Cleveland 588 “Gun Metal” w/ True Temper Dynamic Gold S400

(53,58) Nike DD Grind w/ True Temper Dynamic Gold S400

PUTTER: Scotty Cameron Pro Platinum Newport “Beached”  35 Inches, 71 Lie, 4 Degrees of Loft w/ PingMan “Blacked Out” Grip

SPEC TALK

Over the years the one constant was David’s iron and wedge specs. As a shut-faced player he has always favored traditional lofts in his irons. However, a cool thing to note is his lie angles remained constant 59.5 (2-4), 60 (5-9). The running theory here was being a shallow (low hands) and shut faced player, keeping the lie angles at a constant (flatter) lie angle allowed him to feel like his angle of attack could remain the same for each iron. It’s just a feeling but that’s what he did. If the “why of it” is true, it looks like he was doing Bryson things before Bryson did.

David Duval Iron/Wedge Specs

Loft/Lie/Length/SW

  • 2-17/59.5/40.25/D5
  • 3-20.5/59.5/39 1/6/D4
  • 4-24/59.5/38 9/16/D4
  • 5-27/60/38 1/16/D4
  • 6-30.5/60/ 37 9/16/D4
  • 7-35/60/37 1/16/D4
  • 8-39/60/36 9/16/D4
  • 9-43/60/36 5/16/D4
  • P-47/61/36/ 1/16/D5
  • GW-53/62/35 5/8/D4
  • LW-58/62/35 9/16/D6

Whew…since this prolific run, David transitioned into some interesting projects with smaller companies like Scratch, B.I.G Golf (AKA Bio-engineered in Germany), back to the mainstream with Nike, and most currently Cobra Golf.

I hope you all enjoyed this walk down memory lane with me, Duval is not only fascinating from a career standpoint but digging into the equipment of DD has been quite the experience.

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“Why can’t I hit my new irons to a consistent distance?” – GolfWRXers have their say

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In our forums, our members have been discussing irons and how to hit your numbers consistently. WRXer ‘Hubb1e’, who is a 15 handicap, is having issues and says:

“I recently upgraded from 20 year old Taylor Made 360 irons to a set of custom-built Callaway Apex 19 Forged irons. Old irons were traditional cavity back. New irons are categorized as players distance irons. Both have the same fit.

My new 3 iron will go 230 yards or 130 yards and not even make it far enough to reach the fairway. My new 7 iron will typically go 160 yards but will often will fly 175 yards or drop out of the air at 120 yards. I can’t control the distances of my new irons, and I spent a fortune custom fitting them to my swing. Why is this happening? This was never an issue with my old irons. A bad hit would go 10-20% shorter, but I never had balls fly over the green or completely fall out of the air. What is going on with my new equipment?”

Our members offer up their solutions in our forum.

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.

  • ThreeBoxers: “Strike quality is your answer. Tech or no tech, irons will not have 50-yard distance discrepancies. Not super familiar with the Apex irons, but they’re pretty forgiving no? You might lose 10 yards on toe or heel strikes but 40, 50? You’re probably hitting it heavy. If they have a beveled edge, it may mask the feeling of hitting it fat a bit, but not the result. My Mizunos have a pretty aggressive front edge grind which helps a ton on heavy shots. It’s the difference between landing 15 yards short and 50 yards short. +1 on using foot spray to check impact.”
  • extrastiff: “It also would not hurt to check your swing speed. Even strike being terrible that’s a large discrepancy. Maybe your last build had a weight that helped you get consistent swing speed.”
  • WristySwing: “I would say inconsistent strike is the biggest issue. Now that can mean a couple of things. It could mean you, as in the person swinging, are not hitting the ball properly because of inconsistent delivery. The other option is the fit is bad, and it is causing you to be extremely inconsistent because you cannot feel the head. It might be a little bit of column A and column B. However, I would lean more towards column A in this scenario because even a horrifically misfit set someone could get used to it eventually and not have 100 yards of discrepancy in carry shot to shot. I’ve seen people who are playing 50g ladies flex irons with fat wide soles who are very shallow and swing a 6i 92mph still not have 100 yards of carry flux with their sets. If your miss is toe-side 9/10x that is because you are coming too far from the inside. When you get too stuck on the inside you typically stall and throw your arms at it. When you break your wrists (flip)/throw your arms at it you get a very inconsistent low point average that often manifests in extremely fat or thin strikes….typically fat since your squat and rotate is out of sync with your release. As others have said, get some impact tape/foot powder spray and see where you are actually making contact. Then if you can get on a video lesson and see what the issue is. As of right now, we can all only assume what is going on. If your low point control is good, you don’t get stuck, and you are hitting it in the middle of the head — then fit comes into question.”
  • larryd3: “I”d be on the phone to my fitter and setting up a time to go back in and see what’s going on with the irons. You shouldn’t be getting those types of results with a properly fit set of irons. When I got my fitting earlier this year at TrueSpec, the fitter, after watching me hit a bunch with my current irons, focused on increasing the spin on my irons, not on distance but on consistency. So far, they seem to be working well when I put a decent swing on them.”
  • fastnhappy: “One possibility that wouldn’t necessarily show up indoors is sole design and turf interaction. You may have a real problem with the newer clubs because of a sole design that doesn’t work for your swing. That’s hard to tell when hitting inside off a mat. If so, you’d see major distance inconsistency because of strike. The feedback I’ve seen on the players distance irons is exactly what you’re describing… difficult to control distance.”

Entire Thread: “Why can’t I hit my new irons to a consistent distance?”

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