Ping iE1 irons – A Mid-Handicapper’s Dream Come True

Dec 22, 2015 by

Ping Golf is one of those companies that holds a sentimental grip on nearly every golfer’s heart.  Most of the frequent golfers I speak to opine wistfully over some piece of gear they let slip away.  All of them speak of a Ping putter, or that set of Eye 2s handed down to them as a kid.  For me, personally it was a set of Eye 2 Copper irons my Dad got me from an estate sale when I was a freshman in high school.  I played with those clubs through college (recreationally) and gave them back to my Dad when I bought a shiny set of some big company’s latest offering.  My dad, in turn, sold them to a guy he worked with, effectively losing them forever.  Since then I’ve chased the magic I felt with those old Pings, just coming up short every time.  Recently, though, Ping was kind enough to give me one more bite at the apple with their new player’s line, the Ping iE1.

Ping doesn’t release clubs at the same breakneck pace that other manufacturers do.  This is because Ping values engineering over marketing, rather than just selling a ton of something that will be obsolete before the grip wears out.  So, with the release of the iE1 irons, Ping has set the stage for multiple years worth of playability and value.  And, while Ping has never been a company positioned on the ‘shine’ of the clubs it makes, the iE1 has a modern color scheme and is most definitely not your father’s set of irons.

Technology

Ping packed a punch with the iE1 in terms of technology.  A few highlights:

  • 431 Stainless Steel Construction – For a softer feel from a casting, Ping goes with 431SS in the i series.  431SS offers little compromise in the strength to weight ratio, making for a workable-yet-forgiving iron
  • Deep CTP placement – Ping utilizes a soft polymer insert to distribute weight evenly along the head, allowing for a lower/more rear-placed Center of Gravity, bringing yet more forgiveness to a player’s club
  • Progressive Head Sizing – larger long irons that transition seamlessly into smaller short irons place emphasis where you need it most – forgiveness on longer shots and precision on shorter chips/approaches

In Play

So, how did they play in real world scenarios?  If you recall my review of the Cadence TR putter line, you will remember I utilized the nFlight fitting system to outfit an entire bag based on key measurements of my body and honest answers about my play.  At that time, the nFlight tool recommended a blue dot i series iron in 5-PW fitted with True Temper Dynamic Gold S300 shafts (stiff flex), so that is what Ping sent to review.  In order to test, I simply played them cold in live rounds, followed later by some set shots against my current set of gamers.

In live rounds, what I immediately noticed was feel.  My gamer set is forged, and while I am not a snob, depending on the set, it’s easy to pick up on the harshness of a cast club.  Not here.  The i series, on flush hits, felt as good as my forged gamers.  On mis-hits, they felt even better, muting much of the harshness felt with a forged set.  My elbows and wrists were sold at this point.  Another thing I picked up on quickly was that the i series was about a half club longer than my gamers, so there was a learning curve on shorter shots to avoid throwing shots well past the intended target.  Ping’s target player for these irons are low-mid handicap golfers, but I would argue that with the right shaft, a slower swing speed/marginal senior would really enjoy these irons.  As with most Ping irons I have played, they launch high, land soft and feel great.  Coming off 5 full rounds, my only real complaint is that I didn’t insist on a 4 iron in the set.  That said, if you are a player who prefers minimal offset, the S55 may be a better choice.  The offset on the iE1 was not aggressive, but definitely perceivable to the eye at address.

In between live rounds, I took them out with my current gamers to see how much longer they were, mostly focusing on short irons/wedge in order to determine the learning curve for players coming off older sets.  On average, the Ping iE1 was 7 yards longer than my current set, leaving me with some head-scratching at in-between distances.  My normal 7 iron shot is 165, so to have the same club in the 170s made approaches easier to manage, as I typically leave myself 175-180 out.   Any set that puts me in a shorter club for a fairway approach is a win in my book.  The distance, however, is a double-edged sword, because I found the pitching wedge less precise than my current set.  However, I know many players ditch the wedge for something custom (I currently do), so it’s more a matter of awareness than a true fault.  Mis-hits were definitely more forgiving, and on multiple occasions I hit what felt like perfect shots that lost no distance, only to look at the club face and see a ball mark far off-center.  Again, the Ping iE1 is a really solid iron choice for even higher handicap players.

The Ping iE1 retails for $999.99 (3-PW) and is available in a variety of shaft configurations (some at upcharge).  For more information, visit Ping Golf at http://www.ping.com.

 

 

 

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