Pros: Great Distance, Excellent Balance, Very Forgiving, Good Looking Too!
Cons: Pings are never cheap, but they do retain their value better than most.
The Ping I 20’s are probably going to be the only irons out there this year that I would match up against the Wilson Staff Ci 11’s. They too are, handsome, long, forgiving, and workable. In this day and age of uber-juiced iron lofts, more rounded soles, and feather weight shafts, it’s nice to see some folks, such as those at Ping and Wilson Staff win the battle without flashy colours, wild proclamations of new techno-gizmos, while slapping 55 gram shafts on a set of irons. I say more power to them both.
I realize it’s all well and good to wax and wane a little nostalgic for the old-fashioned approach, but Ping Irons have always had something new to add to the mix. From the Revolutionary and still Legendary Beryllium Copper Eye II’s to the massively long and equally revolutionary Rapture mixed material irons, Ping has always found a way to stay up high on the radar screen. Similarly, Wilson Irons have won more majors than any other maker, and that is the club category showing the strongest resurgence in Wilson’s herculean effort to resuscitate “The Wilson Staff” name.
It is rare that I hit a Ping Iron as long as a Wilson. Usually, I am rationalizing the fact that Pings don’t have as strong a loft, or that their more favoured use of offset relative to other’s Game-Improvement clubs tends to turn my natural pull into a hook. Not the case this time. These things are just as long as the Wilson’s, and a tad more workable. These are, in my humble opinion of course, a massive improvement over the I-15’s. I liked the I-15’s, but they didn’t represent the great leap forward from the I 10’s that the G-15’s did over the G 10’s (Another reason I didn’t review them last season.) Even my weakest hit, and I mean a wimpy 88 MPH 7 Iron against a two club wind was good for 152-156 yards. That was in lockstep with the Wilson Ci 11’s which I am currently hitting longer than any other club offering this year. Even further than last year’s Cobra S3 Irons.
Forgiveness—4 ½ Stars
I found the Wilson Ci 11’s forgive the toe hit more than these do, but that these forgive everything else as well as The Wilsons. I would also argue, as I do with myself on many occasions, that if a club is overly forgiving in this category, it can be detrimental to your swing. That's because they will play overly forgiving a a swing flaw or two that you really need to be made aware of. These are definitely Game Improvement Clubs meant to hit more like Player’s Cavity Backs than Super Game Improvement Cavity Backs. It is a very distinct category meant for those who hit in the 80’s and are striving to get to single digits. There is a certain amount of feel necessary to get there, and that often involves sacrificing a bit of forgiveness to achieve that end.
Which part of “S-U-H-W-E-E-E-E-T!” do I start with? These clubs are so well balanced it is almost frightenting. I did get that wonderful Zen-Like club head awareness thing going on. The club allowed me to feel it’s location from the initial shoulder turn in the backswing, all the way through to the back of the neck follow through. That, in conjunction with the less drastic offset on this iteration made working this the best experience I have ever had with Ping Irons. Left to Right, Right to Left, pretty easy stuff with these. No, they are not blades, but they are as workable as a Cavity Back gets in this category.
That’s saying a lot, because these are cast clubs. They are not forged, but you might not be able to tell unless you’ve hit some of the old Japanese Boutique Clubs which are usually used as the picture in the dictionary right next to the word--“Butter.” These are wonderful at impact. They have the “POP” of a cast club, but there is that split second of Cling which isn’t overly –muted by the elastomer vibration dampening shield on the back. That’s because this elastomer is slightly firmer than the marshmallow feeling stuff most makers are using. This will be the first year that I can remember Mizunos not having it all over Pings in The Feel Department. I'm still not saying that these feel forged, but they sure feel better than any cast club I've ever hit--including my beloved Wilsons.
Specs and Techs--5 Stars
As I said—Ping really went all out to build a better mousetrap. They have succeeded beyond anything I could have imagined. Both the G20 and I 20 show marked improvements over their G15 and I 15 predecessors. The lofts are still respectable enough for a real player to use, and not feel like he’s hitting a war club whose lofts have been juiced to the max, and mated to the lightest possible shaft. In fact, as is the case with most Ping Equipment, you have such a wide assortment of shafts to choose from, that it would be foolish for me to try and cover the specs of each and every variety. After all, Ping is famous for it’s process of fitting the club to the customer, from shafts, to lie angles, and even the grips. I highly recommend you take advantage of this, because it is certainly factored into the price. Pings have never been cheap. Here are the lofts:
Ping’s aren’t cheap, but there is a reason for that. They maintain their street value better than almost any other club on the market. They have a fitting process that works. People actually need to get trained and Certified by Ping in order to take a client through the fitting process. They work and they work well. Most other clubs in this price range usually lose a bit of credibility with me, because they tend to be riding on a reputation, and not offering the customer anything in return, such as a good club fitting. I’ll put it to you this way. When one of the few people who is crazy enough to golf with me on a regular basis went with me to—“The Trading Post.” He walked out of there about an hour later with a set of these on order. Hey—he’s got more dough than me, but he also has an opinion I value. (Not to mention--he's as cheap as I am, so ordering a set of these was a big step for him).
I still have a slight preference for the Wilson Ci11’s myself. It’s a matter of price point (Wilsons can be for 28-35% less) and swing weight. The Wilsons come in at my preferred Swing Weight of D2, vs. the somewhat feathery feeling D0 found on these. Still, to each his own. I’m sure Doug is going to be spanking that ball all over the course with these, as D0 is the Swing Weight that seems to agree with him.
I'd like to thank my CL Abraham for providing the product link that made this review possible