PING GMax Irons Reviews (2016)
This is a full review of the PING GMax game-improvement iron set. Along with the G Series iron, the GMax features PING’s “revolutionary” COR-Eye Technology which increases face flexion for faster ball speeds and distance across the face. The focus of the GMax iron is huge distance and generous forgiveness.
Does the GMax live up to PING’s claims of excellence? Is it worth it? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Read on to find out what you need to know to make an informed purchase.
What are the reviews like?
With average consumer ratings of 5/5 on Global Golf, 4.8/5 on the DSG website and 5/5 on Golfsmith, as well as generally positive verdicts from critics, the beginner-friendly GMax has been received very well since its initial release. People are really amazed with the durability, high launch, good distance and extreme forgiveness offered. In terms of negatives, some are a little put off by the heavy and very chunky clubhead, and many low-to-mid handicappers feel that there’s not much in the GMax that appeals to them.
What are the features?
Like the G Series iron, the GMax features PING’s COR-Eye Technology, which generates faster ball speeds and more distance through the simultaneous activation of the face, sole and top rail. The technology increases face flexion substantially, producing a powerful sound and about a 3 mph faster ball speed than previous PING iron models. This effect extends across the entire face, meaning mis-hits are forgiven with longer and straighter results.
Also similar to the G, the 4-8 irons of the GMax have undergone a specialized heat treating process to create a Hyper 17-4 alloy that is 40% stronger than traditional 17-4 stainless steel; this allows the face to be made thinner for greater flexing and faster ball speeds.
The Custom Tuning Port (CTP), concealed in a new cavity structure, connects to the wide sole and allows the center of gravity (CG) to be moved low and back for high MOI (forgiveness) and a higher launch. Solid contact and painless turf interaction is just about ensured with an enhanced leading edge, more trailing-edge relief and refined bounce. The 4-6 irons have lighter swingweights making it easier to square the face for more distance and straighter ball flights. The visual aspects of the GMax irons are discussed in more detail later in the review.
Two stock shaft options (CFS Distance and CFS Graphite) as well as four aftermarket shaft options are available with the GMax irons that allow for customization of ball flight and feel. Details on associated shafts and grips can be found on the official PING website. Below are the specifications of the GMax:
|Name||Loft||Length||Offset||Lie||Bounce Width||Swing Weight||Hand|
How do these irons perform?
Distance/Distance Control: The low/back CG position combined with the heat-treated face and COR-Eye Technology produce some pretty amazing distance results, particularly for players who struggle with an overly low trajectory. The GMax is a distance iron without question. When it comes to distance control, short iron numbers are very consistent and reliable. During my testing I found that similar swings and similar face contact yields very similar results in terms of carry and roll. Overall there’s not much to complain about here.
Forgiveness: Forgiveness is the GMax’s specialty. Indeed, I found that it does a great job of minimizing slice/hook sidespin and sending the ball high and straight. Long irons are easy to hit thanks to the high-MOI high-offset design. In addition to directional forgiveness, the GMax also is excellent at preserving height, ball speed and distance on mis-hits. The end result is that it’s more difficult to hit disastrous shots with the GMax than better-player irons and even many game-improvement models. Even the worst of golfers should see very noticeable improvements in their ball flight.
Ball Flight/Playability: The typical ball flight for a solid strike is high and straight; what’s great is that I could hit all over the club face and not see much deviation in this behaviour. Long iron shots have a nice soaring trajectory that carries quite a long way. The natural downside of this is you lose the piercing, low-spin quality that many strong swingers are looking for. Nevertheless, the GMax is super easy to hit all throughout the set. Wedges slide easily under the ball around the greens. The thick clubhead and wide sole are great for powering through rough. Workability is limited with the long irons but very possible to shape shots with the mid and short irons.
What about look, sound and feel?
Look: The GMax has a super game-improvement look with a thick top line, very wide sole, long blade length and significant amount of offset (offset and blade length increases as you move down the numbers) — certainly thicker than the G series iron and G30 iron. The design is rounded and clean.The trailing edge of the head is cambered to allow for better turf interaction. The blue/black/silver badge design on the back is simple and effective aesthetic. All in all the GMax iron inspires a lot of confidence at address for the high-handicapper. Some people may be a little put off by the chunkiness, but what’s nice is that most of these attributes are hidden at address for a more streamlined appearance.
Sound and Feel: One thing I noticed is that the shorter irons tend to sound a bit like fairway woods; towards the long irons the sound and feel gets a little hollow and “clicky”, but I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily bad. I think whether or not you’re in love with the sound and feel will depend on your personal tastes. They’re not my favourite in the case of the GMax, but to each their own. What I do like is the fact that mis-hits and solid strikes sound and feel very similar (but not enough to be indistinguishable) — this is perfect for the high-handicapper not interested in overly blunt feedback. Overall, I would say PING does not disappoint here especially taking into account the type of iron this is being marketed as.
Where should I buy these irons online?
New and used PING GMax irons are being sold in all different configurations, shaft types and dot colours on eBay — click here to get discounted prices (I kid you not, they may be the best prices you’ll find anywhere online). I would also recommend checking out the current deals for GMax irons on Global Golf and Golfsmith here. Prices are always changing but these are the best places to look currently. Golfsmith offers a free online SmartFit fitting for custom-built GMax irons, but this option won’t be around forever — click here to get there.
If you aren’t sure which dot colour is right for you, you can do the following: measure both your height and the distance from the ground to your wrist when standing naturally, and then match these two measurements to a PING colour code chart to find a lie setting that works for you.
Rating: 4.5/5 (Great)
Pros: Springboard-like launch with long carry is a great boon for hacks who struggle to get height on their shots; high, straight, very forgiving trajectory with excellent ball speed retention across the face; consistent ball flight; super easy to hit long irons; confidence-inspiring look at address
Cons: Thick/big clubhead can turn off some players; some find the sound/feel to be a little strange; wedges can feel a bit clumsy around the greens
Classification: Max Game-Improvement
Best suited for: Those looking for higher, straighter shots and superb mis-hit forgiveness.
Best places to buy online: Please see the buying section with links directly above.
The PING GMax continues the tradition of quality engineering and performance PING has come to be known for. It is a definite improvement over its predecessor, the Karston iron, and golfers looking for a higher launch and maximum forgiveness in their iron game should seriously consider giving it a try.
If you have any thoughts or questions about PING’s GMax irons, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!