PING i Irons Review (2016)
Here I’ll be fully reviewing the PING i iron set. As the first PING iron to feature 431 stainless steel, which has a high strength-to-weight ratio and inherent softer feel, the i iron is designed to deliver maximum workability and precise control with just enough forgiveness for the demanding better player.
Is the i iron good enough to appeal to the best players and even higher-handicaps alike? Where does it shine and where does it lack? Is it worth trying? Read on to find out what you need to know to make an informed purchase.
What are the reviews like?
The i irons have been received extremely well; in fact, many people feel that these are PING’s best-feeling and best-performing irons yet. Consider the fact that they have perfect 5-star ratings on both Global Golf and Golfsmith (consumer reviews here), as well as perfect ratings from just about all professional critic websites.
People love the progressive design of the set, which allows for higher and easier shots with the long irons and maximum controllability with the short irons. Also praised is a high launch, flexible workability and impressive amount of forgiveness. In terms of negatives, they generally don’t deliver the raw ball speed power and distance of many of the hotter-faced irons on the market like the Callaway Apex CF 16.
What are the features?
The i iron is custom-engineered with weight-saving 431 stainless steel; combined with a deeper Custom Tuning Port (CTP) position, this allows for expanded perimeter weighting in a head design that brings workability and trajectory (along with decent forgiveness) to the forefront.
As touched upon in the previous section, the i irons feature a progressive design. The long irons have larger head sizes and a low/back center of gravity (CG) position designed to forgive and get the ball up in the air, while the short irons have smaller heads designed for precision and control. According to PING, the lengths and lofts are optimized through the set to increase distance with proper gapping.
The sole is engineered to easily glide through the turf, encouraging solid contact more often even if the ground is hit slightly before the ball. The bounce profile is optimized to be versatile and perform well in all different types of conditions.
The i irons come stock with two shaft options: CFS Distance (steel) and CFS Graphite. Four aftermarket shaft options are also available for those not satisfied with the standard offerings: the N.S. Pro Modus3 105, XP 95, Dynamic Gold and Project X. All of these shaft options accommodate a wide spectrum of swing types and feel preferences. For more information on associated shafts and grips, see the PING website. The specifications of the i irons are as follows:
|Name||Loft||Length||Offset||Lie||Bounce Width||Swing Weight||Hand|
How do these irons perform?
Distance: Although the i irons don’t necessarily specialize in high COR (a “hot” face), they are a bit longer than the previous i25 irons which is a very pleasant added bonus. Distance with the i irons usually comes from a higher long iron trajectory with good ball speed preservation across the entire face.
Forgiveness: One thing the i iron really excels at is balancing performance – precise control and workability — with great forgiveness. It may not have as much raw forgiveness as a game-improvement iron like the PING G series, for example, but it’s more than adequate for better players who want a high degree of control over their ball without suffering overly harsh penalties for mis-hits. The moment of inertia (MOI) of the i irons is the same as with the i25, and thus the i iron handles hits towards the heel and toe just as nicely. Overall, I’d venture to say that it’s one of the most forgiving players irons out on the market right now.
Ball Flight/Playability: Shots with the i irons typically fly straight, but the flight can be modified quite easily by competent players (high, low, draws, cuts, etc.). Long irons can fly high enough to land relatively softly into greens, and short irons have a nice medium trajectory that can be directed at will. Not surprisingly, the iron is effective out of just about every type of lie from the short grass to the rough to the bunker; the sole does indeed do a good job of powering through the resistance in its way.
What about look, sound and feel?
Look: The i iron looks similar to the i25 in many ways with its average blade length, moderately thick top line and sole and minimal amount of offset (slightly less than that of the i25). There are several pretty important distinctions, however; the Custom Tuning Port is much less conspicuous, and the tungsten weight in the toe of the long irons is now very difficult to see. The iron has a satin-brushed finish with a simple blue/black/gray badge design. At address the iron doesn’t look overly thin nor does it look overly chunky. I think it’s a superb look that can inspire confidence in professionals, low handicaps and even mid handicaps thanks to its game-improvement qualities.
Sound and Feel: Excellent. One thing I noticed right away when testing the i irons was that they feel very soft (yet solid) at impact. That’s not to say they feel mushy, because they don’t. They are supposed to be softer than the i25s and I definitely found that to be the case — I’m sure this is due to the 431 stainless steel head construction. Hit feedback is clear and fairly easy to analyze. The 3-9 irons are one grade heavier than the i25s in terms of swing weight, but in practice it’s hard to feel the difference.
Where should I buy these irons online?
Currently, new and used PING i 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 strongly suggest checking out the current deals for i irons on Global Golf. Prices are always changing but these are the some of the best places to look right now.
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: 4.9/5 (a MUST-try)
Pros: Very workable yet forgiving; long irons are easy to hit and get up in the air; beautifully soft impact feel with good weighting throughout the swing; playable; classy look
Cons: Clubhead is a little thicker than some skilled players would like; impact feel might not be everyone’s cup of tea
Best suited for: Golfers looking to make their first foray into the realm of better-player irons, or golfers looking for a balanced blend of workability and forgiveness.
Best places to buy online: Please see the buying section with links directly above.
The PING i Series iron is a fantastic better-player offering that provides softer feel, more distance and a more modern look than the previous model i25. Their use will only become more common as time passes, not only on Tour (with pros like Lee Westwood and Mark Wilson currently putting them in the bag) but on golf courses and ranges around the world. If you want the workability and feel benefits that slimmer irons offer but don’t want to part completely with mis-hit forgiveness, these head-turners are a must-try.