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Home PING readies for a New Year

Looking for a new game in 2012? More often than not it begins with equipment for most recreational players as the annual pursuit of improvement begins. Meanwhile, golf is taking on a new look in the New Year.

Last year one company went an untraditional route and it appears (pun intended) that some others are building of off that. PING is a conservative company by nature, so you wouldn’t expect it to go down the road of, “blondes have more fun.” Instead the company has gone stealth, which perhaps is a facet of its corporate i20driverpersonality. The private, family owned business has introduced the i20 line, which includes driver, fairway woods, hybrids and irons. What may stand out immediately to golfers is the distinctive matte-black finish. But don’t let the look fool you, the line offers performance benefits that PING has become known for. The company also believes the i20s perform better than it looks. “The finish on the i20 has a distinct appearance but there is a function element to it,” explained Brad Schweigert, PING Director of Engineering. “There are times when reflections from electronic score boards or ‘quite please’ signs can be seen by TOUR players on the crown of the club even during the backswing. The finish on the i20 doesn’t have any glare or shadows. Even the white models can pick up shadows,” he said. “The matte-black finish just means business and it has a cool look. Its performance orientated and appeals to a players’ eye.” John A. Solheim, PING Chairman & CEO, stated, “The non-glare finish absorbs light, allowing the player to focus without distraction. Our tour pros are very enthusiastic about the finish – but even more so about the i20s’ performance. Players are able to execute any shot they want with confidence.”

The i20 driver features an aerodynamic crown that promotes greater club head speed and low spin. The head is built from Ti8-1-1, a light, low-density alloy, according to PING, that allows for weight distribution to increase MOI or resistance to twisting. Tungsten weights have also been added to improve the MOI and position the center of gravity in the club to help generate lower spin and a more penetrating flight trajectory. As previously mentioned the crown was engineered to reduce drag for improved club head speed and ball velocity. According to PING, Bubba Watson has dubbed the i20 driver, “awesome.”

“We learned with the i15 that even the best players want forgiveness,” said Schweigert. “The i20 is extremely forgiving and a game improvement driver. The aerodynamic head allows for faster club head speed and the center of gravity produces extremely low spin to the ball. A long time ago, a ball would start with low spin then rise quickly and drop out of the air. The i20 makes it possible to hit it high and allow the ball to flatten out at it highest point.”

Two shaft options are available in the i20 (U.S. MSRP: $385), a PING TFC (Tip, Flex, Control) 707D model or True Temper’s Project X Black (5.5, 6.0, and 6.5 flexes), which is new in 2012. PING is offering the i20 driver in 8.5°, 9.5° & 10.5° lofts. “Both shafts deliver a solid, stable feel and consistent performance,” Solheim said. “Our TFC series is slightly heavier, stiffer and generates lower launch and less spin than Project X Black.” 

The i20 fairway woods (U.S. MSRP: $255), which Miguel Angel Jimenez calls, “magnificent” are made from stainless steel have a neutral head rotation to promote a square impact. Thanks to its compact, traditional shape, PING said the fairway woods are versatile and the i20’s compact shape ensures the head will glide through heavy grass. The fairway woods available: 3S (14º), 3 (15º), and 5-woods (18º).

The i20 hybrids (U.S. MSRP: $210), which Hunter Mahan describes as, “stealth” are available in 17º, 20º and 23º. PING said there is more surface area built in low on the clubface to ensure forgiveness to optimize launch conditions. The line has a straight leading edge and slim, contoured head to promote easy aiming. “In fairway woods and hybrids, players want workability and versatility. The i20s have more camber (relief) on the sole that allow players to set up a shot however they want,” i20ironexplained Schweigert. “They are functional and the head design allows for a player to dig down after a ball if they need to. The i20 produces lower spin that our G20 models,” he added.

The i20 irons (U.S. MSRP: $110 per club w/steel shaft; $137.50 per club w/graphite shaft) are a progressive set design that feature stabilizing bars and a thicker face for distance control and a solid feel. A vertical custom tuning port (TCP) optimizes the center of gravity, PING said and a tungsten toe weighting promotes forgiveness. Lee Westwood, #2 in the world rankings, described the irons’ distance control as “brilliant.”

“We are really excited about the i20 irons. We believe we have delivered a product that will appeal to a lot of players, not just PING loyalists,” said Schweigert. “If you’re looking for something with extra cosmetics, this has it. In the past we didn’t open the door for that. The i20s will fit for a majority of golfers looking for game improvement. The long irons are bigger heel to toe in terms of length and also have a wider sole for forgiveness. In the mid to short irons the center of gravity has been moved forward to promote a more penetrating flight for scoring. Our Tour staff is chomping at the bit to play the i20s. We’ve had a little embargo on them playing it until the New Year,” Schweigert said. “The irons are not limited to the best players in the world. We think a decent number of them are going to use the i20 but the product will also appeal to low single digit handicap players as well as double digit. Anyone who is serious about their game, the i20s will appeal to them.”

“In the i20 series, we’ve combined workability, distance and forgiveness with the goal to make any golfer a more versatile and complete player,” said Solheim. “We’ve engineered the i20s with a solid feel and generous forgiveness but also a degree of workability for the player who wants full command of the clubface for controlling trajectory and shot shape. Anyone who is passionate about their game is going to be very confident and capable with this game-improvement technology.”