Like the PING i20 driver, hybrids and irons we review on other pages of this site, PING i20 fairway woods are part of PING’s recently-released “i20” line. All the i20 clubs are targeted primarily at “better players,” so beginners and other high-handicappers probably need not apply.
These woods are designed to be versatile – a characteristic I think is important for any wood. It’s easy to hit almost any wood when the ball’s on a tee or sitting up on the fairway. In my mind, the true proof of the pudding is whether a wood can be hit off a variety of other lies – from a fairway bunker, from light rough, from hardpan and from excessively tight fairway lies. During my test evaluation of PING i20 fairway woods, I made a specific point of trying to determine whether these clubs are versatile enough to handle anything I’d expect from a good wood.
Although a strong 3-wood (14 degrees) is also available, I tested a 3-wood (15 degrees) and 5-wood (18 degrees). Both clubs came with a Project X Black graphite shaft. The Project X Black is one of two stock, no-extra-cost shaft choices; the other is a PING TFC 707F graphite shaft, also available at no extra cost. I chose clubs fitted with the Project X Black shaft because it promotes a higher ball trajectory than the TFC 707F. If you already hit a high ball and you want a low-spin, more penetrating trajectory, opt for the PING shaft.
Here’s what I’ve learned about PING i20 fairway woods:
First, the stainless steel heads of PING i20 fairway woods have the kind of classic, compact shape many “better” players appreciate. Personally, I think the club head’s simple, uncomplicated design is quite attractive in an almost elegant sort of way. You won’t feel like you’re hitting the ball with an oversized shovel when you’re standing over these clubs.
According to PING, the club head’s compact, traditional shape doesn’t just give the PING i20 fairway woods a pretty face. In addition to helping golfers line up their shots, PING says the head’s smaller size and shape helps it cut through heavy grass and still be able to launch the ball high and straight despite gnarly lies.
I also like the way the head sets up neutral to the ball. I have a slight natural draw, and the last thing I need is a ball with a closed club face. I’d end up yanking everything left if I had to deal with that. A neutral face is best for me because it helps me make impact at the proper angle – square to the ball, not open or shut.
The heads of PING i20 fairway woods also have a simple, attractive but functional color scheme: elegant black on black. It’s not a glossy black, either. Instead, the crown features a matte finish that absorbs light instead of reflecting it. To put it succinctly, the crown finish helps you concentrate on your shots because you won’t be distracted by sun glare as you’re standing over the ball. With the matte-black crown and face, these clubs look like the golf version of the stealth bomber. When you combine the sleek black-on-black color scheme with the compact, traditional shape of the head, the club virtually screams confidence. I know I mention confidence in a lot of our golf club reviews, but it truly is a crucial part of any golfer’s game.
I’m a pretty fair player (confidence!) when you put a wood in my hands. I usually strike the ball cleanly, and my little draw gives me good distance even on my mishits. I’m also pretty accurate with a wood. My only real downfall with a wood is that I don’t hit it as high as I’d like. My normal ball flight is a low, boring trajectory which helps me in high wind conditions (frequent here in Florida) but not so much when it’s calm.
I was able to hit the PING i20 fairway woods from all sorts of lies, including while the ball was sitting down in some nasty Bermuda rough. So, I’d give these clubs a very important “A” for versatility. They also go long and pretty straight. They’re not the most forgiving woods I’ve ever hit, but they offer enough forgiveness for my 10 handicap. What they didn’t do is help me hit the ball higher. But, I can’t really fault the PING i20 fairway woods for that. After all, they’re not game-improvement woods – they’re player’s clubs.
The Bottom Line: PING i20 fairway woods do a terrific job of inspiring confidence, and they’re long and straight. If you have the game, they’re definitely worth your consideration. Their launch price is $255. Don’t bother looking for a sale, because PING typically doesn’t allow any price reductions for several years after a club is launched.