Can PING i20 hybrids deliver the kind of help that even highly skilled golfers need from time to time? Read on to find out what I think.
By now, just about every golfer realizes that a hybrid club serves two important purposes: filling an awkward distance gap in your clubs; and (even more importantly) giving you a club that’s much easier to hit than a long iron. Not many golfers carry a two- or three-iron anymore. And some who do probably shouldn’t, because long irons are notoriously difficult to hit. Basically, hybrids serve as long-iron replacements in the bag.
All hybrids should be easy to hit from a variety of lies, including tight fairways, gnarly rough, fairway bunkers and hardpan. And hybrids can also be used off the tee when the distance is right. They can deliver high shots that softly land on the greens, but they can also give you the distance you need to score well on a long par four. The best hybrids are extremely versatile clubs. Do the new PING i20 hybrids offer this kind of versatility?
Naturally, the company claims the answer is a resounding “yes.” These hybrids are designed with a deep, low center of gravity to promote high ball trajectories, but they also have compact heads that are able to cut through deep rough and pick the ball cleanly.
The clubs have a design that’s intended to enhance forgiveness across the entire width of the clubface, so the ball should fly more accurately no matter where impact occurs. The compact head and straight leading edge makes aiming simple. And like the new PING i20 drivers and fairway woods, PING i20 hybrids have a glare-resistant, matte black finish. PING says this particular finish makes it easier to concentrate on your shot as you’re standing over the ball because it minimizes potential distractions caused by sun glare.
Three lofts are available: 17-degree; 20-degree; and 23-degree. Any of these PING i20 hybrids can be fitted with one of two stock shafts (both shafts come at no extra charge): the first option is a PING TFC 707H graphite shaft which is intended to promote a penetrating ball flight and reduced spin; the second choice is a True Temper Project X Black graphite shaft which is intended to promote medium spin and a higher ball flight.
I tested the 17-degree and 23-degree PING i20 hybrids. Both were fitted with the lighter-weight True Temper Project X Black graphite shaft (I already have a fairly boring trajectory, and I don’t need any help keeping the ball down).
Before I share my personal impressions of these clubs, let me say that the entire PING i20 line of clubs (including the PING i20 hybrids) is primarily targeted at “better” players. You can interpret that however you wish, but I think it means professionals and single-digit handicappers. The clubs simply don’t provide the forgiveness and other game-improvement characteristics that mid- to high-handicappers need to score well and enjoy their games.
If you’ve read some of our other reviews, you might already know that my handicap isn’t quite “up to snuff” for these clubs. It averages around 10, plus or minus a point or two. Not quite single-digit, but close.
My skill level probably explains why I didn’t like hitting the PING i20 hybrids as much as some of the other clubs I’ve tested. They looked great at address, they were easy to align, and they had a nice balance throughout my entire swing. So far, it’s all good. But I started having problems when I made contact with the ball.
Or perhaps a better way of putting it is that I had trouble making clean contact with the ball. The company says its PING i20 hybrids are optimized for versatile performance, but I think they’re optimized for players who have better skills than mine.
It was easy for me to swing the hybrids through the rough, but I rarely made good contact. My balls from the rough flew low, short and in a variety of directions, most of which weren’t where I was aiming. I struggled with getting the ball up in the air from different types of lies – the only time I was really satisfied with the trajectory was when I hit them off the tee. Early on, I decided to forget about trying to shape shots – I was reduced to just trying to get the ball to go straight. I think my game just requires a little more forgiveness than PING i20 hybrids provide.
The Bottom Line: I’m not trying to say these aren’t fine hybrids. They could be great clubs in more skillful hands - just not in mine. If you have the game, their retail price is $210 each. I suggest trying them before you buy, however.
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