Do You Have the Game to Play PING i20 Irons?

Like the other members of the i20 “family,” the recently-released PING i20 irons are “player’s clubs.” Do you have the skills to handle them? I quickly learned I don’t, but if you have the game you might think they’re perfect.

PING set out to make these new clubs deliver the type of performance better players demand by optimizing every design element – even the finish on the clubs. These irons are intended to provide not just distance and accuracy, but workability, feel and forgiveness.

The multi-metal design of these irons increases the clubs’ forgiveness by including tungsten toe weights that have been strategically placed in the 17-4 stainless steel heads. The irons also have what’s called a “progressive set” design. Long irons are notoriously difficult to hit, so the long irons in this set have larger heads and a design that promotes higher ball flights and is more forgiving than the design of the shorter irons. Short irons are much easier to hit and they’re used for much more precise, controlled shots, so the heads of the short irons in this set are designed to promote exceptional control. They also have a little less offset than the heads of the long irons.

Because distance control is such a key part of strong iron play, the company also emphasizes that characteristic in PING i20 irons. Hitting your irons straight at your target doesn’t do you much good if you fly them over the green or come up well short. So, a thicker face and stabilizing bars are built into the irons to enable golfers to hit the clubs precise distances. These design elements also enhance the clubs’ feel, but precision in yardages is their main goal.

In addition to all this, the clubs have a glare-resistant, satin chrome finish. It gives the clubs a serious, “professional” appearance while reducing the potential for distraction caused by sun glare. I have to admit I’m a bit surprised that PING didn’t give these irons a black finish to match the matte black finish on the crowns of its PING i20 drivers, fairway woods and hybrids. The black on those clubs is also intended to reduce sun glare and help golfers focus on their shots without that particular distraction. The company could have given the PING i20 irons a black finish to accomplish the same thing as the satin chrome, and black irons are not unheard of - take a look at our review of the Callaway RAZR X Black irons to see what I mean. In my opinion, PING missed out on a marketing opportunity here.

You can buy PING i20 irons with steel or graphite shafts. The stock graphite shaft is a PING TFC 169i, and it’s available in soft regular, regular, stiff and ladies flex. The PING CFS is the stock steel shaft and comes in your choice of soft regular, regular, stiff or extra stiff flex. As with most other manufacturers’ clubs, choosing graphite shafts for your Ping i20 irons will force you to dig deeper into your pocket.

Several set configurations are available for the PING i20 irons. Individual clubs begin with a 3-iron and go up through a 9-iron, but also include a pitching wedge, gap wedge (UW in PING parlance), sand wedge and lob wedge, so you could buy a standard set configuration or mix-and-match individual clubs to your liking. And like all PING clubs, a high level of customization is available. In addition to having the shaft material and flex of your choice, you can have the lie, grip size and length of your clubs customized to suit your physical characteristics and your individual swing.

I tested a set of PING i20 irons with the PING TFC 169i graphite shafts (regular flex, standard grip size, and standard length and lie). I’m usually a decent iron player. My typical ball flight is a little lower than normal with a slight draw that gives me some additional distance.

I soon discovered that PING i20 irons are “too much club” for me. I usually hit them pretty straight or with my normal little draw, but I had a terrible time getting them up in the air. I tried moving the ball forward in my stance, and when that didn’t work I tried moving it back. No dice. I was hitting worm-burners (or not much better) no matter what adjustments I tried.

The Bottom Line: I don’t know if the problem was caused by the shaft – maybe it just wasn’t suited to me – or if it was something about the design of the clubs’ heads. But I never felt competent with the PING i20 irons, and that’s a feeling I’m not used to. Your mileage may differ – especially if you’re an accomplished golfer. Give them a try if you feel like you have the game to handle them.

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