Ping G710 Irons

PING G710 gane-improvement category irons (PING)

One Liner:
A game-improvement iron to give moderate swing speed golfers added distance replacing the G700.

Important Tech:
A high strength maraging steel face provides a higher launch with lower spin for more distance. The hollow head has five percent higher MOI (resistance to twisting) than the preceding G700 with the help of internal tungsten weights in hosel and toe. Continue reading

Club Companies on a Roll

The past year was a good one for golf equipment companies lead by the two largest Acushnet Holdings Corp. (NYSE: GOLF) and Callaway Golf (NYSE: ELY). Acushnet owns the largest selling brand of golf balls, Titleist, plus FootJoy (shoes/clothing) Scotty Cameron (putters), Vokey Design (wedges) and Links and Kings (accessories). Callaway sells both clubs and balls and owns TravisMatthew (clothing), Jack Wolfskin (outerwear), OGIO (bags) and Odyssey (putters). Continue reading

Monday After the 2019 Show

Rumors and hyperbole are as much a part of the annual PGA Merchandise Show as the lines for morning coffee. This report though is about our view of the more significant information about the Show and the industry gleaned during four days from Tuesday’s Demo Day through Friday’s closing. Continue reading

What You Need to Know About PING’s i500 Irons

PING had a lot of success with the G700 a game-improvement category iron model last year, so it was logical to rework that design into a players-iron. In fact, the i500 that could be properly put into the relatively new category of a players-distance iron.
Quoting John Solheim, PING President, “The i500 delivers unbelievable distance with amazingly high ball flights. In our testing, some golfers gained as much as 15 yards with the i500.” Continue reading

Good News Third Quarter Equipment

Some observers forget there’s a danger in reading too much into the financial results of a company over the short term especially a publicly traded company whose management is very aware they are being judged on interim results. Add to that if the company is in a stagnant or slow grow industry such as golf equipment, growth only comes from “eating the other guy’s lunch.” In other words, in today’s equipment market you can figure increases in sales often come from a corresponding decrease in sales by another company. Continue reading

The “Secret” About Wedges

There’s a lot of talk about drivers and there’s no doubt the club taking up the number one slot in the bag is important but it’s also true the clubs in the other end of the bag, the wedges, are important as well. It’s wonderful to hit a booming drive but if you can’t wedge it close going low will be tough.

The secret about wedge play is there is no secret. It just takes a basic knowledge and the selection of the proper wedges for you, plus of course maybe a lesson from a PGA Professional.

To maximize results make sure the lofts are correctly gapped so the distance each wedge goes with a normal swing is about 10 to 15 yards different than the next more lofted wedge. This is often, but not always, four degrees of loft.

An example would be the wedges in my bag starting with the pitching wedge which has a loft of 45 degrees and using a “normal” swing flies 120-125 yards. Next is a 50 degree “gap wedge” good for 105 to 110 yards, then one with 54-degrees of loft used for 90 to 100 yards and finally a 58 degree wedge at 80 yards.

So, four wedges effectively covering a range of 40 plus yards.

It’s important to note—and this is another “secret” that’s not really a secret—ideally you would carry the wedges that give you as many full swings as possible in a round realizing though, no matter what loft your wedges you will always be faced with in-between yardage shots.

There is no magic formula and gapping to a certain extent is a matter of personal preference. It comes down to getting it right so you hit the ball closer with more confidence. A discussion about bounce, that other vital aspect of wedge selection, will be covered in another article.

Here are three of this year’s wedges that caught our eye and we have tested extensively:

Callaway Golf Sure Out: The name was used by the original Ben Hogan brand and since Callaway owns the name they were able to bring it back for a super game improvement wedge designed with input from instructor Hank Haney. Callaway’s team made the Sure Out with lots of sole camber, i.e., curvature from heel to toe. Additionally there is lots of bounce to help it through sand and long grass and 17 grooves that go all the way across the face. These features plus a nice wide sole mean sand shots, greenside pitches and even flop shots can be hit without opening the face or cutting across the ball, techniques that “scare” many average golfers. Priced at $120, Sure Out wedges are available with either lightweight steel or graphite shafts in 58 or 64-degrees of loft.

Cleveland Golf RTX-3: Compared to Cleveland’s previous RTX-2 model, nine grams of weight has been moved from the hosel to the clubhead so the center of gravity is closer to the impact area making a noticeable improvement in feel. For more consistent contact there are three different V-grind soles to match your swing profile and Cleveland’s third generation micro-milled face in between the grooves provides more spin and thus control. Choices include finishes of black satin, Tour satin and Tour raw plus there’s a cavity back version. The available lofts range from 46 to 64 degrees and each is priced at $130.

Ping Glide 2.0: The updates of the original Glide wedges involved making grooves sharper-edged and slightly decreasing the spin between to increase friction to produce more spin. Impressively Ping lab testing reports the Glide 2.0 generate up to 400 rpm higher spin which is important to aid in getting the distance and trajectory just right on every shot. We especially like this wedge’s finish which the company has tagged “hydropearl.” It not only looks good but sheds moisture to reduce the chance of flyers. Ping offers four sole grinds to match your attack angle and the turf conditions at the course you most often play. With steel shafts they are priced at $140 per club.

Images courtesy of manufacturers

Ode to a One Iron

PingEye2_1iron

Last weekend a buddy invited me to play golf at a nearby course we both enjoy. It’s not especially long nor tight and has relatively few acres of sand and water but the main attraction without a doubt was spending time with a friend.

As we walked off the range following our pre-game warmup, he suddenly stopped saying, “Oh nuts!” Thinking he might have left something important like a club or his golf swing back in the car I was in for a surprise.

My friend said he had meant to hit a few with the club he had just purchased. I, curious and interested, asked, “Oh, what did ya get?”

His reply floored me, “A 1-iron.”

Now to explain so you don’t think my friend has completely lost his senses, he has been playing golf for several years, though at times finds it hard to get out…just like the rest of us. He is dedicated, wants to get better and has the advantage of having above average athletic ability.

However, having said all that, his chances of integrating a one iron into his game are between slim and none with the needle nudging the latter.

But in his mind’s eye he sees himself ripping it 220-yards into the wind with a slight draw that lands on the green, checks and rolls next to the pin. Really?

The story of how he came by the Ping Eye2 1-iron (a model which first saw the light of day in 1982) is worth the retelling. The week before my friend had been playing with a couple of guys, one of who wasn’t very good and had a bad case of the “Tommy Bolt’s,” or club tossing. Unbelievably this fellow was carrying a 1-iron in his bag and with a game even less accomplished than my friend’s had a particular affection for heaving it after nearly every swing.

By the way, Bolt was one of golf’s all time colorful characters. There are dozens of stories about his time on the PGA Tour but the quotation I like the best is, “Always throw your clubs ahead of you. That way you don’t have to waste energy going back to pick them up.”

Anyway back to the 1-iron saga, between tosses the fellow was ranting he was going to dump his 1-iron. Sell it. Good riddance.

My friend sensing an opportunity asked, “How much?” and the fellow said $20. Reaching into his pocket my friend came back with, “I’ve only got $12. How about that?”

“Done!” was the reply and my friend was the owner of a 1-iron. 

After my friend proudly related his tale I pointed out aside from the putter the 1-iron was probably the cause for more people giving up the game than anything but a spouse that doesn’t play. And that it was primary contributor to invention of hybrids. For crying out loud, not even PGA Tour players carry them.

HistoHogan_Merion_72hole_USGArically there are a number of famous 1-iron shots. Ben Hogan’s MacGregor 1-iron to the 72nd green of the 1950 U.S. Open setting up a par to put him a playoff the next day which he won. This all coming after being almost killed in a head on crash with a bus 16 months previously.

Jack Nicklaus in the U.S. Open back in 1972 at Pebble BeNicklaus_17th_PBeach_1972ach playing the par-3 17th on the final day. The 219-yards between the Golden Bear and the hole were dead into a strong wind coming off the local water hazard known as the Pacific Ocean. His 1-iron shot hit the pin and dropped next to the hole for an easy two. Even more incredible to my mind and showing Nicklaus’ immense talent was on the back swing he felt the club was too closed which would have produced a disastrous hook. However, he had so much control that week he adjusted on the way down holding off the release to compensate. The result was his second major championship of the year.

My own 1-iron story goes back to the middle 70’s when I was a lot younger and thought I could play this maddening game. Par-5, dogleg left and after a good drive to the corner a sweet 1-iron into the hole for a two—double eagle—albatross—whatever. The unfortunate part of the story is, because of the way the green-fronting bunker was situated, I couldn’t see it go in.

But back to the present. When we got out on the course my friend tried out his Ping Eye2 “butter knife” from the tee on two holes of the second nine. As you might expect the results weren’t pretty. But he has vowed to keep at it because he can still see that 220-yard shot into the wind with a slight draw.

10 Rounds with the Ping TR 1966 Anser

Ping_Anser_ Ad_GolfMagazine_1969
We often have a nostalgic memories of the good times and people of years gone by and when Ping announced the TR 1966 Anser putter my mind flashed back 48 years ago to the original Anser. You might asked how can I remember that far back, least of all remember a putter and the answer is an old photograph taken on a practice green showing me with a Ping Anser in my hand.
The original Anser and Anser 2 sold for $20 and didn’t make the sound “ping” like Karsten Solheim’s first putter but they shared the heel and toe weighting that revolutionized putter performance.
Ping has reintroduced the Anser and Anser 2 models as the TR 1966, certainly a fitting way to mark the 50th year of the iconic shape which has been copied hundreds of times by putter makers. Both TR 1966 models were designed using three dimensional scans of the originals to get the subtle contour details Solheim crafted back then using a mill and hand files just right. Ping_TR1966Anser_Duo_640x480
And the new Anser retains two features I like the most.
There’s no alignment mark on the top and the sound is impressively solid, a result of the slot in the sole and since one of the critical factors in a putter’s feel is the sound, this works very well.
It would be great to say that after ten rounds I was making everything I looked at but that’s not the case. What did happen though was my putts per round stat dropped by almost half a stroke and that includes two rounds on greens I would guess were 12 to 13 on the Stimpmeter.
Bottom line is I just like the looks and the feel which of course breeds confidence and confidence means you make more putts.
The TR stands for True Roll, which is what Ping calls the milled grooves on the face, the only significant departure from Solheim’s original while the manganese bronze PVD finish is actually better than the original.
The Anser 2 has a stainless steel blast finish with one alignment line on the flange. Heel and toe contours are somewhat less rounded than those of the Anser and the Anser 2 top rail is a little narrower.
Both retail for $162.50, not bad a price for a trip into the past.
By the way, back in 1966 the name Anser was suggested by Solhiem’s wife, Louise. He wanted his new putter to be the “answer” to a competitor’s model and both of them liked the name Answer but it was too long to fit in on the flange. Mrs. Solheim said the “W” could be left out since the name would still sound the same. Pure genius.
Images courtesy of Ping