Following the launch of the G700 irons I was speaking to Ping and they asked me what I thought. I replied that I felt that a smaller version of the hollow headed irons would be interesting to see. I know they probably don't listen to me, but great minds must be thinking alike as here we are with the Ping i500 irons.
This is a new category for Ping, but the compact, better player, hot faced hollow headed irons sector has taken off in more ways than one lately, so this is their entry.
Together with the Ping i210 irons, the i500 replaces the Ping i200 irons which was their previous forgiving better player iron and the head length is about the only similarity.
The hollow 17-4 stainless steel body has a Forged Maraging C330 steel face that is plasma welded on to it in order to maximise ball speeds.
At impact the top edge of the face is designed to 'relax' to increase launch with less spin from lofts that are 1° to 2.5° stronger than the i120 irons through the set.
Doing this gets the speed up whilst maintaining the peak height and taking the three models on GC2 with Pro V1x balls illustrated this perfectly.
With a 5-iron I got the biggest difference of 7 yards over the i210 and 9 yards over the i200. The real difference is the 800 rpm drop in spin compared to the i210 and that combined with a higher launch is what creates the extra distance.
It was a similar story with the 7-irons, with around the same gains from the club with the biggest 2.5° difference in loft, so getting the same launch, height and descent as the i200 is impressive.
If these lofts aren't strong enough for you then you can opt for the 'Power Spec' and deloft by another degree, which may sound tempting, but check with a Ping fitter that you have the launch and ball speed to get them airborne with enough height to land and stop and no run through the green.
Compared to the both the other irons the i500 did of course sound a little more hollow, but it did feel better and more lively than the i200 irons.
The i210 irons probably had the edge on feel though and there were also a little more consistent. The i500 irons were consistently going further, but with both the 7 and the 5-iron I occasionally got a bullet that came off lower with about half the level of spin, but still went around the average distance.
This is probably a lower face strike or a closing strike where the upper portion of the face does not have the chance to 'relax' and add loft and spin. It's not the end of the world, but the i500 might be more prone to this than the i210 which operates in a more traditional manner.
The i500 iron has a thicker hosel, but a thinner sole and top line than the i210 so I can see it suiting better players who want more distance. It is certainly much smaller than the other hollow headed G700 iron, so there could be space for another hollow model between the two...are you listening Ping?
That would probably be perfect for this style of iron, as between the two i200 replacements I would probably go for the i210 for the better consistency and feel that I think better players will want, even though the extra distance would have been nice.
Going for i210 would also save you £13 per club or £160 a set, but that is not to say the i500 are over-priced. They are the cheapest in this sector and the same price as the TaylorMade P790 which probably just has the edge in feel and distance, so if this is the style of iron you want then this and the Ping i500 irons are the ones to compare.