Jamie Kennedy

The Ping Karsten irons are the first combo iron and hybrid set Ping has launched in more than three years. They are billed as one of the longest, most forgiving, fun sets of irons Ping has ever created.

Named after the company's founder, Karsten Solheim, the set blends large, wide-soled irons with easy to hit, forgiving hybrids to not only get the ball up in the air, but keep it there!

Ping Karsten Irons In Bag

Seeing the irons for the first time, I was taken by how simple they look. The design, shape and colours of the clubs are understated and subtle. I have become used to companies creating all sorts of innovation and making it the first thing you see. With the Karsten irons, the technology is mostly hidden.

As a range, the Karsten irons will replace the game-improvement Ping K15 irons. They will also be higher launching and 8% more forgiving than the recent G25 irons. As you can see, the Karsten irons feature a deeper, larger cavity back design than either the K15 (middle) or G25 irons (bottom).

Ping Karsten Irons In Bag

At address, the Karsten maintain a very Ping-look with a soft yet noticeable offset and thick topline. Marty Jertson and his R&D team at Ping have chosen to alter the colour of the Karsten irons slightly, giving them a darker face and lighter tone body than before.

Whilst the irons are certainly very large and long, they looked good behind the ball and will give high handicappers or older golfers the look they need to have a little more confidence.

Ping Karsten Irons In Bag

Compared to the K15 irons they replace, the Karsten set has slightly more offset and also sit a little flatter at address. All that being said, the real muscle behind these irons lies in the sole.

I'm not sure I've ever seen or tested an iron with a wider sole than the Karsten irons. Relatively uniform in shape across the base of the club Ping say the wide sole improves turf interaction, limiting heavy contact, whilst also drawing the centre of gravity away from the face.

Ping Karsten Irons In Bag

Whilst the turf interaction was great and gave me confidence to really strike through the ball from any lie, it was the Centre of Gravity (CG) change that made the difference.

Most people think a back CG position just increases launch height. Whilst that is true, it also increases the angle of descent, meaning the ball will stop quicker on the greens. Ping say that whilst there are a lot of distance irons on the market, each claiming to hit the ball "x yards", they don't necessarily help stop the ball on the green.

With a sole shape like this, golfers of all abilities will find it remarkably easy to get the ball in the air, keep it in the air, and then stop it on the green.

Ping Karsten Irons In Bag

Having used the Karsten set on the range several times and on the course, I had to try and remember why mid to low handicap golfers don't use sets like these. The height and flight of the ball off the face was so impressive, many of my swings were paired with a small chuckle as I watched the ball soar, straight, towards the pin.

The most impressive flight came from the 7-iron. I can honestly say I have never hit a 7-iron higher or further than with the Karsten model. The longer irons, perhaps naturally, didn't fly as high as I expected and the shorter irons launched extremely high. Hitting the SW for the first time, I thought it might catch my left ear on the way up.

I would expect most players using these irons for the first time will see an increase in distances throughout the set. The lofts throughout the irons are stronger that the G25, especially the 5 and 6 irons which are 2° stronger.

Whilst the cavity is visible on the 5 and 6 iron, it wasn't an issue for me and just reminded me of the help I would receive at impact. The short irons were large and rounded, and especially good from the rough. Here's an address look at the 5-iron, 8-iron and SW.

Ping Karsten Irons In Bag

The face on the Karsten irons is the thinnest face Ping have ever used in an iron, as thin as 0.07 inches in places. Whilst the ball speeds I was getting were impressive, the feel was still quite soft and subtle. That, Ping would tell me, is down to the redesigned CTP, or Custom Tuning Port, in the cavity behind the face.

Ping Karsten Irons In Bag

Without this elastomer material behind the clubface the Karsten irons would still go far, but the face would be less stable and sound loud and hard. Instead, the feel and sound were great. Really great. Pure strikes would barely register in my hands and the deep, powerful sound gave me a confidence-inspiring indication I had swung the club well.

It is hard to fault the forgiveness of the Karsten irons. Across the face, heel to toe, the strike is consistent and soft. Like all irons, forgiveness is less with strikes low on the face. However, players using these irons should not be afraid of swinging aggressively into the ball and catching it heavy. The sole does the work for you and keeps the club from digging or cutting into the turf behind the ball.

Whilst this is an iron review, I do need to mention hybrids. The Karsten set comes with a 3 and 4 hybrid included and the option of a 5-hybrid to replace the 5-iron

Ping Karsten Irons In Bag

Whilst they may look like kids hybrids, I think Ping have set about designing simple, easy-to-hit, no-nonsense hybrids. Even though there is a noticeable difference in shape and size in the hybrids, the performance and distance-gapping blends in really well with the irons.

Ping Karsten Irons In Bag

Unlike individual hybrids you may buy, the Karsten hybrids feature very few features. They are not adjustable, or packed with removable weights, or fitted with rails and shapes on the sole designed to dig through the turf.

On the surface they are remarkably simple, but inside Ping have placed additional weight in the heel and the toe designed to keep the clubhead squarer through impact and improve accuracy and forgiveness.

Ping Karsten Irons In Bag

I have to say, I really liked the look of the hybrids. The look like small fairway woods and look great and very easy to hit behind the ball.

The simple look at address and contrasting topline made them easy to align whilst the flat, subtly-cambered sole design allowed them to sit neatly and low behind the ball.

Ping Karsten Irons In Bag

Interestingly I didn't notice as much height in the ball flight from the hybrids as I expected. The 5-iron and 5-hybrid flew very similar heights, with the hybrid being a little more forgiving and consistent. The hybrid went a touch further, but there wasn't as much of a difference as I expected, especially considering the hybrid is 1.5° stronger and an inch longer than the 5-iron.

If you are choosing between the two, I would definitely suggest the hybrid would be more consistent and slightly easier to hit.

Overall, I was left very impressed. Ping have always made very good, game-improvement irons and the Karsten irons continue that tradition. With a noticeable increase in height and forgiveness, they will be perfect for the novice golfers or players who have lost a little swing speed.

A full set with cost you over £800, which is certainly top dollar in the game-improvement market. However, the performance of the Karsten set will be hard to beat in that category.

Golfalot Rating: 5 stars
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Ping Karsten Irons - Product Details

Launch UK02 January 2014
Launch USA02 January 2014
Launch RRP£634
Handicap Range
GolferMens, Women
Hand AvailabilityLeft, Right
Swing WeightD0, D1, D2
Shaft NamePing KS 401 (Graphite) Ping CFS Distance (Steel)
Shaft TypesSteel, Graphite
Shaft FlexLight, Regular, Stiff, X Stiff
Shaft Weight61, 64, 76 grams (Graphite) 95, 100, 110, 115 grams (Steel)
GripPing 360 ID8
DesignCavity Back, Hybrid
Set Makeup4h, 5h, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW
Additional Clubs3h, 5, GW, SW
Manufacturer's WebsitePing Website

User Reviews

December 2016

All I can say is wow. They are a club and a half longer. If you like to hit it high and straight these clubs are for you.

October 2016

Complete novice, but as all the above state, these our such forgiving set of irons! they are a work of art! So good I am giving up football to play golf!

March 2016

I started golfing 3 years ago. 2 years ago joined a mens league and bought a yard sale set of wilsons. My average round was close to double the par for the course. Last season I got fitted to my clubs. Kirsten silver shaft + .50 inch.

I can honestly say the karsten line helped my game tremendously. Mentally and physically. I was a high 30 handicap. I am hoping to enter the high teens this season.(currently 21.8)

Take the time and money into getting fitted !!

February 2016

As a Canadian and only able to golf 4-5 months a year, I decided to purchase some Karsten irons when I was down in Arizona this January, and wow what a difference to my whole golf game. Fell in love with them after the first hole. Can't wait till our course opens up here in Saskatchewan.

January 2016

I purchased a set of Ping Karstens as a retirement gift to myself. I absolutely am sold on the clubs. I have dropped my scores from low hundreds to low nineties. I look forward to each round with these clubs.

June 2015

I bought a set of these clubs last last summer and was very impressed with them. I have golfed about 15 rounds this year and my handicap has gone down by 4 (26 to 22). They are very forgiving and long.

May 2015

I just bought a set and truly love them. I am a 14 handicap and 75 years old . I am hitting my six iron which is the lowest iron I carry about 145 yards. They get up in the air nice. I had the rapture v's before and loved those but I like these better and right now you can get them for a very good price. Very happy in Kentucky.

May 2015

I have the 3H, 4H and 5-U and they are great clubs for me. I'd lost 1-2 clubs distance in the last 10 years and this set has got me back to where I used to be. Long, high and straight. I want to golf every day.

February 2015

Just bought a set of Karsten's a couple of weeks ago and LOVE them. Playing in cold temps I still have noticed increased distance and feel. I am 62 and chose the graphite shafts. Cannot wait for season to actually start.

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