For decades now, Ping have been right at the top of the market when it comes to making irons for the masses, the everyday golfer, but they perhaps haven't been as well known for their blades.
Just think of the classic Eye2's or even the contemporary G425 irons, which find their way into the bags of so many club golfers all over the world. But what do their Tour players use?
Well, the new i59 irons have been brought in to replace the iBlade as Ping identified a clear gap in their iron family for the elite golfer. Previously the Ping iron range transitioned from the iBlade and Blueprint irons (for the Tour players) to the i210 with nothing in between like most other manufacturers have.
The fact that the likes of Viktor Hovland and Lee Westwood use the i210 irons doesn't quite add up to me - they're both extremely quality ball strikers and they don't need any help with distance.
Are they losing out when it comes to precision? This could explain the need to bring in the new i59...
What's It All About?
The new, forged i59 irons are designed to provide consistent impact with a solid feel and penetrating ball flight, along with added forgiveness in comparison to previous Ping blades.
The three-piece forged design features an aerospace-grade aluminium insert in the core, which is a third of the density of stainless steel. This combines with a 1025 carbon steel body, and forged 17-4 SS laser cut face which provide the controlled trajectory and encourages precise shot-making.
The 'AlumiCore' insert saves 30g of weight which allows for tungsten toe and heel weights to be added, elevating the MOI so that it matches that of the i210 iron for plenty of forgiveness in a forged design.
In order to reduce fliers in the short irons and preserve spin in the long irons, the face has been engineered with MicroMax grooves which have steeper walls and tighter spacing to make room for four extra grooves.
The Hydropearl 2.0 finish is designed to repel water for a predictable and consistent performance even in wet conditions, allowing you to get the same results round after round.
Ping offer the new i59 irons in standard lofts, but they also give you the option of using weaker 'Retro Spec' lofts as well as stronger 'Power Spec' lofts.
I started inside at Mercedes Benz Stockport, using my Trackman simulator and Titleist Pro V1x balls to collect some dry ball data on these irons.
I then headed off to Stockport Golf Club to play a few holes and try these irons out where it really matters - on the golf course in real golfing scenarios.
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Ping i59 Irons Review
Looks and Feel
These irons are so sexy, they look like they have been sculpted from a single piece of steel. The softness of the finish with gentle lines and edges, and the smoothness of the metal, is just beautiful.
The i59s are so simple and elegant with a brushed steel finish and very little going on. It doesn't even say Ping on the club head, and I love the fact that the design is so understated.
Looking down on these irons at address, the addition of more grooves really stands out, whilst you get a really sleek topline as you'd expect from players irons like these.
In terms of feel, they are definite improvement on the iBlade in terms of strike - those irons really did seem to punish you when you didn't hit the ball out of the centre of the face.
With the i59s this wasn't the case at all. Ok, they can't save you if you really mis-hit it, but on an average strike I could feel it helping me out.
The irons felt smooth overall, and when the ball left the face you knew exactly how you'd hit it, and where it was going to go. The feedback was just ideal.
Let's start this by looking at my best 6 iron from the indoor testing at Mercedes Benz Stockport. It carried 145 yards with 5650rpm spin, 105mph ball speed and 85 feet peak height with a launch angle of 21 degrees.
I had waited until the back end of the session to hit the 6, as I wanted to give myself a little time to warm up to the shaft, which was a little heavier than I might usually use.
There were a few shorter shots which dropped down to around 135 yards. This wasn't necessarily a bad strike, more than I just wasn't giving them enough 'oomph'.
Players who will be using these irons on the course will be creating a lot more ball speed than my 102mph average. Viktor Hovland, for example, has 30mph more ball speed than me with a 6 iron, that's plenty of oomph!
What did stand out for me during my testing was the close-knit shot patterns, with the spin, launch and dispersion all staying very consistent throughout my session. This is exactly the kind of thing that you'd expect from a precision iron as the golfers who will be gaming them are looking to hit the same number every time.
An average carry distance of 140 yards with a 6 iron was low, as you may expect from an iron of this type with pretty traditional lofts (30.5°), and I was giving up 20 yards in carry distance in comparison to Ping's G710 irons that I've previously tested.
This shows the wide variety of iron offerings that Ping now provide, and also gave an indication that these irons are for golfers who strike the ball well pretty much every time, without needing the clubhead to help them out.
In terms of performance the numbers produced put the i59s in the same category as the likes of the Titleist T100 irons, Callaway Apex TCB and TaylorMade P7MC.
My initial thoughts after the indoor testing were that these irons weren't hard to hit, but they were hard to hit far. With the higher MOI level and new AlumiCore insert, this suggested that the irons were doing exactly as Ping said they would.
Hitting from a perfect lie, indoors, with no other variables is totally different to actual golf. You need to hit irons like these from the turf and in real scenarios to get the ultimate experience - be it good or bad.
Putting these irons in the bag and heading to the golf course did make me feel like a proper player, but when I looked at my notes and remembered that they are priced at £239 each my expectations were raised - these 'should' be amazing.
Out on the course at Stockport GC, the first time I needed an iron was for my approach shot into the 2nd hole. I selected an 8 iron as it was into the wind and slightly uphill, but I failed to hit it 120 yards in the cold drizzle. This was frustrating, but in reality my swing is as slow as it has ever been and these clubs just reflected that.
Next opportunity was a 6 iron from wet rough, with 150 yards to the flag. I slapped it left into the bunker, no more than 130 yards away. I was really struggling to get these irons going, particularly in the cold and wet condition.
I needed a good lie to give me a chance - that came on the par 3 5th hole. I know a 4 iron doesn't seem like respite but it was the lie that I needed.
I hit a perfect fade into a front flag, and then had another go and hit a beauty of a draw. Both went pin high, exactly the same yardage. At last I was playing some golf!
Moving onto the wedges, these were brilliant from that 80-100 yard distance, with every shot looking like a repeat in flight, distance and accuracy. Shots where distance wasn't a factor was when I really started to love using these irons.
I always like to use my wedge and short irons for chips and bump and runs around the green so I gave these a go too, but I was actually a little disappointed that I didn't get quite the amount of spin that I'd expect on the second bounce. That's not to say that they were bad, but for £239 per iron I was expecting a little bit more.
I can't get my head around how expensive these irons are even in comparison to Ping's own Glide Forged Pro wedges, and I'd much rather use one of those around the green.
Ping i59 Irons Verdict
The i59 irons are (very) high priced, high quality irons which are aimed at the elite golfer so this is very much a niche product for a small market. They are really built to appease the tour players who wanted some kind of middle ground in the iron options so obviously that price tag doesn't matter to them. For everyone else, however, a set of these in 3-PW will set you back the best part of £2000. I know... ouch.
Having said that, these irons were required in the Ping family as they can now compete with other equipment manufacturers in providing three different irons for the better player. Their range now goes: Blueprint, i59, i210, i500, G425 and G710.
They are beautifully crafted heads with a subtle bit of help for those off-centre strikes, although they don't do much to aid with distance.
I wish I was good enough to use these but I don't have anywhere near the power to inject the speed into the clubhead. As I said earlier, they aren't hard to hit but they are hard to hit far, hence why they are aimed at golfers who are stronger and faster than me.
As you'd expect from a forged iron like this they feel very smooth off the face, and the launch and flight are extremely stable. There are no shocks in terms of distance when you strike one pure, and certainly no fliers from the wet rough.
As great as they are, are they worth £50 more per iron than other manufacturers' offerings? Nothing in the performance seemed to suggest so to me.
Who Are They Aimed At?
Next time you stick the golf on the TV, don't be surprised to see a few Ping Tour players with these irons in the bag. The Assistant Professionals at Stockport Golf Club, where we did our testing, have also ordered these and I think this gives you an idea of the target market.
They are for golfers who have plenty of speed and who hit the ball long and consistently - and for those who don't mind splashing the cash on their gear.
It's a real 'better player' iron and may be an aspirational iron for those golfers who take pride in telling you that their golf clubs are worth more than yours!
Would I Use Them?
I wish I could! But I don't hit it far enough or consistently enough so I'd be giving up too much if I put these irons in the bag.
I am a professional golfer but unless your numbers can stack up to the likes of Louis Oosthuizen and Viktor Hovland then I'd think twice about going for these beauties.
- Fantastic looking irons
- Consistent spin rates and ball flight, even from the rough
- Very workable
- Feel in the longer irons is pure
- Good forgiveness levels for a small head
- SO expensive!
- The wedge can't compete with Ping's Glide Forged Pro and again is more expensive
If you enjoyed this, you may also like:
TaylorMade P7MC Irons Review
Callaway Apex TCB Irons Review