For a whole 5 years, Ping’s answer to the bladed iron market was the iBlade. A good iron though it was, that’s an exceptionally long lifespan for any hardware product in today’s game. This all changed late last year when the brand new i59 was released, prompting many equipment enthusiasts like myself to want to test it out!
First impressions are that it follows Ping’s recent trend of understated, minimalistic aesthetics, particularly in the better player iron categories. Think iBlade, i210, and probably closest of all in this case – i500.
Put it behind the ball and two things jump out immediately. 1 – That’s a small head, and 2 – There’s a lot of grooves on the face! I’m not sure whether the latter enhances the former in this case, but certainly, the 4 extra grooves take a bit of getting used to initially.
Aside from the above, the head is complemented by a sleek topline. Offset is minimal as you would expect, although it’s worth noting that Ping have opted for a progressive offset design with i59, meaning that it increases as you go into the longer irons, and dramatically reduces into the shorter irons and wedge.
All sets will do this to some extent, but the variance through the set is quite high. To give context (3 iron to PW), the amount of offset ranges from 0.17 to 0.02 inches, whereas in the Mizuno MP221 irons, it spans from 0.10 to 0.07 inches.
The comparison to MP221 is one that I’ll make fleetingly throughout this review, as of all the recent bladed iron products I’ve tried, this has impressed me the most so far. You can read our full Mizuno Pro irons review here.
On the rare occasions I managed to find the middle of the golf club, it produced a wonderfully satisfying feeling. No surprise given this head is built from the same 1025 carbon steel used by Mizuno, whose reputation is in part built on the feel of their irons.
What I would say however is that the above was hard to come by*. A solid 8 out of 10 strike does not necessarily produce such nice feedback, so it needs to be a really well-centred contact to benefit in this respect.
That’s fair cop though, isn’t it? The club is designed to be used by pure ball strikers for whom precision and control are their priority. In a way, you could argue it’s a good training aid/motivator to strike the ball consistently well. We all know it’s not that easy though!
*A side-note from Will Shaw (editor) – Ali is a very consistent ball-striker. For him to highlight this means you should take note.
With traditional lofts and an increase in the number of grooves on the face, I wasn’t expecting this to be the longest of irons, and it isn’t – it’s not designed to be.
I was able to average a carry distance of around 155 yards across the test with the 7 iron. This is a little down on other comparable bladed irons I’ve hit which have generally got me closer to the 160 mark through the air, though my sweetest strike did make it just north of 160.
When you are comparing performance differences in irons like these, it’s the smallest data margins at impact you are looking at to explain the change in ball flight.
For example, I found ball speed to be a little on the low side (average 113.1, best 115.2) with an average smash factor of only 1.32. The launch angle was slightly higher than I’d expect (average 18.2 degrees), with a good spin rate averaging above 6200.
|Club speed (mph)||Ball speed (mph)||Smash factor||Carry (yds)||Spin rate (rpm)||Launch angle (º)||Peak height (ft)|
All these factors combined, marginal though they are, have probably contributed to that loss of a few yards. The question is, does this iron make up for it in other areas such as control and consistency?
Spin rate will generally be a good determining factor of control, and with these extra grooves, it’s not hard to come by. As touched on above, averaging above 6200 with a high-ish launch angle, means the ball will always have stopping power on landing. Not only that, it allows a better player to shape and work the flight of the ball on demand.
In addition, Ping point out that these additional grooves will help retain spin and control when hitting balls from the rough, and their signature Hydropearl 2.0 finish is designed to reduce the risk of fliers in wet conditions. I’ve not managed to test this yet, but the argument is logical and should hold true.
In one sense, I did find consistency in distance control, with the strikes of the same comparative quality landing largely on top of one another. That said, a gap of over 10 yards between front and back is a little high for this type of club, but this more is reflective of the next section – forgiveness.
A better, more consistent ball striker than myself would be more than impressed by the consistency of distance control this iron affords. The thin sole also offers excellent turf interaction to help that better player produce the crispest of strikes, even from less-than-ideal lies.
Whilst on the one hand, you are not expecting to have a huge amount of forgiveness in an iron like this, even the best players in the world miss the centre of the club more than you might think. With consistency and precision being one of the cornerstones of an elite player, it is still important to have some level of forgiveness even in a bladed iron.
Whilst I don’t think this club necessarily performs badly in this area, I think it is slightly outperformed by other competitors, that despite the tungsten toe screw and 17-4 steel face that Ping say offers higher MOI and reliable distance.
A good way to look at this might be smash factor (ball speed / club speed), which gives efficiency of strike. For example, I was able to achieve an average smash factor of 1.32 with the i59, as opposed to around 1.34 with the Mizuno MP221 (using the same ball – Titleist Pro V1, albeit on different days).
The stock shaft option with the i59 is the Project X LS (low spin). An odd choice you might think, for a club that is designed to produce more spin and control. When these first arrived, I put this point to the rep, asking whether the LS shaft was required because the extra grooves on the face almost spin the ball too much. His response was that it was a good opportunity to introduce this shaft to the line-up. That’s rep speak for “Yes, but I’m not going to directly agree”.
I certainly think there is a large element of the above involved, because manufacturers will always choose the most effective shaft option to compliment the head design. Even with that LS shaft, I was still comfortably generating north of 6000 spin, which is a good benchmark for a 7 iron at my ball speed. For those that hit the ball harder still, and generate more speed and spin, this shaft will remain a good option to keep the spin in the right window.
Other shafts are of course available, to suit various swing types and characteristics, however I would suggest that the properties of this iron are really geared towards the stronger, more precise golfer, and so typically it will be the firmer shafts that are generally used with this head. Other low launch options would include the Dynamic Gold S300 and X100 and KBS Tour in X-Stiff. Those looking to achieve a higher trajectory may look towards the Modus 105 X or AWT 2.0 X.
Golf Insider verdict – Ping i59 irons review
In summary, this is a niche iron with a very specific purpose – optimising for ball flight control, precision and workability.
This is a good iron for the right golfer. That golfer is an elite player who produces strong clubhead speed, together with consistent ball-striking ability. For this type of player, the i59 will afford superb control, ideal for setting up more birdie chances during a round.
For the player that is dead set on the i59 but would like a little more distance out of them, they could consider having the lofts strengthened (see power spec lofts below), and playing around with shafts which might help to shift the balance slightly.
There are however other bladed irons on the market, that perhaps offer a little more performance in terms of speed and efficiency whilst producing ample control for the better golfer.
Value-wise, the Ping i59 sits above the price point of some of its competitors (Mizuno MP221, Titleist T100, TaylorMade P7 MB). Of course, all of these sets are amongst the higher price points, and I think it will come down to the individual golfer to decide which model suits them best.
Frequently asked questions
Below are some frequently asked questions when buying the Ping i59 irons.
Alternatives to the Ping i59
There are a plethora of quality blade-style irons on the market at the moment. If ball speed and forgiveness is important, I’d fully recommend golfers to cross-compare with the Titleist T100, and Mizuno MP221, the latter of which I still feel offers an excellent balance of control and distance, along with feel.
I’ve not had the pleasure of trying the Taylormade P7 MB, but with its weaker lofts, I can imagine this would perform well in the control stakes and be another good option for the stronger player who is prioritising accuracy above distance.
Are Ping i59 blades?
Yes, the Ping i59 certainly falls under the category of bladed irons.
Are the Ping i59 irons suitable for mid-high handicappers?
I wouldn’t suggest the i59 is best suited to mid-handicappers or above. In fact, I’d suggest these will only suit a small percentage of golfers, namely those who produce strong clubhead speed (7i – high 80’s into 90’s mph) and marry that with consistent ball striking. This is likely to be a low handicapper or professional golfer.
Which Ping irons are most forgiving?
Of their current range, the Ping G425 is the most forgiving iron, but for those looking for something in the middle between i59 and G425, maybe consider trialling the new i525 which boasts a sleek head (although larger than i59) with distance and forgiveness properties more closely aligned to the G425.
Ping i59 Spec
Below is a table with the Ping i59 Specifications. More information can be found at Ping.com
|Club||Length||Loft||Power spec loft||Retro spec loft||Lie angle||Offset||Bounce||Swing Weight||Dexterity|
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