Which Ping iron is best for me?

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Which Ping irons should I buy? Your guide to each iron in Ping’s 2022 line-up, who they are aimed at, and how they performed when tested by our pro.

Most major golf brands have five, six or even seven sets of irons in their 2022 line-ups. Some are new models, others carried over from previous ranges, but they are all aimed at very specific golfers.

There’s been a huge influx of new forged models over recent years, but choices still range from sublime musclebacks to hollow heads, cavity backs and super forgiving hybrid-style irons. While some are forged from soft carbon steel, others have springy fast faces, just like a driver.

With so many options out there, it’s easy for golfers to get confused over which will best suit their game. And even those who have a good idea of which iron will suit them often don’t realise what’s put on the line in terms of ball speed, carry distance and forgiveness by choosing a set above their ball striking capability.

With every major 2022 iron model now available in the shops, the time felt right to show how each brand’s iron range compares when they go head-to-head. If it’s a Ping model that has caught your eye, we’ll walk you through their range and find out how they perform.

Thanks to our consistent test pro and his launch monitor data, we can show how whole families of irons stack up. You can read how we test, here. We’ve also given each model a forgiveness rating and a handicap guide to spell out simply which players should be considering each model, and, more importantly, why. Find out more about the ratings, here.

If you want to see how all of year’s irons performed, then check out our full irons test or, if there are other brands on your shopping list, take a look at which, TaylorMadeCallaway
MizunoSrixon and PXG irons are right for you.

Ping Blueprint iron.

Ping Blueprint Iron

RRP £219 per club | VIEW OFFER
Category Muscleback blade | Forgiveness rating 1/5 | Handicap range Four and below | ConstructionForged from a single piece of 8620 carbon steel | 7-iron loft 34º

Today’s Golfer test verdict… This iron is right for a very small percentage of very good players! The Blueprint was developed in cahoots with Ping tour players including Louis Oosthuizen, and as beautiful as they are, realistically they are a good match for only a tiny number of elite ball strikers (even on tour, Ping’s most played iron is the i210).

We’ve seen a lot of muscleback irons over the years, but the Blueprint have the slimmest sole widths we’ve ever laid eyes on. For some that means lovely turf interaction, but it also dictates that you’ll need to be a cracking ball striker to even consider a set

What’s on the line by choosing them? The G425 boasts 68% more MOI…

Ping i59 iron.

Ping i59 iron

RRP £239 per club | VIEW OFFER
Category Players’ | Forgiveness rating 2/5 | Handicap range Six and below | Construction Hollow body with forged 1025 carbon steel chassis (with an aluminium core) and 17-4 stainlesss steel face | 7-iron loft 34º

Today’s Golfer test verdict… Ping’s first hollow body players’ iron (the previous i500 was more a players’ distance iron). Its introduction shows the direction modern players’ irons are heading, and our data supports why hollow body constructions have a place within the modern game.

From a 7-iron loft 1º weaker than the i210, the i59 is faster, higher launching and flying, with a steeper descent angle, while maintaining very similar spin; all great traits for encouraging longer approaches to hit the green like a dartboard and stop where they land.

Thanks to the aluminium core freeing up 30g inside the head, decent players can expect similar levels of forgiveness to the i210.

RELATED: Best Irons 2022

Ping i210 iron.

Ping i210 iron

RRP £126 (s), £136 (g) per club | VIEW OFFER
Category Players’ | Forgiveness rating 2.5/5 | Handicap range 10 and below | Construction One piece, cast 431 stainless steel | 7-iron loft 33º

Today’s Golfer test verdict… Since their launch in 2018, the i210s have been Ping’s most popular tour iron. Four years on and sets can still be found in the bags of Viktor Hovland, Lee Westwood and Tyrrell Hatton.

In our book, having hit all the players’ irons on the market in 2022, the i210 is one of the most forgiving models you can get your hands on, hence why its lifespan is double that of most other models.

Our pro still uses a set himself, and his test data supports how the model remains a brilliant choice for decent single figure golfers who aren’t keen on faster face hollow body irons.

Ping i525 iron.

Ping i525 iron

RRP £180 (s), £190 (g) per club | VIEW OFFER
Category Players’ distance | Forgiveness rating 2.5/5 | Handicap range 12 and below | Construction Hollow body with cast 17-4 stainless steel chassis and forged maraging steel face | 7-iron loft 30.5º

Today’s Golfer test verdict… Picking up more than 2mph of ball speed and 10 yards of carry (with a 7-iron) over any Ping players’ iron will be way too alluring for 90% of reasonable club golfers.

Yes, the heads are bigger (so the blade length is longer and the soles are wider), but the hosel offset from 7-PW is exactly the same as the i59 iron, so there’s nothing to draw the eye of pernickety, detail-focused golfers here.

A little extra offset in the long irons helps flight longer approaches a little more easily at reasonable speeds.

If you find yourself split between the i525 and G425 (both could easily be a good fit for a decent player), think about the extra cost of the i525 (a seven-piece set is £357 more than the G425), and whether the G425’s extra offset, wider soles and more forgiving heads will add an additional forgiveness dimension to your game.

Ping G425 iron.

Ping G425 iron

RRP £129 (s), £139 (g) per club | VIEW OFFER
Category Mid-handicap | Forgiveness rating 3.5/5 | Handicap range Eight and above | Construction Cast 17-4 body with Hyper 17-4 stainless steel face | 7-iron loft 30º

Today’s Golfer test verdict… These are perfect for literally anyone. Ping’s G irons have been so consistently good for so long, they’re proven performers in almost anyone’s hands.

What’s changed over the last few editions is how the traditional boxy G heads have given way to much more refined short and mid-iron shapes, especially in the G425.

Our pro hit shots into the smallest dispersion area with them, and they were third best at protecting carry distance, which means we can confidently say this is a really forgiving iron to live with on the course.

Ping irons are sold individually so you can mix and match between models, and thanks to Power and Retro Specs, you can also choose to loft up or down.

RELATED: Best Mid-Handicap Irons

Ping G710 iron.

Ping G710 iron

RRP £169 (s), £179 (g) per club | VIEW OFFER
Category High-handicap | Forgiveness rating 4/5 | Handicap range 28 and below | Construction Hollow body (17-4 stainless steel), with maraging steel face | 7-iron loft 29.5º

Today’s Golfer test verdict… Compared to a G425, the G710 has a 3% higher MOI, which is not hugely substantial, but Ping have always teed the G710 up as the model that’s for more distance-focused golfers.

We reckon the choice between the G710 and G425 comes down to whether you see the G710’s bigger heads as a help or a hindrance; the price difference (the G710s will set you back an additional £280 for a seven-piece set); and whether or not you want to buy into modern, fast face, hollow iron technology or not.

Whichever way you go, both are really solid mid and high- handicap options.

RELATED: Best High Handicap Irons

Launch Monitor Data: How the Ping irons compared

How Ping's 2022 golf irons compared on our launch monitor.

How we carried out our Ping golf irons test

– We created an indoor test lab at Keele Golf Centre to ensure a controlled environment

– Ping supplied their 2022 irons in our Test Pro Neil Wain’s spec.

– We used premium TaylorMade TP5x golf balls and a Foresight GC Quad launch monitor to create the most reliable data possible.

– We rejected major misses but recorded how shots launched, span, peaked and dropped out of the air, before crunching the numbers to come up with our conclusions.

Neil Wain is Today's Golfer's test pro.

How we analysed our Ping irons data

Before we came to any conclusions, we analysed the data for each club tested; on distance, spin rates, forgiveness. The latter we refer to as drop offs; the differences in ball speed, spin and carry between our test pro’s on- and off-centre hits.

This insight gives a reliable indication of how forgiving each model will be on the course, as we’ve argued for years that dispersion can be very misleading as it’s based on how you swing on a particular day. We analysed all that data before choosing winners.

RELATED: Best Golf Launch Monitors

What our iron forgiveness ratings mean

Category 5: Hybrid Irons

Hybrid irons have been the much maligned black sheep of irons for years, but they now represent a huge opportunity to keep golfers – who typically lose 0.5 mph of clubhead speed each year once they hit 60 – in the game for longer.

There has been a growing trend in this area in recent years. Not only are brands showing more interest in producing hybrid irons, golfers are more willing to use them. The extra playability that hybrids have brought to the long game have transformed many golfers’ games in the past decade.

If your game or swing speed have gone south, hybrid irons are a brilliant option.

Typical performance traits

In the hands of average club golfers, hybrid irons are more forgiving than any other model. They have big wide soles to launch shots high with increased forgiveness, while designers claim they also help prevent digging into the turf, thereby reducing fat shots.

It’s exactly the type of styling that led golfers to fall in love with long iron replacement hybrids/rescues. The centre of gravity in hybrid irons is far lower and deeper than a typical cavity-back iron.

Who should use hybrid irons?

Golf should be fun and hybrid Irons can turn a frustrating round into an enjoyable one. The extra playability means more shots carry sand and water hazards. Hybrid Irons aren’t just for players with slower swings. They’re for anybody who wants to reduce frustration and have more fun.

RELATED: Best Golf Shot Tracking Devices

Category 4: Super Game Improver Irons

This category is as forgiving as it gets if you insist that an iron needs to look like an iron and you’re resistant to exploring hybrid iron alternatives.

Historically, golfers have traded looks for forgiveness in this category, but modern models have come a long way in recent years. It’s now possible to get your hands on an iron like the Ping G710, which is not only great looking, but also super forgiving and powerful.

Better yet, it won’t highlight you as a hacker before you’ve even hit a shot! 

Typical performance traits

Historically, super game-improver models have big chunky heads, thick toplines and even wider soles. The best of the latest models challenge that thinking, though, thanks to dense tungsten weighting that places critical mass in very specific areas of the head.

Category 4 models have either a deep cavity-back or a hollow head and they’re very often the lightest in a brand’s iron range. Shafts are often lighter with softer tip sections to increase launch and spin, which helps maximise distance at lower speeds.

Some models unashamedly reduce weight to naturally add speed. This is great as long as your swing isn’t too weight sensitive and you lose the ability to ‘time’ shots. It’s worth remembering that the larger the head size, the easier it is to get an iron face to flex and add speed.

Who should use super game improver irons?

Golfers who aren’t afraid to admit that their game needs as much help as they can get their hands on is a reasonable rule of thumb here. Whereas game-improver models often suit 20-handicap golfers and below, super game-improver models fill the gap above this really nicely.

However, make sure that you’re well aware which models are lightweight and/or strong lofted and make a decision on which best suits your game after trialling both. Get that right and the irons within this category can seriously raise your enjoyment of the game.

Forgiveness Category 3.5: Game Improver Irons

This area of the market produces the most sales simply because there’s more mid-high handicappers. Brands invest huge sums developing new technology in this area.

Typical performance traits

There’s disagreement among brands as to whether this category should be home to their strongest loft irons and  there’s a discussion to be had around whether strong loft irons are suited to the highest handicappers with the slowest swings. These players often struggle to launch strong loft irons high enough to optimise carry and backspin.

The extra offset pushes the CG back to aid launch. It’s not uncommon for these irons to be 10mm+ longer with sole widths some 45% wider than a Category 1 blade. Toplines are often twice the width of a blade, too.

Who should use game improver irons?

Fitted with slightly lighter shafts and, sometimes, a lighter swing weight, these irons help maximise swing speed. It’s no secret the engineers target 18–20 handicappers with these clubs.

Forgiveness Category 3: Game Improver Plus

When it comes to matching an iron to your ability, it’s really important not to confuse this category with full out game-improver models. Simply put, they’re not.

As a benchmark, the Ping G iron has always been a stalwart of the traditional game-improver category but the current G410 falls into our Category 3.5. Category 3 models are a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Very often, Category 3 and Category 3.5 irons end up in the hands of improving golfers, but they subtly target different players, hence why Callaway make both an Apex 19 (forged and in Category 3) and a Mavrik (cast and in Category 3.5).

Typical performance traits

The fact that five of our eight Category 3 irons are forged tells the story of who they’re aimed at. And just to highlight the point, none of the Category 3.5 models are forged.

Models in this category will have either a decent-sized/depth cavity-back or a hollow head. The cast PXG 0211s are a great example of a set that combines compact, less offset short-irons with larger, more forgiving mid- and long-irons to appeal to golfers seeking both looks and performance within a single set.

Offset will often be a fraction less than with full on game-improver models, while toplines will be a fraction wider than in Player Irons. Lofts will likely be a little stronger than those of a Players Distance iron. On average, our eight Category 3 models had 1.4° less 7-iron loft (30.1°) than Category 2.5 models, which means they can target ball speed and distance.

Who should use game improver plus irons?

If you’re a mid-handicap golfer, you absolutely should look at some of the models within this category. To be the best match, though, it’s highly likely your handicap will be 15 or below – depending on your ball-striking confidence.

Category 3.5 models bring together traits often best-suited to 18-20 handicappers and below. Category 3 models usually offer a decent-looking clubhead, which is often forged, along with added speed and distance for golfers who don’t quite have the ball striking prowess to use one of the two Player Iron categories.

RELATED: Best Golf Training Aids

Forgiveness Category 2.5: Players’ Distance Irons

In 2015, PXG founder Bob Parsons tasked his top engineers with the unenviable challenge of creating an iron that looked like a blade but played like a cavity-back. What they came back with – the original 0311 – changed the iron market.

TaylorMade joined the hollow-body players distance iron market in 2017 with the P790. It became the brand’s biggest-selling forged iron ever. Titleist then launched the popular 718 AP3 and Ping joined the party in 2018 with their i500.

The rapid growth of this category can not only be attributed to aspirational aesthetics, but faster ball speeds and more distance than traditional player’s irons.

Typical performance traits

In many instances, the clubhead size in this category will be a little larger to inspire more confidence at address. And don’t expect too much hosel offset, either. The toplines are reasonably thin and shaft weights tend to be a little lighter than those found in blades.

The face might be forged – as found in the TaylorMade P790, Ping i500 and Cobra King Forged Tec – while several models favour hollow body technology.  The average 7-iron loft in this category was 2° stronger than in the Category 1 models, which inevitably means extra ball speed and distance.

You may find some fast-face technology in these clubs, too, while some kind of internal tungsten weighting is also common. This gives the manufacturers’ engineers the ability to manipulate the centre-of-gravity location in the clubhead to help shots launch higher from a stronger loft as well as deliver more forgiveness over Category 1 and Category 2 models. That’s some seriously good food for thought. 

Who should use players’ distance irons?

Don’t be fooled by our data into thinking that Players Distance Irons are the wonder drug for all golfers… they’re not. What the data does show, though, is what’s on the line when a golfer chooses either a Category 1 or Category 2 model when, in fact, they should be playing a Category 2.5 iron.  

While the typical shaft weight and profile was perfect for our test pro, many mid-handicap and above golfers would benefit from the slightly lighter weight and added consistency of a Category 3, Category 4 or even a Category 5 model. Irons in this category bridge the gap from traditional game-improver to player models brilliantly, which means they usually work best for golfers with handicaps of 12 and below.

Forgiveness Category 2: Players’ Irons

If you need any evidence to support which type of golfer this category is aimed at, you only need to look at tour players like Jordan Spieth, Shane Lowry and Jason Day. All are major champions and currently play irons that fall within this category.

These types of irons are very good options for impressive ball-strikers who don’t necessarily want to compromise on looks, but still want some forgiveness built into what is essentially a blade shape clubhead.

Typical performance traits

Player irons generally are pretty similar to blades for hosel offset, topline thickness and sole width. The majority are forged (with the exception of Ping’s models) as the decent players who use them often believe forging delivers a premium feel/sound. Plus, it’s worth remembering that more than 90% of tour events are won by players using forged models.

For us, a Category 2 model must have some type of cavity-back, either shallow as with the Mizuno JPX919 Tour or deeper as found in the Honma T//World 747 Vx. There absolutely will be no thin fast-face tech (not in the mid- to short-irons anyway), as many purists believe that face flex leads to inconsistencies.

Lofts generally are fairly traditional, since golfers at this level want very consistent gapping and predictable yardages, even on slight mishits.

Who should use players’ irons?

It goes without saying that you need to be a decent ball-striker to get the best out of Player irons. That means you’ll need to be very close to a category one golfer. There’s a very good reason why Players Distance irons (forgiveness Category 2.5) have become so popular over the last few years.

It’s because they bridge the gap that was really difficult to cover when golf didn’t have fast-face tech, strong lofts or hollow body constructions. If you can tolerate some modern tech, you can not only get extra ball speed and distance but more forgiveness, too.

Forgiveness Category 1: Muscleback Irons

Musclebacks, also known as blades, are not only the most traditional irons, they’re also the most unforgiving, hence our forgiveness rating of 1. Any golfer thinking of buying a set of blades should have no real desire to add any extra speed, distance or forgiveness to their game.

In fact, the 10% of tour pros who use blades typically do so because the forgiveness levels are so low. It means they can shape shots at will while barely needing to alter their swing.

Typical performance traits

Blades are typically forged rather than cast. The forging process that stamps the irons into shape under high pressure compresses and aligns the grain of the metal more closely, which is said to improve feel and feedback. Musclebacks also have the least amount of hosel offset, which means the centre of gravity (CG) of the clubhead is further forward.   

A forward CG delivers a lower, more penetrating ball flight, even though blades tend to have the highest lofts of any iron category. Head sizes are generally very compact, while soles and top lines are typically very slender, which means they should appeal only to the very best ball-strikers.

Most blades come as standard with heavy 120g+ shafts since the more accomplished golfers who use them typically create more swing speed.

Who should use muscleback irons?

There’s a strong school of thought among some hardcore golfers that blades are the only true way to play the game. Some also swear that blades are the best way to learn the game because you’re severely punished for mishits and therefore have to focus more intently on developing a robust swing technique.

Regardless, to get the best out of Category 1 irons you’ll need a handicap of low single figures or better. It’s our opinion that you shouldn’t really consider using them until you get close to scratch.

READ NEXT: Best Hybrids

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Simon Daddow is Today's Golfer Equipment Editor

Simon Daddow is the Equipment Editor at todaysgolfer.co.uk

Simon has worked in the golf industry for 30 years. Starting out as trainee professional at Downes Crediton GC where he learned the art of golf club making, before going onto work for Clubhaus Plc and Tony Charles Ltd as a golf club maker, and running Product Development at Benross Golf.

Joining EMAP Active (now Bauer Media) in 2006 as Equipment Editor, Simon has worked for Today’s Golfer and Golf World magazines and the Today’s Golfer website.
Simon is 46 years old, he’s played golf for 40 years and plays to a handicap of 10. A lack of club speed means he’s short off the tee, but very handy from 125 yards and in.

He uses a Ping G400 SFT driver, PXG 0341 X Gen4 3-Wood, PXG 0341 X Gen4 7-wood, PXG 0317 X Gen2 hybridCallaway Rogue X irons (6–PW), Cleveland CBX2 wedges (52°, 58°), Bettinardi Inovai 6.0 putter and a TaylorMade Tour Response golf ball.

You can contact Simon here.

- Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections.