20 Second Intro
Model: PING i200 Iron
Lofts: 3-9, PW, UW
Stock Shafts: PING AWT 2.0 (Steel) / PING CFS 65/70/80 (Graphite)
No-Upcharge Options: Project X, XP 95, Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 3 105, KBS Tour, Dynamic Gold
MSRP: $135/club steel, $150 Graphite
Availability: Pre-Order Now
As I was settling in to start my discussion with members of PING’s R&D Team about the i200 iron, they jokingly suggested that the name comes from the fact that the new iron is 199 times better than its predecessor.
See, PING has a sense of humor.
Take a deep breath, everyone. 15 seconds of levity doesn’t mean we should expect the normally stoic company to start tossing out the kinds of hyperboles we often see from its Carlsbad-based competitors. The point taken is that the i200 isn’t a because the calendar says so release. It’s a genuine upgrade.
While I’d stop short of calling it a complete overhaul either, the collective body of refinements makes for what is, in my opinion, a dramatic improvement over the i-iron it replaces.
Who is the i200 For?
First and foremost, the i200 is designed for some of the best players in the world. On the PGA side that’s guys like Lee Westwood, while on the LPGA you could start with Brooke Henderson.
To give you a sense of popularity of PING’s i irons, approximately 40% of its PGA Staff and 60% of its LPGA play an i. For the tour guys not playing the iBlade, the expectation is that most will quickly transition to the i200.
Call it a tour level iron with a little bit of wiggle room.
Unlike the G iron which PING’s VP of Engineering, Paul Wood, describes as Point and Shoot, the i200’s slim short irons offer enough workability that better players can still be creative and artistic with their shots, while the larger longer irons provide a level of forgiveness that mid-handicappers should find appealing.
If you’re a guy who likes the look of a smaller iron, but doesn’t want to go all-in on a blade, the i200 can offer you the flexibility to create shots, while still leaving you with some forgiveness to lean on when you miss the sweet spot.
The i200 is workable enough for the tour, but forgiving enough that it remains an option for scratch to low double-digit handicap golfers.
Is that intriguing?
What’s Changed from i
The most obvious difference between the i200 and its predecessor is the new models’ more refined look. A good bit of that can be attributed to an updated cavity design. Replacing the i’s badge is a milled back cavity. The sleeker design, along with the streamlined iBlade-like custom tuning port (CTP), goes a long way towards making the i200 look every bit the part of an iron in its class.
PING has minimized the appearance of offset. That’s not to say it’s gone. PING believes offset is a good thing, but it also understands not everyone likes to see it.
Preaching to the choir, boys.
With the help of some rounded edges and other visual trickery, PING was able to hide a bit of the offset without actually getting rid of it. These same refinements aid in a seamless transition from the i200 irons to the company’s Glide wedges.
And speaking of the wedges, you might recall that PING’s hydropearl chrome (first used on the Glide wedges) was part of the design spec for the iBlade. That same moisture dispersing (hydrophobic) finish has also found its way to the i200.
According to PING, the hydropearl helps encourage moisture to bead and roll off the club face, which increases spin and reduces the chance of fliers in damp conditions. The finish also helps to reduce friction as the club enters and exits the turf, leading to better overall turf interaction.
Even if the naysayer in you isn’t willing to consider that those benefits could be real, you’re still left with a durable low-glare satin finish, which is nice.
PING has made its bones as a leader in forgiveness and MOI – that holds true even with its better player offerings. With the i200, PING added as much heel and toe weight as it could without sacrificing feel. The end result is a 7% gain in MOI, which brings the forgiveness of the i200 in-line with the company’s G15 iron.
We’re talking about a player’s iron with a level of forgiveness that would otherwise put it in the game-improvement category.
CAST vs. FORGED
As with most PING irons, the i200 is cast. PING is certainly aware that there are some of you who won’t try it because it isn’t forged. Me, I think that’s narrow-minded, and for its part, PING isn’t about to sacrifice performance for the perception of better feel.
And while I’m certain many of you won’t believe it, if you talk to anyone inside just about any R&D department, they’ll all tell you the same thing. Feel isn’t about cast vs. forged. It’s about materials and geometry. Once upon a time there were casting metals and forging metals, but that’s not the case anymore. It’s absolutely possible to make a great feeling cast iron.
As is the case with the i Iron and the iBlade, PING chooses to cast the i200 from 431 stainless steel, because the company feels it yields the best product. The material is dense and durable (longer groove life). It offers outstanding feel, and its ductile qualities work well in the casting process.
Across the entire set, the i200 is only a degree stronger than the iBlade in the standard spec. This shouldn’t come as a real surprise given i200’s position as a shotmaker’s iron. While I suppose it’s worth noting that the redesigned CTP helps support a face that’s 30% thinner than the i-iron’s, PING didn’t go nuts trying to maximize distance.
The i200’s face is thinned just enough to allow for a bit of extra flex, but not so much that the CTP actually starts to steal energy at impact. As with nearly every aspect of this iron, it’s about achieving the right balance. On a comparative basis, the thinner face might give you a few more yards, but that’s not the objective here, and I wouldn’t expect PING to promote i200 as a distance iron.
For those who do want more distance, PING is offering what it calls a Power Spec set. Power Spec lofts are designed to provide stronger flight in the middle irons, without messing too much with the long or short irons. The goal is to boost distance without making long irons too difficult to get airborne, and without making wedges fly too far. While plenty of us crave more distance, PING isn’t interested in providing it if it means it has to sell you a second gap wedge.
While golfers have always had the option to custom order stronger lofts, the Power Spec option makes it a bit easier for you to order your set stronger, if that’s your desire.
Just as a casual FYI, Power Spec is also available in the iBlade.
Hands-On with the i200
I had a chance to spend some time with the i200 on a recent visit to PING HQ. I’ll level with you, I’ve never been what you’d call a PING guy, but after the last two releases, I’m starting to come around on the irons – bigly.
I’ll cop to being an unabashed fan of the iBlade. The launch conditions I get from it are as good as anything I’ve ever hit, though the realist in me concedes my ball-striking talents beg for something more forgiving – and that makes the i200 particularly appealing to me.
I found the feel of the i200 to be similar to the iBlade, but the added forgiveness was apparent in the number of times I found myself saying good miss.
I’m not one to work the ball much. Generally, it’s a matter of necessity (I left my drive in a bad spot) or I’m trying to play the conditions (hold the ball against the wind), but I found myself happily surprised by the relative ease with which I was able to shape the ball. More surprisingly I found I was able to move the ball left to right, which is the more challenging shot for me.
I was also able to control, or at least bring down my trajectory with relative ease, which is handy in the wind or when you’re trying to squeeze out a few more yards. Take it for whatever individual results are worth, but the i200s gave me the confidence that I could move the ball in any direction. On the course, that confidence is invaluable.
For those looking for concrete data – and I don’t blame you a bit – it’s coming. The i200 will be tested as part of our upcoming 2017 Most Wanted series.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning… it was suggested that, because of my naturally high ball flight (I’m a dynamic loft machine), I might be a good candidate for the Power Spec. While some added distance would come with that, the recommendation itself is based on the benefits that would come from dropping my launch angle and getting my spin rates down a bit.
Pricing and Availability
MSRP for the PING i200 Iron is $135 per iron steel and $150 per iron graphite. The PING i200 is available for pre-order beginning today.
For additional information, visit PING.com