It's impossible to make an iron that'll please every player, so golf manufacturers have to make choices when developing irons. Focus on feel? Distance? Forgiveness? Ball flight? The right aesthetic? Of course, every iron set aims to offer as many of these things for the intended audience of player, but inevitably, one feature leads above the others.
So, for their Summer 2018 offering, Ping has come out with a pair of new iron sets, both geared toward a wide swath of players but siding with a lower-handicap golfer either looking for massive length in the player's distance iron category or control and feel in the traditional player's iron category.
The i500 iron, which you heard about at the 2018 US Open (at least the longer irons), is the player's distance iron. As has become the hallmark of the category, it's hollow-body design with a muscle-back look more reminiscent of those compact heads better players used in a bygone era. Think of it as a G700 iron for a better player. The face is made of C300 maraging steel, which is milled and then welded to a 17-4 stainless-steel body to create high-flying shots with bigger ball speeds.
The company has said they've seen distance gains in the area of 15 yards per club with the i500. Of course, your mileage would vary in large part based on which irons you're using now. But, generally speaking, a player's distance iron is worth about a club to players.
Many skeptics get worried off these clubs because of the stronger lofts, but most every manufacturer will tell you now that the ability to move mass around has become so advanced that loft is just one factor among many in determining appropriate launch conditions. Generally speaking, these irons launch higher, land softer and go farther. That's the point: give better players a technology-filled club with a preferred shape and let them run wild.
The i210 iron is different. This is your traditional-looking player's iron, with the feel and precision a better player has leaned toward in the past. The i210 has a 431 stainless-steel head, with an elastomer insert for feel, acoustics and support. A tuning port puts weight specifically where it needs to be for face support and moment of inertia, and it allowed engineers to enlarge the face insert by 30 percent. This iron is designed to feel great in your hands and off the face. Distance is nice, but that's not the lead here.
The face and grooves are milled, as you'd expect in this category, as is the cavity for an upscale look. The groove spacing is tighter in the stock wedges for better control. The hydropearl chrome 2.0 finish is designed to repel water, and it's found on the i500 irons as well.
The Ping i500 irons are available in 3-9, PW and UW in 10 lie angles, with the stock True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 (R300, S300) steel shaft or UST Mamiya Recoil ES SMAC (760A, 780R, 780S) graphite shaft for $175 per club in steel and $190 per club in graphite.
The Ping i210 irons are available in 3-9, PW and UW in 10 lie angles, with the stock True Temper Dynamic Gold 120 (S300, X100) in steel shaft or ALTA CB (Soft R, Regular, Stiff) in graphite shaft for $137.50 per club in steel and $152.50 per club in graphite.
With both iron sets, a variety of aftermarket shaft options are available at no upcharge.