Ping and founder Karsten Solheim is credited with numerous innovations that have now become industry standards - perimeter weighting, custom fitting and the use of casting in the manufacturing of golf clubs. Casting both reduced costs, allowed better quality control for high tech features and set the stage for manufactured fitting.
Ping was also the first to offer factory fitting, via a variety of clubheads in different lies and offsets. Beginning about 1980 Ping began offering their fitting program based on a checklist of the player's physical characteristics, common problems and distances. Fast forward to 2011, where the checklist on the Ping website contained approximately 100 data inputs and was part of a 5-step fitting process covering everything from driver to putter.
This level of precision could be intimidating to the customer, so Ping translated all this data into a simple colour dot system. Once fitted, rather than four or five variables (length, loft, lie, etc.) the customer only had to remember one colour - a smart move from ping as it keeps golfers in their product as the buying process is easy. When ready, the customer only needs to look for a set of Ping irons with the right colour dot, and they know they'll fit their stance and swing from day one. For the full breakdown of the ping dot system, please click here.
When browsing second-hand Ping irons, the vast majority of sets fall into a pair of families - 'i' and 'G'. Irons in the 'G' family are for the game improver and will feature all the forgiveness technology golfers expect. Wide soles, thicker topline, and a big cavity with perimeter weighting; all designed to get the ball in the air and make the game easier. Ping have kept it simple with the naming convention too - the higher the number, the more recent release.
Of course, there is always an exception, and in the case of Ping irons, this is the G700. More than a concept, the G700 is Ping entry into the hollow-headed iron market - TaylorMade has it with the P790, Mizuno with the MP-20 HBM, and Titleist with the T-MB. Ping didn't want to miss out on this trend toward this.
The 'i' series of irons are aimed at the better player. They are immediately more appealing to the eye with thinner toplines and soles and a super premium Hydropear finish - which dispels water at strike to reduce the chance of a 'flyer'. The naming convention is mostly the same with a few rouge models thrown in to keep you on your toes such as the i-Series (released in line with the G-Series of the same name).
Outside of these two families, there is the 'S'. The S-Series was the tour-level irons before the 'i' series took over and are still firm favourites in the bag of two-time Masters Champion, Bubba Watson. Other notable names playing Ping irons on the European Tour include Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, and the iconic Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Ping irons are some of the best in the business, and their insistence on adhering to strict engineering principles and tight manufacturing tolerances raised the level of product performance and quality throughout the golf industry.