What was to follow over the course of the hour fitting was a mystery that would challenge the combine power of Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. It was certainly destined to challenge the Ping technical and quality control teams.
Having got their early and warmed up with my Taylormade Tour Preferred irons, it was time to see how these I25's performed. As with any fit, it was important to get some base numbers and so with the launch monitor linked up, I hit a few seven irons with my Taylormade's. I had even brought the 7 iron from my Ping G25 set I'd been fitted for last June just in case they were the best for my game. They had been the best match when I'd gone through the process at both Pachesham Golf Centre in Leatherhead and with Rhys. I was hoping not as the chunky top line and big heads in the G25 were affecting my confidence in the short irons and were the reason I was here. As the weather had intervened and there were gale force winds and lashing rain, we decided to hit indoors into the curtain. Having already hit the I25 on a number of occasions I was already aware of the flight and the shape I was getting and so I wasn't too concerned not seeing the ball on its journey and was happy to trust the launch monitor to do its work.
My base figures with the Taylormade was a swing speed of 78mph and a carry of 141 yards. With the G25, swing speed was the same but I was getting an extra yard but they were more of less matched. I was a little surprised as I thought I was getting a few more yards off the G25 on the course which just proves that feel and real aren't always the same.
|The Ping I25 - a lovely looking iron and a joy to hit|
We started with the standard Ping CFS shaft in regular flex. This was the same as I had in the G25 and weighs 99g and is a mid launching shaft. Immediately there was an advance in performance and I was getting more swing speed, up to 80mph and distance had gone out to 146 yards. Dispersion in terms of the misses left and right were tighter than either the Taylormade's and the G25. However there was also a tighter circle between the furthest and shortest hits too taking out the odd anomaly where I put a bad swing on the shot and any mis-hit). We were moving into the right direction.
What happened next was either a stroke of genius by Rhys or a moment of madness but the next offering would lead to a lot of questions being asked. He put in the CFS Distance shaft usually the stock offering in Ping's Karsten range. Now this is suppose to be more of a game improver club and the I25 is looked at as much more of an all rounder, but more suited to the "better player." Yes, I know, what was I doing with them in my hands!!!!!
According to the Ping blurb, this was suppose to be a gramme heavier at 100g and comes in at quarter of an inch longer due to the way the hosel in the Karsten is designed. From the moment I hit the first ball with the Distance shaft, there was a huge jump. Swing speed rose by a massive 5mph as an average, and I was getting on average a further five yards and suddenly getting the seven iron out to 151 yards. Rhys couldn't understand the difference but not only was I getting the extra speed and distance but my balls were more tightly spaced than the stock offering. I did hit a few that were down, and a testament to the fact that I still have the odd bad one lurking in the background but I compensated by stepping on a couple and getting it out at 155 yards carry. That for me is massive.
There was a certain je ne sais quoi about the CFS Distance iron. It was supposedly heavier, although I'm not sure a gramme over the speed of my swing would even be discernible. There was a feel, that certain something you can't quite put your finger on. It felt better. How can you put that into something tangible.
Rhys and I couldn't understand where the discrepancy had come from. We decided to hit seven balls with both shafts again and take out the mis-hits or bad shots and pick the best five. The numbers were identical in terms of speed and distance averages to the ones we had with the respective shafts earlier. Still this massive difference in performance. With both shafts out of the club head, they were identical in length and even the step points aligned. Because of the undefinable certain something I wanted to go with the CFS Distance. Who wouldn't want more swing speed and distance.
Rhys called Ping. Their technical help desk initially said there was no difference in the shaft. We knew that. They were dubious about just how big the differences were and in the end, we had no choice but to e-mail the numbers to Ping HQ in Gainsborough and wait for an answer. No irons ordered.
Several days passed and the topic had already caused a lively debate on Golf Monthly's forum. Ping were saying the distance played quarter of an inch longer, hence the name, because they were the stock shaft of the Karsten and the longer neck. With input from Rhys, they deduced that the standard CFS shaft may have become defective and worn. They sent a new shaft and I was booked in for another session with Rhys last Friday.
We decided to do a blind test. I didn't want to know which one Rhys fitted first and I hit the initial ten balls and the monitor recorded the data. We swapped the shaft over and repeated the process. The figures were almost identical. The swing speed was now 83mph and the average had dropped to 148 yards but that was still a further seven yards than I was getting with my G25 or Taylormade's. My speed is right on the cusp between a regular and stiff flex. We decided to try the stiffCFS standard shaft but the results were not as good with speed down and the screen displaying an array of shots going both left and right.
|The Ping Flex Chart|
The deal has been done and the clubs are on order. I25 heads with a CFS standard shaft, hard stepped in a green dot with a standard size grip. I can't wait to get my hands on them. The sleeker head and thinner top line will give me renewed confidence over the chips and pitches and the correct shaft and lie will give me a few extra yards and should be closer to my intended target. A big thanks to the Ping staff who were scratching their heads this week and to Rhys for working hard to find the right fit. Everyday is a school day and I wasn't even aware that shafts could go off. Clearly the demo CFS standard had. It just shows that two shafts that look identical (bar one gramme in weight) can play so differently. Vindication I guess that custom fitting can really throw up some nuances and that it is important to see how the data comes out in order to make a fully informed decision. At least we managed to solve the mystery wrapped in a conundrum.
I don't know how long these will take to arrive and with Rhys now away this week, I may have to wait for him to get back to give them a bash on the monitor and make sure everything is functioning properly. From then on I need to get out and start playing golf and getting the handicap cut. I have the tools, I have been shown how to do it and just need to put equipment and technique together. I am like a kid at Christmas and can't wait. With the golf course returning to a full eighteen holes this week it really feels as though the season is coming to life. Hoist the main sail. Homer's Odyssey is setting course towards single figures