By David Dusek, Golfweek
JERSEY CITY, N.Y. – Ping Golf has brought its new S55 irons to Liberty National Golf Club, site of this week's Barclays Championship, where the clubs will be made available Monday for staff players to use for the first time.
Like the S56 irons that they replace in Ping's line, the new S55 irons are designed for accomplished players who prefer a small, blade-style head. The S55 irons will be available to consumers starting Nov. 1.
Matt Rollins, Ping's senior PGA Tour manager, said, "Size-wise, the new clubs are very, very similar [to the S56]. They're almost identical in size actually."
Made from 17-4 stainless steel like their predecessor, the new S55s have a thinner face designed to increase ball speed, along with a tungsten weight in the toe of each club to pull the sweet spot more to the center of the hitting area and to increase forgiveness.
Though Rollins said that the topline for both irons are exactly the same, he noted that the center of gravity (CG) is lower and slightly farther back in the S55 – especially in the long irons – so shots should fly a little bit higher.
Because the CG position is lower in the long irons, Rollins says that Ping was able to strengthen the lofts by one degree. However, he expects many pros will want to add loft to the S55 irons to match their old S56 irons. That can easily be accomplished and will produce a touch more bounce in the sole of the irons, which Rollins says could actually be an additional benefit.
"One of the things for [Ping staff player] Bubba Watson is that he wants to be able to curve the ball a little bite more," Rollins said. "We want him to put these in play, so we had to make them a little more playable."
Because most golfers are right-handed, the first versions of most golf clubs are made for right-handed players. However, Rollins said many of the original prototype S55 irons were made left-handed so that Watson could try them and give his feedback. "That's very unusual, but we had him involved with this a while ago," Rollins said.
The S56 had two stabilization bars behind the face, but there is only one in the back of the S55. The bar behind the long irons is smaller, to keep the CG down; in the short irons it's larger to raise the CG, which should help to flight shots lower for more control on approach shots.
"Last week I was in Dallas with Hunter Mahan and the first thing that he said to me was that the S55 feels softer," Rollins said. "There (are) two reasons for that. First is the stabilization bar, and second is the weight that goes behind the face is a lot softer."
In fact, the weight cartridge actually "gives slightly" when pressed upon.
Ping has not yet announced the stock shaft nor the price for the S55 irons.