Review: Ping S57 Irons

57 varieties of shots
Heinz has used the number 57 as it’s marketing of ketchup, sauces and pickles.  The bottles all read 57 varieties.  The Ping S57s made me think of how many variety of shots I could hit with these irons.

For starters I will admit, this is my first set of Pings.  For all the years of golf and all the clubs that have come and gone, for some reason I never had a set of Pings in my bag prior to the S57s.  So as I was looking through the newest Ping offerings I wanted to try their player’s clubs, the ones I have been seeing in the bags of many PGA pros. 

 Hunter Mahan has had great success in the Ryder Cup with these clubs.  I can’t compare them to previous models, this review is just based on my findings of the S57 alone.

Pings has many positive qualities, but my favorite aspect of Ping products is their fitting carts.  The carts have been around now for a number of years and get updated every time there are new irons.  The constant color dots to indicate lie angle are excellent.  If you were a red dot a few years ago, you can be confident that you will still be a red dot today.  In all my reviews I preach about getting fit, no one makes that easier than Ping.  The other fitting options of length and grip size are also extremely important.

My box arrived from the factory with 9 clubs in it, 2-PW.  Even the shipping showed care, and quality.  Each iron came with an iron cover, not just a bag or paper, put a neoprene headcover.  Each club was spot on as far as swingweight, length, and lie angle.  

I couldn’t wait to get these beauties on the course.  The polished satin finish looks great.  Shiny enough to look classy, but dull enough to reduce glare.  The head shape is small and truly designed for the better player.  The overall impression of this club is all business.  Simple looks, a small orange medallion, a black polymer tab behind the face, and the tungsten toe weight.  I really liked the look of these in the bag.  At address they have a thin top line and square toe that is appealing to look down at.

It was fun to see what could be done with these clubs on the course.  They played closer to blades than cavity-backs.  I found that I could hit 57 varieties of shots with these.  What most impressed me was that the 57 different shots I hit with these were the ones I wanted to hit.  If I wanted a high draw, I could step up and do that, a low fade- good, a knock down,-simple, a flop-that could be done too.  Everything I wanted them to do, they did, it was a thing of beauty.  Yet, when I wanted to step-up and hit it down the middle nothing fancy, they were forgiving enough to handle my moderate miss hits.  If the swing was ugly so was the result.  I tried to hit the 2 iron and just couldn’t. 3iron-PW were no problem, but some mental block didn’t allow me to get the 2 iron off the ground.  The 3-iron was surprisingly easy to hit and everything lower did exactly as I wanted as far as trajectory and control. I think the two main factors for such control and variety would be the milled face and DG s300 shafts.

I have never seen a face with grooves like this in an iron set.  They looked like wedges.  You could see the mill marks on the face (I tried to get a picture, if you look closely by the sole you can see the milling marks, in hand it is very easy to see.) and even a few times I noticed some scuffing on the ball from the sharp grooves.  I have read others complain about a loss of distance due to increased spin.  I did not experience any loss of distance; they played the same as the other sets I have been playing.  The improvement I did see was more spin, which didn’t seem to hurt me into the wind, but really helped the ball stick on hard greens.  The DG s300 shafts have been around for many years.  Pro and amateurs alike continue to use them because of their extreme versatility.  I don’t think much needs to be said about this shaft.

The minimal offset, tungsten toe weight, and thin sole made the irons feel very stable and predictable at impact.  The design is said to have a high M.O.I.  The sole is interesting how it is thinner in the heel and wider out near the toe.  This design helped square things up at impact.  I found there was some forgiveness in these irons.  For me it was just the right amount to allow for shot variation, but yet enough to forgive a less than perfect swing.  The blunted leading edge cut in just a small amount for those shallow pro-like divots.

I was a little skeptical about the feel of cast clubs, because I have noticed the clubs that I played in the past which were cast always felt harsh in comparison to my forged irons.  But the black polymer insert behind the face does a great job of dampening vibrations and giving these irons a relatively soft feeling.  They did not feel quite as soft as some of my forged blades, but definitely as soft as many forged cavity-back clubs I have played.  Feel and sound are closely related.  The S57s have a nice stainless click to them that was muted just a bit by the polymer bar.  While feel is sacrificed a small amount because of the SS cast head, the durability over forged irons is worth it.  The S57s can take a beating (please don’t) and still look like new.

You better bring you’re A-game with these clubs.  They are not game-improvement irons for the high handicap, but they are shot improving for the low handicap.  I was very impressed by the shot varieties that you could hit with these clubs.   If you want to hit 57 varieties of shots, the Ping S57s would make a great addition to your bag.

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