2013 Buyer's Guide Irons5 QUESTIONS WITH PING
With Pete Samuels, Director of Communications PING
1 This may sound like a tricky question, but what type of iron should a player buy who's really adamant about getting better?
Should they choose an iron for their current skill set or for the player profile they hope to become? Irons tend to be categorized by player type, which can be misleading. We're always careful not to simply lead a golfer in a certain direction just because they want a certain type of club. That's why we encourage our fitters to expose golfers to a variety of iron models during a fitting session. In reality, we consider every club we make to be a "game-improvement" model. After all, everyone is trying to improve. Certain designs offer different performance attributes. It comes down to matching those attributes to the strengths and weaknesses of the player through a custom fitting. Just look at the PGA Tour; we have players using everything from forged blades to highly forgiving cavity-back irons.
2 PING has innovated iron technology in countless ways. In fact, we don't know where to start, so why don't you help us. What do you think is PING's greatest contribution to new iron technology in the last 20 to 30 years?
The process of designing irons continues to evolve, so there isn't just one thing. Our engineers don't chase a single attribute when designing an iron. They look at every aspect of what makes an iron perform. Distance, forgiveness, control, feel, look and sound are all key factors. It's the balance of those attributes and the player profile they're targeting that makes an iron successful. As the pioneer of perimeter weighting, we've learned more than most over the years, so we always rely on that knowledge to advance our iron designs.
3 The iron-fitting process—how has it changed over the years?
The greatest advancements are in the tools we now have available to dial in a more comprehensive iron fitting. With launch monitors and our custom-fitting software (nFlight and nFlight mobile), we learn more about the golfer's swing dynamics than ever before. We still look at the same factors—lie angle, shaft length, shaft flex, grip size, model type—but we're now able to make more precise recommendations. These tools also have opened tremendous opportunity to give the golfer the best set makeup for their game based on a gapping analysis. More golfers need to go through a gapping analysis—they will get a lot more out of their set and, ultimately, their game if they do.
4 PING's commitment to quality is second to none. You guys are notorious for having exceptional quality control. How do you maintain such high standards?
More than 50 years ago, Karsten Solheim built PING on a foundation of innovation and quality. That mind-set continues to drive every part of our process today. From how we test and design products to how we process an order, continuous improvement is emphasized and documented to ensure we get better at everything we do. PING is an ISO-9001-certified company. A lot of people aren't familiar with that, but it's a worldwide quality assurance standard that's common in the aerospace and automotive industries. There's no room for error when it comes to quality in those industries, so we wanted to hold ourselves to a similar standard. We're audited on a yearly basis to maintain that distinction, and we're proud to say we've passed every year since first being certified over 12 years ago.
5 What do you think lies ahead for iron technology?
Iron technology will continue to evolve with a goal of improving overall performance. What that will look like from us, only our engineers know for sure. I'm on a need-to-know basis with them, but I do have complete faith that the next iron they design will be better than the previous one.
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