For years, the thinking was players looking for a Ping driver that would maximize distance went with a G-Series driver. Better players who liked to work the ball went with an i-Series driver. With the introduction of the i25 driver, Ping is continuing to change those ideas.
“From a design standpoint, but really more from a perception standpoint, we’ve transformed the i-Series from being a better-player’s product to being products that just provide less spin and a more boring trajectory,” said Marty Jertson, Ping’s director of product development. “Certainly in the driver category, the concept of workability, and better players needing workability, is pretty low in importance for most golfers. Even at the Tour level.”
Like its predecessor the i20, the new i25 features a 460 cubic-centimeter titanium head. While previous versions had a fixed hosel, the i25 was designed with an adjustable hosel system that lets golfers add or take away .5 degrees of loft. It is compact and extremely light, because the sleeve is made from aerospace-grade aluminum and the screw is made from titanium.
While other manufacturers offer greater adjustable loft ranges, Ping always has advocated players get custom fit for every club. The company believes the amount of adjustability designed into the i25 is enough to make it an effective fitting tool.
The adjustable hosel system in the i25 is identical to the one found in the G25 and Anser drivers, so golfers who own one of those clubs could un-screw the shaft from their current driver and attach it to a new i25 head to see if they get improved performance.
To increase ball speed, Ping designed the face of the i25 to be thicker in the center and thinner around the edges.
“We tried to optimize the face and take out as much mass as possible, and then use that mass to move the center of gravity back,” Jertson said.
He explained that most of the discretionary weight wound up in a pair of tungsten weights low and back in the sole. The i25 has five more grams of tungsten than the i20 was given, so it has a higher moment of inertia (MOI), which makes it more forgiving.
“Low, back and around the perimeter also helps to create more dynamic loft,” Jertson said. “We don’t have to add a lot of static loft, which creates more spin and energy loss.”
The weight screw that is positioned between the two tungsten weight pads is not adjustable. Ping added it to the i25 so clubfitters can adjust swing weight based on the length and weight of the shaft that works best for the player.
Jertson, an accomplished player who competed in the 2011 and 2012 PGA Championships while working as a designer for Ping, said, “If I take myself out it and forget about how it all works, when I hit [the i25 driver] I think that players are going to immediately notice that it doesn’t look like it should launch the ball as high as it does.”
He said that’s a result of the i25 producing 300 rpm less spin than Ping’s G25 driver, but having a higher launch angle than last season’s i20.
Now, about that racing stripe on the crown.
“One of our industrial designers came up with the original concept,” Jertson said. “The methodology behind it really stemmed from some putter research we had done. We found there are really four different core categories that were effective for alignment. A long, continuous, straight line that was ball-width proved to be the most effective in an alignment study we did.”
To compliment the stripe on the crown, Ping tweaked the scoring lines on the i25’s face so that when a player looks down at address they will see the outlines of an arrow.
The i25 comes standard with Ping’s new PWR graphite shaft, and custom shafts are available. The shafts are built by Aldila to Ping’s specifications, and “PWR” stands for performance, weight and responsiveness.
“In this age of adjustable drivers, shafts vary tremendously in terms of their weight and their balance point,” Jertson said. “We created a 55-, 65- and 75-gram version of this shaft, and we varied the balance point of each shaft. The heavier is more counterbalanced and the lighter is more tip heavy. That lets you throw any of these shafts into the club and change the total weight and feel, but the swing weight remains unchanged.”
The company says the lighter shafts produce a higher ball flight and reduce fade tendencies; the heavier versions produce a lower flight and reduce the likelihood of a hook.
The i25 driver, which will cost $440 when it arrives in stores in February, comes in 8.5-, 9.5- and 10.5-degree versions.