Points brings ancient Ping irons to Houston
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
The divots that D.A. Points creates on the driving range are each about the size of a playing card and about a half-inch deep. After he has finished hitting a bag of balls, the grid of dirt that remains is testament to his consistency.
The clubs that make those divots, his Ping i5 irons, helped the former University of Illinois star win last season's Shell Houston Open. What makes them unique is their age. Many players hesitate to change equipment, but by PGA Tour standards Points' irons are antiques.
"Ping clubs, their grooves don't wear out so you don't need to change them every year," Points said recently. "This is the set I've had since the groove rule change."
The groove rule change that Points was referring to went into effect in 2010, and no, he doesn't mean he has been playing the same kind of clubs since that time. Points has used the same set of Ping i5 irons since the start of the 2010 season.
Aside from their appearance at address, what Points likes most about his i5 irons is their soles.
"They go through the ground really easy," he said, pointing to the relatively wide bottom of his 6-iron. "These clubs might not be ideal if I'm playing in Scotland, because the bounce is so big. If the ground is really firm, it's going to be hard. But we play in lush, soft conditions."
Points is not a gearhead. He admits to knowing nothing about his equipment beyond the names of his clubs. He isn't even sure what he played before the i5s.
But Matt Rollins, a PGA Tour representative for Ping Golf, does. He said Points switched from Ping i3+ Blade irons in 2006 to the i5 irons and has used them ever since.
"So, D.A. plays a club that was originally made with grooves that are no longer conforming," Rollins said. "We actually cast those clubs in Phoenix at our foundry and make them with no grooves. They're flat, nothing is on the face. Then we bring them to Ping and mill in the grooves. On top of that, D.A. doesn't like offset, so we have to heat up the hosels and bend the offset out. It's a very lengthy process. That set of clubs, if you were going to put a dollar sign on them, it's going to be a lot of money."
Before winning the 2013 Shell Houston Open, Rollins said Points was very close to switching into Ping's Anser irons, but the victory with the old clubs made switching out of the question.
A PGA Tour rep from anther major equipment company said he encourages his company's staff players to swap iron sets three times a year. He said players should start every season with a fresh set, then change irons before the U.S. Open and again before the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. He just shook his head upon hearing that Points' i5 irons are in their fifth year of use.
The i5 irons were made with 17-4 stainless steel, the same material used in many other Ping clubs including the new S55 irons. The grooves in Points' irons are certainly not as sharp as they once were, but Rollins points out they may not be as dull as on might think.
"The 17-4 we use now is the same material, but the clubs we have now have two, three or four layers of chrome," Rollins said. "You might wear the chrome off and it might look bad, but it plays the same. It just looks like you've worn the clubs out. His have no chrome. He has what's called a Guyson finish on his."
The Guyson finish is created when the irons are sprayed with Guyson powder in a process akin to sandblasting. In reality, there is no "finish" to wear away, so the clubs retain their look for a longer time.
To fit the gap between his 21-degree hybrid and his second iron, his 5-iron, Points had his 4-iron de-lofted 1 degree and uses a shaft that is half an inch longer than a standard 4-iron. He says he hits it about 210 to 215 yards.