It did not take PING long to receive important tour validation for its new S56 irons. First put into play at this year’s U.S. Open in Pebble Beach, they were the clubs Frenchman Gregory Havret used to finish second in that event. The following week, Miguel Angel Jiminez of Spain won on the European Tour with S56s in his bag. And then came Louis Oosthuizen, who played them during his dominating victory in the 2010 British Open Championship at St. Andrews in mid-July.
“The S56 irons were very easy to strike from all conditions, especially the tighter lies, and that gave me a lot of confidence,” the 27-year-old South African said after his win. “The main reason I like them is that I can control the ball flight, especially in the wind and especially with the shorter irons.”
Due to be available at retail in mid-September, the blade-style S56 is the next generation successor to the PING S57 and designed to appeal to players who put a premium on shot control. Like the S57, the S56 employs a stainless steel head and thin top-line and utilizes tungsten toe weights as well as dual stabilizing bars. But there are very distinct differences with the make-up of those features in each line.
“The tungsten weight is same size and shape throughout the S57 set,” says Mike Nicolette, senior product designer at PING. “But the weight’s size and shape change with the S56. In the longer irons, it is thinner and covers a bigger surface. That allows us to keep the center of gravity back for the higher trajectories. But as we go down the set into the S56 shorter irons, the surface area of the weight becomes smaller and deeper even as its actual weight stays roughly the same, at 10.5 grams, driving mass forward to promote more controlled trajectory.”
The other major part of the S56 technology story is the stabilizing bars. “The bars were all the same size with the S57,” Nicolette adds. “But with the S56, we vary their width. We put narrow ones in the longer irons to promote increased distance, and we widen the bar as we go down the set to pitching wedge so we may enhance distance control.”
Nicolette believes that anyone from a 10-handicap and lower will be very comfortable playing the S56, which comes in 2-iron to pitching wedge. The S56s come in both steel shafts (True Temper Dynamic Gold and KBS Tour stock) and graphite (TFC 149i).