They were the irons Tiger Woods won the US Amateur with before the sponsorship deals were signed. They were the irons that helped amateurs find more greens in the 80s and 90s. They were the iron that rivials were so jealous of the groove ruling was introduced to limit their advantage over the competition. This is why I believe the PING Eye2 has to be one of the most iconic irons of all time. But how will this historic iron compare against PING’S latest and most technically advanced iron to date, the G425.
Over the years I’ve upgraded, eBayed and part exchanged my clubs. There have only ever been a couple of ‘old faithful’ sets that managed to stay locked away for sentimental reasons.
In summer 1990 I was a very keen 17 year-old playing off a 9 handicap. I had youth and flexibility on my side but a tired old set of Dunlop irons, and these, when paired with a lack of talent, saw my game plateux. Though a summer job helping my local green keeper was about to change everything. I managed to save enough money to buy a second hand set of PING Eye2 irons and had the lie adjusted to my swing. They were not only longer than my old Dunlop irons – the game changer was their accuracy. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t become Seve over night – but I was finding greens I would normally have missed and walking off with pars and the occasional birdie instead of bogey or worse.
By spring 1991 I was playing off a two handicap. A little stronger physically and more confident thanks to those PING Eye2 irons, golf opened many opportunities and that is the reason they will NEVER end up on eBay or cut down for nephews or grandchildren!
Though I woke up thinking last month wondering how far I would be able to hit the ball these days if I was 17 again. Well, I might not be able to turn the physical clock back, but I can certainly turn the technology clock forward.
So to amuse myself and see how things have progressed PING sent me a set of their latest G425 irons – their most advanced iron to date. Designed to be fast and forgiving, but just how much faster and just how much more forgiving?
There was only one way to find out. So I gave the lads at the Pete Cowen Academy in Rotherham a shout, asked them to warm up the TrackMan and prepare to be entertained.
PING 2 Irons
They were first brought out in 1982 and featured a V shaped groove. Between 1984 and 1985 this became a U shape groove, then just one year later it was revised to the iconic box groove. It was the box groove paired with the iconic offset and cavity back head that gave PING that edge over the competition in terms of control. You were able to hold greens with an 8 iron when others brand would just fire through the back.
First test thoughts
It’s been 15 years or more since I had hit them but it was like putting on an old pair of slippers. I was not able to hit them as far as I did in the 90s but the grouping was as tight as ever, though my alignment wasn’t the greatest.
Designed as a game improvement iron embracing both speed and forgiveness. Tungsten has been added to increase the perimeter weighting in the toe and heel to increase forgiveness and a variable thickness steel face has been used to enhance ball speed. PING has used a patented sole design with a top rail under cut, so it acts like a hinge – flexing to launch the ball higher and faster.
TRACKMAN 4 REPORT: From analyising the data you can see the club head speed is only slighly increase due to aero dynamics but the ball speed is increased dramatically. though the stand-out numbers are the height. considering the much stronger lofts in the G425 the peak height is slightly heigher than the PING EYE2, but ball flight is much stronger.
It’s not your stereotypical game improvement iron. The head is smaller than the previous G410 iron and the offset is less than that of the Eye2. Though the five-iron does look and feel like a compact hybrid, but when you are looking at trying to carry 190 yards the bigger and more confidence inspiring the better.
It was always going to be the case that the G425 was going to be longer than the Eye2. The lofts are much stronger – at least three degrees per iron – but the impressive stat was the apex height of the G425. The flights were strong with all the irons and even though I managed to get the 5 iron to carry 202 yards it was landing from a height you would normally expect a 6 or even strong 7 iron. So I would still be able to hold greens from that distance.
In terms of grouping they were not vastly different to the Eye2. But grouping is linked to your swing dynamics more than anything else. A slice will always be a slice! Distance control is something to keep an eye on though. I got away with some heel strikes that wouldn’t have favoured so well with the Eye2 but I also got the occasional flier off the face with the G425. Impressive if you want to boast how far a certain shot went. Probably not the best result if your green is surrounded by water. Only a real concern if you are Tour pro!
The only real issue I had was the sound. There is a multi-material cavity badge that is designed to dampen unwanted frequencies and enhance the feel. Though even on a great strike the G425 felt and sounded like a fairway metal.