New for the 2013-2014 golf season, the PING S55 irons are now available for pre-order and will begin shipping Nov. 1. 

PING’s newest iron set in the S-series — the S55′s, geared toward the requirements of Tour pros and the game’s best amateurs — have arrived. It’s taken three years for PING to roll out this new line, a departure from its normal two-year product cycle, which reflected the challenge of improving upon the continued popularity and robust sales of the S56 irons. Without the need to rush out a new product to juice revenues, PING was able to hold off on S55 until club engineers had accomplished one of the more challenging tasks in club design: making a clubhead that is simultaneously more forgiving and smaller than its predecessor.

Technology and Features

S55 is an incremental improvement, rather than an overhaul, of the S56 irons. What hasn’t changed? While the S55 will be the most player-friendly offering for 2014 by PING, it’s still not a true forged blade, and it doesn’t appear as though PING has one in the works for the near future. The S55 irons are cast from the same 17-4 stainless steel as the S56′s, and they replicate their topline, as well, which itself is a mimicry of the look of a true forged blade. More important than what’s the same, let’s look at what’s new about these irons:

  • The key to the holy grail of adding forgiveness and workability is in a better weight distribution. This was made possible by saving weight in two areas: through a thinner face in front of the cavity (which had the side effect of increasing ball speeds) and by using a different material for the cavity insert, which was switched from a thermoplastic polyurethane to a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). The claim is that the TPE insert makes the club sound better and does a better job of recreating the soft feel of a forged iron. 
  • With 3.5 grams of weight to work with, designers put it into the perimeter of the clubhead, adding weight to the hosel, as well as the toe through a dense tungsten insert placed in the sole.
  • The clubhead is smaller than S56, but only slightly so; in an interview with PGATour.com, lead designer Mike Nicolette called it “about a coat of paint smaller.” Nevertheless, the discerning eye of a better player is able to notice this change.
  • The dual stabilizing bars behind the face in the S56 have been turned into just one bar in the S55, making for a sleeker, simpler overall look. 
  • Some lofts have been changed to maintain consistent distance gapping throughout the set. See the table below for full spec information.
  • The stock steel shaft has switched from a True Temper Dynamic Gold to PING’s proprietary CFS shaft.

ping s55 specs table

Reaction on Tour

How good are these irons? So good, apparently, that they convinced several of PING’s biggest-name players — Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan, Angel Cabrera — to dump their old irons in favor of the S55′s. Not during the offseason, either, but right in the middle of the FedEx Cup playoffs, with a $10 million purse on the line. Needless to say, these guys aren’t switching to help out PING’s marketing efforts, they’re doing so because they believe they have the best chance to win with the S55 irons in their bags. They have had significant input for more than a year and a half in the creation of this set. Their consensus is that these irons fly further and feel softer than their previous sets. 

Putting the S55′s to the Test

To truly see what the performance of the S55 irons is like, we put it into the hands of one of 2nd Swing’s own fitters, Justin Smith, who led the University of Minnesota to an NCAA National Championship in 2001, where he tied for fourth individually with Graeme McDowell, just behind Hunter Mahan. We gave him a 7-iron from each of the S-series lines from S59 through S55 and tracked him on our PING nFlight monitors in the 2nd Swing Minneapolis store. Here is his findings and data:

ping s55 swing test data

After my initial testing of the S55 thru the S59 line of irons I came to the conclusion that the S55 iron has the perfect combination of speed and accuracy. The S55 iron noticeably has more pop off the club face but still has the control and workability for every situation on the golf course. If i needed to get another 5 yards to a back pin i could get it. If i needed to shape it into a back left pin, i could hit that trap draw. As I progressed from the S55 through the S59, my solid shots had a consistent feel with all models; it was the slight off-center hits that had the most feedback. As I progressed further away from the S55 in era, my off-center hits felt clunkier and I felt more vibration up the shaft. On off-center hits, the S55 was more forgiving and softer than any of the other models. This led to more consistent ball speeds and more accurate shots, which should, in the end, create better players out of everyone. The look of the S55 reminded me of any traditional blade on the market. The thin topline and minimal offset would give any great ballstriker confidence when looking down at this club.  Even though the S59 iron was a little more accurate and consistent, the S55 is an iron i would put in my bag straight away. I mean Bubba switched to the S55 iron in the middle of the Fed Ex Cup playoffs — that’s enough proof that these irons are the real deal.  

 

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