Ping Golf has done it again.
They’ve knocked it out of the park.
This time not with just one, but with 2 new releases.
The iBlade iron is the softest, purest feeling iron that Ping has ever produced. Plus, a lot of forgiveness and inertia is packed inside this club that looks like, and is called, a blade club. And the Vault putters are a new super premium line where no expense has been spared in producing, and are available in Platinum and Slate finishes.
Senior Director of Engineering, Marty Jertson, joins us to discuss in detail these 2 new releases now available from Ping.
Tom Brassell: Welcome to GolfBetter at Worldwide Golf Shops episode 212. Hello everyone, my name is Tom Brassell. Thanks so much for joining us. If you’re a first time listener or long time subscriber or maybe somewhere in the middle, either way we’re just glad you joined us. Special day today, special guest. He joins us from out in the Phoenix Scottsdale, Arizona, area. He’s the director of product development for PING Golf, Mr. Marty Jertson. Marty thanks so much for joining us, it’s great to have you.
Marty Jertson: Thanks for having me, it’s always fun to talk about the products. We spend so much time in the office designing them and working on them, it’s fun to see them get out in the wild.
Tom Brassell: Before we talk about the products Marty let’s talk a little bit about yourself. Give our listeners a brief history of your background and then your day to day role at PING Golf.
Marty Jertson: Yeah. Boy I’ve been really fortunate here with how I ended up at PING. I was a decent college golfer coming up but not quite good enough to make the tour, play professionally. I landed here, got my degree in engineering in college, played for a small division 2 school. Through a friend of a friend ended up landing a job here when I was still playing professionally part time. When I retired early from trying to get on the tour they were fortunate to offer me a full time job. Been doing design engineering and still playing golf a little bit ever since.
Tom Brassell: That puts you in a good place because you understand what these guys are looking for I believe, especially the great players. A little bit today about the new iBlade irons. This is softest, purest feeling iron you guys have ever had. Can you share with us what went into that?
Marty Jertson: Yeah. The iBlade iron, we’ve had a really good success with all of our S-Series irons, S59, 8 57, 56, 55. Now we’re switching to iBlade. We wanted to continue on what gave us our competitive advantage in a blade iron, which is packing a lot of forgiveness and inertia, but we really upgraded and hit the psychology of the golfer with this iBlade iron. Even the name of it is very unique in that we called it a blade iron, right in the name. It’s really packed with a lot of concealed forgiveness and a really amazing face technology that gives it that soft squishy elusive impact feel.
We accomplish that through an elastomer that gets during the impact, when you hit it good, you activate it just right and it gives that elusive feel the better players are looking for, that squeeze squishy soft feel. When you miss hit it you get some feedback, but there’s still tons of inertia in the iron, the forgiveness is really, really high, higher than ever for a blade style iron. You get a lot of horsepower and forgiveness but coupled with the shot making workability. It’s got a much more clean look to it in the playing position in your bag. It was a lot of fun to work on and design an iron that looks that cool, feels the part but still gives amazing amount of forgiveness and horsepower.
Tom Brassell: Like you said it looks like it’s a player’s club but probably a lot more forgiving than you would think from the old traditional blade iron, right?
Marty Jertson: Yeah, to put it in perspective our iBlade iron has a higher forgiveness factor or moment of inertia than our PING Eye2 irons, which were big and tons of offset and all this stuff. That’s how much more efficient we’ve become in design. We do that through putting a big elastomer behind the face. We have a super high density tungsten weight in the low toe, higher density than we’ve ever used and put in an iron. We get really efficient use of the space and utilizing advanced manufacturing techniques to do it.
Tom Brassell: On your website and also on the Worldwide Golf website and blog sites, great videos on the iBlade irons. Louis Oosthuizen’s talking about them. What was the feedback you got from your tour players and your staff when testing these irons?
Marty Jertson: Yeah, they loved the look, number 1. In the playing position they have a straighter lead end, so they have a little more vintage pure blade feel to them. They have a little more [mirror 00:04:42] out on the toe, which is the space between the grooves and the toe. They have more mirror, they really picked up on that. Then when they hit they loved the sound and feel, but it’s a softer, much softer quieter impact feel but they still get feedback if they don’t hit it perfect. Then the distance, they were very pleasantly surprised with the long irons and mid irons are much easier to gap. Louis is an example you talked about, and he’s hitting them, his mid to long irons, 4 to 6 yards further and they’re going a lot higher. Both of those things are positive even for the best players in the world with a modern day golf ball, because it’s easy for them to bring it down but it’s hard for them to hit it further and higher and gap the long irons easier. Very positive across the board. They’ve all fallen in love with the look of it too.
Tom Brassell: I would assume for the good player the set makeup normally is going to be anywhere 3 through pitching wedge or a part of that, right?
Marty Jertson: Yeah, 3 through pitching wedge, or even for this player a lot of them started in the 4. With the way we do our assembly here in Phoenix you can kind of customize your loft and lie and length to your liking to fit the gapping. We focused really hard on gapping, even the way we have the loft designed in the set is really optimized for tour level gapping, really even gapping throughout the set. It was a big focus for us because it’s something that kind of goes forgotten in the chase for distance in the modern day player. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that.
Tom Brassell: The acronym for PING, probably P-I-N-G means custom fitting, right? All these available in all the PING color codes. Turn around time is just as quick as is all the other PING products, correct?
Marty Jertson: Yeah. We’re very excited about that. We even use an S300 as our stock shaft and a multi compound grip, but we have tons of options there.
Tom Brassell: Marty let’s shift gear from putting the ball up in the air to rolling it on the ground. Certainly on my bucket list is the PING Gold Putter Vault. Can you talk a little bit about the Putter Vault, and then we’ll get into the Vault series?
Marty Jertson: Yeah, the Vault’s fun. We’re fortunate and our engineering office is very close to the vault so we get to go in there a decent amount. It’s packed with so much history. Every time a tour player wins on a major international tour we gold plate a replica of their putter to their exact specs. That means the same loft, lie, length, shaft, shaft level grip, everything. It’s packed with, from that standpoint, tons of history. The player gets one of the putters to keep for themselves as well, and then obviously a gold … for the majors the player gets a solid gold putter, replica of the putter. It’s packed with tons of history.
Tom Brassell: Many times the player gets to visit the vault where you present it to them, right?
Marty Jertson: Yeah. Yeah, we’ll present it to them in the vault. The majors usually our chairmen CEO, John Solheim, hand delivers the solid gold ones. I’ve been fortunate to be there for at least one of those. You feel the weight of the solid gold putter and how heavy it is. It’s really a memorable moment for the players to get that from John Solheim.
Tom Brassell: Let’s talk about the putters that were designed after the namesake, the Vault. Talk about the new Vault line of putters for PING.
Marty Jertson: Yeah. Super premium line, we really spared no expense in the detail we put into these putters, both from the design standpoint, technology standpoint and manufacturing standpoint. Really fun line for us. We’ve had a couple really successful putters for us that have been machined mallets that are anodized. The Ketsch for example was a putter for us that had done really well. It was fully machined aluminum with a heavy sole plate to it. We have 2 models in the Vault line that kind of take after that manufacturing technique. The Bergen and the Oslo putter are 2 mallets, both very different from each other, but both are amazing models.
The Bergen is a smaller sized mallet, more traditional, with a lower level floor and sight line and cavity to it. Our tour players have loved this. It’s not a big super jumbo mallet. It’s very comfortable to the eye, lower level sight line, a lot of good alignment features. The machining and the milling process allows us to create a look and feel of precision that you just can’t do with another method. Then it has a density sole plate. The Oslo model, another mallet for us, has a high fore to it, and that one captures the ball very, very well. We pair that with 2 beautiful blade putters, the Anser 2 and the Voss, that are both fully machined out of a forging, so forged 303, then we fully machine all the surfaces. All these putters are available in one of 2 different beautiful finishes, a light and a dark finish that we’re calling Platinum for the light finish, and a beautiful Slate, high end slate color finish to it for the darker finish.
Tom Brassell: On the range as far as length goes I’m looking at the Anser 2, you go anywhere from 31 to custom to 38 inches in length, correct?
Marty Jertson: Yeah. We can do a lot of different lengths. We have a adjustable length option. I think we’re still probably the only one company out there that has a USGA confirming adjustable length option. If you want to experiment with length we can certainly do that. Another big things we’ve put on all these models is a new TR face pattern. We’ve used TR face technology in the past, we have a brand new pattern that looks amazing. It’s filled with tons of detail to it, it’s a double [fly mill 00:10:40] type of look, but it still utilizes variable depth and variable spacing so that with a player … it supplements the touch of the golfer, so when a player hits one on the heel or toe it speeds up their off center hits to catch up to their center hits. For example on a 40 foot putt, instead of missed hit going 5 feet short it will only go 3 feet short and you’re 4 times as likely to make that next put. It’s a no three-putting technology that helps your putting touch.
Tom Brassell: I think you just came close to answering my final question. I’ll ask it on behalf of all the PING aficionados who play the PING, especially the PING putter. I’ll take it to an extreme with mine, you mentioned your college days, from my college days I still have the PING Anser, we’re going to talk about 1977 or so. If I were, which I do put with it still, what would I feel different from that putter to this putter? It’s got to have to be a world of difference but I think the off center as you just mentioned there too.
Marty Jertson: From this line, all the services are going to be machined. That’s the biggest thing, is compared to an older cast version it’s got softer lines and a softer feel to it. In this family it’s going to be a machined putter, so all the lines are going to be very crisp, very edgy, very sharp, have a more precision feel over the ball, number 1. Number 2, the modern day putter, putter head weights have been going up gradually over the years. The head weight is more than likely going to be heavier as a standard on a new Vault putter.
If you had a real old Anser that might be anywhere from 290 grams to 320. Modern day Anser 2 and Ansers that we make are roughly 350 grams. It feels a little heavier to the hands, and again that’s fine tuning to the feel, speed, golf balls, speed of greens that we play with in 2016. The the distance control is going to be a lot better with the face technology. You’re going to get that ball speed normalization. The way the face technology works, it makes an Anser 2 putter perform like a huge mallet from a forgiveness and ball speed control standpoint. It’s a really good way to think about it, is that you can get the performance, the forgiveness of a mallet but in the size of a blade style putter.
Tom Brassell: You just sold me. I’ve got to go do it, got to get out to the shop and give one a try.
Marty Jertson: Yeah.
Tom Brassell: Marty, thanks so much for your time. Final words for our listeners from you and the folks at PING Golf.
Marty Jertson: Yeah, I appreciate the support of the brand. Certainly the brand’s very strong. I think golf equipment design is nowhere close to being finished in terms of us being able to do more fun things and deliver, make the game easier for all the golfers out there. We keep delivering some very substantial breakthroughs in performance and there’s still a lot more to come.
Tom Brassell: Thanks Marty so much for joining us. Hopefully we can do it again sometime soon.
Marty Jertson: I’d love to.
Tom Brassell: Hopefully we’ll see you at the PGA show in early 2017.
Marty Jertson: All right, I’d love to. Thank you.
Tom Brassell: Take care my friend. We’re joined now by the man who put that interview with Marty together, the director of communications for PING Gold, Mr. Pete Samuels. Pete I was told Marty, before I got on the phone with him, he’s a pretty good player, isn’t he?
Pete Samuels: Yeah, he can get it around. A couple PGAs and a couple tour events, and then he recently requalified for the Club Pro event, which he fairs well there gets him back into the PGA. Yeah, he knows what he’s doing.
Tom Brassell: Yeah, what a great fit, a player like that being the designer and brains behind a player’s club like the iBlade. I wanted to go off-topic just for a minute and ask you a couple questions. There’s another club out there, a limited edition club, the Bubba driver club, that’s not only doing good things as far as performance goes but it’s help PING giving back to some less fortunate, right?
Pete Samuels: Exactly. Yes, you hit it on the head there, it performs so it’s going to pay off on the golf course but more importantly in this case it raises significant dollars that are donated to Bubba’s foundation which are then shared with his various charities that he supports throughout the year. It’s pretty exciting.
Tom Brassell: Yeah, he talks about it on a YouTube video, we have that on our blog home page, blog.worldwidegolfshops.com. It started a few years ago with a Bubba driver, but that thing … I don’t think you guys could make enough of those, could you?
Pete Samuels: It’s a good question because it did start … This is the third time we’ve done it in conjunction with Bubba’s pink driver. It’s the third different model. Back in 2012 it started with the G20 pink driver and as luck would have it he won the Masters that year. Literally we were already preparing to announce the driver, and then he went ahead and won the Masters, so naturally it gave it quite a nice boost and they sold out very quickly. Then we did a couple years ago with G30 as well with similar results. What’s interesting being the third time, the donation will now exceed $1 million over the 3 different driver models. It’s quite a milestone.
Tom Brassell: Thanks for joining us. Thanks for putting us together with Marty and thanks for the great relationship that we have with PING Golf and Worldwide Golf Shops throughout the years, it’s a lot of fun.
Pete Samuels: We appreciate all you guys do for us. You serve our product in a way that’s very important to us, and that’s through custom fitting. We appreciate all your efforts.
Tom Brassell: Great, take care Pete, all the best.
Pete Samuels: Thanks Tom.
Tom Brassell: There’s a limited number of the limited edition pink driver from PING where the proceeds from the sales of the driver will go to benefit kids thorough the Bubba Watson foundation. Many thanks to Pete and Marty for joining us today, and thanks to you our listeners. We’ll do it again next time when we have another edition of GolfBetter at worldwidegolfshops.com. So long everyone.