The Year's 3rd Major...The Open Championship (or British Open as it's sometimes called) poses a unique challenge for golfers. Actually, it's probably more accurate to say the Open Championship poses a unique challenge for American golfers who simply don't play links golf very often.
In some respects it's a different game altogether. Fly it high and land it soft doesn't work the way it does on our side of the pond. Links golf, among other things, is about precise flighting, controlling trajectory, and more often than not, landing it short and letting it roll (and roll, and roll, and roll).
The Long Game is Different Over There
In an event where one bad drive can be absolutely disastrous, hitting long irons off the tee is practically a requirement.
Given the unique requirements of links golf, is it any surprise that unique (specially designed) clubs often appear the week of the Open Championship? New hybrids, utility irons (remember Callaway last season?), and the recycling/rebirth of the 2-iron are persistent themes at the Open Championship.
So with that in mind, it's logical that PING is joining the growing number of golf companies who are basically re-inventing the driving iron? Just last month our Matt Saternus (GolfSpy Matt) wrote about the resurgence of the driving iron in this Trend or Fad article. Given PING's normally cautious approach, their foray into driving iron design suggests that trend is growing.
How long before TaylorMade and Nike get in on the action?
The PING Rapture Driving Iron
For now PING is calling the new Rapture Driving Iron a "Tour-Only Prototype". Now it's fair to say that recent events have completely devalued the phrase "Tour-only protoptype", but in PING's case, you can reasonably trust that the Rapture Driving Iron isn't going to show up at retail next week, or even next month.
It's going to take the company some time to tweak the design, add loft options, and generally get it ready for the consumer. Telling is that, at least for now, the new driving iron is being positioned as part of the Raptor series, which has historically been a more forgiving club line.
According to PING, the Rapture Driving iron won't hit retail until early 2014.
PING Rapture Driving Iron Specification
Body: 17-4 Stainless Steel
Face: 455 Carpenter Stainless Steel
- 455 Carpenter Stainless Steels’ high strength allowed designers to thin the face to create faster ball speeds. Thinning the face increased discretionary mass which was then be re-positioned low and back on the clubhead. The face is designed flat to increase shot-making capability and promote a clean and square look at address.
Heel /Toe Tungsten Weighting
- High density tungsten weights have been placed low and back on the perimeter to boost inertia and position the CG extremely low. Resulting in a club that is forgiving on heel/toe mishits and produces a super penetrating and flat trajectory, ideal for the golfer looking to battle the wind or just simply keep the ball down. The tungsten weights account for 20% of the entire clubhead mass.
Tungsten Polymer Blend Sole Weight
- A tungsten polymer blend soleweight inserted through the sole positions even more mass low to further decrease spin and allows us to fine tune swingweight.
More to Come?
As I said, PING's entry into the driving iron space suggests the trend is only going to grow. PING hasn't been one to jump on a fad. Remember when PING made a square driver? Of course you don't, because they didn't.
PING doesn't do fads.
While the driving iron hasn't gone completely mainstream yet, it appears to be breaking free from the stigman a niche product for better golfers only. With PING entering the mix, the driving iron will certainly be more appealing for the average golfer.