November 27 2013
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
If the 2012 PGA TOUR season belonged to PING staffer Bubba Watson and his dramatic playoff victory at the Masters, then 2013 was the year of the first-time winner for PING.
All four PGA TOUR winners on PING's staff picked up their maiden title in 2013, with Billy Horschel — a winner at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans — leading the way with a 16th-place finish in the season-long FedExCup competition.
Along the way, PING unveiled new products that made a splash on TOUR in 2013, including a new S55 iron, Rapture driving iron and Scottsdale TR putter line.
Equipment released on TOUR: G25 (irons, driver, fairway woods, hybrids); Anser (irons, driver, fairway woods, hybrids); S55 (irons); Scottsdale TR (putters); Tour Gorge (wedges); Rapture (driving iron)
PGA TOUR winners (2013): Michael Thompson (The Honda Classic); Billy Horschel (Zurich Classic of New Orleans); Derek Ernst (Wells Fargo Championship); Harris English (FedEx St. Jude Classic)
S55 makes a splash: After more than three years of waiting, PING unveiled its new S55 iron line at The Barclays and saw four PING staffers put the clubs in play the very first week.
Horschel, Bubba Watson, Derek Ernst and Hunter Mahan were just a few of the PING staffers that transitioned to the new model this year. The iron features a 17-4 stainless steel body and a tungsten toe weight that provides a higher moment of inertia (MOI) for greater forgiveness and an improved CG.
S55 also has a larger Custom Tuning Port (CTP) in the cavity -- the CTP helped distribute weight to the perimeter of the club for improved forgiveness and feel -- and a stabilizing bar that helps with improved feel at impact, and distance control in the longer and shorter irons.
Former PING staffer Ryan Moore became the first to win with S55 last month at the CIMB Classic.
Mahan's gold putter: Mahan was 36 holes away from winning the RBC Canadian Open when he received a call from his wife, Kandi, that she was going into labor. Mahan immediately withdrew and flew home for the birth of their daughter, Zoe Olivia Mahan.
While PING normally gives gold-plated putters to tournament winners using one of the company's models, PING Chairman & CEO John Solheim decided to make an exception following Mahan's decision to withdraw from the tournament.
The five-time PGA TOUR winner was given a gold-plated Scottsdale TR Anser2 -- Mahan's current putter model -- at The Barclays in honor of his daughter, Zoe Olivia.
PING had two gold-plated putters made to celebrate her birth (the putter has her name, birthday and vital stats inscribed on the True Roll insert). One went home with Mahan, while the other will stayed in PING's Gold Putter Vault.
Rapture driving iron a reality: In preparation for the firm fairways and blustery conditions at Muirfield, PING released a TOUR-only prototype driving iron called "Rapture" at the Open Championship.
The company's first driving iron was immediately put in play by several staffers, including Horschel and Louis Oosthuizen. The iron featured a 17-4 stainless steel body and high-strength 455 Carpenter stainless steel face that was thinned out to move weight low in the club to drive up the MOI and increase forgiveness.
High-density tungsten weights were also placed low and back on the perimeter of the sole to boost inertia and keep the CG low for a penetrating ball flight. PING recently announced the club is coming to retail in December.
Scottsdale TR gets groovy: Ernst used one of PING's latest creations to win the Wells Fargo Championship earlier this year. The Scottsdale TR Grayhawk had been in Ernst's bag for one week before he used it to capture his first PGA TOUR title at Quail Hollow.
What made the Scottsdale TR putter — the "TR" stands for True Roll — Ernst used so unique was the grooved, aluminum face insert. The grooves on the face were deepest in the center and got gradually shallower toward the perimeter to equalize ball speed. Varying the groove depth allowed engineers to improve distance control on center-hit and mis-hit putts off the heel or toe.
Along with Ernst, Mahan, Angel Cabrera, Lee Westwood and Horschel all used a Scottsdale TR putter — the company released additional models throughout the year — at some point during the 2013 season.
Watson gets a driver upgrade: Keeping with the pink driver theme, Watson switched from G20 to G25 at the beginning of the season. Watson's custom G25 driver included a hot pink crown with "Made Exclusively for Bubba" inscribed on the toe, and a hot pink Grafalloy BiMatrx prototype shaft.
Major win for PING: PING staffers went winless at the majors in 2013, but that didn't stop Phil Mickelson from using a PING club during his win at the Open Championship. Mickelson carried a 17-degree Anser hybrid at Muirfield en route to his dramatic victory.
Mickelson started using the Anser hybrid at the European Tour's Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open — a tournament he won — and kept it in the bag for his fifth major championship title.
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