Equipment Report

    Why unreleased Ping i525 irons are perfect for Cameron Champ’s unique setup

  • Cameron Champ will play Ping's new i525 irons at Torrey Pines. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)Cameron Champ will play Ping's new i525 irons at Torrey Pines. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Cameron Champ isn’t a normal professional golfer, so it makes sense that his club setup is far from average.

In 2020-21, Champ ranked No. 3 in driving distance on the PGA TOUR, averaging 317.1 yards per drive. He ranked nearly last in another category, though. Out of 200 players, Champ ranked 199th in launch angle; the TOUR average for launch angle off the tee is 10.52 degrees, whereas Champ averaged just 6.85 degrees on his drives.

That means Champ hits the ball quite low, especially for his speed. His shots fly like a low bullet, which is great for windy conditions but not so great for holding greens with irons.

As such, Champ makes a few unique adjustments to his equipment setup compared to other TOUR players. You can check out GolfWRX’s deep dive into Champ’s bag here.

The most notable difference, for example, is that Champ uses two 4-irons. In previous years, Champ used a combination of Ping iBlade irons (4-PW) and Ping i500 3- and 4-irons.

Ping’s iBlade irons are commonly used among better players and TOUR players since they look like blade irons, featuring thin toplines and compact shapes, but they add a touch of forgiveness due to their cavity-back designs. The i500 irons -- first released in 2018 -- use metalwood-like technology on their faces to help players hit the ball higher and farther.

“You watch him hit his 4-iron and his flight doesn’t make sense,” explained Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates, regarding Champ’s ball flight in 2019 and why he uses two 4-irons. “It comes out really low and it kind of stands up, and you’d expect that flight to carry like 215 yards, and it’s going 255 yards. I can’t even comprehend it.

“Cameron plays an i500 4-iron (21 degrees) that’s built to 3-iron length. The i500 has metalwood technology in the face, so that metalwood technology is going to allow for some more flex in the face at impact; that means higher ball speeds, higher launch, a little less spin … It’s basically a 4-iron that plays exactly like a 3-iron would play for him. Then he goes into an iBlade 4-iron (21 degrees).”

Compared to the iBlade irons, Ping’s i500 models also have a larger profile, thicker toplines, slightly more offset, and offer more forgiveness on off-center hits. That’s due to their multi-material, hollow-bodied construction that had C300 maraging steel faces and 17-4 stainless

steel bodies, helping achieve more flex on the face at impact to boost speed and height across the face.

For Champ, he used the i500 long irons to take advantage of higher ball flights. He relied on the i500 4-iron to help hold greens on approach shots, and he used the 3-iron as a driving iron replacement since he hit it farther and higher than a normal 3-iron.

The all-new Ping i525 iron. (GolfWRX)

At the 2022 Farmers Insurance Open, though, Champ showed up with all-new Ping i525 irons to replace his previous i500 3- and 4-irons.

Ping hasn’t replaced the i500 irons in its retail lineup since 2018, but with Champ revealing the new i525 designs, that could change sometime in the future. For now, they’re just prototypes. While Ping hasn’t yet commented on the new designs, GolfWRX caught up with Champ ahead of the Farmers Insurance Open to get his initial thoughts on the i525s.

“They’re good. They look kind of similar to the previous irons, but they have a little bit more defined look, which I like,” Champ said Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “And they sound better too. I have nothing negative to say about them. For me, they’re pretty much the same (as the i500s). That’s why I put them in. As long as they do what I need them to do, I can care less what it is.

“But yeah, they’re good. The sound is one thing. Definitely maybe a little bit softer on the face, which I like. You can feel it easier. But for me, for the ball flight that I want, it comes out perfectly.”

Based on Champ’s review of the unreleased and previously unseen Ping i525 irons, they look, sound and feel better than the i500 models released four years ago.

The all-new Ping i525 iron. (GolfWRX)

Champ also revealed the ridiculous distances that he hits the two new irons.

“The 4- is like my 3-iron, and the 3- is basically like my 2-iron, or 1-iron, which is basically like my driving iron,” Champ explained. “But my 4- is my 250-260 shot, depending if it’s on grass or tee. Then the 2-, we bent it strong because it’s a driving iron. Obviously (at Torrey Pines) it’s not going to go that far, but I’ll fly it 265-275 and then it rolls.

“I really don’t play a 3-wood. I have it in the bag; this week, I might need it on one hole, but generally I don’t have a 3-wood. I just use (the i525 driving iron).”

Although average players can only dream about hitting irons those kinds of distances, they may want to take note of the club choices Champ makes. Most club players could benefit from the more forgiving and higher-launching long irons that Champ uses, since most players could use more height on their shots.

Be on the lookout for more details on the new i525 irons as information becomes available from Ping.

The all-new Ping i525 iron. (GolfWRX)