My first looks at the PING S56 made me want to get hold of a set and test them. As a scratch player who’s on his second set of Titleist AP2 irons, I’ve gotten very used to the feel of forged irons. I wondered how I’d react to an investment-cast club like the S56. But PING is a manufacturer that doesn’t outsource heads—they’ve got their own foundry and they know plenty about metallurgy.
PING also has a custom department that sets the industry standard. That’s been my experience and it’s backed up most gear junkies I talk to. This review is of one club, a PING S56 8-iron made up in my specs. On short turnaround the custom department got me out a blue dot 8-iron head shafted with Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400, one-half inch over length, swing-weighted at D4. I ordered it ungripped and installed a White Iomic, .60 model, with four wraps plus one extra under the right hand.
I ordered the 8-iron because that’s the club—in any set—that I look at first. Not sure why, but 8-iron is what I lock onto when I’m checking out head design of a new issue. And it’s been a long time since I’ve grabbed an iron and said ‘ Wow ‘on first impression. With the S56, I loved the thin topline, the lack of offset and the ‘tall heel’ face profile. Giving the club that tall-heel look provides more of a hitting surface, and it frames the golf ball at address beautifully. There’s a line of white fill in the bottom scoring line, which to me is fine. Also, there’s no club number on the face, which is a departure for PING. It may not sound like much, but this PING iron has a ferrule, which to a lot peoples’ eyes is real nice touch.
I’m sure all the tour players who are winning at a rapid rate with the S56 had no trouble getting comfortable with the look and feel of it. From mid-season to the fall there were a dozen or more tour victories for this club, worldwide. The tour buzz has basically been deafening.
To start my session I warmed up with my Titleists, going through the set as usual, and finishing with my Titleist 8-iron. Then I picked up the S56 and hit several shots. From the first swing I noticed a higher ball flight. It got my attention. I’m not really a high-ball or a low-ball hitter—these first shots I hit were a couple of notches higher than what I was used to.
From a feedback standpoint I was pleasantly surprised at the click I got—it was very similar to the impact sound of my AP2s. The ball came off the face of S56 noticeably hot. Distance-wise, it carried 3 to 5 yards farther than my Titliest 8-iron. I was launching the ball higher, it was holding a nice line in the air, not floating but traveling real well, hanging slightly longer, just a great flight. I could put a subtle draw on the shot, which is my normal shape, and I could fade it, too. I felt like a kid in a candy store seeing the launch trajectory and the height of the shot.
This 8-iron went nicely through fairway and turf cut a clean divot. The sole is well designed for that. There’s no feel that it’s grabbing or plowing along. Out of the rough it was extremely satisfying. Great flow through the grass and that tall-heel profile made it feel like the face was much less likely to slam shut and cause a hard yank. On off-center hits, I got feedback that I’d missed slightly, even though the ball flew quite well.
I have a full set on order and naturally I’m looking forward to putting them in play.