The coming new year will mark the 50th anniversary of one of the most pivotal moments in putter history—the founding of PING Golf by Karsten Solheim, whose revolutionary Anser putter literally changed the playing field.
PING is charging into this landmark year with a suite of new products, including the iWi series putters. According to CEO John Solheim, who began working at his father’s side in the family garage when he was 13 years old, the company remains loyal to its original values: “When it comes to product, make it better than before. Keep pushing yourself.”
Do the new iWi putters advance PING’s tradition of innovation? Following is PutterZone.com’s PING iWi D66 ($169) putter review.
The PING iWi line is part of the company’s push to offer “multi-metal technology across all categories” in 2009, from drivers to irons to putters.
Accordingly, the new PING iWi putters are cast from 17-4 stainless steel but also feature a 304 stainless steel insert that is encased in a half shell of elastomer. According to PING, this two-piece insert offers “steel-face performance and response with a softer feel.”
The iWi putters also feature customizable weighting technology. The putters come with 12-gram removable steel weights inserted into the heel and toe. An optional weight kit ($69) includes pairs of 20-gram and 28-gram tungsten weights, resulting in nine possible weight combinations. PING says: “Instead of changing putters, just change the weight to your desired feel. Want more mass towards the heel or toe to match your stroke, insert a 20- or 28-gram tungsten weight.”
The D66 is one of six models in the iWi line, which also includes familiar PING shapes such as the Anser and Zing. The iWi D66 was played by Hunter Mahan at the recent Ryder Cup. The stock head weight (inclusive of the preinstalled 12-gram weights) is 345 grams.
PING offers a range of fitting options for the iWi putters, including lie angle, loft and grip. Some online retailers don’t make this fact clear, so you may want to call them or work with your local retailer to explore your options.
The View from PutterZone.com
The PING iWi D66 struck me as almost futuristic at first glance. With its exotically milled face insert, triangular weights and intricate inlaid sole logo, it just oozes high technology.
Yet for all of its technological accoutrements, the D66 manages to look clean and classy, especially at address. The view from above reveals a putter that is rock solid and ready for business. It’s a stunner of a design, classical in its lines yet contemporary in its overall presentation.
In PING’s publicity photos, the iWi face insert looks white, almost like an Odyssey insert. However, the iWi insert is actually a sleek natural silver that is elegantly contrasted against the darker shade of the head.
I initially had some trouble making consistent contact with the sweet spot of the iWi D66. I was blocking my putts with the heel, and it was clear that the toe wasn’t rotating square with the arc of my stroke at the point of contact.
Happily, there was a simple solution—the optional weight kit. By swapping out the 12-gram weight in the heel with a 28-gram weight (while leaving the 12-gram weight in the toe), I was able to lessen the toe hang a bit, helping the toe rotate more naturally with my stroke and enabling me to square the putter at impact. This was a textbook example of the benefits of customizable weighting.
The weight kit works like a charm. It comes in a small hard shell zippered case. The tungsten plugs are easily changed with the included wrench and screw caps. The $69 price tag for the kit seems a bit over the top. However, the D66 is a sweet enough putter without the kit. For many, the stock configuration with two 12-gram weights will suffice. In a case like mine, the kit adds an optional level of performance insurance.
I can’t say I’m crazy about the yellow hue chosen as an accent for the iWi line. On the putter sole it looks sufficiently rich. On the grip and headcover, however, it turns a bit brash. PING and others offer a variety of nice replacement grips for as little as $5.99, so the grip can be easily customized to one’s preferences.
The iWi D66 boasts a firm bass-note feel in the sweet spot and a vivid responsiveness across the face. PING isn’t making MOI a focal point of the iWi marketing, but the D66 seemed quite resistant to twisting on miss-hits, which helped keep errant putts on line.
The Bottom Line
The iWi D66 plays like it looks: rock solid. It offers a compelling union of high technology and sturdy playability. The optional weight kit can pay serious dividends in matters of personal fitting and preference, and ultimately performance. PING may be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2009, but the iWi D66 confirms that the company still has plenty of technological tricks up its sleeve.