By Mike Stachura/Golf Digest
PING plans to update its line of players style, blade-like irons later this year, but we’re getting a first look this week at the latest entry, the new iBlade. The club, perhaps the most muscle-back looking Ping iron in decades, is making the rounds at the US PGA Tour’s flagship event, The Players Championship.

While Ping’s more than half-century-old reputation has notably been fuelled by cavity-back game improvement irons like its legendary Eye2 and its marketshare powerhouse G-series, the company’s first irons were a lot closer to what we know today as blade irons.

One of the company’s first irons (back in 1961), the Ping 69 Ballnamic, showed founder Karsten Solheim’s experimentation with the idea of perimeter weighting. The traditional forged iron featured a slight milled cavity in back to provide off-center hit forgiveness.

Over the ensuing decades and in particular the last dozen years or so, the company has been pushing the idea of a compact players iron with a blade-like appearance, beginning with the S59 iron in 2003. Most of the company’s US PGA Tour players have gravitated to the S-series irons over the years, including Ping’s top-ranked staff player Bubba Watson who plays the S55.

The S-series irons defined Ping’s approach to the concept of a players’ cavity, and they incorporate a thermoplastic elastomer weight port in the cavity that helps to optimise centre of gravity and control vibrations. The images of the new iBlade show the port positioned in the lower half of the clubhead and extending from heel to toe, the widest “custom tuning port” ever in its compact players irons.

It’s not clear which Ping staff players will be putting the iBlade in play or when they might do so. In addition to Watson, Ping’s Louis Oosthuizen, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Angel Cabrera, Hunter Mahan, Daniel Summerhays, Martin Piller, Michael Thompson all have played or are playing S55 irons, and presumably would be candidates to switch to the new iBlade.