The Anser carries the same name as one of the early iron models Karsten Solheim produced before he transitioned to the popular investment-casting process. The newest version pushes the forging process to create performance benefits not previously associated with a forged club.
I know PING irons. PING irons aren't suppose to be forged. When I think of PING irons the following design features come to mind: investment cast, moderate offset, industrial grey Guyson finish, healthy topline, wider soles. The obvious exception is the "S" line but those heads are still cast. With the introduction of the Anser line, PING is moving into new territory.
The iron head starts off as a billet of 8620 steel and is hammered three times by a forging press three stories tall. The entire head is then machined, the face is milled flat, the grooves are cut, and the four cavities are milled into the back of the iron. That is part one of a lengthy process that makes these irons very different that the majority of sets today. No cost was spared to build these unique high end technology packed set.
The four cavities are the toe cavity, heel cavity, CTP (custom tuning port) cavity and the hallow-sole cavity. The milling is evident by the milling marks in the toe and heel cavities and are there to create forgiveness and improve MOI. This makes it easier to hit the clubs higher and straighter. The advanced milling guarantees the Anser irons are built to very high tolerances, creating the same exact geometry in each club. This allows PING to control the face thickness, and thickness in the multiple cavities.
Inside the hollow sole cavity there is tungsten weight on sole and back flange that is welded into place. The cavity and weight removes mass close to the face pulls the cog back. There is also support bar right through the middle of the face that connects the back flange to the face to stabilize the face and improves feel, providing a soft, quiet feel. Also reallocates the stress of impact, moving stress away from the face to give the club great distance control.
ANSER Iron Specifications
The Anser irons are very appealing to look at, Satin chrome finish, distinctive milling marks, soft lines and a moderate sized frame. My previous irons were the i15's and I'd say these look very similar. The noticeable differences at address are the reduced offset and satin finish of the Ansers, that to me make the face appear a little larger. There is also the addition of a black ferrule which is absent from most PING irons, with the exception of the "S" line and tour wedges. I'm traditional PING fan but have to admit that the ferrules work.
I love the way the heads frame the ball at address, the satin finish really makes the face stand out and easy to align. The amount of offset might be more than some forged irons lover would like but they are very similar compared to the new Titleist AP2s. Comparing 7 irons, AP2 is .110" while the Anser is .112".
Very much like the i15 there is a progression of the face length from long irons to short. The 4-iron is longer from toe to heel and the short irons are more compact.
For a forged club they are very durable, I've had them since March and I hit a lot of range balls. The is some chrome wear but the grooves are like new, performance is awesome.
Playability and Feel
My set is makeup is 4-W with stiff KBS Tour shafts. They come "stock" with Project X shafts but I'm not a fan of the firmer feel these tend to produce. The KBS Tours are designed to launch the ball a little higher without increasing spin. They also have a softer feel. Those characteristics mixed in with these heads are a winner for me. While the tungsten weight and milling lower the cog, making it easier to hit it higher, the ball doesn't rise up into the sky and ballon.
The badge in the middle of the club is called the CTP (custom tuning port), which dampens vibrations but also allows you to customize what swing weight you want, I go with D3.
Theses irons have been working great for me, so great that I made a hole in one the first month I had them. Coming from the i15's, the forgiveness and distance are just as good. I've noticed a higher ball flight and better turf interaction. There is a good amount of camber to the soles so the ball glides through the turf. As far as taking divots goes, I'm right between a digger and a slider. I feel the Anser's react even better than the i15's when I get a little steep.
Because of the 8620 steel and stabilizing bar the irons sound softer than the i15's, enhancing the feedback. It's much more of a muted sound, almost as if the ball stays on the face longer compared to the speedier "click" at impact of the i15's.
While these clubs have a ton of forgiveness they still give you the ability to change trajectory at ease. I've had no issues hitting shots into wind or the occasional shot under trees. They are versatile tools.
Cons: Due to the extensive process of manufacturing these clubs the cost for a set of 8 irons is $1,349. Not something that's easy to explain to the wife! But you're not just buying a set of irons, you're buying functional golf jewelry. Going from a cast club to a forged I had to get used to some bag chatter, which you can see from the pictures, is minimal for playing them for 7 months.
For some that keep track of what tour players use, they get minimal play. From what I've seen Tim Herron, Brian Smock and Angela Stanford are the only notable players with these irons in their bags. The majority of PING players by far use the S-56 irons.
I have to say these are the coolest set of irons I've ever used. Form and function combine for an amazing piece of golf equipment. These clubs aren't about changing what makes the company so great but adds to it. Senior Design Engineer Marty Jertson has done a great job introducing PING's first forging in over 40 years. It was worth the wait.