Bringing you insights from the PING Proving Grounds, where our talented team of engineers, researchers, fitting experts and data scientists design and develop the newest product and fitting technologies to help you play better. Using the most advanced tools available, we’ll explain and explore the science behind golf-equipment performance. We’ll separate fact from fiction with the goal of helping you make informed decisions when choosing the PING equipment best suited for maximizing your performance.
By Chris Broadie
After launching our Driver Optimal Launch and Spin Chart, the most common request we received was, “Can you make an optimal launch and spin chart for 7-irons?” The biggest challenge with this request is that maximizing distance with a 7-iron just leads to lowering loft. Almost everyone will hit a 5-iron further than a 7-iron. As a result, we had to re-think the question.
The power of the Driver Optimal Launch and Spin Chart isn’t only that it provides targets to maximize distance; it helps create realistic expectations based on a golfer’s unique swing characteristics. A player with a 170-mph ball speed and a -6° angle of attack will have much different target launch conditions than a person with 140-mph ball speed and a +6° angle of attack – and that’s perfectly fine! Our goal in creating the 7-iron landing angle guide then became, “How do we set achievable launch conditions and landing-angle targets for every golfer?”
Results from our vast testing database at the PING Proving Grounds reveal the variables that most affect typical 7-iron launch conditions, and topping the list is club speed.
As club speed increases, spin rate and landing angle both increase significantly. This fundamentally changes a player’s expectations. A common goal of a 7,000-rpm 7-iron spin rate simply isn’t practical for all but the fastest swing speeds. For slower swing speeds, the average spin rate is actually closer to 5,000 rpm. A golfer has not necessarily been mis-fit if their 7-iron spin rate is 5,000 rpm.
Since players with fast swing speeds naturally generate higher spin, a steep landing angle might not be their highest priority in an iron fitting. However, many slower-swing-speed golfers can benefit from more stopping power. In fact, loft adjustments can be as important as lie-angle fitting for iron performance; unique power and retro spec loft options can be used to meet each player’s needs.
Our new G425 game-enjoyment iron’s loft-flexing technology causes the clubface to react like a springboard, releasing energy quickly and launching the ball faster and higher and maximizing stopping power. The loft-flexing face can be seen in the animation below.
During player testing, the G425 7-iron launched significantly higher and stopped significantly faster than similar irons in the market . The loft-flexing technology helps give the G425 iron a 10-foot higher peak height and a 4° steeper landing angle, which can mean the difference between a shot holding a green and bounding through the green.
The key to understanding when a golfer can benefit the most from improving their landing angle and stopping power is highlighted in the chart below. Just because someone has “low stopping power” with their irons does not mean they have to change their fitting. However, if a golfer struggles to hold greens with their 7-iron, then options should be discussed. We would highly recommend the following options: evaluate the iron model and lofts (retro or power spec); change launch conditions through shaft weight and flex; and even consider the model of golf ball to help move the golfer’s low stopping power to mid or even high stopping power.
The final piece to this discussion is that the standard loft on a 7-iron plays a critical role in these landing-angle guidelines. As you decrease loft, your launch angle and spin rate will certainly decrease. Our guideline is that 1° less loft will increase ball speed by 1.5 mph; decrease launch angle by 0.5° and spin decreases by 200 rpm. In our testing, the average club loft was 32° at 90 to 100 mph club speed but decreased linearly to 30° at 60 to 70 mph club speed. This trend occurs because slower swing speeds tend to fit into lower-lofted game-improvement irons. A bigger deviation from standard loft will change the chart’s guidelines.
For example, a 65-mph 7-iron club speed golfer testing a 7-iron at 28° (2° lower than standard) can adjust the launch and spin targets down by 1° and 400 rpm using the above tradeoffs.
During a visit with a certified PING fitter, leverage this chart to help set practical expectations for your iron landing angles. Instead of chasing distance, choose a 7-iron that leads to a playable landing angle with tighter dispersion and increased stopping power. Let our 7-Iron Landing Angle Chart guide you into an iron model that will help you hold more greens and stick shots closer to the hole.