Ping irons have not exactly been short, so when they say the GMax iron is about 'extreme distance' then you have to sit up and take notice.
The GMax is also about extreme forgiveness as it takes over from the Ping Karsten set as the supersized member of the Ping iron family with a head and sole that can only be described as chunky.
The difference to the Karsten iron is really in the cavity of the GMax that features the circular COR-Eye that draws on the heritage of the Eye 2 irons to deliver that extra speed and forgiveness.
The COR-Eye claims to deliver 3 mph faster ball speeds, which in this model is more about giving a helping hand to slower swing speed players than giving mid to low handicappers more distance.
More distance in irons is obviously nice to have, but you need to bear in mind that the purpose of an iron set is to give you 8 or 9 clubs to cover a range of distances in equal gaps between your wedges and your woods. Increase the distance the irons go and you widen a gap at the bottom end of the bag and close it at the top, so professional fitting advice should be taken.
That said the GMax irons did get it out there and this was particularly noticeable in the short and mid irons. The forgiveness across all the faces was also very good and it was hard to tell between centre and off centre strikes as the feel and sound was almost the same.
The impact sound will get your attention, particularly in the 7 & 8 iron as it sounded almost like a metal wood. Towards the longer irons it starts to go quite deep and hollow, but whichever one it is, it is pretty loud for an iron.
A lot of this has to do with the deep cavity that combines with the very wide sole to draw the Centre of Gravity (CG) low and deep to create that extra forgiveness and a high launching flight with low spin. A bit like most drivers do now, so no wonder some of the irons sound like them.
The elastomer Custom Tuning Port (CTP) that Ping use to modify the sound and feel of their irons is now blended into the sole of the cavity and looks a little better too.
The heads of the GMax are longer and the top line is thicker than the Ping G30 Irons, which were not exactly compact irons. The wider GMax sole maintains its width right the way across, unlike the G30.
The trailing edge is cambered away from the centre of the sole to allow it to go through the turf more easily and it played pretty well from most types of lie.
The GMax set features a progressive design where the offset and head length increases as you go up the set.
Compared to the G30, everything about the GMax is maxxed out so if you need larger heads with more forgiveness than the very forgiving G30, then this is the club for you.
What is less clear is the level of player that will make the transition from G30 to GMax, as for the vast majority of people the G30 will be everything they need and more.
Whilst the larger, faster heads of the GMax give you added benefits, mid handicappers may find them a little heavier to swing than normal. The variable swing weights from C6 to C9 in the 4 to 7 irons didn't really help the flow of the set for me and that is before we get to the different impact sounds.
I would say that the GMax are for high teen handicappers and above who don't hit the same point on the face consistently, or for slower swing speed players who would find the graphite shaft versions ideal for getting the ball airborne using the deeper cavity.
Unlike the Karsten set, the GMax set is just irons from 4 to SW and whilst I like to see that, I am surprised to see a 4-iron in here given the type of golfer they are aimed at. You can of course start the set at 5 or 6 iron and then blend it in with the excellent Ping G30 hybrids and a Ping fitter will be able to help you create this set up as the irons are sold individually.
At the other end I would be tempted to go down to the 50° GMax U wedge before getting a specialist sand wedge as the wide sole on the 56° SW will be better from grass than sand.
I know a lot of golfers who found the previous Karsten and K series irons really helped their game and the GMax continues this fine tradition of super-forgiving irons, which is what these irons are really about, thanks to the extra speed across a wider area of the face, so go max out.