Why Are Ping Eye 2 Irons Illegal? [Explained]

Golfers, have you ever wondered why the once-popular Ping Eye 2 Irons are now considered illegal in the world of professional golf? It’s all about the grooves! 

Ping Eye 2 Irons are considered illegal due to their non-conforming square grooves, which provide an excessive spin on the golf ball, giving players an unfair advantage. The USGA and R&A banned them in 2010.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the controversy surrounding these iconic clubs, exploring how their unique square groove design led to their ban by the USGA and R&A in 2010. Before diving into the main discussion, let’s see what this iron offers-

Ping Eye 2 Iron Specs

Why Are Ping Eye 2 Irons Illegal

The Ping Eye 2 irons are a set of golf clubs that were first introduced in 1982 and remain popular with golf enthusiasts for their design and quality. 

They were known for their extreme perimeter weighting, which allowed the clubs to resist twisting at impact, making them more forgiving. 

This feature also increased the clubs’ playability from different lie conditions due to the specially designed sole. Here is a short table showing the specs of ping eye 2 irons-

FeaturePing Eye 2 Irons
Year Introduced1982
Shaft OptionsPing JZ series steel, Ping 350 Series graphite
Groove DesignV-shaped (1982), U-shaped (1984-1985), Box groove (1986 onwards)
Club Head DesignOffset and Cavity Back
Special DesignExtreme Perimeter Weighting
ForgivenessEnhanced by Perimeter Weighting and Offset Design
Game ImprovementEmphasizes Speed and Forgiveness 
Sole DesignPatented design with a top rail undercut
Additional FeaturesVariable Thickness Steel Face
MaterialTungsten (for increased perimeter weighting)

Why Are Ping Eye 2 Irons Illegal? [Explained]

The Ping Eye 2 irons have been a controversial topic in the world of golf due to certain features of their design that have been deemed non-conforming by the United States Golf Association (USGA). The key issues revolve around the grooves on the clubface.

It’s all about the Groove Design

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The Ping Eye 2 irons are known for their square-shaped or U-shaped grooves, which are quite distinctive from the round grooves found on most other golf clubs. 

The problem with this design, as determined by the USGA, is that it can generate more spin on the golf ball than clubs with round grooves. 

This added spin can give players an unfair advantage by allowing them greater control over the ball’s flight and landing, particularly in conditions where the round-grooved clubs would struggle, such as wet or long grass situations.

Are all ping eye 2 irons illegal?

Not all Ping Eye 2 irons are considered illegal. Specifically, those that were manufactured prior to April 1990 with the square or U-shaped grooves pattern are considered non-conforming.

This is likely due to changes in the rules and standards set by the USGA over time.

It’s important to note that despite these issues, the Ping Eye 2 irons are still legal in most amateur tournaments and in certain professional tournaments depending on the specific model and manufacturing date.

They are only deemed illegal in certain contexts due to the regulations set forth by the USGA and similar bodies.

Why are square grooves illegal? [ping eye 2 square grooves]

Square or “U” grooves became a subject of controversy in golf due to their impact on the game.

They were briefly banned from the PGA tour due to a rule that wasn’t specifically about the legality of the clubs themselves. 

The debate around square grooves revolves around the advantages they might offer golfers.

Some studies suggest that square grooves provide no competitive advantage, while others state they provide slightly higher spin rates from the rough.

Square grooves were specifically in the spotlight when the Ping Eye-2 irons, which had these grooves, were banned by the United States Golf Association (USGA) for providing too much assistance to the golfer. 

Despite the ban, a 20-year-old Ping wedge was found lawful due to a lawsuit won by its maker over the USGA in 1990, making all square-headed clubs legal.

Nevertheless, golf’s governing bodies, the USGA and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A), declared square or “U” grooves as illegal in PGA tournament play.

As a result, the square grooves that players had enjoyed for the last 20 years were replaced with less aggressive, V-shaped grooves.

Moreover, square grooves are slated to become illegal in organized amateur games by 2024.

Note that the legality of square grooves can also depend on geographical location, as Australia and New Zealand have similar restrictions on groove width.

Why are ping eye 2 irons so good?

Why are ping eye 2 irons so good?

Ping Eye 2 irons have been praised for various reasons, making them a favorite among many golfers, even decades after their initial release.

Large sweet spot

These irons are known for their large sweet spot, which allows for easier and more consistent ball contact. This can enhance the performance of golfers at all skill levels.


The Ping Eye 2 irons are noted for their consistency. This consistency means that you can rely on these irons to perform the same way every time you use them, which can be an advantage in improving your golf game.


Ping Eye 2 irons boast substantial forgiveness and game-improvement attributes, which are still comparable to many modern irons.

This means that they can be more forgiving on off-center shots, making them a good choice for beginners and high handicappers.


The design of Ping Eye 2 irons, which includes features like the offset hosel and perimeter weighting, also contributes to their performance.

The offset hosel can make it easier to square up at impact, which can increase accuracy and promote straighter ball flight.

The perimeter weighting helps to stabilize the club head on off-center shots, further enhancing the irons’ forgiveness.

High launch angles

These irons also produce high launch angles, which can be beneficial for players who struggle to get the ball in the air.

Note: It’s worth noting that while Ping Eye 2 irons offer many benefits, they may not suit all players. Compared to modern irons, they may not provide as much distance due to the advancements in golf technology. Modern irons generally have stronger lofts and improved materials, contributing to increased ball speeds and overall distance.


What year did they stop making Ping Eye 2?

The manufacturing of the original Ping Eye 2 irons stopped in March 1990. However, Ping continued to offer a slightly updated version of the Ping Eye 2 irons after that.

It’s important to note that there might be some dispute regarding the exact date of discontinuation. The Ping Eye 2 irons, known for their popularity and groundbreaking design, were first released in 1982.

Did Tiger Woods use Ping Eye 2 irons?

Yes, Tiger Woods did use Ping Eye 2 irons at certain points in his career. During his junior career, Tiger used Ping Eye 2 irons and carried both the matching 1 and 2 iron from the set.

However, it is important to note that the very first 2-iron he used isn’t technically a two-iron at all. This is due to the argument that can be made about modern lofts and hotter club faces.

Do all Ping Eye 2 have square grooves?

No, not all Ping Eye 2 clubs have square grooves. Early models manufactured between 1982 and 1984 have ‘V’ grooves, later models have the first generation square grooves, and later Eye 2 models have radiused ‘U’ grooves.

Where is the sweet spot on a Ping Eye 2 irons?

The sweet spot on Ping Eye 2 irons, like any other golf club, is the exact point on the clubface where the center of gravity (CoG) of the club head aligns with the CoG of the golf ball upon impact. It is a small, precise location on the face of the club.

What do the dots on Ping Eye 2 mean?

The dots on Ping Eye 2 golf clubs indicate the club’s color code, which is used for custom-fitting based on a golfer’s height and wrist-to-floor measurement. Each color represents a specific lie angle and shaft length combination. For more detailed information, you can refer to the Ping.com website.

What is the swing weight of Ping Eye 2?

The swing weight of the Ping Eye 2 irons can vary depending on factors such as the shaft options and grip used. The original Ping Eye 2 irons with the ZZ Lite shaft had a swing weight of C9.

However, if you buy them today, the swing weight may be different, and it’s recommended to research the current shaft options