Among the giants of the golf industry, PING has always remained one of the quietest in the business. You never see commercials on TV. They only have a select number of pros which they endorse. They rarely even release new clubs. It seems like the word "hype" just isn't a part of PING's vocabulary.
But something felt different when PING announced it would release two entirely new lines of clubs. PING actually seemed excited. In fact, PING was going out of their way to tell anyone and everyone that would listen that its new clubs had monumental improvements. Even if you didn't like PINGs in the past, you start to wonder, what did they come up with?
After putting the driver through a full battery of tests it has certainly made an impression on me.
Design and Technology
Like its predecessor, the G15 is a 460cc titanium driver meant for golfers seeking maximum forgiveness. This is where the similarities end, however.
The G15 has numerous technological improvements over the G10. The G15 attains a higher MOI by lengthening the head from front to back. Additionally, a 7% larger face increases ball speed and provides consistency across the entire hitting surface. Lastly, weight savings from the ultra thin crown are positioned as an external sole weight to optimize the center of gravity for higher trajectories and reduced spin.
The improvements don't end at the clubhead though. The new PING TFC 149D shaft allows for a five gram increase in head mass without increasing swingweight or overall weight. All of these seemingly small changes should result in higher ball speeds and an increase in MOI.
I would count myself among one of the many golfers who have loved the way that PINGs feel but were less than inspired by their looks (remember the PING TiSi, anyone?). With the G15, and for the first time, PING's esthetics may have matched their technology.
Although PING did not change the crown finish for the G15, there are two noticeable differences between the PING G15 and G10 at address. First, PING abandoned the half moon alignment aid of the G10 in favor of a sleek yet subtle red arrow which first appeared on the PING Rapture. Second, lengthening the club from front to back to increase MOI makes the driver look more triangular in shape than the G10. Overall, I found the simplicity of the new look crown to be improvements over the G10.
The sole of the G15 is what I would consider among PING's greatest improvements. The chrome treatment on the sole isn't new but the technical changes gave PING the ability to make significant esthetic changes. Rather than rubbing your face in the fact that there is a ton of new technology, PING's red, black and chrome paint treatment highlights the technology while remaining understated.
Esthetically, the hitting area remained nearly identical to the G10 with white groves and a v-shaped grooveless sweet spot. The only difference, for which you would have to be looking to notice, is a sightly larger face.
With a black crown, a silver, black and red sole, PING chose to continue the color scheme to their shafts. While there is a slight difference in color between the two stock shafts both shafts are shades of red and grey.
Although the word classic never came to mind when I was looking at the PING, the engineers' new appreciation of subtlety has made the PING a much cleaner and simpler looking club. Personally, I find this to be a dramatic improvement.
Describing their design process, PING says:
Utilizing finite element analysis and the latest in design software, PING engineers develop metal woods in a virtual world to ensure the highest level of performance before the clubs even reach the first tee. Factors such as moment of inertia (MOI), center of gravity (CG) location, crown structure and face thickness are carefully studied with the goal of designing longer, straighter and more consistent metal woods. Even the club's acoustics are analyzed to ensure a powerful sound and feel.
Clearly, to say that PING engineers take the performance of their clubs seriously would be an understatement.
If you have been playing a Titleist or one of the other "softer" sounding drivers on the market the first thing you will notice is the PING's sound. I am in the middle of a back rehabilitation program so my swing speed has been hovering at or slightly above 100 mph. Even at that speed though solid contact sounded and felt like an explosion. This was not obnoxious but it certainly made me believe I hit the ball a lot farther than I did.
The distance you achieve with the G15 is going to have a lot to do with whether you are fitted or not. As stated above, the new external weight pad is meant to produce optimal trajectory and spin. At 100 mph, I want my launch angle to be between 15 and 16 degrees and my spin rate to be between 3000 and 3300 RPMs. I achieve those numbers with my 10.5 degree Titleist 909D2 so I assumed that a 10.5 degree G15 would be appropriate. I was wrong. Within a few shots I could tell that I was hitting the ball much higher than normal. That higher trajectory resulted in me hitting between half iron to full iron more into nearly every hole.
Once I put the PING on a launch monitor I could easily see why I had lost distance. Even though my spin rate was staying around 3500 RPMs, my launch angle was between 18 and 19 degrees. A few degrees may not seem like much but it certainly was enough to lose 5 or 10 yards. I would recommend not repeating my mistake. You should not assume that the loft in one brand will be equal to a PING's playing characteristics. PING prides itself on fitting a player with the club that is exactly right for them; a PING fitter should be able to tell you exactly which loft is right for your swing. Ignore the loft on the bottom of the driver and just focus on your launch angle if you really want to squeeze as much distance out of the G15 as possible.
Aside from the slight distance loss caused by trajectory, I was pleasantly surprised by the clubs extremely consistent draw. If I tried to hit a draw, the ball would draw about 10 yards. If I tried to hit the ball straight, the ball would draw between 5 to 10 yards. If I tried to hit a fade, the ball would fly nearly straight. Only when I tried to hit a hard cut could I get the ball to fade.
Even though I was aggravated that I could not hit my normal power fade on the range, the predictability of the G15's draw was quite an addictive weapon on the course. I could almost guarantee that if I could aimed down the right side of the fairway the ball would end up dead in the center. When playing partners tried the club, they didn't find that the club drew as much but they definitely noticed an increase in the straightness of their drives.
If you are considering buying a PING driver - particularly the G15 model - you are likely more interested in how the club performs for off-center shots. PING claims to be the most forgiving driver on the market and, to be extremely thorough, I grabbed a roll of impact stickers and a few hundred golf balls and parked myself at a launch monitor for an entire day. My findings were as follows:
- On all shots within a dime of the sweet spot, the ball lost less than 10 yards of distance and exhibited minimal curve.
- On the majority of shots hit off the toe of the driver, the ball also lost less than 10 yards of distance and had a hard yet controllable draw.
- On all shots hit high or low on the clubface, there was a slight trajectory change which resulted in minimal distance loss.
- On the majority of shots hit off the heel of the driver, the ball lost between 25 to 30 yards of distance.
After an exhausting day of testing, I was impressed that the driver performed extremely well for any shot hit within a dime of the sweetspot and was shocked to see how well the driver performed out on the toe. My one concern was the heel of the driver. The sound, the trajectory, and the distance all seemed like a completely different driver. The best way to describe it was dead. Still, because the driver performed so well on the majority of the face it absolutely is the most forgiving driver I have ever played.
Specs and Extras
The G15 drivers are available to righties and lefties in 9.0, 10.5, 12.0, and 13.5 degree models. The lie angle is 58.0 degrees and the head weight is 205 grams.
Stock shafts for the G15 are the PING TFC 149D and the Aldila Serrano 60. Their specs are as follows:
PING TFC 149D Aldila Serrano 60 Flex Torque Weight Flex Torque Weight -------- ------ ------ -------- ------ ------ L 7.0 47 g Regular 4.0 57 g Soft R 6.2 52 g Stiff 4.0 60 g Regular 5.8 55 g X-Stiff 4.0 60 g Stiff 5.3 60 g X-Stiff 5.0 63 g
The G15 comes standard with the "dog-bone textured" PING ID8 grip. The ID8 is available in six color-coded sizes ranging from +1/16" to -3/64."
All G15 drivers come with the black and red slip-on headcover you see here. The G15 has an MSRP of $350.00.
The G15 performed as advertised. It was long. It was straight. It was forgiving. But my problem with PING has never been performance.
My problem with PING equipment has always been esthetics. PING has created some clubs that only the PING man could love. The confidence that a beautiful looking club inspires in us before we hit a shot down a tight fairway can be crucial. PING never made it into my bag for that reason alone.
The G15 is different though. Rather than screaming technological superiority at the world with its "interesting" designs, the G15 incorporates its technological advances in a much more subtle design. The result is a driver that both performs and looks great.
In conclusion, if you have always liked PING, the G15's improved performance should be in your bag soon. If PINGs designs have always caused you to shy away, perhaps now is the time for you to take another look.