At last year’s TST Newport Cup, the guys and I got to tour PING’s facility in Scottsdale, Arizona. I’d never owned a PING club, but I was excited all the same. PING is known for being an engineering leader among OEMs, and their U.S. base of operations makes them a particularly intriguing company. Though they no longer cast and manufacture many clubs in America, they still have quite the impressive setup.
It wasn’t long before I knew I had to try the next PING product that came our way, if only to reap the benefits in real life of everything we got to see on the shop tour. So when the PING G series woods came up for review, I jumped at it.
Though they don’t have the splashiness of drivers or the utility of hybrids, fairway woods have been hot lately. TaylorMade used them to drive their marketing for several years, and recently PING has picked up the same mantle. The G series, now numberless, may be the most heralded set of fairway woods on the market right now.
Do they live up to the hype? Let’s take a look.
Design and Technology
The new G series woods carry over much of the design esthetic from the previous G30 generation, and likewise much of the same technology.
The name of the game is ball flight; specifically, high ball flight. The G series woods are designed with a very low and sharp leading edge, so that the wood can more effectively “slide” under the golf ball. This has two effects: first, it makes play from tight lies easier; second, and more importantly, it increases the effective height of the clubface.
When you strike the ball from higher on the club face, particularly above the CG, the ball will launch higher. It’s the same gear effect that gives us results like these. PING’s theory is that if you can get the bottom of the clubface lower – as close to the turf as possible – you can effectively turn a center strike into a strike high on the clubface. PING claims that that impact occurs 12% higher on the clubface of the G series than the G30. This should increase launch angle and decrease ballspin. So far, so good.
And when you think about it, that makes a ton of sense. We’ve all popped up fairway woods shots – whether because the grass got in the way (because it definitely wasn’t my fault) or the ball was perched up a bit too high – and it inevitably leads to the characteristic sky-ball. PING is aiming to make every shot a much, much less extreme version of that.
The clubface of the G series fairway woods is made from carpenter 455 steel, a high-strength stainless alloy used to make the face thinner and lighter. The crown has been made thinner as well, allowing the CG to be lowered.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, dear reader, but the G series woods all come equipped with “Turbulators” lining the crown. Turbulators are PING’s space-age name for the ridges on the face side of the crown that PING has designed to decrease wind resistance and turbulence over the top of the club. Lower air resistance = faster clubhead speed = more distance = happy golfers.
Y’know what? Why don’t I just let Bubba Watson explain them.
Until our trip to the PING facility, I’d never been particularly high on PING clubs. But seeing how the sausage was made, so to speak, gave me a whole new appreciation of how they do business. When I got the chance to review the G series fairway woods, I snapped it up.
The 2016 G series look very similar to the previous G30 clubs. They have similarly plain soles, and swooping crowns adorned with PING’s trademarked Turbulators. They even both say the word “Turbulators” on the heel side of the crown.
The G series woods manage to blend a new-age technological look with more classic soft lines. The sole, a shiny black chrome adorned with sweeping blue accents, is very nice to look at, and provides the club with a smooth surface to glide along the turf. The weight at the back, used to adjust the mass during manufacturing, ties the entire look together like the button on a baseball cap. The bold “PING” lettering, in a silver chrome script, fits perfectly.
From the address position, PING has managed to make a funky design look downright normal. The Turbulators, which I had worried might be distracting, are anything but. They blend in perfectly with the surrounding matte black crown, and actually very nicely frame the golf ball. They converge towards the center of the clubface, binding the entire look together. Think more Lockheed Martin fighter jet or Lamborghini supercar than PING golf club.
The hosel, which contains PING’s adjustable loft system, is inconspicuously integrated into the surrounding ferrule and clubshaft, beautifully hiding a component that shouldn’t be this easy to hide. For a golf club that’s bursting at the seams with technology, it’s a marvel that none of it seeps through.
Over the past few years, I’ve reviewed a good amount of fairway woods here at TST. Higher ends clubs and discount models alike. I’ve also hit most of the current clubs on the market at demo days and in golf shops.
But I’ve never hit a club that launches like the PING G series. The G fairway woods soar. “Launching the ball” is an understatement.
Hitting a ball flush with the PING G series is like if you could shoot a Tomahawk missile that landed at its target intact and on a cushioned pillow. I’ve spent my entire time with the G series hitting home runs that dropped out of the air (and usually onto the green) so softly they could be caught by a centerfielder who’d left his glove in the dugout. Hitting balls at the range with the G series is the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like the pro. It’s like being at a shooting range: line ’em up, knock ’em down.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: the fairway wood has almost always been my bugaboo. (Aside from putting. Who invented putting, anyway?) Years ago, I used to hit fairway woods quite frequently off the tee, convinced that there was just something wrong with my driver than caused my massive tee shot slices (again, it couldn’t have been me). But as my swing improved, the need to ever hit a fairway wood slowly slipped away. If I didn’t require the full length of my driver off the tee, I immediately went for the hybrid. Hybrids are easier to control, land softly on the green, and provide the mental benefit of making me feel like I’m hitting an iron. My 3-wood became my “break in case of going for a par-five in two” club, and so I rarely ever practiced with it. Never practicing hitting your longest club off the deck is not a solid plan for success.
The PING G series fairway woods changed that overnight. Being able to hit a fairway wood off the tee – launching it high and landing it soft, with nearly as much length as my driver – was a no-brainer. Adding to that the ability to blast one off the deck equally as high and soft earned the G series a permanent spot in my bag.
When I pull the headcover off – and I’ll get to the headcover in a bit – the G series fills me with confidence. Its sinister looks and perfect weight make it feel like there’s no way I can’t hit the perfect shot. To be specific, I like to be able to feel the head weight of a fairway wood, but I also don’t want it to feel like a balloon on a stick. The shaft needs to have just the right amount of heft without making it feel like I’m swinging a two-by-four. That’s an extremely tough needle to thread, but the PING G series nails it.
What continues to amaze me about the G series woods is that they really just don’t have a weakness. Tee shots, tight lies from the fairway, buried in the rough … the G series is never overmatched.
The PING G series fairway woods are available in 14.5°, 17.5°, and 20.5° versions, correlating to a 3-wood, 5-wood, and 7-wood, respectively. All three are available for righties and lefties.
The G series woods come stock with an Alta 65 shaft, a shaft made in-house by PING themselves. As I described above, this pairs perfectly for me with the clubhead, offering an excellent distribution of weight and a flexibility that felt true. The Alta 65 is available in soft regular, regular, stiff, and x-stiff. The stock grip is a tour velvet-style, inoffensive variety. It’s rotatable, so you won’t have to look at an off-center logo if you adjust the hosel.
The headcover, as I alluded to earlier, is of the retro-style, fake-leather variety that some clubmakers have been turning to recently. Frankly, I can’t stand it. It slips off too easily, but it also isn’t any easier than a typical headcover to put back on. All of the bad, none of the good. The colors are nice, at least. I’ll grant them that.
I didn’t expect this review to come out so glowing when I first got the G series 3-wood, but I’m absolutely a PING convert. The G series is by far the best fairway wood I’ve hit, and it fits my game perfectly. If you’re struggling to get the ball in the air off the deck, or you want something easier to hit off the tee than a driver, I seriously urge you to check out the G series fairway woods. You’re not going to be disappointed.