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Member Review: PING G30 SF Tec


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@RandallT is writing a member review for the G30 SF Tec driver that he won in the Newport Cup Prediction Contest. This thread will serve as an ongoing mini-blog for him to post his review, pics when the driver arrives, share initial impressions or answer questions.

Edited by mvmac
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PING G30 Driver Windfall- A Bogey Golfer's Experience With His New Prize  

Screen_Shot_2015-10-02_at_9.24.48_AM.thu

It's not often I win a contest, so it was quite the thrill when I was informed that PING would be shipping me a new G30 driver as a prize for the Newport Cup Prediction Contest held here at The Sand Trap--  all PING needed from me were the specifications:

  • What club head? SF-Tec, LS-Tec, or Standard. What loft?
  • Which shaft? The blue stock or the tour PING shaft. What length?

Then it hit me: I had absolutely no idea.

This review will not be a technical analysis of the PING G30 driver from someone with vast experience in different equipment, but rather a journal of what a bogey golfer like me has learned during this unexpected windfall of adding this wonderful new driver to my bag. I'll walk through how I went about finding my specifications for the club, what tidbits I may have learned along the way, and then of course, my initial impressions of the PING G30 once I could hit some range balls in the familiar surroundings of my usual driving range.

Research

Prior to visiting my club fitter, I researched the differences between the club heads on PING’s web site. A simple step, but it helped gain some perspective.

Screen_Shot_2015-10-02_at_7.41.28_AM.thu

There's obviously abundant information on other golf sites across the internet about the G30 (including a good one here at TST which I can't find at the moment post-site-conversion) The bottom line was that I arrived at the fitting with these overall impressions of what I would experience:

  1. LS Tec would have a fade bias.
  2. SF Tec would correct more for a tendency to hit right (appealing to me).
  3. The standard head would tend to hit the straightest and longest of the three .
  4. The slightly raised fins on the top of the club, called "turbulators," might distract me, but that I might appreciate knowing that smart people believe they reduce some wind resistance.
  5. The sound might be loud at impact. My wife and kids tell me all the time I am oblivious to sounds, so my hunch was that I would not even notice (spoiler: I was right).
  6. G30 would be a "forgiving" club. But how forgiving could a club be? Would a bogey golfer who hits, say, two OB per round be able to keep it in play more often, or would it be more like a reduction from 2.0 to 1.9 average (hence, hardly noticeable on a per round basis)?

Club Fitting

The fitter got a kick out of my unique situation, and after some general chit chat about PING drivers, I told him that he was in complete charge of navigating me through the options. All I asked was that at the end, we'd circle back around and discuss his reasoning for making various choices.

So away we went. It was a beautiful, cool morning, as you see below. The tall tree on the left was my aiming point from inside the "shed" you see on the right. That tree stands alone about 260yds up the hill, and a slice right would disappear into the trees. But I would block those thoughts out!

Screen_Shot_2015-10-02_at_9.39.55_AM.thu

As we went through different configurations, I did sense that some were tending to push out to the right. As agreed, the fitter would not let me know which club I was hitting for each batch of shots, although I could've read the label each time. At address, each club seemed quite similar, but I believe I've already noted my family's impression of how observant I am. I tried to set up and focus similarly every single shot as though I were hitting the same club. Clearly, some batches were wanting to go rightward, however.

The fitter then announced that the LS Tec club head was eliminated. When I asked if those were the shots drifting more right, his laugh betrayed that the preliminary research had some truth behind it. So that's one definite success of conducting a club fitting. Even if one doesn't hone in on the perfect club, one can certainly eliminate a club that doesn't work for a given swing.

I next learned that FlightScope has a tool that calculates which group of shots has the best dispersion across multiple groups. I don't know the details of their algorithm, but the fitter was seeing that in the various combinations, the SF Tec dispersions were being ranked generally higher than the standard head. But he wanted more analysis. This might be the point at which a club fitting becomes more art than science. To me, the differences I felt were minute with any configurations he asked me to hit. 

In my hands, I could make very little distinction between the various clubs he was handing me to hit 5-10 balls each. We were in a groove of swapping out clubs with different lofts, shaft flexes, club heads followed by my continuing to strive to drive it out to the tree in the distance. Each shot felt smooth, the trajectories felt higher than my current driver, and I did have a sense that all the clubs were more forgiving. Overall, I was happy that my swing throughout the session was staying somewhat consistent (minus the odd mishit occasionally), and that was confirmed with the swing speeds I was seeing on the console. 

Eventually and methodically, FlightScope had spoken! The fitter announced that the SF Tec club head was generating better dispersions than the standard club head for my swing, so I knew we were making progress.

From there, we simply honed in on a shaft and loft. My impressions were again that the shots all felt similar during this final phase- smooth swings producing higher trajectories than I typically remember seeing. There was still probably enough variability in my swing, however, that I felt that the final configuration might end up being a roll of the dice.  Again, we used the FlightScope analysis tool to determine that my optimum configuration was SF Tec, Tour65 regular flex shaft, 10degree loft, standard length. Whew, because I was tiring.

 Screen_Shot_2015-10-02_at_7.57.13_AM.thu

To close the loop on two other items I had found in the research:

1. The look of the turbulators was a non-issue. I found the look of the driver from above to be very clean and comfortable at address. I certainly can't speak to whether or not the turbulators helped my swing speed, because I only used clubs with turbulators that day. My swing speed was deliberately slower than my fitting of the previous year, but that was by choice, not because the turbulators slowed me down!

2. As mentioned above, the sound of the G30 seems perfectly normal to me. If it bothers you, I'll tip my hat to you that you have far more sensitive ears. 

The PING G30 Arrives!

After sending @mvmac the specs, PING shipped the driver to me via FedEx. I hadn't expected it to arrive so soon, so kudos to PING for having an efficient system and ensuring arrival quickly and safely in mint condition.

I set about devising a test to compare with my current club (TM SLDR 9.5). I would swing each club in batches of 5 and score each drive for length, accuracy, and feel of shot/trajectory (0-5pts each for 25pt max per batch).  I was excited to see if  the forgiveness that I felt during the fitting was real. Were shots going to be more accurate than my current driver?  But mainly, it was just pretty darn cool that I was going to be hitting my own brand new G30. Period. FYI: My aim point for the competition was the middle of the two white poles you see in the pic below (reduction in points for hitting outside of that):

Screen_Shot_2015-10-02_at_9.51.59_AM.thu

After the first round, G30 led SLDR by 4pts. In my familiar range environment, I could relax more and feel the G30 better than during the fitting session. It felt lighter than my SLDR through the ball, and the ball seemed to jump off the face with less jolt during contact, if that makes sense. The SLDR felt a tad heavier through impact- with more substantial feeling to it. The trajectory of the G30 was a tad higher than the SLDR, but it also had a slightly higher loft, of course.  

In the second round, G30 opened its lead to 6. I began to get a feel for the forgiveness now, and G30 did help one shot hit off the heel in this batch to still manage some accuracy and length. Perhaps eking out a point or two like this every so often would be the difference?  After 10 shots each, I judged that no shots yet for either club would've been OB though. 

G30 held its lead at 6 after two more rounds, and I was feeling quite satisfied that although there were small differences in the outcomes of the shots, that the G30 had a marginal lead in my arbitrary point system. 6 point lead after 20 shots (each shot could be max of 5)- that's fairly close. In these rounds, I started to get a bit sloppy, and for both clubs, I had shots that would've been OB. For neither club did I think that there was any forgiveness that might've prevented one from otherwise going astray. 

My bucket was getting low, so I wondered if I could do one more test. One part of me said that I was done. Pack it up and go home, claim victory, get this review written while the PING G30 is winning! Nah, keep hitting. I'm sure others around me just thought I was "that guy" who showed up at the range to pound driver!

The first 4 shots of my last round for the G30 were solid, but a disappointing swing on the final shot resulted in a slice that went way right...hmmm.  0 points for accuracy and feel/trajectory for that one.  As luck would have it, the SLDR round went better than any previous round, and my final two shots with it were right down the middle with a nice trajectory. With those max points on the final two drives, the SLDR won that final round, and came within 1pt of the overall totals from all rounds.

So in the end, a small edge to the PING G30 SF Tec driver in this arbitrary maiden test, but certainly within the margin of error of the variability of my swing. And it took a poor shot from the G30, combined with two perfect shots from the SLDR to make it that close. In my mind, I had a brand new driver that was going to be a thrill to take to the course, and that's always an exciting prospect.

Bottom line: the G30 and the SLDR were ballpark the same in performance for me on this day. Either driver could have won the little contest I set up, but that was good information to know.  There's no sense going to the course thinking that a new club would solve my scoring woes. But there's comfort in knowing that my new prize is every bit as good (if not better) as the driver I've already been playing with.

Conclusion

I’ll be putting the PING G30 in my bag, replacing the SLDR I was fitted for last year- mainly due to personal preferences, not because of any proven technical advantage shown on a flight monitor or on the range. The positive feelings that go with a prize (and associated camaraderie of that contest) and the high opinions of those that I respect for the PING brand tip the scales for me. As rain bears down on the east coast for a while, it’ll be some time before I have the opportunity to play with it on the course, but I assure you, the club will be put to good use as soon as I am able.

I enjoy the lighter, bouncier feel of my PING G30 SF-Tec driver. The ball feels as if it leaves the club face in a softer manner than what I am used to. The trajectory has a higher and almost effortless feel to it. The dark matte finish at address and sound of the G30 at impact are nice, despite some cautions I had seen in the preliminary research. 

Lastly, I think the process for being fitted for clubs is very useful. Anytime one can eliminate a configuration of a club that will consistently generate poor shots, that gives you confidence that the model you select will be one with which you can find success. Everything has fallen into place so far: the research, the fitting, the quick arrival of the club in good condition, the initial testing on the range. All that remains is success on the course! Stay tuned.

Thanks again to the Newport Cup for this opportunity- it is quite an honor to have this club in the bag.

 

I will leave you below with a sample of the shots I hit with the SF Tec driver to give you a sense of the fitting session, as well as where my swing stands. Shots 2, 3, and 7 appear to be the anomalies for spin, and also are the lowest distance drives. If you are near bogey golf, you can likely relate to these numbers/consistency. Please, no jokes about "well if these are the winning numbers, I'd hate to see the losing ones!" ;-)

I am in the midst of somewhat of a breakthrough (aren't we all?!) in my swing via video lessons @ Evolvr, and I was trying to ensure that my form did not break down by swinging too hard.  My club head speed stayed mostly in the mid-90s for nearly all of the swings. 

Anyway, I felt the goal here was to find a configuration to match my swing, not my highest possible speed. I must sadly admit, however, that I was hoping that my effortless swing based on better technique would’ve yielded higher swing speeds, but oh well. 

Screen_Shot_2015-10-02_at_10.18.05_AM.th

 

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I enjoyed reading your review! As I use TM drivers, it was interesting to see how the G30 compared to your SLDR. Glad that your G30 won out in the end though. It was really neat hearing about the fitting process, and glad it's not so scary if you aren't necessarily a very low handicap. 

 

Thanks  for writing your review -- enjoy that super shiny new driver on the course. :-D

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I enjoyed reading your review! As I use TM drivers, it was interesting to see how the G30 compared to your SLDR. Glad that your G30 won out in the end though. It was really neat hearing about the fitting process, and glad it's not so scary if you aren't necessarily a very low handicap. 

 

Thanks  for writing your review -- enjoy that super shiny new driver on the course. :-D

Thanks, @amoline!  Appreciate the words. It has been a great experience. Regarding fitting, glad it shed some light on the process. My SLDR fitting last year at the same place was my first, and it took nearly 2 hours (of his 1 hour time slot- he was generous with his time). I teased him about why he didn't end up with a PING G30 last year!  

It really is dizzying how many choices you can start with. I went in last year not knowing really much about what I wanted in my driver, so my fitter had his work cut out for him. In all honesty, my gut tells me I could've ended up with any one of a number of drivers, except for one slight answer to a question here, a tiny fade to the right there, or whatever.  It does help to go into a fitting with some experience regarding what you're looking for, or else the available choices are so large that it is difficult to narrow them down.

This fitting for the G30 must've been fairly simple for him. The brand was decided. Now just crank through the various configurations. 

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Great review.

 

i got fitted for a g30 and felt similar to you that the fitting is worthwhile but also that there is some art to it and an experienced fitter does make a difference.  Having practiced and played with the g30 for about six months now I'm very happy with it.  My only observation is that it feels a bit dead whether you hit the ball dead centre or a little bit off but I think this is because of its forgiveness and must just be a thing with modern drivers.

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