Ping G430 Max 10K driver: What you need to know
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The Ping G430 Max 10K, the latest in a long lineage of forgiving drivers from the company, arrives as the company’s driver with highest measured moment of inertia. That stability on off-center means more consistency in distance and dispersion both heel to toe and up and down the face, and it’s enhanced by a lower center of gravity for higher launch with less spin. What makes possible both the lower CG and the size, which is barely a tenth of an inch shy of the USGA limits for heel to toe and front to back dimensions, is an eight-layer section of lightweight carbon composite that covers the majority of the crown and wraps around the heel and toe sections of the skirt.
PRICE: $650 (MSRP). 9, 10.5, 12 degrees (with eight-way adjustable hosel, +/- 1.5 degrees).
In a family of wide-body, ultra-forgiving drivers, the Max 10K is the beefiest, nearly filling the size and shape limitations set forth in the rules. That size, along with a heavy and fixed tungsten weight in the back of this massive head, pushes stability on off-center hits to the highest in company history and the edge of golf’s rules. Those limits regulate how stable a head is from heel to toe, but this driver goes another step by stabilizing how the head resolves mis-hits high and low. A carbon-composite crown section keeps the center of gravity low to control spin, too.
3 COOL THINGS
1. Stable genius. No manufacturer has consistently pushed the idea of forgiveness, specifically the measurement of off-center stability known as moment of inertia (MOI), the way Ping has throughout the company’s six-and-a-half decades. So when a driver sets a new company standard for stability, it becomes a moment for the industry, too.
The G430 Max 10K, as the name implies, measures out at a combined MOI of approximately 10,100 grams-centimenters squared, according to the company. That measurement reflects an MOI in the heel toe direction of just a hundred points or so shy of the limit set by the rules of 6,000. It then adds to it what the company believes is the most stable head in the high-low direction to push that total combined MOI well above the 10,000 territory, a number that in terms of mainstream drivers has only been realized this week.
What does that stability mean? Briefly (and, deep breath, semi-scientifically), we’re talking about how much the head twists on an off-center impact. The more stable a design, usually by pushing mass far back from the face, the less the head will recoil on a hit toward the toe, heel, crown or sole. Less twisting means less energy is lost and more energy is delivered to the ball. The result is off-center hits can fly closer in distance and direction to center hits.
By comparison, the G430 Max 10K’s combined MOI is about 2.5 percent greater than that of the G430 Max, said Ping’s Ryan Stokke, director of product design. But for all that achievement, Stokke thinks focusing on the 10,000 number isn’t what really makes this driver special. It’s about pushing that stability and how it contributes to getting the ball to finish in a place that makes scoring easier. In other words, farther and straighter.
“We’re really looking at how we design consistency,” he said, mentioning efforts to change the curvature on the bottom half of the face toward less loft. That yields lower spin from mishits that normally would produce high spin, and that improvement is what the company calls “spin-sistency.”
“Sure, we’re progressing along that continuum of forgiveness. But we’re looking at other levers that help us produce effectively tighter dispersion. Our high-low MOI number is really giving us a driver that produces more consistent launch and spin. So when we couple that with spin-sistency, now we have a driver that is more consistent for ball speed, spin and launch and effectively pushes it even higher than just what its MOI value might be.”
The improvement in MOI from the previously introduced G430 Max came about because the G430 Max 10K borrows from the learnings of the low-spin G430 LST. That driver achieves a lower center of gravity by saving weight through the use of an eight-layer carbon composite section that covers much of the crown and overlaps into the heel and toe sections of the skirt. That allows the frame to stretch to within a tenth of an inch of the USGA’s rules, which limits the size of drivers to a five-inch-by-five-inch box.
A 28-gram fixed back weight pushes the stability number higher, but the saved weight from the carbon composite crown (five grams) also helps to lower the center of gravity for higher launch and less spin. A slightly shallower and thinner face design also saves weight that beefs up stability while also lowering spin.
2. Lofty aspirations. The all-around efforts to improve consistency of flight, distance and dispersion gives the G430 Max 10K some new fitting opportunities for players of all types, Stokke said. Players could play a lower loft driver without worrying about distance-sapping lower launch.
“The ability to be a half to a full degree higher launch angle at similar lofts is going to be one pathway to success for a lot of golfers,” he said. “At the same time, we know a lot of golfers might already be in a good launch window, but since this driver gets them a higher launch angle for the same loft, they can get into a driver with less loft. This could help a higher handicap player who plays a lower loft, an extremely high MOI driver with low spin. He’s going to get more ball speed by going from a 10.5-degree driver to a 9-degree with the same launch and less spin.”
3. Higher heights. The G430 Max 10K still incorporates the familiar technologies from past Ping drivers, most notably the aerodynamically focused turbulators toward the front of the crown. Designed to improve airflow, they’re designed to reduce drag otherwise caused by the larger bodied head. Another technology emphasizing speed and introduced with the G430 driver line will be part of the Max 10K offering, as well. The HL option, which targets moderate swing speed players, features a lighter head weight with a lighter back weight, a lighter grip and a lighter Ping Alta Quick shaft (38-45 grams).
“Because of the bigger overall size on our lighter build, it actually ends up being more efficient for MOI,” Stokke said. “It actually is pound for pound more forgiving at the same head weight as what we produce in G430 Max HL.”