Ping's G425 launch showcases new approach to adjustability, forgiveness and speed
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The Ping G425 line of metalwoods continue the company’s industry-leading push to the extremes of moment of inertia (MOI), best understood as the stability of the head on off-center hits (so misses fly more like dead-center strikes). The new driver combines the technologies of Ping’s two previous models—building on the super-high MOI of the G400 Max and advancing the movable weight feature of the G410 Plus—while also continuing to offer standard models for the masses (G425 Max), a low-spin option (G425 LST) and an anti-slice version (G425 SFT). The G425 fairway woods and hybrids break new ground for the company with a wraparound-style face that extends into the crown and sole to improve the way the face flexes for better distance.
Price: Drivers: $500; fairway woods: $300; hybrids: $270 (all available immediately).
THE DEEP DIVE: Now in its seventh decade of existence, Ping prides itself on being a learning company that just happens to make golf equipment, right to its inquisitive original founder Karsten Solheim and his pursuit of engineering solutions to solve average golfer problems. For example, the company’s in-house library of experiments and research on everything from metallurgy and moment of inertia to clubhead aerodynamics, supercomputer simulations and ultra-individualized custom clubfitting would provide the foundation for a Masters degree in club design. As well, the stories are not apocryphal but actual of Solheim flying in a disgruntled customer to quiz him on what was so disappointing about the company’s latest product—not a retail partner, mind you, but a real-live current owner of a Ping club. There the company chief sat, watching an average golfer hit balls in the Arizona summer heat, taking notes and building a foundation for what the company’s next design might be.
So it is no surprise that the company’s new G425 metalwoods—led by the three-pronged approach in the driver—reflects not merely a combination of the company’s most recent technologies but a step forward in construction and theory. As Ryan Stokke, director of product at Ping, says of the new woods: “It comes down to our understanding of how to utilize the mass properties to help golfers hit their best shots farther and their worst shots farther and more accurate. It really comes down to how do we produce more speed, how do we make it more forgiving and how do we fit a diverse array of golfers.”
Simple in concept, perhaps, complex in all levels of execution throughout the G425 wood line. While the new G425 drivers largely continue the theme established with the original G2 of pursuing high MOI through a center of gravity location that is deep toward the back perimeter of the clubhead, they do so with a renewed effort to push the center of gravity lower than Ping drivers have been before.
To push more forgiveness, the new designs start by thinning out the walls more than ever before, which frees up weight to be reallocated in distinct ways with each of the three driver models (G425 Max, the low-spin G425 LST and the anti-slice G425 SFT). The new designs feature walls as thin as two sheets of kitchen-grade aluminum foil stacked on top of each other. At about 0.4 millimeters thick, the crown structure uses a web-like composition (called “Dragonfly Technology”) to make the walls stronger, but its greatest benefit is that it allows the movable tungsten weight in the rear perimeter to now be 26 grams. That’s 10 grams heavier than it was in the G410 Plus, the company’s first driver with adjustable weight technology.
What’s intriguing about the new adjustable weight structure on the G425, which again encompasses central, heel and toe positions, is that it extends across a shorter range so the weights don’t move as far into the heel and toe as its predecessor. While that might seem to make the resulting heel or fade bias less effective, there’s a logic at work, said Paul Wood, the Ph.D who is Ping’s vice president of engineering.
“We found that we didn’t need to go to the extreme heel or toe to get the movement we were looking for and it allowed us to keep the MOI high,” he said. For example, the company’s study of the new movable weight arrangement showed the same effects on influencing a fade or draw trajectory while seeing a 16-20 percent improvement in stability on off-center hits.
Ping calculates the combined MOI in both the heel-toe and crown-sole directions to be nearly 10,000 grams-cm2. (The USGA limits heel-toe MOI to a tolerance of 6,000 grams-cm2, but does not have a limit on crown-sole MOI.) That overall stability not only reduces the decline in off-center hit ball speed but produces more consistency in spin on mis-hits, too, for more repeatable trajectories and distance.
Said Stokke, “That MOI preservation is unique when you look at the landscape of drivers in the marketplace.” On the standard G425 Max, Stokke said the isolated effect of the different weight positions provides around 10 yards of fade or draw shot bend, which is right in line with what players are looking for. The larger flight correction comes in the G425 SFT, which puts a fixed 23-gram weight toward the heel.
“We were able to achieve more draw bias using a weight that was not as far heelward, but is heavier,” Wood said. “The face angle also is closed slightly more but you can’t really detect it at address. The CG being deeper combines with the heavier weight to amplify the draw bias.”
The G425 LST is a slightly more compact model at 445 cubic centimeters but still features a hefty adjustable weight of 17 grams, and according to Stokke the center of gravity is both lower and farther back compared to the G410 LST. That difference produces not only 500-700 rpm less spin vs. the G425 Max but 200 rpm less spin vs. the G410 LST.
The face on the G425 driver models is again the T9S+ titanium alloy that uses a special heat treatment to get thinner for better flexing. A series of rib structures in the rear walls of the drivers helps control sound in the overall thinner structure in the drivers. Also, the drivers again push the MOI values because of their slightly heavier headweights (203-208 grams), which is neatly offset by Ping’s standard lightweight counterbalanced shaft.
Also, the drivers again incorporate a further advanced version of the ridges on the crown known as turbulators, designed to improve the head’s aerodynamics for improved velocity during the downswing.
DEEPER ON FAIRWAYS AND HYBRIDS: Meanwhile, the G425 fairway woods and hybrids again both employ deep perimeter weighting for higher stability, as well as three models for three golfer categories in fairway woods and a wide array of lofts. But something completely new is the face design, which of course is aimed at building more consistent performance top to bottom.
In both the fairway woods and hybrids, the key changes are its structure and its shaping. First, the face, made of a high-strength maraging steel, now wraps around the crown and sole to improve ball speed all across the face. There’s also a new variable curvature of the face. Rather than a consistent curve, the lower part of the face actually reduces loft twice as much as past models. The idea is to combat the excessive spin and ball speed dropoff typically seen from impacts low on the face. Typically on a fairway wood and hybrid, the face curvature would change the loft for impacts above center by a little over a degree and reduce loft low on the face by the same amount. By varying that curvature, the loft low on the face on the G425 fairway woods and hybrids is twice as low for shots below center. Wood said the two elements produce independent and combined effects.
“The payoff is using a greater proportion of the maraging steel in the front part of the head,” Wood said, who noted the manufacturing technology of attaching super-thin sections of maraging steel to super-thin sections of the 17-4 steel body was not a trivial engineering exercise. “So not only the face but the very thin sections at the crown and the sole can give us together more of a compounded spring effect.
“Also, by lowering the loft lower on the face, we’re generating more consistent spin and that yields more distance.”
The company is also offering options in the fairway-wood family featuring a more compact, low-spin head (LST) and anti-slice head (SFT).
The G425 drivers, fairway woods and hybrids all feature an eight-way adjustable hosel that changes loft by plus or minus 1.5 degrees.
The G425 driver comes in six options (9, 10.5, 12 degrees in G425 Max; 9 and 10.5 degrees in G425 LST; 10.5 degrees in G425 LST). In the fairway woods, the G425 Max comes in four lofts (14.5, 17.5, 20.5 and 23.5 degrees), the G425 LST in one loft (14.5 degrees) and the G425 SFT in three lofts (16, 19 and 22 degrees). The G425 hybrids come in six lofts (17, 19, 22, 26, 30 and 34 degrees).