For the Ping G range launch I went to Ping Headquarters in Arizona and met with Marty Jertson who is Director of Product Development for Ping, to talk about the new G range of golf clubs, in particular the new G Driver.
Hi Marty. With the G Driver you talk a lot about forgiveness, but how would you define ‘forgiveness’?
That’s a very good question because it can be defined in a lot of different ways. In irons or wedges it can be defined as practical forgiveness people experience, it is more than just mis-hitting it around the face. It is when, for example, you make a swing that is too steep and with one club it digs into the ground and you take a big divot and with another club it glides straight through the turf, so in that case there is a forgiveness aspect, especially in irons and wedges, that factors at ground impact.
I think for everybody what it comes down to at the end of the day is if you don’t make your perfect swing, where is the ball going to go and what happens at the impact in that scenario that ultimately defines forgiveness.
Would I be right in saying that the G range is more about forgiveness, as even though the Turbulators on the woods have been improved, they are not adding much extra speed?
Well, the priority is on both distance and forgiveness. It is something we have continued to ask ourselves – is one more important than the other? Is distance more important than forgiveness or is forgiveness more important than distance?
The answer is they are both important, so let’s improve them both. So the aerodynamic improvements with the faster shape and the Vortec shape in the back do add real distance gains in terms of clubhead speed.
At the same time some of the things we did with the Dragonfly technology weight savings really boosted the Moment Of Inertia on top of what was already an extremely stable driver especially for mis-hits high and low on the face. In today’s era of trying to fit yourself for low spin, it is even more important when you hit a little high or low on the face to have those launch conditions that are really close to a perfect or optimal hit.
The position of the Centre of Gravity (CG) has continued to move back, which is obviously a good thing, and you continue to have one of the lowest and deepest CG’s in the industry. How much further do you think you can take it back?
Every year it gets harder, so it’s tough to say. Every year we are scraping for every gram of weight saving so if we find somewhere we can save a gram in a driver we high 5 and celebrate around the office, we really do, so I don’t have a specific answer.
Do we have room to go? Absolutely. At some point there will be a point of diminishing returns, but we still have room to go on that journey and that is the fun part of coming in every day, trying to find that gram!
So for a deeper CG position in any club it is really about weight you can save from the top and the front and move lower down?
Yes from a CG standpoint saving weight at the top and the front are important and also to balance that for forgiveness what are the things can we do to the shape of the driver than can spread mass away from the centre of gravity and that is how we create more stability from a launch conditions standpoint.
It is a balance of CG movement that is a good thing to create dynamic loft with how can we spread the mass around the CG. Perimeter weighting in a driver or a metalwood club looks very different to what it does in an iron and that is why they are shaped very differently.
I mentioned the Turbulators which help the airflow over the top of the club. Why do these have gaps in between them rather than being blocks like a speed bump which would seem to disrupt airflow more?
Well, you can certainly achieve what the Turbulators do with different executions of it, so part of our design and our experiments is what is the minimum effective dose, so to speak, of the Turbulator geometry. So what is the smallest we can make them to get 99% of the gain and that is what we want to do because we want to make them as small as possible.
In other industries what we have learnt is from other applications you could use zigzag patterns or crossing patterns, anything that creates a tiny area of turbulence that will suck the air back to the crown and give it more momentum. So our optimisation was what is the smallest we can make the Turbulators in this geometry and also frame the golf ball for aesthetic purposes, but still create that minimum effective dose. We also obviously wanted to minimise the amount of weight it used to create the Turbulators, but still get 99% of the performance gain.
We’ve got the 3 different models of the G driver, the regular version, the LS TEC that is the low spinning version perhaps for more elite players, and the SF TEC which you said was a hidden gem and sold very well in the G30 range. In the SF TEC how much draw bias is inherent in the head or is it more to do with spin?
We look at it that we have regular version, then we have the Straight Flight SF version that is more for the left-to-right fitting and then we have the Low Spin LS that is more for the high-to-low fitting.
So the SF TEC has about 10 to 12 yards of ball flight correction on average which comes through centre of gravity movement, but also because we have made it a couple of swing weight points lighter to help increase the closure rate of the golf club to help the golfer square the club up a little bit easier as well. That’s the way we like to look at it from a fitting perspective and who each of the clubs in the range are aimed at. The SF did do very well in the G30 and we expect it to keep doing well from the fitting standpoint in the new G drivers.
This may be like asking you pick your favourite child, but out of the new G range of woods and irons which one are you most proud of?
If I can include the G Crossover in there then I will choose the Crossover. It solves a problem that has existed between hybrids and long irons and you’ve probably heard it but for some players hybrids just go left, they spin too much in the wind, they can’t hit their distances with them all the time so they are not 100% happy with that.
But with their long irons they can’t hit them high enough or far enough and they need 5 or 10 yards out of them and that is where the G Crossovers come in.
They are super hot, they have a high COR and CT, they go high if you just put your normal swing on the shot, but the wind isn’t going to touch it. You can also flight them down on command, so it is a whole new category of performance in the set and it is going to be really exciting to see how it does out in the market place.
So how did you come up with that idea, because to me it kind of looks like the previous G15 hybrid in a way?
It does a little bit. In terms of having some offset and being a lot bigger it does. We learnt a lot from those G15 and G20 hybrids in terms of the ground impact. So one of the things from those hybrids for some players was they just didn’t hit the ground right so we learned a lot from how we needed to position the mass and the inertial properties of the head to improve that, but we really started the idea around the Crossover by identifying the problem. What problem are we trying to solve? So with a flatter face you can hit high or low and you get the ball speed of a hybrid and the spin of an iron and the shape and the technology was created to solve those problems.
I was on the range earlier testing the G Hybrid and the G Crossover in the same loft and I was getting more distance from the Crossover and it was going a little higher. The fitter explained this was due to the way the club was going into the ground. So would different types of swings favour the Hybrid over the Crossover and vice-versa?
It affects how much you can spin it. With fairway woods, hybrids, long irons and the Crossover category the rules and the physics of the ball flight are very sensitive to ball speed and spin. So it is an interesting experience you have had there and one we have also seen in our fitting environment that the Crossover doesn’t necessarily need to be a better player club or the Hybrid being a higher handicapper club or vice versa.
It all comes down to fitting and which club is going to give you the best spin for your speed and your attack angle and in some cases we have certainly seen that a Crossover can give you more distance because for how it is spinning as a result of your impact conditions.