Ping drivers through the years – Rick Shiels roundup

Thomas Tanner
Jan 29, 2021
3 minutes

The premise

Golfbidder, once again teamed up with Rick Shiels to look into the progress made by PING drivers in the last 5 years. A relatively modest releaser of clubs, PING generally only release a new driver every 2 years, with 4 drivers to choose from in the time frame. Rick was even required to extend the search an extra year to access the G20! So, does this extra time and research, equate to larger gains in distance, carry and forgiveness?

How does the test work?

As in all other driver test performed in this manner, each driver is hit 10 times in two rounds of 5. The best 5 of these shots are chosen and to qualify for this selection, the ball must finish within the bounds of the fairway. This ensures forgiveness is a factor, as more shots in the fairway equals more shots to choose from.

Aside from the G20 all the drivers are using the same shaft to ensure the head is making the difference, and the conditions are kept neutral, by GC Quad launch simulation, meaning the data is accurate and repeatable. Rick’s club head speed remained within 2mph on average across all the drivers, however PING attempted to increase club head speed with their designs, so the effort Rick put in is the important factor. This remained consistent, meaning any increase in ball speed, club head speed and distance, came from the technology in the head.

PING drivers don’t feature much adjustable weighting, but all heads remain neutral with the weight adjustment available, and the lofts are all set to the same loft, 9.5°.

The data

What the results say

The immediately notable number which is not shown in the table above is club head speed. PING claimed that their main goal with driver releases, with the introduction of turbulators, is to increase club head speed, but achieved no, notable increase in clubs head speed across the generations until the G400. This however, according to Rick was achieved through a slightly smaller head size at 440CC.

This slightly higher club head speed is translated into a small increase in ball speed and distance metrics. Notably, however, there are no notable increases in performance. In fact, until the G400, the drivers released over the years, lost a yard of carry distance each, however these differences are so small they can be discounted as no change.

Rick’s conclusions

Rick’s conclusions were surprising. His favourite driver was by far the G20. He claimed it felt the best, hit the most fairways, and still achieved very similar performance metrics to the latest release from PING. The introduction of turbulators and carbon crowns added little to no performance and Rick was relatively disappointed by the lack of progress made, especially with the lack of club head speed gains. The only increase was due to a smaller head, which increases the risk of inconsistencies. He did note however that in reality, PING, have only brought out 4 new families of driver which may account for the lack of progress.

Further reading

Golfbidder teamed up with Rick Shiels, to investigate the progress made by Cobra, over the last 5 years. In this time span Cobra have released 5 new families of driver, with 20+ models within these families!

Rick Shiels came to Golfbidder with a question. How much difference is there between each of Callaway’s 24 driver releases in the last 5 years? We did not know, so we teamed up with Rick, providing every driver from the period, ready for a test.