Ping G30 – The High Tech, Low Fidelity Path to Distance

Jan 26, 2015 by

Ping G30 – The High Tech, Low Fidelity Path to Distance

2014 was a year of some pretty wild technology in the driver space.  Most companies focused on speed through an adjustable Center of Gravity, a set of sliding weights, or both.  A shift in attitude towards loft took place as well, with one company pressing hard the benefits of a properly fit driver at 12-14 degrees.  Ping, with a history rich in innovation and technology, also introduced a new driver this year, with very interesting features.  Rather than jamming the sole full of sliding, swappable weights or featuring a barely legal shaved club face, Ping decided to focus on generating speed through aerodynamics.  Hence, the G30 was born.

Placed along the top of the crown of the G30 are what Ping calls ‘Turbulators’.  These small  ridges are shaped and spaced in a way that, theoretically, smooths airflow over the top of the club, increasing club head speed.  When I first saw the configuration, it made sense.  In another life, I’m an enthusiastic car guy, so the top of the G30 looked like the lower rear spoiler of a rally car, featuring vented slots to help move air out from under the vehicle.  Upside down, there is a vacuum effect, which significantly increases handling characteristics and helps keep race cars planted on the track.  I had joked before that it wouldn’t be too long before a company, desperate for market share, would bolt a spoiler to a driver.  What I did not expect was for Ping to do it first and possibly the best.  I had a chance to put the G30 through live rounds over the last few weeks, and my real-world results were promising.

Before we get to the review, let me qualify that spoiler statement.  Ping, in my experience, has always been a pinnacle of engineering.  Pioneers of modern casting, boundary-pushing putters, drivers that left the shelf long and hot.  Why would Ping decide it’s time to offer what many chalk up to a gimmick?  Oh, right, engineering.  While the rest of the OEM world is fumbling with sophisticated ways to move weight, Ping saw an opportunity to engineer a better club in a simple way.  They saw a solution in another industry and adapted it to work beautifully in their own.  Textbook innovation.

The aesthetics are also a departure from current design, featuring a matte black (almost charcoal) finish on the crown, and a subtle sole design.  While the word ‘Turbulators’ is ghost printed on the trailing edge of the crown, both the text and turbulators themselves fade from view at address.  From there, it’s a classic, pear-shaped 460 cc driver that is all Ping.  Aside from the turbulators, Ping has your typical offerings of the modern driver: Low, rear CG (lowest ever on a Ping production model), an adjustable hosel with 5 distinct settings accounting for 2 degrees of loft adjustment and a range of shafts with a higher balance point to allow for a heavier head.  Rounding out the package is a thin, hot titanium face to increase ball speed.  The G30 set out to find the perfect balance between performance and forgiveness.

The testing routine was as close to a true consumer experience as my reviews will get.  I had credit at my club, saw the Ping rack, and knew it was time to put an off the shelf driver through the paces.  Cellophane barely off the head and grip, I was off to (seemingly) abuse the G30 and give a blind test result from actual rounds.  While the actual rounds part played out, the abuse did not.  In short, the G30 stood strong to every wild swing I gave it, answering with yet another playable drive.  I swung it with reckless abandon, I let friends (good and bad) rip it, and we all came to the same conclusion: Ping makes a damn good driver.  Once I got over that new driver smell, I put the G30 through my normal routine.  If you’ve been following, my testing is to hit as many drives as I can from my both my favorite and least favorite holes to baseline performance over my gamer, then determine gains.

My least favorite hole at my club is a 458 yard par 4, typically playing into the wind and largely uphill.  Mammoth drives still leave me with a 3 wood approach, and ladies play it as a par 5.  I’ve never birdied the hole, and I consider it highway robbery to leave with par.  Naturally, it was the only appropriate start to evaluate real world gains from the G30.  For the test, I used my gamer, a 10* model from last year by a name you’d recognize with an X flex shaft.  As mentioned, the G30 was off the rack with the Tour shaft in S-flex, and all adjustments set to neutral, with an advertised loft of 9*.  I hit 15 balls with each driver in succession, and left the top 3 shots out in the fairway for comparison.  Because of the nature of the hole, playability was equally weighted for distance.  Long shots can be left with a tricky lie, and some shorter shots can be set up for a perfect approach.  The test here was really to judge consistency.  Precision rules the day here, and distance is just icing on the cake.  So, overall, the G30 was longer than my gamer by about 4 yards.  I hit some really hot ones with the G30, but they were not optimal for an approach shot.  Swinging within myself, the G30 produced consistently playable, longer drives.  What really surprised me was the dispersion of the G30.  All but a couple of outliers were within 6 yards of each other, my best 3 coming in across 4 yards.  While I won’t go so far as to call it a scalpel, I was quite taken with a driver touted so much for its distance capability to be so consistent.  G30 wins this round.

At this point, I must say I had a preconceived notion that the G30 would mop the floor with my gamer on my favorite hole.  The inherent problem here is that I would be subconsciously swinging harder, trying to produce those results.  So, instead of a head to head challenge, I decided to hit my gamer first, wait a few days, then hit the G30.  I felt the test would be fairer in that I wouldn’t be trying to create results from a feeling.  The hole is a short, 415 yard par 4 with a sharp dogleg right and a generous area to swing all out.  When I hit it pure, I’m normally left with a wedge or short iron in.  My gamer produced the results I’m used to.  250-255 yard drives, all playable, all with a chance to score.  I did not obsess over dispersion on this test, because just about any ball in the fairway is playable.  The G30 presented an interesting problem, obvious from the first shot.  It was too long.  I was hitting ball after ball through the fairway at the apex of the dogleg.  From the back tees.  In fairness, most shots in South Texas rough are playable, but I was left wondering if something had changed since I hit my gamer.  Was I looser, or was my swing simply grooved today?  In the end, the shortest of the G30 drives were 10 yards longer than my gamer, the longest being 22.  I’ve never been a player that comes near 265-270, but the G30 was saying otherwise.  I can see how on modern courses that are set up impossibly long where this is a benefit.  I was left with the feeling that on some holes, the G30 is akin to bringing a baseball bat to a ping-pong match.  A fine tuned, brutally efficient baseball bat at that.  I’m calling a tie here, but under the circumstances, the extra distance would be welcome on every other driver hole I’ve ever played.

I am guilty of feeling like we had all seen the outer limit of current driver technology, and anything new was just marketing spin on older concepts.  Sliding, flipping, swapping, changing, adjusting….it all just came down to a disservice to the consumer, who was left holding the bag on confusing set up, and marginal gains.  Ping, a company long in research and development, took it back to pure science.  The turbulators look a little strange, but they flat work.  For the most part, the G30 is ready to play off the shelf, but as I preach, you should see a reputable fitter to get every yard coming to you out of it.  The Ping G30 retails for $349.99 for the non-tour, and $379.99 in the tour version (which is what I tested).  For more information, see Ping on the web at http://www.ping.com and reach out to them on social channels http://www.twitter.com/PingGolf and http://www.facebook.com/PingGolfFans.  Get fit, and don’t look back.

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  1. Nice review Ryan. I just picked up my Ping G30 last week with the same shaft you tested, recommended by the Ping fitter at Golfsmith. I got the 10.5 degree though versus the 9 degree. I have had two practice sessions on the driving range with it and have not had a chance to take it out the course yet. I’m looking forward to taking it out on the course to see if I hit this any longer.

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