Every time a new club hits the market, our most frequently asked question "Is it really better than the last one?", followed by a sly snicker that says "don't lie to me kid, I know its not... Its all marketing to get me to buy another driver...". Normally, you would have to go a few years back in technology (5-7 years) to see a significant difference in performance, technology and design. We tested the G400 driver against the G driver which only just came out last year and still a current offering by Ping. The idea is to show how much difference there is from just the previous model, but was pleasantly surprised when we saw the comparison. The G400 driver beat the G driver in every FlightScope parameter. Which was unexpected.. However the biggest thing that got us excited was all the other stuff that most golfers hold in high regard, like the sound and feel of the G400 Driver. I'll get more into that in the final thoughts, read on!
Just like in our previous testing and review blogs, Jon is back! Jon is one of our club-fitters here at Spargo Golf, he is also our journeyman off the mini-tour events and local tournaments. In college, he had the privilege of being named to the PING All-American Team 2010-11, has won five times on the Pepsi Tour, and has made an appearance at the U.S. Amateur 2011. Blah blah blah, he's good golfer to test equipment...
Our intention is to review the G400 driver, meanwhile give it a performance test to prove that this club is worth anyone looking into for more performance off the tee. By testing the G400 against last years G, we'll see just how much better a driver is from year to year. Also, to put Ping's claims to the test that the G400 driver is their "fastest, most forgiving driver ever" (as I snicker whilst writing this blog "Don't lie to me Ping...").
For the Ping G400 Driver test, Jon used the same shaft, Project X HZRDUS Black 6.0, then hit 10 shots with each driver head, G400 9º and the G 9º driver club-head. Notice our FlightScope report shows 8 shots, thats because we removed the best and worst shot of each test session to get averages as accurate as possible. Same golfer, same shaft, different club-head. The HZRDUS Black shaft is not available from Ping, this is an aftermarket shaft. We used this shaft because its currently the shaft Jon plays, so using it to compare just the club-head performance keeps our comparison of the G400 driver and G on the same playing field. Anyways, the G400 driver is now available with more shaft options than previously offered. The Aldila X-Torsion Copper, MRC Kuro Kage Silver and Project X HZRDUS Yellow are the available aftermarket shafts for a $75 up-charge, making the G400 Driver $475 retail. However, considering the Titleist 917 is $499, even after getting an up-charge shaft, the G400 still retails less (-$25) than the Titleist 917 Driver.
Below is the FlightScope Report to view, but Ill go thru each parameter, noting that the G400 Driver beat the G Driver in every category. The summary report below is the average of 8 shots with each club-head (10 shots, minus the best and worst shot = 8 shot session). In the 13 parameters that performance is dissected, the G400 won all 13, some categories by little, small differences, but still won. This shows that year to year, model to model, there can only be so much performance gain. However, when going from older equipment (5-7 years or older) there is a significant performance upgrade in drivers. This can be the difference of playing a par 4, driver>4-hybrid, to driver>6-iron. Shorter the club, the better chance you have to hit accurately on the green, and not have to chip, and putt, and putt to make bogey.
Carry Distance - The G400 driver carried +13 yards further through the air than the G. Considering there is merely 1/10th of a mph in difference of club-speed (G400 vs G), +13 yards is significant.
Total Distance - The G400 driver total distance was +15 yards farther overall than the G.
Lateral Distance - The G400 driver had tighter dispersion to center aim by .3 yards than the G.
Club Speed - The G400 driver was faster by +.1 MPH (perhaps its the new bolder turbulators and Vortec Technology? haha) Obviously its not faster by a lot, but faster..
Ball Speed - The G400 driver had +2.7 MPH faster ball speed coming off the face. The new forged face could be the reason for this. Ping claims the face has 16% more flex which gains approximately 2mph (which we definitely proved with the test).
Smash Factor - The G400 driver had +.02 better smash than the G. Smash is a number that shows how solid you hit the ball. So, the G400 did a little better, but better none the less.
Spin - The G400 driver had less spin than the G. With Jon's swing speed, 2,800 rpm is better than 3,000 rpm. Not everybody needs less spin, probably most golfers need more spin to hit farther. In this case with Jon hitting, and a launch of 10º, this spin rate is within a better range than the G.
Spin (Axis) - The G400 driver had better axis spin of 0º (meaning true back spin, no side spin involved) where the G generated .5º Left side spin on the ball. This is a parameter that is directly related to accuracy, which gave the G400 a tighter and more accurate dispersion.
Ball Angle Launch (Vertical) - The G400 driver promoted a +.3º higher ball flight with the same 9º loft than the G at 9.7º dynamic loft. Again, G400 won this category, not by a lot, but still won.
Ball Angle Launch (Horizontal) - The G400 driver had .1º less deviation that the G. This stat is in direct correlation with the Spin Axis mentioned, meaning the G400 had less deviation off center to be crowned the more accurate driver in this test.
Ball Angle Decent - The G400 driver had a steeper decent by +1.1º into the fairway than the G. For sure this is a parameter that doesn't get much attention because its not too important. A shallow decent can inhibit more roll, but often times gets the golfer into trouble when they roll thru a fairway into the rough, rather than staying in the fairway.
Height - The G400 driver had a higher apex of the ball flight than the G. Meaning, the longer the ball stays in the air, the farther it will travel.
Flight (in seconds) - The G400 driver had a longer "hang time" than the G. Again, going back to the previous Height parameter, the longer the ball stays air-born, the farther you'll go.
|Lateral||.3 yards more accurate|
|Club Speed||+.1 MPH faster|
|Ball Speed||+2.7 MPH faster|
|Smash Factor||+.02 Better Smash|
|Spin Rate||-193 less RPM|
|Spin Axis||.5º less deviation|
|Ball Angle - Launch Vertical||+.3º higher launch|
|Ball Angle - Launch Horizontal||-.1 less deviation|
|Ball Angle - Descent||+1.1º landing descent|
|Height (Ball Flight Apex)||+8' higher apex|
|Flight (Time in Seconds)||+.3 longer flight time|
The G400 is unlike any Ping drivers in the past which had a louder, almost tuna-fish can sounding, that echo'd through the tree's around the tee box... You could hear them ring from across the golf course. That sound was a negative from a lot of golfers, obviously, Ping listened and improved the sound and feel of the G400. Ping took that criticism to heart, the following is directly off Ping.com:
Extensive research and computer simulation coupled with music theory allowed the engineers to design internal architecture that fine-tuned the frequencies to produce a deeper, more muted sound. One tour professional compared it to “the satisfaction of puring a persimmon driver with the modern technology of the G400.”
I laughed when I read "music theory"... LOL Regardless, it does sound cool to say music theory, and the G400 does sound better. Also, they mention the feel of the G400 like a "persimmon driver", Ping seemed to address the issues that many golfers may not have liked in the past. In our test, Jon and I both thought the G400 sound and feel was more reminiscent of the carbon-fiber crown drivers that exist now. We both appreciated the way the Ping G400 responded at impact in that regard. We feel the Ping G400 Driver is a game-changer for Ping, utilizing new design improvements and materials to give them a better shot for a larger market-share of drivers, giving Titleist, Callaway and TaylorMade a good competition, Ping has put themselves in the mix. Being a little smaller head at 440cc, but still having the forgiveness of a 460cc, it will be interesting to see how the driver is accepted by not just the mid/high-handicap golfers, but the scratch golfer as well.
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“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”
- Albert Einstein