It must be tough to be a golf manufacturer. Spend vast amounts of time and money on research and development, searching for the “ultimate” design. Bring it to market. Hopefully, it’s a success as far as sales. In this rapidly-evolving time in golf equipment, as soon as a company brings out a great design and it’s been on the market for a year, or sometimes less, consumers are already asking, “when is the new model coming out?” If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because the same could be said of the highly successful Ping G2 driver. Ping vaulted itself to the top of driver sales with the introduction of the G2. What must be really hard as a golf manufacturer is dealing with success. With so many people having purchased and experienced first hand the performance of the G2, many people actually thought, “Why change it?” Ping has undergone a culture shift in recent years that allows them to bring new models to market faster than ever due to advances in cad/cam design, and more of a willingness to go out on a limb. The Ping G5 driver is the best evidence of Ping’s ability to take an already great design, and take it to the next level of performance through this paradigm shift in their way of operating.
Performance and Design
So you loved your G2, huh? There’s more to love with the G5, because there’s less to love. Huh? Well, not exactly less, but the weight has been shifted around in the clubhead. Those advances in cad/cam design allowed Ping to redistribute 8 grams of weight from the crown of the driver and place it low and back for slightly higher launch and lower spin. Can I tell without the aid of a launch monitor? Probably not, -but I can tell out on the course. The launch of the G5 does seem slightly higher, but I also seemed to get a little more roll from the G5 as well after my ball had landed. The G2 was already a ridiculously long driver, and I can say that the G5 is equally long, if not just slightly longer due to the improved roll after landing which I experienced. The ballflight appeared to be slightly flatter and more powerful as well.
The beauty of the G5 driver is not only what it allows you to do, but also what it allows you to get away with. With the lower and deeper center of gravity and improved MOI (moment of inertia,) the forgiveness factor is even greater with the G5. I hit some, shall we say, “questionable” drives with the G5, and was rewarded with results that were much better than I deserved. The G5 likes to hit the ball long and straight. I was able to hit a slight draw or fade with it, but they were of the “5 yards of movement” variety. That’s fine with me. When a golfer’s swing is “on,” they can use just about anything and feel confident. When one’s swing is a little “hairy,” a heaping helping of forgiveness is just what the swing doctor ordered. The Ping G5 is just such a prescription for forgiveness.
At address, the G5 looked to be just slightly closed with regard to the face angle. I’m thinking this is mostly an optical illusion however, as I did not tend to hook the G5 at all, and was able to hit slight “power fades” on command with it. The signature “half moon” alignment aid on the crown that was found on the G2, is back on the G5. It’s more subdued this time, and much less apparent. It’s in fact almost difficult to see on the G5 under bright sunny skies. It could have almost been left off the G5, but it is a Ping “signature” feature, so it was incorporated again. I really loved the old Karsten “K” alignment feature on older Ping drivers. My hope is that someday they will return to it. In any event, the alignment feature is unobtrusive and at least somewhat helpful in aligning the face. The overall shape appears largely unchanged from the G2, -which is a good thing! It looks big and difficult to miss with, and this gives a feeling of assurance while standing on the tee.
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One great improvement of the G5 driver that I really appreciated was the feel at impact. It feels more solid at impact than the G2 did. The sound is more subdued, and the face feels slightly firmer. This firmer overall feel seems to aid in determining where the ball meets the face, and also just “sounds” longer. The face feels hot, and you can feel it compressing at impact. Studies have been done about how feel and sound go hand in hand. Ping must have gone to school on the results of those tests, because the sound and feel are definite improvements with the G5 driver.
Once again, Ping offers quality shafts as standard offerings with the G5. Grafalloy Blue, Aldila NV, and Ping’s proprietary TFC 100 shafts are the standard offerings. Ping has one of the best custom departments in the business called “WRX,” –short for Ping “Works.” Through WRX, multiple specialty shafts can be ordered, along with other customizations such as length and swingweight. My G5 driver was a 9º head, and came equipped with a Grafalloy Prolaunch 65 stiff shaft. It launched high and did not “balloon” (a term for excessive backspin in which the ball seemingly “drops” from the sky.) It was a very long combination for me, but it was a little hard to control. Really, my only gripe with the Ping G5 driver is the stock finished length. At 45.75 inches, it is quite long and probably more shaft than most players can consistently handle. The average driver length on the PGA tour is 44.5 inches. Even the best players in the world struggle with consistency with longer lengths. I am no different (minus the millions in tournament winnings, of course!)
With this in mind, I worked with my local clubfitter and had a UST Proforce V2 75 stiff installed at 44.75.” My consistency improved, and my distances did not seem to be affected adversely. 7 grams of tip weighting was added to maintain the G5’s stock D3 swingweight. This service is available through Ping WRX, mind you. For me, a shorter shaft is more controllable and generally means more drives in the short grass. I was glad to have made this change to the G5, as its forgiving nature and stable feel were only further enhanced by this modification.
Lastly, we have the little details. The grip is the Ping 703. It has a unique feel and good traction due to its “teardrop” traction pattern designed into the surface. Made by Golf Pride, it is a high quality grip, and one that is highly useable without the need to re-grip like so many clubs’ “stock” grips. Once again, the headcover is an easy-on, easy-off design. I liked the convenience of removal and replacement, but still wish a shaft sock would be included to protect the shaft.
Overall, I was quite impressed by the Ping G5 driver. They took an already excellent design and improved it just enough to make the changes noticeable, but retained most of the features that made its predecessor a success. Long, straight, and forgiving and all great attributes in my book, and the Ping G5 driver possesses them all. Step up to the ball with the G5, give it your best swing, and prepare to be met with success. (Perhaps even more than our swings deserve!)