The PING identity is rooted in MOI, forgiveness, and a no trade-off mentality that doesn’t allow for advancement in one area if it diminishes performance in another. It’s the reason why PING seldom, if ever, takes a step backward, or even sideways with new products. It’s a mindset that all but guarantees that a new PING product will outperform what came before it.
That commitment, however, brings with it its own trade-off. The unfortunate reality of the modern world is that consistency and dependability won’t take you nearly as far nearly as fast as loads of a visible tech and a good story. So despite offering what is often outstanding performance, there is a perception held by some that PING lags behind in the bells and whistles department. Some of that falls squarely on PING. It was among the last (if not THE last) to add adjustable hosels to its metalwood designs, and while competitors like TaylorMade, Callaway, and Cobra, have been sliding, swapping, and flipping weights as long as most of us can remember. We’re a decade into movable weights, and PING is just now joining the party.
In that respect, the 2019 G410 Plus Driver won’t catapult PING beyond its competitors in the shiny things that move category, but perceptually, it should help draw the company level while advancing driver performance beyond that of the G400.
In the simplest of terms, the design goal was a product to serve a wider range of golfers from tour pro to the high handicap golfer. The driving force behind G410 Plus was the realization that 2/3 of custom orders placed through PING WRX – including most orders from the Tour – included custom hot melt in either the heel or toe. The obvious solution for PING was to build left/right adjustability into the driver. I mean, it’s not like most everyone else has dabbled in similar adjustability at one time or another, right?
What took PING so long? Fair question.
As is PING’s way, it only added adjustable weighting to its drivers when it could do it without sacrifice. We’ve touched on this a number times before. The movable bits of any adjustable weight driver require structure. Structures require mass and often that means companies sacrifice elements of performance (low CG, high MOI, aerodynamics) and sometimes sound and feel to achieve whatever degree of adjustability it feels is necessary.
It took PING so long because most movable weight systems demand trade-offs, and PING doesn’t barter on performance.
Essentially sitting on the seam between the crown and the skirt, PING’s weight track is on the absolute perimeter of the clubhead. The three fixed positions design features a 16-gram weight capable of shifting the center of gravity 2.5mm towards the heel or toe while providing up to 10-yards of shot shape correction. We’re not talking about the biggest weight shift on the market, but the key here was that PING was able to add adjustability without losing anything over the G400. Because the structures are minimal and the track sits at the absolute perimeter, PING was able to add adjustable weighting while still increasing MOI over the G400.
Along similar lines, PING has redesigned its hosel sleeve. The new version increases the number of settings from 5 to 8 and allows for 1.5° degrees of loft adjustment in either direction. The new adapter also offers 3 flat settings, which should prove to be popular with better players. Again, PING was able to engineer a more robust and admittedly more competitive hosel without increasing the weight of the adapter, increasing the structure necessary to support it, and without incurring any aerodynamic penalties.
The downside of the new design – and for some, it will likely prove to be a significant one at that – is that the new adapter isn’t backward compatible, nor is the existing adapter forward compatible with G410 heads. Long story short, your existing PING-tipped shafts won’t work with the new model. PING knows it’s going to take some heat for the change, but this is the company’s first significant update since its first adjustable driver (the Anser).
Bigger Fitting Levers and Knobs
With the combination of adjustable weighting and the updated adapter, PING has added more of what it calls levers and knobs to its fitting arsenal. From a fitting perspective, levers are the things that make the biggest difference; head model, loft, shaft, and the potential for custom heel/toe weighting. Knobs are the fine tuning dials. They include things like shaft length, loft/face angle refinements, lie angle adjustments, shaft weight, and flex, the grip, and swing weight. In a fitting environment, levers have the most significant impact, while the knobs are what take you from pretty good, to really dialed-in.
As a concrete example of levers and knobs in action, PING will tell you that despite offering 4, well-differentiated driver heads, it struggled to fit the high-speed player who fights a slice. With slower swing speed slicers, the SFT is often the go-to, however; it’s seldom ideal for faster swingers. With the G410, fitters can place the weight in the heel to give that guy the correction he needs while still keeping spin at manageable levels. Some additional tuning at the hosel and PING can fit that guy better than it could previously.
Along with the G410 Plus (effectively the standard model), PING has also introduced the G410 SFT. SFT (straight flight technology) will continue to do what it has always done – serve the guy who fights a slice. The fixed weight design places appreciably more mass in the heel. With a center of gravity that’s 50% more heel side than the G400 SFT, the G410 SFT is significantly more draw-biased than the G410 Plus in the draw position. PING has reduced SFT’s stock swing weight a bit (now D1) which should help golfers return the head to the square position at impact. The face sits a couple of degrees closed as well, though PING believes it will look square to the guy who is terrified of going right.
As is typical with draw-biased drivers, SFT’s MOI isn’t as high as the G410 Plus (weight centered), but as you’d expect from PING, the quantifiable contribution to forgiveness should prove to be higher than the competitive set.
PING’s Standard Feature Set
Both the G410 Plus and G410 SFT are 455cc. PING’s weight-saving Dragonfly Crown design carries on in both models, but it’s not nearly as in your face as past revisions. PING believes that it has told the Dragonfly performance story as much as it needs to visually, so it makes sense to tone down the appearance for those who may find it off-putting. The body is built from Ti 8-1-1 with a Ti 9S+ face. As with other recent models, the face is textured to cut spin. The acoustics from the G400 are also part of the offering, as are PING’s signature Turbulators, which have been optimized to work with the new head shapes.
While some manufacturers still make efforts to obscure exactly what their stock shafts are, PING says it’s proud of its stock offerings.
The company will again offer two proprietary shafts (PING Alta CB and PING Tour) along with a couple of 3rd party offerings to round out the lineup. Those 3rd party offerings are the Mitsubishi Tensei CK Orange (non-pro), and the Project X Evenflow. Of the PING offerings, the updated Alta CB is noteworthy. With the version, PING has added an 8-gram tungsten plug to the butt section of the shaft. The plug shifts the balance point higher to accommodate heavier heads. The shaft lineup provides PING with a broader span of obtainable trajectories for increased fitting versatility – more knobs, if you will.
Wind Resistant Headcover
It’s an odd thing to dedicate a section to new headcover, but PING has an interesting story behind its new heavier head cover. There are an abundance of consumer studies that suggest that consumers equate weight with quality, so PING will no doubt reap some perceptual benefit for the heavier cover, but there’s more to this than weight for weight’s sake.
We’ve told you that PING has conducted some strange tests over the years, and so here you go…
In leaf blower testing, PING’s new headcover design was shown not to blow away at speeds equivalent to 30 MPH winds. It’s a small thing, and likely not reason enough to buy a new driver, but if you’re concerned about such things, know that it’s less likely you’ll have to chase the new PING headcover down the fairway.
What Are We Missing?
If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking, “Hey man, where’s the new LST?”
There isn’t one. At least not yet. Chalk it up to that no compromise model and a corporate culture that mandates PING not release anything until its engineers can prove its better than what is already has. “The 400 LST, it turns out, was really good.”, says Paul Wood, PING’s VP of Engineering, Paul Wood, “and being blunt, it was hard to beat.”
That’s not to say a new LST won’t come eventually, but current LST owners can take comfort in knowing that 1.5 years later, LST remains as good as it ever was, and PING isn’t about to replace it just because.
The same is true to an even greater extent with PING’s MOI Monster, the G400 MAX. We’re 1-year since its release, and I think it’s fair to say you should expect an extended release cycle. A replacement isn’t anywhere on the horizon.
That leaves the soon to be current PING driver lineup as a mix of G400 (LST and MAX) and G410 (Plus and SFT), with plenty of levers and knobs to get just about any golfer dialed-in.
Specs, Pricing, and Availability
The G410 Plus Driver is available in lofts of 9°, 10.5°, and 12°. The G410 SFT is available in 10.5°. MSRP is $540. I’d expect the street price will be closer to $500.
For more information, visit PING.com.