Ping Puts the G in Putter
It's PGA Show week, and PING has rolled out a huge new putter release: the PING Sigma G line! I love the names companies come up with for new products. Sigma G sounds cool when you first hear it, but after that initial aural impact, what does that name really tell you?
Sigma is the eighteenth letter in the Greek alphabet. Does that mean that there are eighteen new putters? Nope, there are only sixteen new models, so that can't be the sigma source. It's not for the year either. That would make these the Rho G putters.
Well what about the G then? Best guess is that PING's use of the G ties the putters into the other G products in the PING family. That G in Sigma G is a big G though, so maybe someone at PING is letting us know they are no longer lower-case g's and that this is how we do it.
Let's come back to the name thing later. The important thing is that we have a bunch of putters to check out, and that with the Sigma G line, PING is making a huge effort to offer you a putter that will fit your stroke and help you make more putts through improved putter technology.
-John A. Solheim, PING Chairman & CEO
Oodles of Models
Man, I wish that PING had given us more putter choices with the Sigma G line. Seriously, only sixteen models? Or is that nineteen if we take into account the two different colors of Ansers, and the two shaft options on the Kushin and the Darby.
Did I just say Kushin and Darby?
Yep, PING has rolled out a bunch of not recently seen favorites with the Sigma G line. Sure, the old Anser standby is there, but it's been years since we have had a new Tess, Darby, or Kushin.
You may see some names in that graphic that you don't recognize. Don't feel Ping-norant, those are actually new models. You've got a trio of Kinlochs, Tyne and Doon mallets, and a new Ketsch B, minding its own business on the side of the graphic.
No, PING is not just trying to fill up your whole shop with PING putters. If you look a little deeper into that graphic, you'll see that what they have done with the Sigma G line is create a line with an amazingly broad fitting spectrum. The Sigma G line allows you to select a putter that matches your swing arc, tempo, shape preference, and weight preference. The vast majority of golfers will likely find something on that chart that fits. Remember too that PING can customize the length and lie dot color to fit you. Lots and lots of options.
Though I know nothing of PING's plans in the electronic fitting future, imagine how great all of these options would play into the PING putting app. When it launched, the iPING app did a pretty good job of fitting you into one of the five Anser Milled putters. How cool would it be if an updated version could now put you into the correct one of these based upon your swing data? Fingers crossed that something is coming.
Functional Insert Technology
Here are the quick hits about the Sigma G insert:
- Multi-layer face design combines a PEBAX elastomer insert (a high energy compound) with a milled 6061 aluminum face to provide a softer face that delivers consistent ball speeds.
- The new True Roll Face Technology covers the entire face to provide confidence and full-face forgiveness. Precision milled from 6061 aerospace-grade aluminum, the new pattern varies in depth and pitch to improve performance and touch on putts of every length.
- Contrasting full-face insert aids in alignment and set up.
The Sigma G features the same face milling pattern that we saw with the fully milled Vault line, but this time around we are looking at a multi-material polymer and metal face. PEBAX may sound like an antibiotic, but with it, PING is trying to help you get the ball to the hole. The TR grooves allow you to hit it wherever on the face you want, and the distance will be the same. The new polymer has allowed PING to nearly max out their feel scores during internal testing.
True Roll milling patterns look very similar to those found on the Vault line from last summer. Vault Anser 2 on top.
The different models definitely roll the ball a little differently. I've had the chance to roll three models, and without a doubt, the new insert has a different tone and feel depending upon the shape of the head. The balls make different sounds at impact, and the rolls were of varying vigor.
Of course, the head weight of the putter will also impact the characteristics of the roll, and this is again where the Sigma G line shines. You have light heads in the 340g range, and the weights increase from there up to the 400g counterbalanced behemoths.
Pick the head weight that rolls the ball the right distance for you, and the True Roll Face Tech will help you to roll the ball that right distance regardless of face wandering. If you are still missing putts, that's probably on you.
A Closer look at Sigma G Anser
I've got a couple of the Sigma G models in hand, including the iconic PING Anser. When I talked about the Vault line last year, I made the bold statement that the Vault Anser 2 was my favorite Anser 2 ever. I still hold that putter up as my favorite Anser ever, but the Sigma G is quite pleasing to roll as well.
If you get the chance in your local shop, roll the Vault Anser 2 side by side with the Sigma G Anser and you'll get an idea of the difference in feel between the fully milled Vault and the metal/polymer Sigma G. I feel a little more thunk with the Vault. The Sigma G, more soft pop. Overall, the multi-material Sigma G provides a softer impact experience.
If you are an Anser player, you are likely already planning on rolling balls with this one. I'll bet that you will not be disappointed at all.
A Closer look at Sigma G Kushin
When I first saw the list of available models, the Kushin was the one that immediately grabbed my interest, even more than the Ketsch B, and that's saying something based on Ketsch Most Wanted dominance.
I was pushin for the Kushin for a couple of reasons. First, I had an older version, so the nostalgia bug got me a bit. That Kushin had toe-up hang before toe-up hang and torque balance was cool! (Assuming it is now actually cool.)
This Kushin actually is face-balanced, but PING can build it for you with a straight or slight arc shaft, so the hang does not totally dictate fit. I've been rolling the slight arc version and it fits my swing as expected.
The second reason that I was excited to roll the Kushin was its compact and wide blade shape. I'm definitely a member of the wide blade cult. I love the look of the head and thick top line at address. The problem is that other companies who currently make such a head, cough-Odyssey-cough, are making very visually busy versions of the shape. The Kushin is visually clean.
It's also a cannon. The impact with the Kushin rings far more than the Anser or Doon, and the ball just launches. Maybe it's the 20 grams that it has on the Anser, tough to know for sure, but the Kushin brings the hammer. Distance is by no means erratic, just consistently longer.
A Closer look at Sigma G Doon
The Doon sits up in the upper corner of the PING Sigma G fitting chart, and I thought it would be a solid pick to round out the sampling of models. It's a heavy tyke at 400g, but the weight is countered nicely by the extra mass of the 38" shaft.
Though I'm not a counterbalance guy, I can see the attraction. The Doon is so stable as it swings. It takes some getting used to, but once you do it really puts a smooth roll on the ball.
PING came so close to nerd-gasm awesome with the name of this one. Tweak the spelling to Dune and you have all kinds of giant worm references as well as hundreds of others from that desert fantasy universe.
Change the "n" to an "m" and you are now rolling the new Doom, PING's version of the BFG.
Grips and Such
Though companies like SuperStroke garner most of the grip fanfare these days, PING has made some grips in recent years that really should be getting more attention. The PP60, one of the stock grip options for the Sigma G line, shares some geometry with the SuperStroke Flatso, but the overall shape and the texture give the grip a unique feel. Should you want something a bit larger, the PP62 is also available.
Even if you are not looking at a new putter, you should put PING grips on your radar. If you are planning on regripping your putter this year, check out the PING grips when you are shopping around. They are really good. That PP62 looks a little dirty because I have been using it a bunch. It's on the Vault Anser 2, and it adds to the awesome.
Pricing, Availability, and the Name
The U.S. MSRPs for the Sigma G putters are: Blade-style: $195; Mallet-style: $215; Counter-balanced: $235. Based upon build quality alone, I think that this is right on for the line. If you really want to add options to your putter, an adjustable length shaft can be added for an upcharge of U.S. MSRP: $35. They are available for preorder today, and you can find the Sigma G putter in your local golf shop on February 16th.
As for the Sigma G name, that's really a nod to the fact that these putters represent the sum of PING's putter technologies being present in these putters. You get the new multi-material insert, the TR grooves, and both classic and new head shapes to fit player stroke and weight preferences.
The Sigma G line represents the sum of all of the putter knowledge that PING has amassed, and that's no small volume of putter engineering information.