PING is kicking off your Monday with a textbook “good news, bad news” situation. The good news is that PING’s upcoming G430 family of drivers—a lineup which again includes MAX, LST and SFT models—has hit the USGA’s conforming list. The bad news is that parts of the world (most notably Australia) will get it months before we do here in the States.
The G430 teaser of sorts might feel familiar. The them now, us later approach is a repeat of how PING launched the G425 and while I don’t love it, I get it: with peak golf season fading as quickly as the daylight here in the U.S.A., other parts of the world are just ramping up.
It’s true that the supply chain is improving but it hasn’t fully recovered from COVID and so I suppose it makes sense to limit release to smaller markets while stockpiling inventory for a January global release.
For sure, that makes for a bit of an awkward release where the official dissemination of engineering and performance details will likely be confined by geographical boundaries but there are some intriguing bits to be gleaned from the USGA listings.
As mentioned, PING will again launch three models.
It’s a safe bet that the G430 MAX will again push the limits of MOI. That’s why it’s called the “MAX”. The G425 MAX was effectively at the limit (5,900 g/cm2) so there’s not much room to improve as far as your classic heel/toe forgiveness metric is concerned.
Stability from the top to bottom of the face is one potential area of improvement.
While PING isn’t as over-the-top as many in the industry, speed stories are requisite for the driver category, so distance gains are all but guaranteed.
Improved adjustability may be in the offering as well. It’s difficult (impossible, really) to tell from the photos but it wouldn’t surprise me if PING had increased the amount of adjustable mass and/or expanded the range of the weight track just a bit.
What’s true for the MAX is true for the LST (and SFT) so we might see improved MOI and a wider range of weight adjustability. The curiosity for me is whether PING has decided to take LST in a more aggressively low-spin direction.
One could argue that with 460cc designs like Stealth+, TSR3 and LTDx LS in the market, PING needs to trim a bit of spin to be a serious competitor in the low-spin segment.
The counterargument is that PING doesn’t have any interest in competing there. It seems content with positioning its low-spin driver at what I’d describe as the lower end of the moderate-spin range.
And, not for nuthin’, LST has been nothing short of exceptional for PING. So much so that a good bit of the competitive set offers drivers that mirror the performance characteristics of the LST.
It’s the one that comes up most often when PING competitors talk about the driver that’s difficult to beat in the hitting bay.
My best guess is to expect a collection of small improvements but not any significant change in design philosophy.
With that said, there is an interesting ripple in the LST story. Listed in the “Markings” section of the USGA’s description of the G430 LST driver is “CARBONFLY WRAP”.
The likelihood is that “Carbonfly” is a play on PING’s Dragonfly crown technology with the implication that the LST will feature a carbon-fiber crown or, at a minimum, carbon-fiber components.
You’d have to go back about 15 years to the Rapture series to find PING’s last use of a carbon-fiber crown in a driver so this is a significant departure from the status quo for PING.
Over the years, we’ve asked PING about its continued use of titanium as its crown material. The company has never deviated from the answer that it will continue to use the best-performing material for a given application.
The bottom line is that PING isn’t going to use carbon fiber just to use carbon fiber.
For the target player, PING doesn’t believe there’s such a thing as too much draw bias. The idea behind SFT has always been to pack in as much shot-shape correction as possible without making the driver look janky at address.
And while it’s true that you aren’t likely to mistake the LST for the SFT at address, PING has done an outstanding job of making the SFT look like what slicers with all degrees of affliction like to see when they look down.
The bottom line: Expect more extreme slice correction from the SFT. That said, the most visible enhancement is the addition of movable weight to the G430 SFT.
Unlike the MAX and LST models which offer Draw and Fade positions, the G430 SFT offers Draw and Draw+. How much Draw+ gets you will be revealed in time but I’m confident it’s going to be far and away the most anti-slice biased driver on the market in 2023.
The expectation is that the PING’s G430 drivers will launch in Australia (and surrounding areas) this month. Full details for the rest of us aren’t expected until January with the full global release in early 2023.
As far as price is concerned, I expect $550 will be the basement this year and it’s possible, even likely, that the G430 series will be among a sizeable crop at $600.
More information as it becomes available.
Don’t Want to Wait? Save Now
With the PING G430 driver likely to command a premium price, golfers looking to save money may want to consider a PING G425 driver. The current models (G425 MAX, G425 LST, and G425 SFT) are excellent and are heavily discounted at $399 (originally $549) in anticipation of the G430 release..