PING G425 Driver Key Takeaways
- The PING G425 Series of drivers is finally coming to North America and Europe.
- The 3 models, MAX, SFT, and LST offer exceptionally high MOI, slice correction, and low spin performance, respectively.
- Retail price is expected to be around $500.
Given the consistently excellent performance of PING drivers in Most Wanted testing over the last several years, expectations for the G425 lineup should rightfully be among the highest of any models hitting the U.S. market this year.
Still, it’s hard to overlook the buzz-killing reality that PING G425 drivers have been available in Australia and on the PGA TOUR for months. Combine that with the fact that PING is never the loudest or flashiest and there’s a chance the PING G425 drivers could get lost in the chaotic flurry of the spring release cycle regardless of their impressive debut elsewhere.
Nevertheless, despite a relatively subdued new color scheme and a less than sensational backstory, I like PING’s chances.
The last several years of Most Wanted testing have shown PING’s Plus/standard models to be steady, top-of-the-table performers. The SFT has differentiated itself as the ultimate slice killer and the LST has taken top honors with each of its two iterations.
PING drivers perform. That isn’t in doubt. The lingering question shouldn’t be, “Will the PING G425 be good?” The better question is, “How can PING possibly make any of the three drivers in the lineup better?”
PING’s design philosophy is anchored in MOI (moment of inertia), which means forgiveness is never sacrificed. The no-compromise approach, or “breaking the trade-off curve” as PING describes it, is inherent in every aspect of PING’s approach to iteration and evolution.
It’s one thing to improve aspects of a design. It’s another to do so without diminishing performance somewhere else.
To a degree, that’s what everyone wants to do but it doesn’t always shine through in the execution. There are countless recent examples where companies have improved performance in one area of product design to the detriment of others.
That’s not how PING rolls. Regardless of whether a design is revolutionary (within the limited confines of the golf world) or iterative, PING’s newer is invariably better because nearly nothing gets traded away in the interest of launching some shiny new thing.
PING’s approach to evolution may often seem slow and plodding. Call it a testament to a company ethos that mandates that engineering drives the story instead of the story creating the engineering.
With that in mind, it should come as no real surprise that much of the technology from the previous G410 and G400 lines carries on across all three PING G425 drivers.
Here’s what the new PING G425 driver models have in common.
Face and face material stories are all the rage right now but, sorry, I’ve got nothing for you. PING has been using Ti9s+ for a while now. It’s satisfied with the performance and to date hasn’t found anything that it can shape into faster, more resilient faces with higher tolerances.
When it does find something better, it will use it but there’s not much to dispute that what PING has been using gets the job done.
Every company has a means of stealing weight from the crown to reallocate elsewhere. With PING it’s the lattice-like Dragonfly structure. In previous generations, it was overtly visible on the crown. With more recent designs like the G425 driver, it’s been hidden under the hood but, nevertheless, it persists.
The weight-saving structure is part of the reason PING is able to continue to use all-titanium structures while much of the industry has moved to carbon fiber.
The story isn’t much different than it is with Ti9s+. When PING believes it can make a better driver using composite, it will. Until then, it will continue to leverage titanium.
PING’s aerodynamic-enhancing turbulator crown features carry-over as well. The company believes they’re about as optimized as they can be, however, within the optimal range there is some design flexibility.
If you look closely, you’ll notice the appearance has changed a bit but PING isn’t claiming any sort of aerodynamic improvements. The idea is to freshen things up cosmetically for the G425 drivers without degrading performance.
The requisite disclaimer still applies: slower swing speed players benefit less from aerodynamic enhancements than faster players.
PING G425 Drivers – The Other Stuff
Other technologies moving forward in the PING G425 driver design are the rough face texture that reduces spin by ~200 rpm. It helps mitigate some of the effects of the increased dynamic loft that results from PING’s back CG (center of gravity) positions, though the high-launching characteristics of the design allow PING to boost ball speed a bit through lower static loft.
The creased design close to the trailing edge of the crown is a bit more subtle. I could live without it entirely.
PING’s hosel adjustability remains the same. You get 1.5 degrees of loft adjustability in either direction. As with the previous model, there’s also a flat setting which better players (and hacks like me who fight a hook) are particularly fond of.
PING G425 Drivers – Three Models
As we dig deeper into the specifics of the three models in the PING G425 driver family, the common themes include a new look (PING calls it slate and black or slate and stealth), more adjustable weight (in the MAX and LST), deeper centers of gravity, higher MOI and greater differentiation between the products.
PING G425 MAX Driver
The simplest description I can offer of the G425 MAX Driver is this. It’s the lovechild of the G400 MAX and the G410 Plus. It offers the adjustability of the latter with the massive MOI of the former.
Your one-sentence bottom line – the PING G425 MAX isn’t just the most forgiving driver in the PING G425 driver lineup, it’s the most forgiving driver the company has ever produced.
For a company that’s more or less led the league in MOI for the last several years, pushing up against the USGA limit for front-to-back MOI while driving total MOI over 10,000 … that’s one hell of an accomplishment.
To do it in a reasonably conventionally shaped driver designed for the fattest part of the driver market borders on absurd.
From a performance standpoint, the most notable feature of the G425 MAX driver is a single 26-gram movable tungsten weight in the rear of the club. For reference, that’s more than 10 percent of the head’s weight tied up in a single chunk of metal.
PING’s movable weight system remains easy to understand and easy to operate but there are challenges that come with condensing that much movable weight into a small area at the rear of the club. Quite a bit of engineering is required to keep that much mass in place during impact.
When a clubhead collides with golf ball, and slows from 95-110 mph (whatever your swing speed happens to be) down to 60 or 70 mph in half a millisecond, the limits (and quality) of design are tested. “At impact, the head wants to collapse in on itself, pop the weight free and crack the head,” says Paul Wood, PING’s Vice-President of Research and Development.
So that’s maybe not ideal?
Lessons learned from G400 MAX’s large fixed weight combined with knowledge gained in the design of the movable weight in the G410 Plus ($399) allowed PING to not only put 26 grams of weight in the back of the G425 driver but actually keep it there through impact and beyond.
A small but important detail, right?
So why narrow the range of movement? Placing more weight in a smaller track allowed PING to increase MOI in each of the G425 MAX driver’s weight positions.
By the numbers, the G425 MAX Driver offers seven-percent higher MOI in the neutral position and 20-percent higher inertial in the draw and fade positions. It works out to an average increase of about 14 percent over G410.
Here where things get particularly interesting.
I’ve mentioned that moving weights to the draw position almost invariably means giving up some MOI. That’s not the case with the PING G425 MAX driver. Because of the shape and placement of the weight track, MOI is actually at its highest when the weight is in the draw position.
I guess you could call that giving a little extra help to golfers who need it the most.
PING G425 MAX – Shot Shape Correction
That’s obviously a bonus but here’s the really cool thing. The significantly heavier (relative to G410) weight allowed PING to accomplish nearly the same level of shot shape correction with a significantly narrower range of moment.
You got me. Nearly can be interpreted as an indicator of a small compromise. The draw and fade positions in the PING G425 MAX provide eight to nine yards worth of shot shape correction. That’s down about one yard from the G410 Plus.
With MOI now effectively within the tolerance range of the USGA limit, I suppose getting that one yard back gives PING something to improve on for next time.
The PING G425 driver is available in lofts of nine, 10.5 and 12 degrees.
PING G425 SFT Driver
As with previous SFT models, the PING G425 SFT is the draw-biased model among the PING G425 drivers. Our testing suggests that nobody else in golf does a better job of taking the right side out of play (for righties … lefties, you can manage the conversion).
That said, slicers gonna slice so PING has pushed the trajectory of the G425 SFT even farther towards the left side of the golf course.
Unlike the G425 MAX, the SFT isn’t adjustable but it does offer its own sizeable chunk of tungsten weight. The fixed weight in the G425 SFT is 23 grams which is, again, more than 10 percent of the total head weight tied up in a single concentrated area.
That additional mass is part of the formula that creates an additional 10 yards’ worth of left-side bias over the G410 SFT ($399). For the sake of further comparison, the expected flight of the SFT is 15 yards more left than G425 MAX in the draw position and 25 yards more left than G425 MAX with the weight in the neutral position.
How Much Help Do You Need?
It should go without saying that not everyone needs that kind of anti-slice protection but it speaks to the differentiation between PING’s G425 offerings.
Quite obviously, the G425 SFT is for the golfer who fights a slice but on a more specific level, it’s for the golfer who owns that slice and is comfortable effectively putting his driver in draw mode forever.
If the objective is to hit fairways and have fun, my slicing friends, here you go.
PING G425 SFT Driver – Effective Without Being Ugly
What’s particularly impressive about PING’s approach to the G425 SFT is that they put significant design effort into hiding the draw bias.
For sure, the face is a little closed and if you look closely you might notice the slight bump-out in the heel but for the most part the heavy draw elements of the design are unobtrusive.
It’s not visibly offset; the shape is not particularly odd or unpleasant. It basically looks like most any other driver.
That’s a case of live and learn.
“Over the years, we’ve delivered some good options that players haven’t wanted to try,” says Wood.
Take, for example, the K Series from several years ago. If I’m being honest, K Series hybrids more or less got me through the last month of the season after my daughter was born. I wasn’t very good to begin with and wasn’t playing much so I needed all the help I could get.
But, yeah, the Ks looked weird, almost offensive. I wouldn’t say I was proud to have them in my bag.
With the G425 SFT, that shouldn’t be an issue.
That said, if you’re more of a “yeah, I slice it a bit but I’m pretty sure I’ll get over it” type of guy, the G425 MAX still offers plenty of slice correction without the full commitment.
PING G425 LST
Is this the one you’ve all been waiting for? Given it’s two-time Most Wanted winning status (and nearly two-time status in my bag), it’s definitely the one I’ve been waiting for.
That said, the plot has largely been spoiled. The PING G425 LST driver is, well, a PING LST driver and what that means hasn’t changed.
The PING G425 LST driver is a bit more compact, a little smaller than the G425 MAX. By the numbers, that makes it a bit more aerodynamic, though the shorter typical build lengths tend to offset any swing speed gains.
It’s the lowest spinning of the PING G425 drivers. The expectation is that it will produce about 600 rpm less spin than the G425 MAX driver and 200 or so rpm less than the prior-gen G410 LST ($399).
PING G425 LST – Low Spin Done Differently
I would remind you that PING’s version of low spin isn’t the same as most everyone else’s. The PING G425 LST is, after all, still a PING driver and that means MOI won’t be sacrificed in any significant amount to chase low spin.
MOI should shake out at about 5,100 or so. That’s plus or minus where a good bit of the standard stuff on the market falls. That speaks to PING’s commitment to keeping spin rates reasonably low and forgiveness relatively high.
With the G425 LST, PING seeks to create a playable low-spin condition but not necessarily kill spin and kill it dead. If “as low as spin can go” is your objective, I’d wager something like a TaylorMade SIM2 or Titleist TSi4 is going to tackle the challenge more aggressively.
The trajectory-tuning CG shifter in the PING G425 LST driver is only 17 grams – or roughly eight percent of the head weight. That’s good for about seven yards of left/right correction which should be enough for the typical LST player.
The PING G425 LST driver is available in nine and 10.5 degrees.
PING G425 Stock Shafts
Finally, PING is offering four stock shafts across the G425 driver lineup.
The PING ALTA CB Slate is the evolution of PING’s in-house ALTA line. It’s a lightweight, heavily counterbalanced option that should produce the highest launch (and spin) of any stock offering.
The mid-launch option is the Mitsubishi Tensei Raw Orange.
The PING Tour remains in the lineup as a mid-low launch option. Another in-house offering, the profile isn’t dissimilar from the Aldila Tour Green.
The lowest launch and spin option in the PING G425 driver lineup is the Aldila Rogue White. The stiffer tip should help bring launch and spin down for those who need it.
PING G425 Driver Pricing and Availability
MSRP for all PING G425 driver models is $540. The street price will likely be less. Fitting and pre-sales start immediately. Full retail availability begins Feb. 4.
Until then, deal hunters may want to consider the still excellent G410 series drivers which are discounted at $399.
For more information, visit PING.com.