The new Ping G400 Max driver, the fourth in the G400 family of drivers, may look like a simple line extension, but pushing the G400 design to the USGA’s size limits yields a driver with the highest off-centre hit stability of any driver in the Ping family and likely all of golf.
Of course, simply stretching the G400 Max to the USGA’s 460 cubic centimetre limit and near the USGA’s five-inch by five-inch footprint isn’t without its challenges. How can you get there without a centre of gravity that gets too high and yields too much spin?
Well, it took a lot of careful shaping, a whole lot of saved weight and one big chunk of perfectly placed tungsten.
According to Marty Jertson, Ping’s director of product development, the new G400 Max measures out with moment of inertia of more than 5,400 grams/centimetres squared in the heel-toe direction, the highest on the market. Jertson also said the combination of MOI measurements in the heel-toe direction and the top-to-bottom direction equals 9,900, significantly higher than last year’s G400, which Jertson called “the most forgiving driver in the world that’s now the second most forgiving driver in the world.”
Saying that is one thing, accomplishing it is about finding spare grams at every corner of the G400 Max.
“With having a high inertia driver, the challenge is the CG is really deep, so you have to get the CG really low enough to optimise the launch conditions,” Jerston said. He noted that while the CG on the original G400 is about .150 inches deeper than the preceding G driver, the Max is about another .160 inches deeper than G400 and .030 inches lower. “So spin characteristics are pretty similar between the G400 and the G400 Max.”
But how was that achieved? First, the thinner design of the TS9+ titanium face yields about nine percent weight savings. Saved weight in a thin crown and thinner sections of the sole and skirt also helps but the key is a 15-gram tungsten weight that’s double the tungsten used on the standard G400 driver.
“The tungsten is placed even more to the boundary, wraps around the back edge for even more optimal placement, driving it as far from that centre of gravity and the face as possible,” Jertson said.
Jertson believes the push for higher MOI is crucial because it shows results down range in a way he called “non-linear”. “We saw that for something like a 20 percent improvement in MOI, there would be a 50 percent improvement in stat area.” (“Stat area” is essentially the area of dispersion for a series of impacts across the face.)
The G400 Max, which joins a family that includes the standard 450cc G400, the slice-fighting G400 SFT and the lower-spinning G400 LST, continues the use of Ping’s proven crown turbulators to improve aerodynamics, and its high overall forgiveness and deep centre of gravity puts it right between the standard G400 and the G400 SFT in terms of draw tendency.
The added forgiveness has also appealed to a number of tour professionals, including Australia’s Aaron Baddeley and Ireland’s Seamus Power, who put the G400 Max in play at last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii.
The G400 Max, which features Ping’s adjustable hosel to change loft by plus or minus one degree, is available in 9 or 10.5-degree models and comes standard with Ping’s counterbalanced Alta CB shaft.
RRP: $619.00 PING Alta CB (counter-balanced) 55 (SR, R, S, X)
RRP: $689.00 PING Tour 65, 75 (R, S, X) and Alta Distanza 40
RRP: $749.00 Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Silver Dual-Core TiNi 60 (R, S, X), Project X HZRDUS Yellow 75 (5.5, 6.0, 6.5), Aldila X-Torsion Copper (50R, 60S)