PING G20 Driver Review

Ever wish you could take only the best qualities from ‘x’ and ‘y’ to make ‘z?’ Especially when it comes to golf clubs? Well a company did just that for you this year. PING’s new G20 driver combines the best qualities from two of their drivers from last season, the K15 and G15. PING has a staunch following that borders on fanaticism yet they always offer clubs that may look ‘plain’ or ‘boring’ but lately their designs are slowly emerging from those shells while still maintaining their core values. If you’re interested in long, forgiving, powerful, and straight driver then you may want to read on because these are all qualities that have been taken from two previous drivers and put into one nice and neat package. This all sounds good but do these qualities work or is it an experiment gone wrong? Check it out.

From the Company

  • High launch/low spin characteristics maximize distance and accuracy
  • Club head is made from a Ti 8-1-1 lighter low density alloy for high strength to weight ratio
  • Additional weight is strategically placed around the horizontal and vertical axis to increase MOI
  • Variable wall thickness on face and crown
  • High balance point shaft allows you to swing more weight/mass at the same speed

Look
When the G20 first arrived to THP I couldn’t wait to open the box. For a company that doesn’t saturate you with marketing, PING managed to provide some subtle buzz leading up to this club’s release and once I opened the box I saw that the subtle buzz was well justified. Holding the G20 in your hand makes you just stare at the club in wonderment. You notice a powerful yet elegant shape made of titanium that just wants you to unleash it on some poor unsuspecting golf ball. Sure the profile is large and slightly elongated (460cc) but it’s not huge where you feel like you’re swinging a small SUV on a stick. When you first waggle the club you feel that the balance and weighting is perfect which is due to the shaft being weighted slightly above its center while maintaining the feel and weight of the club head. Although the external weight has been moved from the heel to the back of the club you barely notice it at address. I’ll touch on the shaft a little later but in terms of looks it’s very similar to what was offered last year in the G15 and the K15 and meshes well with the overall look of the G20.

Technology
That poor golf ball has no idea what’s in store for it when the large face of the G20 smacks it with its variable wall thickness construction. The club face combined with the external weight found on the heel of the K15 driver is now placed directly behind the face of the G20 which means that the poor golf ball will get up in the air faster for you. The aerodynamic shape, or at least as aerodynamic as 460cc can be, combined with the variable wall thickness, the shaft that comes with the G20, and the external weight is really a nice package that is designed to help the golfer get the ball airborne and fast.

Now about that shaft. The TFC 169D is a soft tipped shaft that is almost 46” long (45.75 to be precise) but there’s something different about it this year compared to last year’s stock offering found in the G15 and K15. That difference is the addition of some weight above the center point of the shaft. You may not notice it unless you’re looking for it but I noticed this difference and it didn’t feel overly heavy. In fact it almost felt like a fulcrum for the club when you slowly swing it so I can see how this weighting is designed to help swing the club. The Tour version of the shaft that is also available has a slightly stiffer tip which will launch the ball a little lower with even less spin and will weigh about 6-9g more depending on what flex option you go with.

While it may not be true ‘technology’, I love everything about the stock grip on the G20. In my estimation, PING makes some of the best stock grips in the industry. I’m very picky, if not weird, when it comes to the feeling I like and want from my grips and the grip that’s found on the G20 is one of the few that I would not change and would put into play right away. It’s got a great texture to it that is slightly rough but not overly so.

One other non-true ‘technology’ item that the G20 has that I like is the design of the head cover. Sometimes a bad head cover design can take away some nice feelings one may have for a driver but this one isn’t of that design. While putting it on can sometimes feel like trying to fit a size 12 foot into a size 10 sock, taking off the head cover is a snap due to an ingenious handle that you can take hold of and pull the cover off with a simple tug.

Testing
The G20 I received from PING for testing had a 9.5* loft and a stiff flex shaft (58g) and it was tested in almost every condition possible. Sunny, dry, wet, overcast, breezy, and cool all got their turn at interacting with the G20 so I think as far as elements go, this driver was exposed to everything but rain. It did experience some sprinkles but with the wet conditions that have been a part of NE weather the past few weeks it may have well been in rain-like conditions.

That being said, the G20 performed well in all of these conditions. The design of the club is one that is supposed to give you high launch with low spin which should result in greater accuracy. I found the ball flight to be middle-high with a piercing trajectory. This came in handy with the breezy conditions I mentioned before. You don’t just hit the ball with the G20, you beat the ball. When the ball meets the club face you can feel the ball almost spring off the face however the face isn’t ‘hot.’ The variable wall thickness of the face really gets the ball moving in a hurry while the weight at the back of the club face gets the ball up in the air quick.

One thing about the G20 is that it is a consistent club that doesn’t hide or enhance a bad shot. The ball pretty much goes where the club face is pointing. If you leave it open a bit, which is my most common miss, you get a straight block. Keep it closed and you get a pull. Centered? Oh my does the ball go far. When the club face wasn’t centered I still found my misses to be playable. The shots were long but thanks to the low spin factor you didn’t see wild slices or insane hooks that you may see with some other clubs. When the club face was centered the fairway was more or less a landing strip for the ball as it would fall out of the sky and get some good roll with it before stopping in the fairway. At least when I tested it on dry fairways. Wet fairways tended to stop the ball within a foot or two of its landing but I suspect this would happen with most drivers anyway.

Along the lines of consistency, when you hit the sweet spot of the large face of the G20, you’re rewarded with a unique sound. It’s not like the traditional PING ‘ping’ but more of a ‘crack’ mixed with the ‘ping.’ I’ve described it as a ‘thwack’ before but it’s more of a ‘pinging crack’ which is something you need to hear for yourself. As long as you’re near the center of the face you’re going to hear some iteration of this sound but when you catch it on the screws? You know it and the best part is that you want to hear it again and again. This makes the PING G20 slightly addictive but in a good way. I found my most consistent miss to be a block or a push. While the shaft is the same length as the shaft of the K15 that I tested last year, I found that my swing had to be more consistent with the G20 and that you can’t fully go after a shot. This may be due to the placement of weight above the center point of the shaft which could be problematic in helping get the club head squared at impact if you don’t have a consistent swing. I think the best tempo to unleash the full potential of this driver is one that is medium-fast tempo, or an 8 on a scale of 1-10.

For a low spin driver I found the overall forgiveness to be surprisingly good. The tall face, elongated club head, and 460cc design really helps you hit the ball well and does help with some off-center hits. Unless you blatantly miss-hit the ball, this club will help keep you in lay as much as possible. I found hits off the toe to be straight with minimal distance loss however hits off the heel was where I noticed some distance loss. The G20 may not be the perfect panacea for helping you with your driving problems but it sure will try to as long as you give it something to work with.

Overall
The PING G20 driver is a contender for a full time spot in my bag. It still has some work to do, as do I, but this driver makes it worth putting time in on the range and on the course. Although I’m generally not a fan of the stock shaft for myself and my game, I think for the most part it will be fine for the majority of golfers out there. I wish PING would join the movement by other companies who are including upgraded stock shafts as a part of their stock club offering. I understand why PING doesn’t do this as they firmly believe in their fitting system but for how long before PING fans begin to slowly take their loyalty, and more importantly, their money to other options? Aside from that, there’s not much to complain about with the G20 driver. It retails for $299 and is definitely worth a few swings at your favorite golf store or pro shop if you’re in the market for a new driver. The performance and potential of this driver are hard to ignore so don’t. Once you master it, you, and everyone else will know about the sound this driver makes when you hit it flush. That alone is worth the price once you experience that. For more information about PING and other PING products you can check out www.ping.com.

T. Hanks

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