Ping K15 Driver Review

In the world of drivers, everyone knows the usual suspects and traditional names that come to mind. But one name may not always come to mind right away but with its latest offering, the K15, PING is looking to change that. I’ve been lucky to have had the chance to spend some time with this stick and I came away with some interesting thoughts and viewpoints. But did I like it and did it perform for yours truly? Did the Mr Ping Man bring me a dream? Check it out.

From the Company
The K15 will help you drive the ball ‘exceptionally straight’ aided by a PING innovation called Straight Flight Technology (SF Tec). The large profile 460cc head and a club face that is longer heel to toe combine for consistent performance across the hitting surface. The overall design of the club positions the center of gravity low and back to generate high launch and low spin conditions.

Look
As I said in my review of the G15 irons, PING is known for utilitarian, workman-like equipment and the K15 driver is no exception. Basic, clean, if not boring looks are what you first notice with this club however after you spend time with it those clean lines begin to grow on you. Instead of ‘boring’ you’re now thinking it’s ‘clean.’ Where you may have once thought ‘plain’ you’re now thinking ‘simple.’ With the amount of silver titanium that is on this club that isn’t covered with paint, decals, etc you could easily call this a silver bullet.

As mentioned before, the head is 460cc and while my eyes are not used to seeing such mass (I have had a 440cc driver in my bag for over 6 months now), I have to tell you that it didn’t appear that large. Sure its hitting area is 5% larger and the head has been elongated to provide more forgiveness and stability but it just didn’t seem that large at address. Optical illusion? Maybe. All I know is that it didn’t feel like I was swinging a U-haul at the end of a stick like previous 460cc drivers made me feel like. One interesting thing to note is that the SF Tec is slightly noticeable at address at the heel of the club.

The shaft is almost 46” long (45.75 to be precise) and while that has been traditionally an issue for me it turns out it really wasn’t. News at 11. The shaft is a not so flashy black/red/silver PING shaft but it seems to fit nicely with the not so flashy look of the driver so it’s all good.

For those needing an alignment aid on their driver (raises hand), the K15’s certainly doesn’t disappoint. Oh yeah it’s there and is actually a little on the distracting side in terms of its size. The good news is that you become used to it quickly. The bad news is that it looks like a tattoo your local college co-ed would sport on spring break. At least it’s there right?

Technology
PING’s latest technological goodie is called SF Tec. SF Tec concentrates approximately 10% of head mass toward the heel which helps square the face of consistently straight tee shots. A large 460cc head significantly increases MOI. Weight is saved by thinning the crown and re-distributing that wight to SF Tec’s external weight pad to optimize the center of gravity and create a high MOI. The larger surface area of the club face is 5% larger and is highly forgiving on off-center hits and generates faster ball speeds across the entire face.

Pictures from www.ping.com

Testing
After hitting and struggling a bit with this past year’s G15 driver, I was skeptical about testing this offering. Combine that apprehension with my love for smaller driver head profiles and you could accuse me of not having an open mind for this particular club test. Well you’d be half right. Apprehension? Check. No open mind? Never!

My first couple of swings were very awkward and adjusting to the larger profile of the K15 was slower than I had thought it would be but once I got settled in the club really started to shine. I mentioned a little bit ago that you could see the SF Tec technology at address and while this sounds alarming it isn’t. In fact it almost acted as a guide for me and promoted an inside takeaway. But this isn’t the only swing aid that this club comes with. In fact I think the whole club is a swing aid. The K15 promotes a nice and easy swing which helps utilize the full capacity of the SF Tec technology. It’s designed to help square the club at impact and you know what? It does. I found myself hitting straighter drives and even found myself hitting some great draws which is completely against my natural fade ball flight. If you swing this club too fast you may find yourself hitting more hooks. Swing it too slow and it’s a block party in your honor. However, if you get your Goldilocks on and swing it just right, well, PING!

Oh what a sound this banger makes. Yes it’s a ‘ping’ sound but not a wussy or tingy ‘ping’ sound. It’s a solid, cannon-like sound that just happens to leave a ping sound you hear from a perfectly struck tuning fork. The sound slowly fades away as your ball rockets into the horizon. When you catch the K15 on the screws the ball feels like it’s exploding off the club face with the slightest hint of compressing the ball as well. While the face didn’t appear to be overly ‘hot’, I think the best way to describe the feeling you get from catching the sweet spot on this is one of a crushing type feeling. You really feel like you’re crushing, even slaughtering the ball when you’re in the zone with this thing. Forgiveness you ask? Oh yeah it has it. The large head has the weight placed in all the right, well, places that really adds a lot of forgiveness. Off the toe yields considerable distance for a mis-hit which is good to know right Mr Consistency?

The ball flight was at times a little too high for my liking but overall it was acceptable. This may be in part to a higher loft than I prefer (10.5), the basic stock shaft, or a combination of both. Speaking of the shaft, I think this driver would be dynamite if the shaft offering was comparable to other companies who have stepped up their game by offering high-end stock shafts in their drivers. But hey, that’s half the fun of getting fit for a shaft/club right? The shaft wasn’t anything special to me as I didn’t get a lot of feedback from it. Most of my feedback came from the club face and the club head itself while the shaft was just along for the ride.

As an aside, I normally don’t comment on these things unless they really strike me but let’s look at the grip and head cover. The grip is one of the better stock offerings I’ve felt on any club that I’ve tested and wouldn’t hesitate to play a while with it on. The head cover, however, is about as user friendly as a cell phone in a pool. It’s poorly designed and a struggle to take off. That’s being kind too.

Overall
This club is a winner. Pure and simple. Want to beat the ball? Want to hit straighter drives? Want to actually work the ball a bit? This may be your next driver then. The Ping K15 should be on anyone’s short list who is looking to replace their current driver. The K15 surprised me so much and impressed me that much more that I’m going to do some serious pondering about head to head testing with my current driver which may entail a change at the top of my bag for 2011. For more information about Ping and other Ping products you can check out www.ping.com. The Ping K15 driver retails for $299.

T. Hanks

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