Bringing you insights from the PING Proving Grounds, where our talented team of engineers, researchers, fitting experts and data scientists design and develop the newest product and fitting technologies to help you play better. Using the most advanced tools available, we’ll explain and explore the science behind golf-equipment performance. We’ll separate fact from fiction with the goal of helping you make informed decisions when choosing the PING equipment best suited for maximizing your performance.
This is the story behind Prodi G, our industry-leading junior product for girls and boys, and how it is Custom Engineered, Custom Fit, and Custom Built with the same passion and rigor as our Tour players’ equipment – and Mom’s and Dad’s clubs.
In 2020, golf for kids is booming, and we could not be more excited about what that means for the collective future of the game. The National Golf Foundation has estimated that junior golf participation for ages 6 to 17 has grown 20% in the last year, when 2.5 million juniors participated in the sport. For juniors golf can be a proving ground for character development as witnessed through the First Tee’s Nine Core Values system: Honesty, Integrity, Sportsmanship, Respect, Confidence, Responsibility, Perseverance, and Courtesy.
If you are getting a junior into the game, you are probably wondering where to start with equipment. Cut down your old clubs? Order a boxed set? Both have their shortcomings.
When it came to developing our Prodi G line, the Custom Engineering came first. What does this mean, exactly? We brought in dozens of juniors, ages 7 to 13, to the PING Proving Grounds in Phoenix, Arizona, and measured everything about their biometrics and performance. They went through a full array of testing on TrackMan launch monitors, studying the ballistics, stat areas, club delivery, and launch conditions. We studied how they individually responded to various lengths, lofts, weighting, shaft flexes, lie angle, and other variables to inform both the design and fitting guidelines.
We did set gapping with them. We interviewed them, asking about the colors and style, and what they wanted their product to represent. We then leveraged this research to optimize the designs with the same engineering horsepower as our adult product.
Let’s take a technical dive into the Prodi G driver. From our Optimal Launch and Spin Chart you can see that the best launch conditions for a level Angle of Attack (AoA) for 80mph to 90mph ball speeds is 18° and 2,300 rpm spin. At slower speeds, launching the ball high is vital. This led to the final spec for the Prodi G driver being 15°.
Compared to the top-selling junior driver, the Prodi G goes 15 yards farther, and the high MOI lets juniors develop speed at a time when it's so developmentally important.
We took a similar approach to the lofts, CG placement, and weight-balance for the fairway wood (22°, or the loft a traditional 7-wood) and hybrid (27°, the loft of a 5-hybrid). The irons also have loft gaps that are optimized based on our research and modeling capabilities.
When it comes to short game, we felt compelled to design wedges and putters that encourage and enhance creativity as kids develop their proprioception, or spatial awareness skills. At address, Prodi G wedges have the beautiful tear-drop shaping of our Glide line, and the grinds are designed to unlock shot-making as kids are having fun developing a wide array of shots around the practice chipping green.
With putting, we did not want juniors growing up with a big mallet model that could inhibit their clubface-orientation awareness. We instead opted for the blade-style Voss, a modern twist on the Anser chassis that is paired with our iconic, pistol (Impact of Pistol) shaped PP58 grip. The Voss still has our staple heel-toe weighting and the design requires focus from the junior because of the ball-width alignment.
When it comes to Custom Fitting, and as a parent myself, I realize it is an easy mistake to invest in sports equipment that will be the right size for them in a year or two – instead of fitting them properly now. To proactively solve this problem, we created the Get Golf Growing Program. This is an industry-first initiative that offers custom-fit and custom-built junior clubs that include a one-time, no-cost adjustment to sets of five clubs or more (purchased in one transaction) as the golfer grows, addressing the all-too-common occurrence of juniors playing ill-fitting clubs that don’t set them up for success.
Our philosophy is that we don't want to give kids too many clubs, or overfill their bags, when they are just starting out. For example, if your junior hits their driver 120 yards or less, we recommend only a five-club, custom-fit set. They will have proper distance gapping between clubs and can express their creativity in shot-making with fewer clubs rather than too many. Unlike a boxed set, we custom build every order; you can simply order more clubs as they grow.
Every Prodi G product is Custom Built like our adult clubs, using the same calibrated techniques to customize the length, lie angle, shaft flex, and weight of each club during the assembly process. Using your junior’s biometrics (height, wrist-to-floor) and pairing that with their current driving distance enables a very precise custom fitting that works equally as well for girls or boys.
We’ve packaged our proprietary fitting algorithms into an easy-to-use online fitting tool that configures length, flex, color code (lie angle), and set make-up by simply inputting your junior’s height, wrist-to-floor measurement, driving distance, and dexterity. Give it a try. WEBFIT® for Junior Golfers
I hope you have enjoyed going behind the curtain and learning about what we do at the PING Proving Grounds. Let’s keep growing this great game and helping our juniors play their best.
National Golf Foundation "Pandemic Could Spur Junior Jump of Half-Million Golfers" August 2020
Marty has worked in golf R&D since 2004, including roles as Chief Engineer and Senior Designer, and is a named inventor on more than 125 patents. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. Marty is also a Class A PGA member and competitive golfer who played the weekend at the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black (his fourth PGA), and qualified for his hometown 2020 Waste Management Phoenix Open.