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.
One of the most feared shots in golf is hitting a 3-wood off the ground. The thought of a ball sitting down on a sandy, thin, tightly mown fairway with 3-wood in hand is enough to spike anxiety levels in any golfer. Most avoid this shot at all costs, usually changing to a club with more margin for error. As a product designer, situations where consumers have a clear pain point like hitting 3-woods off the ground excite me. Delivering seamless solutions to real problems that golfers face every day is the most satisfying aspect of designing golf clubs. In this post we’ll take a deeper dive into the problem of hitting fairways and hybrids off the ground and PING’s solution on the G425 fairways and hybrids called "Spinsistency™.
First, fairway woods are the longest-length clubs most golfers hit off the ground and the longer club length (relative to an iron) results in a more inconsistent club delivery. The second reason is there is very little margin for error in the vertical position of the club at impact. If the club is delivered too low to the ground the result is a chunk; if delivered too high, the result is hitting the ball low on the face – both shots end up substantially short of target. The range of outcomes for minor changes in club delivery is dramatic, which makes the shot high risk and high reward.
The average impact location for fairways and hybrids hit from the ground is 0.13” below the center of the club face, which means most shots occur low on the face. This makes sense – golfers hedge their club delivery higher above the ground because the result of a shot hit low on the face is better than an outright chunk. To better understand the range of outcomes and specifically look at the variability in launch conditions and carry distance based on impact location, let’s look at some data from PING Man, our golf-ball-hitting robot.
For the following shots, PING Man was programmed with a standard 3-wood delivery and a clubhead speed of 103 mph. The figure below shows the relative result of hitting a shot 0.2” below face center versus a center impact on the G410 fairway wood. The ball leaves with 550 rpm more backspin and carries 12 yards shorter than a center impact (not shown on the figure below).
That is a 12-yard difference in carry distance for only 0.2” difference in impact location! Clearly, hitting low on the face produces poor results, but hitting high on the face is difficult when the ball is on the ground. How can we improve shots hit low on the face? What if we waved a magic wand and lowered the spin by 300 rpm?
Our proprietary ball-flight model shows that a 300 rpm reduction in spin on the 0.2” low hit would result in an increase in total distance of 5 yards. This is a significant improvement and reduces the distance loss by 40%. It seems like we’re on the right track, but how can we achieve this without a magic wand?
Traditionally, most fairway woods and hybrids have had a circular face shape with equal radius at all points on the face. The goal of face curvature is to counteract the gear effect of hitting the ball high or low on the face, which causes spin to increase (low impact) or decrease (high impact).
Using proprietary software, we concluded the optimal face shape for fairways and hybrids is very similar to our current face shape on the top of the face (high hits are already good!) but has significantly more curvature and lower loft, low on the face. Less loft on the bottom half of the face results in a lower spin, but it does come with one side effect – lower launch angle. The nuance in the optimization is assessing how much lower launch is acceptable and still results in improved carry and total distance.
We’ve dubbed this new face shape with more curvature and less loft low on the face Spinsistency, because it gives golfers more consistent spin numbers up and down the face. The figure below shows the spin rate for different vertical impact locations. For shots hit low on the face, the curve in the figure below is noticeably flatter and illustrates Spinsistency perfectly. Golfers can expect more consistent spin numbers for their typical range of impact locations compared to circular face shapes.
The average difference in initial launch conditions for G425 fairway and hybrids vs G410 for center and 0.2” low impacts is captured below. On center impacts, our C300 Facewrap™ technology is driving the improved ball speed and carry distance increase. On low impacts, however, Spinsistency kicks in and boosts the ball-speed gains of Facewrap with a more penetrating ball flight and even further distance improvements.
The best way to experience Spinsistency is to visit a PING Certified Fitter and get fit for the G425 fairways and hybrids. The astute golfer will notice the improved trajectory for shots hit low on the face, but even those without a keen eye can measure its success. Most launch monitors will show the spin rate for each shot, and the standard deviation of all shots hit with that club. Leverage this feature and find out how consistent your spin rate is with G425 fairway and hybrids.
Armed with the Spinsistency found on the G425 fairway woods and hybrids, that ball sitting down on a sandy, thin, tightly mown fairway will not be quite as anxiety inducing. We changed the face shape to change your game and help you “Play Your Best.”
Cory Bacon has worked in golf R&D since 2011, including his current role as Senior Design Engineer, contributing to more than 15
club-model designs. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. Cory is an accomplished amateur player, having won the Arizona Amateur and Arizona Stroke Play championships.