PING Announces Uber-Forgiving G400 MAX Driver

You guys like PING. That much is evident in the results of our recent brand survey where, in addition to being most associated with Engineering, Integrity, and Trustworthy, the company finished with the best ratio of positive to negative responses.

PING’s reputation is well-earned for both its quality products and its straightforward, no BS approach to marketing. PING doesn’t oversell the story, it speaks in quantifiables, and because of that, you can trust that its products will do what PING says they will.

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Part of the reason PING is so highly regarded is its commitment to price integrity and responsible release cycles. Most products are on 18-24 month lifecycles, and PING only discounts when a new release is imminent.

So given all of that, you can imagine my surprise when I found out PING was preparing to launch a new driver only six months after the release of G400. E’tu PING?

Deep breaths, people.

Hopefully, most of you will also share my relief in learning that the G400 MAX doesn’t replace anything in the current PING lineup. MAX complements the current lineup by providing a full-sized, 460cc head with eye-popping MOI.

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ABOUT G400

As a refresher, PING launched the G400 driver series last July. Apart from a refined appearance, improved aerodynamics, and significantly more appealing acoustic properties, the G400 was particularly notable for its high MOI. The G400 was more forgiving than most anything else on the market, despite the fact that PING’s engineers left 20cc on the table (you may recall G400 was only 440cc) to get better aerodynamic properties.

As I said, PING speaks in quantifiables, and to that end, the company says the Standard G400’s heel/toe MOI is near 5300. To put that number into context, the majority of drivers on our chart fall between 4200 and 4600. The list of companies currently near or beyond the 5000 barrier is limited to PING, Cobra, Callaway, PXG, and Knuth.

That PING would set new standards in forgiveness is almost a given, but when G400 launched, I found myself wondering what kind of MOI numbers PING might get out of a 460cc head.

Today we have an answer.

With the new G400 MAX Driver, PING is claiming a heel/toe (MOI yy) value of 5700 (g cm^2).

5700.

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That’s an absolutely massive number. The USGA Limit is 5900 (with a testing tolerance of 100), and nobody else other than PXG has even sniffed that limit since square drivers disappeared from the market. Good riddance.

If we take everyone at their word (and for now we will), heel/toe MOI values for both the G400 Max and PXG 0811XF land at 5700. PING’s MOI-xx (top/bottom) value is higher, putting the combined MOI of the G400 Max, according to PING, at 9900. PXG isn’t far off, but as far as we know, nobody else is within 1000 g cm^2 of PING’s number.

Within the larger market as a whole, a combined MOI of 8500 is top tier. Again, the G400 Max is at 9900.

It’s not hyperbole, folks… the numbers say the G400 MAX is the most forgiving driver on the market.

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Let’s Make A Deal

While the G400 Max retains many of the design features common to the G400 lineup (Turbulators, Dragonfly Crown, Infinity Edge, and outstanding sound properties), making it bigger and putting additional mass WAAAAAY back meant some compromises had to be made.

It’s a point I’ve made before, but it’s worth hammering home again: nearly every advancement in golf equipment requires some sort of trade-off. That’s certainly the case here where to get higher MOI, you may have to sacrifice a small amount of ball speed and some aerodynamics.

With back CG comes more dynamic loft (the actual loft presented to the ball at impact), and with additional dynamic loft, you may see a small drop in ball speed. PING mitigates that by offering a 9° head (lower static loft = lower dynamic loft), and for the typical MAX player we’re talking about almost nothing. This has always been the case with back CG, and I suspect most of you will find it a small price to pay for the jump in forgiveness that brings with it higher AVERAGE carry distances.

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To position extra mass (2X the tungsten of the standard G400) at the extreme rear of the club, PING had to give up its drag-reducing Vortec Cavity. Simply going bigger (wider and deeper) further reduces aerodynamic efficiency.

If those two trade-offs sound like a net negative, it’s important to understand that G400 Max was designed for a specific type of golfer. G400 Max may work well for some higher speed players, but realistically, the majority of G400 Max golfers will likely be low to moderate swing speed golfers who aren’t likely to see much, if any, drop in head speed.

As we’ve said on numerous occasions, aerodynamic benefits disproportionately favor higher swing speed players. Guys with swing speeds above 100 MPH can pick up an extra MPH or two of clubhead speed, but once head speed drops into the probable fitting range of the G400 MAX, you’re not getting much from aerodynamic streamlining, and so ultimately, you’re not losing much when it’s taken away.

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Is the G400 Max right for you?

There’s a reasonably clear line of distinction between the G400 LST and the G400 Max. If you’re an LST player (typically a guy looking to lower spin), the MAX is almost certainly not for you. Me, I’m solidly an LST guy, and while I was impressed by the consistency of the MAX (it’s silly like that), my numbers are inarguably better with the LST. I suspect my results will prove typical.

When the decision is between the standard G400 and the G400 MAX, higher clubhead speed players often favor the standard model. Slower swing speed players – guys who don’t see head speed gains from the smaller club – are better candidates for the G400 MAX. This is especially true for guys who tend to work the face a bit and would benefit from the higher MOI.

PING’s testing suggests a 50/50 split among golfers who might otherwise play the G400 SFT. As you’d expect, the big point of distinction here is the shot shape correction. The MAX doesn’t offer a significant draw bias; however, with the higher face closure rate of the back CG, it may help some golfers square the club enough that additional correction isn’t needed.

If the goal is maximum forgiveness, PERIOD, toss everything else out the window, as not much else can touch the GMAX’s MOI.

The requisite disclaimer: we recommend you work with a qualified fitter to find the best driver for you.

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Stock Shafts

For the G400 Max, PING has added a new stock shaft option. The ALTA Distanza is a 40-gram, high-launch offering for slower, smoother swingers. It’s the lightest shaft in the PING stock lineup and can be played at lengths up to 46”.

Other PING stock offerings include:

  • PING Alta CB (counter-balanced) 55 (SR, R, S, X)
  • PING Tour 65, 75 (upcharge) (R, S, X)

Additional aftermarket shaft options for the G400 family (MSRP: $75 upcharge) include:

  • Aldila X-Torsion Copper (50R, 60S)
  • Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Silver Dual-Core TiNi 60 (R, S, X),
  • Project X HZRDUS Yellow 75 (non-handcrafted) (5.5, 6.0, 6.5)

Final Thoughts

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Given that PING has, thus far, resisted using movable weights in favor of maximizing individual performance through a lineup of discrete offerings, it’s hard to find much fault with the addition of the G400 Max to the lineup. It picks up where everything else leaves off. Its otherworldly MOI makes it unique both within PING’s lineup and within the larger mainstream marketplace as a whole.

While my personal preference would be for PING to have launched Max with the rest of the G400 family, we must begrudgingly acknowledge that everybody – even PING – benefits from having new product on the shelf to start the year. So, while for a few golfers its arrival may be six months too late, for many golfers, the significant bump in MOI should prove to be well worth the wait.

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Pricing & Availability

The PING G400 Max Driver is available in lofts of 9° and 10.5°.

MSRP is $435.

For more information, visit PING.com.

To see more photos of the G400 Max Driver, check out the Gratuitous Picture Thread in the MyGolfSpy Forum.

Post Author: GolfTrips