This 2023 driver exceeded our expectations | Fully Equipped Mailbag
Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped mailbag, an interactive GOLF.com series in which our resident dimplehead (a.k.a., GOLF’s managing editor of equipment, Jonathan Wall) fields your hard-hitting gear questions.
I know you try to remain diplomatic, but was there one club that really impressed you from this year’s crop of equipment? I’m in the market for a driver. — Victor, Castroville, Calif.
It really depends on what you’re looking for, Victor. If you haven’t taken the time, check out our ClubTest landing page for player testing and robotic insights to get a feel for what’s out there. Each cycle produces plenty of great options worth testing, and this year was no different.
But for the sake of not ducking your question, I’ll say Ping’s G430 driver lineup. And if I’m getting specific, the G430 LST model. This is going to sound like a broken record, but the G430 is built on some of the best stability in the marketplace. Looking strictly at carry distance loss from robotic testing, all three models (SFT, LST and Max) averaged 9.3 yards, which happened to be the smallest delta produced by any manufacturer who went through our rigorous 9-point testing process.
Ping G430 LST Custom Driver
I point this out because forgiveness benefits all golfers, not just beginners and high handicappers. For example, G430 LST is built for low launch and low spin — think faster swing speeds — which tends to come at the expense of off-center strikes with a more forward center of gravity. In the past, the Max model was the way to go for golfers with inconsistent contact.
In this case, we actually saw game-improvement driver numbers — a single-digit carry distance delta of 9.7 yards — when looking at the center carry number compared to the other 8 mishit locations on the face. To put that number into perspective, G430 LST soundly beat several “game-improvement” models by 6 or 7 yards during robot testing.
Even more impressive? High-toe misses ended up just 2 yards behind center strikes. I’ve said it before, but LST truly is a low-spin offering masquerading as a max forgiveness model.
And I haven’t even mentioned the ball speed. The G430 LST was 1.3 mph faster than the previous G425 LST during robot testing, and based on what I’ve seen on the course at home, it can hang with pretty much any driver out there in a head-to-head.
Even with a new crop of drivers in the pipeline, I still expect G430 LST to continue to hold its own as we prepare for another round of player and robotic testing in the coming months.
Even though Ping was one of the last manufacturers to add carbon fiber, they only recently saw enough benefits to green-light the material in the driver. Based on what I’ve seen during testing, the wait was worth it.
I expected G430 to stick to its roots and be an incredibly stable product, but it’s definitely been that and more. It’s without question the driver that exceeded expectations this year.
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