For the 2023 edition of GOLF’s ClubTest, we once again teamed up with Golf Laboratories for robotic driver testing. With the help of their swing robot, we’re able to get a better picture of how each driver performs at the same speed (95 mph), delivery and attack angle in a 9-point face mapping test. The result is an unbiased (and extremely detailed) look at where each driver model excels.
Here are robotic insights on Ping’s all-new G430 Max, G430 SFT and G430 LST drivers. The Ping line will be available for preorder and fittings on Jan. 10, and in retail stores on Jan. 26. Pick up all your new gear at Fairway Jockey.
MORE FROM OUR 2023 CLUBTEST COVERAGE: The tech behind Ping’s G430 drivers | The tech behind Ping’s G430 fairway woods and hybrids | The tech behind Ping’s G430 irons | WATCH: Ping G430 robot testing insights | WATCH: Inside an extensive G430 fitting at Ping HQ
This is going to sound like a broken record, but Ping’s G430 line is built on some of the best stability in the marketplace. The average carry distance loss across all three models is 9.3 yards — the smallest delta produced by any manufacturer who went through our robotic testing process.
Starting with the most obvious observation feels like we’re burying the lede, but there’s something really interesting in this year’s numbers. Ping’s fully-loaded G430 LST is geared for low launch and spin, 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 inconsistent contact.
Not so fast, my friend! With a single-digit carry distance delta (9.7 yards) — we take the geometric center carry number and compare it to the other 8 mishit locations on the face — G430 LST soundly beat several “game-improvement” models by 6 or 7 yards. Even more impressive? High toe misses ended up just 2 yards behind center strikes.
Adding carbon fiber to the crown allowed Ping engineers to push the boundaries of overall performance. Their gift to golfers is a low-spin offering masquerading as a max forgiveness model. The G430 LST is all kinds of special.
It’s time to start taking Ping seriously in the ball speed department. As mentioned above, the ball speed retention is back in a big way. But so is pure ball speed. Yes, Ping is going after some of the biggest names in the equipment industry with a driver that can go toe-to-toe in a distance battle.
The G430 Max was just 0.3 mph behind the fastest driver in our robot test — a difference that’s all but within the noise as far as we’re concerned. Yes, the most forgiving model in Ping’s driver lineup is exceptionally fast. It should also be noted the driver had an impressive single-digit carry distance loss (8.3 yards).
And if you want to know how it stacks up to the G425 Max, the latest version was more than 2 mph faster. (And Ping didn’t have to add a carbon fiber crown — something they added to the LST for the first time this year — to capture more ball speed.)
The G430 LST was 1.3 mph faster than the previous version, while the G430 SFT produced a nearly identical number to the G425. Expect to see more speed (and distance) from Ping’s newest drivers.
Good from everywhere
Consistent carry numbers tend to mean tight dispersion numbers. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise to see the G430 Max and G430 SFT near the top of the driver heap in overall dispersion.
While the numbers were nearly identical, the SFT narrowly edged the Max with the tighter dispersion. We saw consistently tight patterns from a number of draw-biased products this year, but G430 SFT produced the best rating.
A low-heel miss can kill distance by as much as 25-30 yards. Spin and launch tend to go up, resulting in a shorter, albeit more consistent, shot. Some golfers live in the heel area of the driver. Of course, if you’re going to consistently impact a section of the face that imparts excess spin on the ball, it would be nice to find a driver that doesn’t completely sap distance.
The G430 SFT was one of two drivers with a carry distance decrease of 10 yards or less on heel strikes. The draw-biased weighting makes it easier to retain distance on heel strikes, which is a good thing in this case. It’s just another bit of gear minutia to consider as you begin the search for a new driver.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2023? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf.