In August Ping announced the official public release of The Anser Driver, Fairway Wood, and Hybrid would be set for roughly the middle of the month. A couple of days before the local Demo one of Dallas’ most trusted golf retailers gave me a call, and the manager told me to slide in about 30 minutes before opening the day after the demo had already taken place. He knew that I really wanted to try these clubs and give them a real workout, unencumbered by crowds, and use the simulator without feeling rushed. I was also given the opportunity to bend his ear, as he is a certified Ping Fitter, and since I was helping with daily setup (he has offered me a job on more than one occasion) I would be unencumbered by interruption. This local retailer has a good thing going on with Ping, and always gets first pick of clubs being retired from “The Tour Van”; so it’s small wonder that they have the best, and most fairly priced selection of used clubs that you will ever see.
Recommend this product?
I’ll start by saying that I was astounded by this club’s performance in the simulator, and I used that as an opportunity to “get fitted” for one. This allowed me to do a more recent on course demo of my own, being assured that I had the club with the proper specs in hand. Not too surprisingly, the on course demo proved even more impressive, as even the best simulator can’t do justice to judging a club’s workability, or feel vs. distance ratios. This is Ping’s very first adjustable driver, and I daresay, you can tell that they waited this long so that they could work out all the kinks first. ----Unless someone brings out something radically different than what I’ve been led to believe is going to hit the market this year (most of it seems to be the same old same-o from all the OEM’s so far) –I’m thinking we could be looking at an early pick for Driver of the Year.
Distance- 4 ½ Stars
I’m telling you straight up front that –this year--the only possible 5 Star winners I’ve seen in this department are made by obscure little niche companies who specialize in Distance Drivers ( and a couple of the Non-Conforming Japanese Drivers). Sadly, I haven’t tried one of those distance clubs yet that is worth a darn in The Workability or Forgiveness Departments, so consider 4 ½ stars my top rating in this category. This driver achieves it, not because of muscle power, but because of an old school craftsmanship meets today’s technology type of morphing that blends these two qualities. Here’s the deal in a nutshell. My driver swing speed averages roughly 105-107 MPH, and tops out at 115MPH when everything is working right. 250-275 yards straight down the pike, with an easy swing was no problem in the simulator. Laying into one at the course, with its “Hard-Baked” Texas fairways was occasionally good for the magic 300 yards with good roll out. –More on that later.
Let’s get one thing straight, a high capper can hit this club, but it is not as forgiving as The G-20, much less the K-15. Still, it is much more forgiving than The I-20, thus making it a Mid-Low Capper’s Dream. You can go out there and take a good swipe at it, and not have to fear the results of over-swinging a player’s club. I used to dread the release of new Titleist Drivers before this latest more forgiving D2/D3 Series because an over swing with an old 975 D or 975 J could send that ball far left—or far right depending on the club’s attitude that day. Despite their superior feel--""Forgiveness" was simply not in their vernacular. But this Ping Anser, on the other hand, has all that magic feel and workability of a Real Player's Club, as well as The Ping Mystique. I really felt safe hitting this driver, almost as safe as when I hit my own super safe custom fit driver that’s finally getting a touch long in the tooth. This is a very forgiving, though not completely forgiving driver. Swing within yourself, let the club do the work, and this thing will amaze you. –This is especially true if you get fitted. Still---if you find yourself 5 strokes back in a match after making the turn, and you really do need to Take a Rip at one off the next tee, this is a pretty safe driver to do it with.
Looks- 5 Stars
This isn’t usually a category that deserves too much reference, but let’s face it—a driver that looks good does instill a certain amount of confidence off the tee box. A nice deep handsome steely matte black club is a beautiful club to behold. The underside is techno-sharp looking with the fins in a box (quadrilateral) type of action. It’s very sharp without looking too kitschy. The old-school pear shape (ever so slightly elongated) gives a nice subliminal visual to the “old school craftsmanship meets latest technology vibe” that simply exudes from this club. I may sound like I’m slightly biased in this category—I am.
I’m not biased towards a particular brand, but rather towards a particular look. My current driver is a glossy black pear shaped Tour Edge XCG, and I’ve held onto her despite the latent craze for “White Coloured Drivers.” In my slightly biased opinion, my driver looks better, and she performs better than those others, even though she does have a few seasons on her. This Ping is the first driver I’ve picked up in over a year that simply feels as natural as my current driver does. Add the 5 Star Looks to that, and you’ve got a pretty lethal combination.
Feel- 5 Stars
As with the Looks Dept., Feel can be a rather subjective category to pass judgment on. Still, after trying so many drivers as of late, the fact that I am actually taking the time to write this review speaks volumes about the impression it made. Let me put it to you this way, if those old aluminum baseball bat sounding square-headed drivers from a few years ago are a 1, and the new seamlessly forged Drivers are 10’s—this one rates right up there near the top with the Japanese Forged Honma’s, Miuras, and Marumans.
That should come as no surprise to Ping fans. No—I wouldn’t give those type of kudos to the G20 or even the I20, but similar to Ping’s best cast irons, it’s oft times ridiculously hard to tell that they aren’t forged. Maybe it’s the fact that the sound and the action of the club are so closely mated, and seem to sync right up at post impact as well as impact. Better yet—the shaft I was fitted for has very similar specs to my current one. Words like “feels like butter”, and all of those other hackneyed cliché’s do not do this club justice. You simply need to hit it for yourself. I’m willing to bet (if you’ve been fitted) that most of you will give it a similar 5 star rating.
Workability- 4 3/4 Stars
This club is really causing some dissension amongst several reviewers whom I have already talked with. While almost everybody seems to agree that this club is far more workable than the G20 there tends to be a bit of disagreement past that point. I am a 12-15 handicapper—so let’s just say workability isn’t my strong point. Still, it is something I use, because at my age, distance is not my strongpoint either. Therefore, I have to make the most out of the few shot shapes I feel very comfortable using on the course. I can hit a high draw, a power fade, and a strong low draw, (which turns into a butt ugly duck hook when I’m not careful), on command.
This driver makes all of those shots look like a scratch golfer is behind the wheel. They feel smoother at impact, ball flight is more stable yet pronounced, and there’s always just enough forgiveness to make the ball flight look as confident as I feel when striking the ball with this club. I am assuming this is the reason why I personally feel it is more workable than the I-20, while other reviewers, (some are better golfers than I, and some are not), feel that the forgiveness takes something away from the workability. Consequently, I’m hoping other reviewers start labeling workability as more of a subjective category (relative to forgiveness vs. actual handicap) than is currently the standard. She’s a solid 5 stars in my book, but again--I am a 12-15 capper.
Technology- 5 Stars
Now I realize a lot of you might not consider a hosel that allows for loft adjustability of ½ of a degree either way to be revolutionary, but there are a lot of good reasons why I think this one is deserving of 5 stars. For openers, Ping took years to jump on the adjustable band wagon. Seriously, one of the pioneers in golf equipment let just about everybody else beat them to the punch. Look at Titleist, the other latecomer. Their hosel allows for adjustment of both loft and lie. TaylorMade and others have adjustability of face direction as well. Open, Neutral, or Closed, which is much more pronounced than the angles of this Ping, and you can theoretically adjust your shot shape by twisting the club head on the hosel. Nike even had one that had 32 different face positions. But Ping took their time about entering the fray for very good reasons.
Solheim laid down the law for his company and its designers. Until a hosel could be designed that allowed for adjustability, without adding weight to the hosel area, and taking it away from the club head, and thus the clubhead’s overall performance in the equation—he wanted nothing to do with an adjustable driver. This club allows for .5* Lower Loft (which opens the face slightly), stays Neutral (club face square) or .5* Higher Loft (closes the face slightly), and not only is the shaft interchangeable, but none of these adjustments or shaft changes adds any weight. Considering the revolutionary hosel (for it’s time) on the old TiSi Tec Drivers that Ping introduced many moons ago, Solheim’s demands are understandable. After all, the old TiSi Tec line absolutely crushed the competition of its day. This new club comes in at a very solid feeling D3 Swingweight, and feels perfectly proportioned throughput the entire swing. Better yet—there are 4 standard shafts that offer a little bit of something for everyone.
Shaft Options- 4 3/4
As this club is available in 8.5, 9.5, 10.5, and 12* lofts, and all of these drivers can be adjusted +/- .5* , a good set of shaft options is almost a necessity. Again, 4 good standard shafts isn’t bad. This is especially true since these are REAL DEAL shafts and not wannabe’s built by the shaft companies in order to win a low bidder OEM Contract.
Once again, Ping’s own TFC Shaft continues to amaze me. On the old G2’s I was very underwhelmed by this shaft. Every iteration since then, however, has been a vast improvement. Its stats read as:
Soft Reg- with 5.0* of torque and an ultra light 51 grams
Reg- with 5.0* of torque and only slightly heavier 54 grams
Stiff- with a moderate 3.6* of torque and a bump up to 64 grams
XStiff- with the same 3.6* of torque and a slightly heavier 68 grams
The Aldila Phenom worked extremely well for me. That’s because I still play an Aldila NVS Gold Shaft which obviously shares some DNA with this new version of the RIP. If you liked the RIP but found it a tad “Boardy”—this Phenom variation is similar to what the Gold Aldila NVS did for The Green Aldila NV. It’s available in:
Reg-with a very NVS Like 4.5* of Torque and a Super Light 46 gram
Stiff- with a Moderate Torque rating of 4. and a Still sub 50 gram weight of 49
The Fujikura Blur Red on this club feels very good. Those of you who have tried The Wannabe OEM Blur on other maker’s clubs need to try this one, because the real deal really makes a very obvious difference in this shaft. Its specs read out as:
Reg- comes in at a 4.4* of torque and a moderate weight of 59 Grams
Stiff- dips slightly to 4.3* of torque and barely moves the scales at 61 Grams
X-Stiff- remains the same 4.3* of torque, and 61 gram weight
The Diamana 'AHINA 70 first made an impression on me as a shaft option for the highly revered Titleist D2 and D3 Series. In this version, it’s definitely more of a Heavy Hitter’s Shaft.
Stiff is a very low 2.3* of torque, and comes in at 68 Grams.
X-Stiff is the same 2.3* of torque and only bumps up to 69 Grams
Overall- 4 ¾ Stars
This is a very impressive club. I sincerely doubt any of this year’s drivers will get 5 stars from me, but this one is definitely the closest so far. I really don’t want any one to view me as a door mat for any particular company—but I still can’t stop thinking about this one. It is the first driver that has impressed me this much since the introduction of The Titleist D2/D3 Series.
This driver has feel, distance, workability, forgiveness…..basically a real Renaissance Club. It’s not cheap, but Ping clubs never are. Still, they do hold their value better than almost any other brand thus making the initial cost less relevant. Unlike other makers, waiting for these babies to drop in cost may prove to be a long wait. This is a club that I would seriously consider bagging.
Best results for me and my 105-107 MPH Swing turned out to be the 10.5* Club with the Aldila Phenom in Stiff Flex. When playing into/against a typical Texas 2 club wind, I liked the club set to 10*. This kept my distance more consistent, allowing for the occasional 300+ yard drive with the 15-20 MPH Tailwind, and a Hard-Baked Texas Fairway. It also made it so that I did not lose very much distance when hitting against said wind onto a slightly softer fairway conditioned that way to make the short Par 4 a true risk reward hole. The Simulator preferred the original 10.5* setting. That said—this is truly a risk/reward driver. Good swings are paid tremendous dividends, while slightly off-semi-funky swings are penalized, but not overly so.
I'd very much like to thank Christal, and my Category Lead Abraham for getting me the link that made this review possible.
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