Pros: Both are long, forgiving, well balanced and workable.
Cons: Which one do I pick?
The new G 25 Fairway metal is a real winner if you need forgiveness, and need a club that makes it easier to get the ball airborne. If, however, you like a fairway wood that is very workable in all directions, and packs a shade more punch on the line drive type of shot, then you may prefer the Ping Anser. They both have that great Ping Tradition packed into them, but they are definitely very different fairway woods indeed. I think this represents the future for Ping. Instead of the old “G” series for mid-high cappers, and the “I” series for mid-scratch players, Ping has decided to make 2 very different lines of clubs, similar to Mizuno’s strategy of MX and MP lines of clubs. This also seems to be the tack that Callaway is taking with the X Hot and Razor Lines, as well as TaylorMade’s strategy of an “R” line of clubs vs. their “RocketBallz” line of clubs. I applaud Ping’s chutzpah in going after 2 different types of player’s with specific lines of clubs vs. the “Variation on a single theme idea.” So how are they similar, and how are they different, and who should go for which club, and why?
Distance—4 ½ Stars for each.
The G 25 Fairway is long, but it is slightly bulbous relative to the more svelte and sporty looking Anser. The bulbousness makes it a tad less handy off of a tight lie than the Anser, but if you need a little more forgiveness—this is the club. This club definitely forgives toe hits better than its corporate sibling, and it even helps hosel rockets get airborne. If you pure the Anser it will go longer than the G25, but if you don’t have a consistently repeatable swing, the forgiveness of the G25 will more than likely get you better distance on a consistency of average basis vs. the raw yardage calculation. Believe me, that is an important calculation to consider. Once you have a nice consistent average yardage for your 3 wood, it is much easier to make decisions such as, “Do I go for the Par 5 in 2 shots?” or “This is a tight fairway from the teebox…will my 3 wood get me the distance I need to have a shot at parring the hole?”
The Anser on the other hand, is a very sleek and svelte fairway wood, which makes it a breeze to hit off of a tight lie. It gives up a fair amount of forgiveness as compared to the G25, but it is definitely more workable. The ball doesn’t get airborne as quickly as it does with the G25, but in turn, it’s a heck of a lot easier to hit wind-cheating line drives with. If you have a repeatable swing, the relatively smaller sweet spot on this club vs. the G25 shouldn’t be a problem. If you find yourself asking questions such as, “Should I hit a held off 3 Wood to take the water out of play and fade it into the green?” or “Can I keep the ball under that limb ten yards in front of me, and draw it into the green?”…then The Anser is more your style of fairway wood.
Forgiveness—G25 5 Stars—Anser—4 Stars
The G25 is a Game Improvement Wood that forgives as if it were a Super Game Improvement Wood. If your Fairway Metal strategy tends more towards the “Grip it and Rip it” philosophy, then you need to look at this club. Line drives may not be as easily achieved with this one as they are with The Anser, but the forgiveness factor on the G25 is so high, that you can attack the ball with almost reckless abandon from a decent lie. It’s not exactly auto-pilot, but this club can help turn a slice into a strong fade, or duck hook into a strong draw, and that’s nice to know if you are learning a swing, or just taking a rip at one, and knowing that a slight flinch here or there at the last minute isn’t going to sound the death knell for your scorecard.
The Anser is more like a Mid-Cappers club that will forgive minor swing flaws, but takes away a bit of the forgiveness in order to add to an already impressive workability factor. With its relatively smaller sweet spot, she does not suffer fools gladly, and a blocked shot can go so far right as to cross a fairway or two on its way to oblivion. Conversely, if you can repeatedly swing and hit the sweet spot, this club will turn that ball into a laser guided pin-seeking missile.
The G25 is a little big with a lower center of gravity, and that makes it the ultimate in Forgiveness, but those very same factors make her a little hard to control as far as height of trajectory. Don’t get me wrong here, because this is a very important differentiation based upon what you need a club to do. Note that I did not say that the directionality, i.e. left-to-right trajectory is affected. I found it easy to hit a high draw, a power fade, and the usual basic shots one masters while getting good at the basics of workability.
The Anser, on the other hand, can do all of the above, plus, as mentioned, she can alter the height of her trajectory relatively easily as well. This is a player’s wood in every sense of the word. There are shots of workability that this club could teach me. All I can say is that it was very easy to hit a fade with the ever slightest opening of the club face at address, and the high draw was cake as well. High shots and low shots were the simplest matter of altering ball location a very miniscule amount. Basically, the forgiveness that this club gives up is all in the name of making her more responsive.
Feel and Balance —G25—4 1/2 Stars—Anser 4 ¾ Stars
The G 25 tends to have a shade more cling at impact, which I found odd, considering that The Anser is the more workable of the two. After the cling, the ball “POPS” off the face and heads in the direction you sent her. That’s pretty much model feel in my book. The Balance is very good, but I wouldn’t exactly call it “Zen-Like.” Oh there’s no questioning head location at any point in the swing. You are always aware of where that head is, it’s just not that subtle-sublime awareness one gets from the ultimate player’s clubs. That’s where the Anser comes in.
The Anser doesn’t have a lot of cling at impact, though there is a tiny amount of it directly at impact. From there the ball literally explodes off the face, and if you’ve got the swing and the skill, that ball goes exactly where you sent her. The balance is the best part in this category, as I tend to prefer a shade more cling at impact than I could get out of this club. The balance is textbook “Zen-Like.” Club head awareness is soft, subtle, and exacting from the initial left shoulder turn, to the end of the back of the neck follow through, this club head tells you exactly where it’s at. Perhaps exactly is a great word for this club, because you will get exactly what you want from it, but she is very exacting about what she wants in return for such a performance.
Overall Value—4 ¾ Stars for Both
These clubs are almost straight up five star values. The only reason I nick them for the rather meager ¼ star is the 17-4 Stainless steel used in their construction is almost obsolescent. Due to its strength, 17-4 is a great alloy for a fairway wood head’s shell, but it lacks a little in feel when it comes to the face. That’s exactly why so many other makers have gone to different alloys, and oft times titanium, in a desperate bid to add better feel and more distance to their models. Make no mistake; Ping is still the king when it comes to exacting feel from what can often come across as a harsh feeling alloy, and that’s why these clubs feel so darned good. Still, I’m left to wonder, what type of feel could Ping come up with if they experimented with something a touch more modern? Last but not least—they sport a pretty stiff price tag. But then again, Pings still hold their value better than most any other club.
For me, I am a 15 capper, and I find that despite a repeating swing, still needs the forgiveness of a Game Improvement Club, thus making both clubs a viable option. I value the ability to work the ball directionally, and am just beginning to get decent at working the height and direction combined. If I were convinced I could hit the course at least twice a week, and make the transition towards single digits I would lean strongly towards The Anser. If, however, I felt like I would only being playing once a week at most, and that I would be stuck at trying to maintain my 15 handicap, or maybe make the slowest of incremental progress, I would definitely lean more towards the G25. They are both excellent clubs, and get my highest recommendation. The trick is being honest with yourself as to what type of golfer you are, where your game is actually headed, and whether or not you possess a repeatable swing.