Ping have unravelled the mystery behind the perfect driver launch conditions to unlock distance, and for many golfers high launch, low spin isn't the answer.
Most brands talk about high launch, low spin with their latest driver models. But infact it turns out it's much more important to optimise drivers for an individuals perfect launch angle and backspin numbers, based on how they attack the ball (attack angle) and the speed created (club speed), and not simply just target higher launch and lower spin.
Ping have done a ton of research into driver optimisation since one of their top engineers - Marty Jertson (who's played in a handful of majors), switched to heading up global custom fitting, and they reckon they've now cracked the driver fitting code. To back up their research they've come up with a brand new 'optimal chart' (see below) and for 2020 they're happy to share their findings with golfers to help you gain yards through optimisation.
How does it work?
Increasing distance with the driver is really important to golfers, and there's a couple of way's you can do that.
One: More clubhead speed
Via training, technique or mechanics (which are mainly down to the player); and the design of the club, so it's more forgiving, maintains ball speed, has better aerodynamics, better inertia (all down to design).
Two: Optimise launch efficiency
How does the ball come off the face for you (fitting), by changing your angle of attack (mostly player), and reducing curve on the ball, which really robs distance (player and fitting).
And to show the importance of getting it right Ping point out, if you have two players with a ball speed of 160mph and one hits up onto drives by 9°, and the other has a level attack, optimal launch for the player that hits up will be 17° with 2,250rpm of backspin. But for the player who has a level attack, their optimal launch is 12.5° and 2,800rpm. And remember these two players create the same speed.
What's really important to understand is how each individual angle of attack and ball speed has a unique optimum, and that’s the key piece of the fitting jigsaw, which is reflected in Ping's new 'Optimal Chart'.
How much can I gain?
Let’s use a typical club golfer. He has a 150mph ball speed; launches it too low (8°), he spins it at 3,500rpm, and comes over the top creating a bit of a slice whilst hitting down on it a little…
The optimal launch chart says this player, with those launch conditions and that amount of slice, could gain 17 yards from a new fitting. This player launches it at 8°, but their optimal would be 11.6° and their optimal spin would be 3,000rpm, to increase carry.
And because Ping can change the spin axis of the G410 driver (by sliding the rear weight) they can improve launch efficiencies from 60-80% up to 95% or better. "Ping now fit to zero shot curve" says Marty Jertson, he added "straight shots go further for the majority of golfers".
What should I do next?
If you don't already know your ball speed and attack angle we'd recommend getting on a launch monitor and finding out some time soon. Once you've got an idea of your individual numbers you can work towards (preferably with a suitably qualified club fitter) dialing in your optimum launch and spin numbers, for maximum carry distance.
And of course if you happen to be buying a new driver in 2020, make sure what you're being sold fits your optimum numbers window.