Eye on Golf Equipment: Ping Anser driver and fairway woods

By Shane Bacon | Blogger
Shane Bacon recommends checking out the Ping Anser driver. (Ping)

Golf is a sport with ever-changing tools. There are drivers, putters, balls, towels, bags, socks, grips and everything in between. Here at Eye on Golf, we're reviewing the latest in golf equipment each week in hopes our words will help you make a better decision about what's best for you. This week, we look at the Anser driver, the first adjustable driver by Ping.

Ideal handicap: +3 - 16.5

There have been few golf companies that have rolled out as much solid stuff as Ping has the last couple of years. Between the G-20 series, the S-56 irons and the i20 driver and fairway woods (not to mention the red-hot Nome putter), things have been going pretty good for the Phoenix-based company.

So why would they stop now? We've all heard the name Anser before (dating back to the Ping Anser putters, named that way because "Answer" was too long to fit on the back of the putter), but the new line of drivers and fairway woods continues the Ping success.

I had a chance to head out to Ping a couple of weeks ago and hit the new stuff, from wedges all the way to driver, and get set up exactly the way I should. And my thoughts on the Ping Anser driver and fairway woods?

First, I never thought we'd enter the days of Ping going with an adjustable driver because they have so many options, but it had to happen, and the splash they're making is as solid as you'd expect.

First Thoughts

I'm a huge fan of matte black. I love it on cars and I love it on golf clubs. It's just a cool finish to have on the top of a driver, especially if you live in the Arizona desert (the glare can get pretty tremendous off a shiny clubhead come the middle of July).

The color is similar to the i20, but the clubhead has a bit more of a "rounded" feel, allowing you to get the feel that this club will forgive better than the i20 on mishits (something they also proved in testing).

The idea these days is to produce a golf club that is both good-looking and can perform with the best, and at first glance, you can't help but be impressed with the way this club sits down, and the way it looks behind a golf ball.

Performance

I must admit, it was going to take a lot to take the i20 driver out of my bag. I hit the ball low to a fault, and was initially fitted with a 10.5 degree i20 driver, but after switching to an 8.5 loft in that same clubhead, I was really booming the ball off the tee and minimizing the spin -- something I always struggle with because I hit so down on the ball.

The Anser actually takes the spin to a lower level. Just looking at the specs of my session, I noticed a considerable drop in the spin rate, meaning that mishit shots don't flare as much (basically, your slice won't slice as much), and solid golf shots will run out in fairways, giving you more distance without adding effort or swing speed.

The Anser driver has an external weight that raises the always-important moment of inertia, and after we fooled around with it in my club, I was able to dial in just what I needed to launch the ball at a good number and cut down on spinning the golf ball.

As you can see below, my numbers were pretty solid once I got comfortable with my specs, and if I could get those numbers consistently with this golf club, the rest of the year sure is going to be fun.

My numbers improved drastically after getting the Anser driver adjusted to my swing specifics. (Shane Bacon)

The fairway woods are much the same. One of my favorite things about the i20 and Anser fairway wood series is that the clubs aren't as deep as some of the other models, allowing you to really get the ball in the air off a tight lie in the fairway. (Think of the first Tight Lies series fairway woods only with about 500 times the technology and distance.)

I go with a 4-wood model of the Anser to give me a good midway point between driver and 3-iron, and the thing I notice about this club is that it's easy to work both ways and easy to dig out of bad lies, both of which help my particular game.

Other observations

-- One thing I really enjoy about the adjustability of the Anser is that it isn't super complicated. I don't have numbers on this, but I'd say 90 percent of golfers don't mess with their drivers after they initially get fit. (My friends don't seem to adjust much). This club is a simple adjustment if you need to open or close the face, and I like that.

-- Like the i20, you can get the scoring lines in the driver and fairway woods painted for an additional cost (and it isn't much), so if you want to add a little flair to your driver, you can get the grooves on the face of your driver painted in with any color Ping offers, which is basically anything you want.

-- The Anser already is making moves on the PGA Tour, and we know how stubborn those guys are. A lot of the Ping guys have been seen either testing or using the new heads in competition, and that is only going to continue as they get more comfortable with the numbers after extensive testing. Tour guys are stat freaks.

www.pinggolf.com, $249-$399

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