September 24, 2014
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- Billy Horschel went on a tear after putting the G30 in his bag. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
The 2013-14 PGA TOUR season was full of compelling equipment storylines, but one of, if not the biggest storyline of the season actually occurred after the midway point of the TOUR schedule at the Greenbrier Classic.
With the season winding down and crucial FedExCup points up for grabs, players typically keep equipment tinkering to a minimum. However, that didn't stop eight players from adding PING's G30 driver to the bag the first week it was introduced on TOUR at The Old White TPC -- the most notable being eventual winner Angel Cabrera and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson.
Since the Greenbrier Classic, 60 percent of PING staff players across all Tours have converted to G30, including Billy Horschel, Lee Westwood, Kevin Sutherland -- Sutherland shot the first 59 in Champions Tour history with G30 -- Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jason Gore. Miguel Angel Jimenez won his Champions Tour debut, and Gore regained his PGA TOUR card after putting the driver in the bag.
Cabrera, who hadn't won on TOUR since the 2009 Masters, picked up 2 miles-per-hour ball speed and 4-6 yards of carry with less spin and a higher launch angle with the new driver.
Cabrera's prolific driving distance was on display during the final round of the Greenbrier Classic, where he averaged 331.6 yards and hit two drives on the par-4 16th and par-5 17th that measured 329 yards and 337 yards. Cabrera ended the tournament 11th in driving distance (307 yards) and tied for fourth in driving accuracy (82 percent).
"For Angel [Cabrera] to add a new G30 driver and fairway wood to the bag that first week and win with it was pretty awesome," said PING Tour rep Christian Pena. "This is one of the best drivers PING has ever come out with and the technology keeps getting better. I don't know how the engineers continue to make these drivers better and better, but they do."
The big technology story behind G30 centered around six turbulators that were added to the crown of the Ti 8-1-1 head to improve the club's aerodynamic efficiency by significantly delaying airflow separation during the swing.
In search of a way to increase ball velocity, PING engineers worked with a research group at Sheffield Hallam University in South Yorkshire, England to determine if there was a way to reduce drag by adding aerodynamic features to the crown of the driver.
During their research, the group found inspiration from the aeronautics and sporting industries, where turbulators are used on airplane wings and helmets to improve airflow and reduce drag.
"This has been four or five years in the making to get it to this point," said Dr. Paul Wood, PING's research engineering manager. "We spent countless hours working on the design of the turbulators, dialing them in and trying to determine how big and deep [the turbulators] should be, and the number we should have on the crown.
"There definitely is a stylization to the turbulators. We tried different combinations and designs on top of the driver, and six seemed to work the best. The nice thing is during wind-tunnel testing you can try things out and see how the driver reacts."
Of course, Cabrera wasn't the only player to see immediate distance gains and success with the driver. Bubba Watson was already leading the TOUR in driving distance prior to testing G30 at PING's Phoenix headquarters.
It didn't take Watson long to notice during the test session that G30 was producing increased ball speeds and club head speed -- to the point that the longest hitter on TOUR was seeing almost 10 yards of additional carry off the tee.
“The first time I hit it at PING I wanted to put it right in my bag, but they made me wait until The Greenbrier event," Watson said. "My clubhead speed increased two miles per hour and my ball speed was up four miles per hour. I carried it almost 10 yards longer than the driver I was using at the time and it was in the air for more than seven and a half seconds. I’m not exactly sure how the turbulators work, but they are definitely helping me hit it longer and more consistently.”
Over the course of the next three months, Watson recorded the longest drive of the season at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational -- a 424-yard poke on the par-5 16th hole at Firestone Country Club -- and went on to finish the season as the TOUR leader in driving distance, averaging 314.3 yards off the tee.
While the distance gains Cabrera and Watson saw with G30 were impressive, they paled in comparison to what Billy Horschel picked up when he switched to G30 (10.5 degrees with an Aldila Rogue 60X shaft) at the PGA Championship.
During testing at Valhalla, Horschel saw an increase of 3 miles-per-hour ball speeds and 10 extra yards of carry distance. After putting it in play for the final major championship of the season, Horschel went on to average an additional 12 yards off the tee with the driver over his final six events of the season.
"Billy was already a great ball striker, so for him the great thing about G30 was that it was not only going farther but he was hitting more fairways," Pena said. "You give a guy who's a good ball striker one less club into a hole from the fairway and they're going to take advantage of that shorter distance."
For Horschel, two of those six starts with G30 ended with him in the winner's at the BMW Championship and TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
The back-to-back victories to close out the season, along with the $10 million bonus he earned for winning the season-long FedExCup title, capped off the biggest year of Horschel's career in style.
“I put the G30 driver in the bag at the PGA Championship," Horschel said. "Since then, I’m averaging 12 more yards off the tee, which means a least one less club into the greens. It’s given me tremendous confidence and played a huge role in my winning the FedExCup Playoffs.”
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