I can’t think of anyone who had a greater impact on golf equipment—for players at all levels—than Karsten Solheim. The late founder of Ping Golf invented the heel-toe-weighted putter in the 1950s, then turned the game on its head again a few years later with the introduction of game-improvement irons. In my mind, he is the patron saint of making golf fun.
But while Ping was a pioneer in putters and irons, its woods trailed behind. Until a few years ago, that is. Based on my own unscientific study, I’d say it was sometime in the early 2000s, when the company was able to make truly forgiving heads out of titanium, that its reputation for drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids began to rise. And the last few models—Rapture, G10, G15, i15, up to the current G20 and i20—have been as good as anything out there.
Something else about Ping: When they aren’t the creators of a new technology, they take it slowly and do a ton of research so the product they introduce isn’t just a me-too. When adjustable clubs became the rage a few years ago, they did not jump on the bandwagon: They waited, just recently coming out with their first adjustable driver, the Anser.
It was worth the wait.
The Anser has three settings, the result of unscrewing the head from the shaft (which is pretty easy) and making a little turn to add or subtract a half-degree of loft. That’s all the adjustment does—change the loft a wee bit to raise or lower shot trajectory. There are no head weights to play with, no confusing options to try to change your shot shape.
Which isn’t to say that the Anser can’t tame your slice or dial in a preferred shape. But to do that, you have to get the right shaft. There are four options—a proprietary Ping shaft, called TFC 800D; Aldila’s Phenom; Fujikura’s Blur Red; and Mitsubishi’s Diamana ‘ahina—all graphite but varying in weight from about 50 to 70 grams. According to Ping’s engineers, it’s the choice of shaft that will straighten your shots.
“Our research shows that changing the weight of the club is a better long-term solution for squaring up the club,” says Marty Jertson, a Senior Product Designer for Ping who was intimately involved with the creation of the Anser. “So we tried to solve side-to-side problems with the different shaft weights and other properties—stiffness, tip stiffness, torque, and so on. So shaft-fitting the Anser is very important.” (Go to the Ping website to see a chart detailing the specifications of the different shafts and how they affect ball flight.)
“Furthermore, we made the driver extremely low spin,” adds Jertson. “Hooks and fades are produced by spin, so by reducing the overall spin off the head, we’re helping all shots. We say the Anser had a ‘straight bias.’”
I’ve now played the Anser for a couple of rounds and hit a few hundred shots on the range. And it’s true: Changing the loft setting—adding or subtracting that half-degree—does almost nothing to the shot shape. The trajectory changes, but I can still hit it left or right (and most often straight).
A few other answers about the Anser. First, it does not feel heavy as some other adjustable drivers do. And it really doesn’t feel heavy around the hosel, where there has to be extra material in the shaft socket. Everyone I handed the driver to remarked how light it is.
Second, it has a matte-black finish so there’s no glare or reflection. “Yes, it looks cool,” Jertson laughed, “but we didn’t want golfers to be distracted or have a twinkling in the paint take their mind off the shot. It’s performance inspired.”
Last, but not least, changing loft does not affect how the head sits at address. According to Jertson, that’s thanks to both the adjustable hosel and the sole of the clubhead. Tweak the loft and the clubhead sits just the way you want it to.
If your driver is the question, Ping has the Anser.