Will Tom Irwin be returning to his previous go-to second-shot club? You'll find out right here

Over the years Ping have been my go-to brand for woods so I was very excited to be testing the new G430 SFT fairway woods

Ping G430 fairway wood review: NCG Summary

Ping G430 SFT fairway wood range
Ping G430 SFT fairway wood rating
NCG SUMMARY

I have played a lot of Ping fairway woods over the years and in many ways I think they are their strongest category.

I tend to be someone who views a 3-wood as primarily a second shot club for attacking par 5 holes, so often I am looking for something low profile, high launching, and versatile. Ping tend to provide this in their fairway woods and G430 SFT certainly delivers.

This is the SFT standing for straight flight technology and it is certainly really stable, flicking the ball from the tee here at Obidos was a real pleasure.

PROS

  • Low profile
  • Extremely easy to launch
  • Versatile on course
  • Consistent spin rates

CONS

  • Not the longest fairway on test

First Impressions

Cards on the table, this was the fairway wood I was most looking forward to testing. I have played Ping 3-woods for a number of years, only recently switching out to a Taylormade SIM 2, but I am returning to an old friend here then and the Ping SFT fairway wood is just how I remember.

The first thing I am looking for in a 3-wood is depth of face, and this sits really tight behind the ball. I instantly feel like this is something I am going to be able to launch easily due to the relatively low profile face. This suits me as someone who is primarily looking for a second shot club.

I have always like the crown on Ping clubs and this is no different. It does differ from the LST driver I tested. For starters, there are no turbulators, instead there is a matt black portion that softens into the carbon crown. This is the carbonfly wrap Ping are using in all their fairways. It wraps around the top of the club and into the heel and toe taking weight out of the crown that allows them to lower CG and provide higher launch conditions. It also looks cool.

The only other things on the head is a small white alignment dot and some subtle, coloured lines at the rear both of these together help give an indication of face direction and really help with alignment.

Ping G430 SFT fairway wood sole

NCG Review

As with the driver the acoustics are hugely improved here. Ping say it is down to that carbon crown. Regardless of the reason they sound so sweet. This is a massive tick in the box for me as in recent years this has been a negative for Ping versus some of the other manufacturers who have nailed their acoustics. This is well and truly put to bed throughout the G430 range of metals.

The head in the Ping G430 fairway wood is adjustable by a significant 1.5 degrees. The 3-wood on test is 16 degrees and I can crank that to 14. I think this is really advantageous in a 3-wood where, depending on course or conditions, I can see myself using this functionality. There is nothing worse than never taking your fairway out of your bag on a windy links for fear of losing it in a cross wind. This would allow you to knock the loft down on such a day and bring the club back into play.

As with the driver the fairways feature Ping’s ‘Spinsistency’ technology. This reduces loft low on the face. I like this, as my bad shot tends to be thin and it helps me maintain ball speeds from less than perfect strikes. I think the data demonstrates this tech and is possibly another reason I have always been drawn to Ping fairway woods.

Ping G430 SFT fairway wood crown

Ping G430 SFT fairway wood data

I tested a number of fairway woods this year including the TaylorMade Stealth 2 and the Cobra Aerojet and some of the others are definitely hotter. But – and it is a big but for me – I am not looking for a rocket fairway wood. I am looking for something that is creating me a sensible gap between my longest iron, a driving iron that is carrying about 220, and my driver, which is carrying maybe 270. So a carry distance of 240ish and a total of around 250 is very much what I am looking for.

I have never got into hot 3-woods as a tee shot club, a versatile second-shot club is what I am looking for and the Ping SFT delivers that.

I was really keen to get out on the course with it. I took this and the other fairways on test to try some tee shots and some second shots into a long par-4. I actually like this club off the tee, it feels stable and it is not super low profile (this is code for I am not scared of skying it) and it is for that second shot where it really comes into its own. The shot I have left myself is over a big false front from a hanging lie and of all the fairways on test it is the Ping SFT that sweeps the ball away with enough flight to carry up on to the green the easiest.

Overall the Ping G430 SFT fairway wood has confirmed my view that Ping lead the way with in this category.

Ping G430 SFT fairway wood face

Ping G430 SFT fairway wood: The Details

Available: January 26, 2023

RRP: £350

Right-handed lofts: 3 (15), 5 (19) 7 (22)

Shafts: ALTA CB Black 55 / 65 / 70 or ALTA QUICK 35 /75 or Ping Tour 2.0 Chrome 65 / 75 / 85 or Ping Tour 2.0 Black 65 / 75 or Project x HZDRUS Smoke Red RDX 50 / 60 / 70 or Mitsubusi KAI’Li White 60 / 70

More information: Ping website

Testing Protocol

To test this product we travelled to West Cliffs, a leading European golf course just north of Lisbon. The idea was to get some warmer weather and escape our frozen British courses. It, of course, rained. A lot. It was also very windy. But each of our test team were allocated a category of golf clubs, whether it be fairways, or a specific type of driver or irons.

We gathered data on a Trackman 4 or a FlightScope and we used Titleist Pro V1 balls for all tests. The samples we have are either fully fitted for our testers or ordered in our assumed specs. We are then able to optimise performance by swapping shafts and playing with the adjustability.

We also tested all of the product out on the course in a comparative environment with other products from the same category. We recognise that no testing process is perfect and just aim to be fair in our treatment, transparent in our process, and candid in our feedback.

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Tom Irwin

Tom is a lifetime golfer, now over 30 years playing the game. 2023 marks 10 years in golf publishing and he is still holding down a + handicap at Alwoodley in Leeds. He has played over 600 golf courses, and has been a member of at least four including his first love Louth, in Lincolnshire. Tom likes unbranded clothing, natural fibres, and pencil bags. Seacroft in Lincolnshire is where it starts and ends.

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