PHOENIX, Az. – One of the major pieces of equipment at PING’s testing and analysis facilities is the Slingman, which tests the flight of golf balls, an important consideration in the design of the clubs that launch them, according to senior design engineer Marty Jertson.
With the evolution in cores and covers, it’s prudent for a golf club company to stay on top of what’s new in the ball market because both products are going to play important roles in how the ball flies.
“We’re able to study the ball better and work backwards because, at the end of the day, you want to work backwards from the trajectory of the ball,” said Jertson.
“In order to optimize the club design, you’ve got to start with what ball flight do you want first and work backwards into what does the club design need to do to produce that ball flight?” added Jertson, who spoke in the previous Hutch’s Blog about the importance of trajectory and loft.
“Using the trajectory of the golf ball and working backwards, so our goal for drivers, for example, is to get to where we can launch it at 40 degrees with 1,000 to 1,500 RPMs of spin. That’s the ideal trajectory in a theoretical environment,” said Jertson.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to get there,” he added. “Every year, we’re kind of creeping our way towards that and hopefully, we can get a breakthrough. That’s what we’re working towards.
“There’s a lot of opportunity, even within the USGA/R&A rules, to be able to use the trajectory of flight to optimize distance. There’s a lot of potential to gain more yardage there,” said Jertson.
Due to standards set by the governing bodies of golf on such aspects as COR, head size and other matters, the manufacturing of golf clubs overall will be ever-evolving as companies try to deal with what’s put in front of them, he added.
“I think that what you’ve seen in the marketplace is, with different rule implications, there’s been some of our competitors that chase a certain aspect of club design, trying to create some buzz about a certain aspect of product design,” he said, using the recent ruling on grooves as an example.
“The groove design is one aspect of a wedge, although it’s very important,” said Jertson, adding that other important considerations such as trajectory, centre of gravity and sole design can’t be forgotten.
“We look at all considerations of club design, whether it’s aerodynamics, the weight of the club, the length of a shaft. We’ve always taken a close look at that, tried to balance the tradeoffs in performance as opposed to chasing one of those aspects,” said Jertson.
“We do a lot of tradeoff curve development, which is what’s the tradeoff between forgiveness and performance? We also have a tradeoff for workability,” he said,” using the current Ping S56 irons as an example.
“The cool thing with that S56 iron is that we were able to simultaneously increase the workability and the forgiveness. Normally, those things don’t go hand-in-hand,” said Jertson.
“Inertia is the resistance to twisting, so if you lower the resistance to twisting around the hosel axis, you can give the player more ability to control the face,” he added. “That’s what matters in terms of being able to control a face into impact.
“Now, during the impact, we care about the moment of inertia, about the centre of gravity. That’s what gives the club its resistance to twisting on off-centre hits. We were able to increase that and simultaneously lower the intertia about the hosel axis,” he said.
The same type of tradeoff consideration goes into all the products produced by Ping for various segments of the marketplace, according to Jertson.
“We’re really balanced when it comes to that approach. We want to have the right product out there that fits every golfer. We have a nice segregation in our product and who it’s designed for out in the marketplace,” he said.
“Looking at that whole range of product, you can kind of see where we’ve used our expertise design-wise in our tradeoffs and our manufacturing expertise,” said Jertson.