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ULTIMATE REVIEW! – Ping K15 Driver

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Ping K15 Driver Review

Ping K15 Driver Review

Just about every golfer who has ever been fitted for a club, whether he knows it or not, was almost certainly in part fit using the process PING pioneered nearly 40 years ago.  In recent years, with the birth of the fitting cart, and tools like Mizuno’s shaft optimizer, other OEMs have raised the stakes, and built upon PING’s foundation, but to this day, PINGs color code system remains the gold standard for length and lie fitting.  Of course, it’s not like PING has been resting on their laurels since 1972 either.  Their newish nFlight system, which among other things includes gapping analysis, is arguably the most sophisticated fitting tool in the industry today.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the fitting, that’s not the reason we’re here.  This is, after all a review of the PING K15 Driver.  Released in the fall of last year, the K15 rounds out PING’s “15 series”, which also includes the G15 and I15.  Though it hardly seems possible, the K15 is engineered to be even more forgiving than the G15.  According to PING, the all titanium K15 offers golfers a high trajectory ball flight with low to medium spin.

In reality, the K15 is very much a replacement for the G10 Draw model.  Unlike the G15 or I15, the K15 features what PING calls “Straight Flight Technology” or SFT.   SFT is PING-speak for “we moved 10% of the total clubhead mass toward the heel of the club”.  PING has made that extra weight visible via a slight bumpout which is visible on the clubhead (occasionally so at address).  While the I15 is for better players, and the G15 is probably a good fit for most of the rest of the golfing population, the K15 is specifically designed to help those golfers who struggle to contain their big fade, or slice as it’s more commonly called.

Material Composition: Titanium

How We Tested

The 6 golfers for whom we collected detailed performance data were asked to hit a series of shots on our 3Track Equipped simulators from aboutGolf.  As usual, testing was done at Tark’s Indoor Golf, a state of the art indoor golf facility located in Saratoga Springs, NY.  Detailed data for each and every shot for which we collected data is now viewable in the interactive portion of this review.  This data serves as the foundation for our final performance score.  As a supplement to our 6 performance testers, a subset of additional golfers were given the opportunity to test the Ping K15 Driver and provide feedback in our subjective categories (looks, feel, sound,  perceived distance, perceived accuracy, perceived forgiveness, and likelihood of purchase).  This information, which we also collected from our performance testers, is used as the foundation for our total subjective score.

PERFORMANCE SCORING

Distance

This is our first driver review of 2011 and as such, it’s the first to use our revised scoring model, so it’s too soon to say how the PING K15 will stack up to other drivers in our 2011 review series.  Based on the number we’re seeing, however; we believe it’s long.

It’s amazing to me how quickly we’ve reached a point where I have to write a sentence like the one that follow this sentence.  With a shaft length of 45.75″, the PING K15 Driver is actually a bit shorter than most of the stock offerings on the market today.  Obviously, trimming an extra quarter of an inch hasn’t hurt things.  Two of our regular testers, Dan and your’s truly, put up some of the biggest raw distance numbers we have seen with any driver we’ve tested since I came on board at MyGolfSpy.  Equally impressive is that when we trim the outliers, the distance numbers remain remarkably similar, which tells me that even if you miss the sweet spot (because I often do), the PING K15 is still going to help you shorten the golf course.

Even Ridge, our senior tester who we acknowledge shouldn’t be hitting a stiff shafted driver, was impressed by the distance.  A softer shaft would likely help boost his launch angle and provide even better results for him.  Curiously, I found that I actually launched the ball a bit lower than I normally do with the K15, however, one of our other testers, Mark, actually increased his launch angle with the standard 9.5° setup.  My spin numbers were also, somewhat surprisingly, higher than I would have liked.

MGS Distance Score: 90.50

Accuracy

Taken at face value, an average miss of a hair over 18 yards, the accuracy of the PING K15 may not seem that impressive, but when I looked a bit closer at the numbers, a couple of interesting things stood out.  First, if you take Mark’s numbers out of the equation, average side spin numbers of just a hair over 409 RPMs are lower than what I expect the average will be when we’re done testing for the year.  Also noteworthy is  how skewed to the left side of center the shot dispersion is.  Once again, dropping Mark’s from the equation (you can see this for yourself on our Interactive Data Page) further emphasizes the K15′s ability to take the right side largely out of play.  Considering the average golfer fights a slice much more than a hook, this is not an insignificant observation.

Of course, I did hit a few big hooks myself (misses of 46, 52, and 69 yards left).  We can probably chalk that up in part to the draw-biased weighting, and a couple of “reverse Furyk” swings. Mostly though, I did well enough to keep the ball in play.

Questionable shaft fit aside, Ridge was painfully accurate with the K15, missing the centerline on average by less than 10 yards.  Even Mark who was right more than he was left, still managed to put up one of his highest accuracy numbers to date (and like Dan and myself, he’s been on every one one of our reviews since the beginning of last season).

Overall, accuracy proved to very good.

MGS Accuracy Score: 89.57

Consistency (Beta)

We like what we’re seeing from our consistency formulas thus far, and we’ve decided to keep it around for the remainder of 2011.  As a refresher, the consistency score is how we put a value on what manufacturers generally refer to as forgiveness.  We basically look at how the averages of various pieces of shot data, compare to the data as a whole.  If that sounds confusing, a simpler way to explain it might be to say we look at how each shot a golfer hits compares to every other shot he hits with the same club.

One of the things PING says about the K15 driver is “the MOI is sizeable for consistent performance across the hitting surface.”  Looking at our consistency numbers, we’re not able to raise too much in the way of an argument.  On the high end, Blake, posted a consistency score of 95.75.  On the low end, Ridge posted a 91.03. What this tells us is that not only does the PING K15 achieve consistent results from swing to swing, it appears that it does so from golfer to golfer as well.  Perhaps the PING K15 will prove to be unique, but with only 4.72 points between worst and first, it says a lot about how forgiving the modern driver has become.

MGS Consistency Score: 92.53

Overall Performance

I encourage you to take a look at the complete results of our performance tests on the PING K15 Driver interactive page.  Data can be sorted by golfer, handicap, and swing speed.

While I personally can’t wait to see how the 2011 crop of drivers stack up, if the PING K15 proves to be the best of the bunch, it’s already been a good year for golfers.  Our performance tests indicate that the K15 offers excellent distance, solid accuracy, and consistent performance from shot to shot.  It’s hard to really ask for more.

MGS OVERALL PERFORMANCE SCORE: 90.28

>> VIEW OUR NEW -  INTERACTIVE REVIEW SYSTEM <<

SUBJECTIVE SCORING

If there’s a knock on the K15, from a subjectivity standpoint, it’s that no one fell in love with the club.  Normally we have a tester or two who tries to sneak out of the building with something tucked away in their bags, but in the case of the K15, the overall response, was – like the sound it produces – somewhat muted.

Looks

Surprisingly only one tester commented on the PING alignment aid on the top of the crown.  Having read numerous complaints about it over the years, I was expecting to encounter more negativity.  Instead, only one tester commented on the alignment aid, and that was to say that he really liked it.  Comments on the graphics/color scheme were generally positive as well.  More than one tester, however, mentioned the way the club looks at address.  Several said that it looked “too closed” to them (our info says the face is neutral).  Visually, the face appears, to me anyway, to have less roll as well, but there very well may be no actual basis in reality for that observation.  Others mentioned the visible Straight Flight Technology on far rear edges of the heel, saying they found it distracting.  A lowly rating of 3 not withstanding, testers rated the looks as high as 10 (1), and 9 (2).  In the end, the tally of scores couldn’t exceed mediocre.  My take; it’s not a bad looking driver by any stretch, but it’s not going to be among the best looking either.

MGS Looks Score: 86.00

Feel

From my perspective, the PING K15 doesn’t rank with the other PING drivers I’ve hit over the years.  From a sound and feel perspective, I’m come to think of PING in the same class as Titleist, and Pre-R9 TaylorMade drivers.  Though it’s still a very good feeling driver, the K15 doesn’t offer the same experience as those previous models.  Like it did for looks, it received a single 10, and two 9s (different testers), but also received a 4 and a fair amount of 7s.  As with looks score, feel was rated as slightly above average.

MGS Feel Score: 87.54

Sound

There is no denying that sound and feel are closely linked, so it’s not surprising that the Sound score would shake out almost the same as the Feel score.  For sound, two testers rated the club a 10, while two others rated it a nine.  The low score was a 6, which isn’t half bad considering we’d seen 3s and 4s up to this point.  Again, the sound isn’t bad, but it’s a bit more muted than I would expect from PING.  In some respects it reminds me a bit more of modern composite driver than it does traditional titanium.

MGS Sound Score: 89.07

Perceived Distance

Perceived distance is probably my favorite of the subjective categories.  In some ways it’s almost unfair to the OEMs considering that nearly everyone who walks through the door at Tark’s thinks he hits the ball farther than he actually does.  The guys who test for us fairly regularly, however, generally have a more accurate picture of how a given club performs.  So while the average rating was right around a 7, I gave it an 8.  Dan gave it a 9, and Mark, who admittedly didn’t hit the K15 as well as he has some others, rated it a 7.  While our performance numbers suggest Dan and I have it right, our testers didn’t agree.

Tester Perceived Distance Score: 81.39

Perceived Accuracy

As I stated in performance section above, raw accuracy numbers only tell half the story.  It appears that most of our testers were focused on the center line, and not necessarily the big picture of where their balls were settling on the range.  If you fight a slice, like many golfers do, you can’t undersell the value of taking the right sound of the golf course (or the left side of the adjoining property) out of play – and the K15 largely does just that. Reality, be damned, however; our testers generally thought they should have been more accurate than they believed they actually were.

Tester Perceived Accuracy Score:  78.32

Perceived Forgiveness

Our math tells us that the K15 is a very consistent driver. We think this notion of consistency translates very nicely to the more common terminology of forgiveness.  Unfortunately our testers don’t have the benefit of our calculations to help them provide a forgiveness rating, so more often than not, they go by what they think they see (which very often doesn’t gel with our numbers).  Once again, our regular testers provided the highest marks (two 9s and an 8), while the other guys who participated in full tests, and the guys who were brought into to round out our subjective surveys, didn’t share quite the same opinion of the K15s ability to produce similar results shot after shot.

Tester Perceived Forgiveness Score: 81.39

Likelihood of Purchase

It shouldn’t come as any real shock that a group of guys who collectively told us, that the PING K15 was average for looks, slightly better for sound, and feel, and below average for distance, accuracy, and forgiveness, would also tell us that the K15 driver isn’t high on their list of must by clubs.  It’s more than a little disconcerting to see how different our data is from the perception of our testers.

Tester Likelihood of Purchase: 70.64

Considering how many of the reviews being published both in print and online these days are written based on little more than subjectivity and observation (I played 3 rounds of golf with <insert club name here> and it has proven to be 10 yards longer than my previous gamer), and how much of the buying process follows similar lines, we know that these subjective surveys are a critical part of the review process.  Still, there are occasions when I think the reader would be wise to take the subjectivity for exactly what it is, and focus instead on our performance scores.  This is one of those times.

TOTAL SUBJECTIVE SCORE: 82.47

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CONCLUSION

Let our charts be your guide on this one.  If you’re the kind of golfer who fights a slice, frequently misses to the right, or simply can’t achieve any degree of consistency with your current driver, then absolutely, you should be looking at the PING K15.  If however, you miss, left, or don’t miss much at all, then realistically, there is very little reason for you to look at the K15.  Fortunately, the G15 and I15  are also part of PING’s current driver lineup.  If the K15 doesn’t suite you, there’s a good chance one of those will.

We do think the K15 is an excellent choice for the higher handicap golfer, the guy whose idea of workability is “working the ball out of the trees” before hitting his third.  For guys who want to shape their shots, or for those looking for a bit more feel from the big dog, the K15 probably isn’t ideal.

The PING K15 is definitely not a one size fits all driver, but for the guy it does fit, it could prove to be an absolute game changer.

MGS TOTAL SCORE:  89.50

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Review Summary

B+
89.50

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

P-Gunna March 8, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Fantastic review, I was really curious to see how the K15 stacked up against the other ones in the 15 series!

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Sactown March 8, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Great review. I dismissed this driver outright after comparing it visually to the G15. Time to hit the range for a demo.

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mygolfspy March 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Thanks Sactown ;)

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MyBluC4 March 9, 2011 at 7:39 am

Really appreciate the new Spy scoring model as it takes so many aspects into consideration.
Can’t wait to eventually see a 2011 driver comparison as more big dogs are tested. I would like to hear more about how the K15 differs from the G15, and if other manufacturers are using similar design strategies. What is especially good about the new scoring model is that we get to see, statistically, the difference between the marketing claims and actual performance.
Thanks Spy.

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mygolfspy March 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

With the new “MyGolfSpy Design” that will be revealed in a about a week or so you guys will be able to access the reviews much easier and compare them in a much more user friendly way. I hope you all like the changes.

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Ken May March 9, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I played the G15 draw last year. Very good driver. Tried and bought the K-15 and have gained about 10 yards or more. Hold the grip lightly and let the club do its thing. 14 handicap

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Chris Margary. March 10, 2011 at 11:25 am

Same as Ken 5 also played the G15 last year,good but I was not quite satisfied.Tried the K15 and was sold,I have been using it for the last Four months and it is the best performer I have ever used.Increased distance,accuracy And ease of use.As Ken says hold it lightly,easy swing dont force it.It works.

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Brad Smith March 10, 2011 at 11:57 am

I love what you’re doing with your testing protocol.

I offer an observation and what is intended to be a constructive suggestion.

From what I understand, the average male driver speed is between 90 and 95mph. I’ll bet that 60-70% of players have speeds between 85 and 95. However, the speed of your testers is very much skewed to higher speeds. One at 115, three between 104 and 108, one at 98 and then dropping all the way down to one at 77. If possible, it would be great if you had a group that better represented the full speed range and the large majority of players..

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greg March 10, 2011 at 2:21 pm

l think your right on the money brad ,l think tis way yuo can get a better idea of how the shaft performs with the different speed range as well,l have been using the G 15 for 8 months having been hitting it well since day 1, but as a test l tried a couple of different shafts found the 149 was the best performing one for

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mygolfspy March 10, 2011 at 7:21 pm

It is a great suggestion Brad and one we are working on for 2011. We first tried to get the testing methodologies down pat and then we are now starting to improve on other areas of the new system. Thanks for your feedback…it is greatly appreciated.

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Herb W March 10, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Hit the K-15 @ Golfsmith for about an hour. Gained about 10 yards/ sidespin numbers were down, and my Trevino fade was gentler too. Like it and will most likely buy it soon.

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Herb W March 10, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Oh and love the new testing model. talk about in depth!! some subjectivity but thats ok its a wide spectrum. 12 Hdcp.

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mygolfspy March 10, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Glad you are enjoying our new review system Herb. We have worked hard to come up with what we think is one of the best around and plan to continually improve on it over time. GolfSpy T has done an excellent job.

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Steve F March 10, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Just wanted to point out something about Ping’s pioneering of a fitting system. They needed to set this system up because they used such inexpensive materials in their cast clubs. These clubs could not be adjusted (except by the maker) more than 2 degrees or the metal would break. Hence the necessity of the Ping fitting system.

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Bill Hewlett March 11, 2011 at 5:51 am

Just came off a little 4 round trip to the St. Augustine FL area using the K 15. I’ve owned and played in recent history a G 5, a G 10 draw and a Rapture and for me the K 15 outperformed them all hands down. Distance for me increased but dispersion and accuracy are it’s forte.

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John March 12, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Terrific review!

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BobBeard March 31, 2011 at 5:05 am

I got this driver couple of months back. Im a 20 handicapper and still slicing with it. Nothing is guaranteed to fix a slice.

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George April 18, 2011 at 7:24 pm

I hit the K15, the G10 and the G15 today at the range, and all I can say is…WOW. I have a slight
face naturally, and with the K15 I carried 250 without even breaking a sweat, straight as an arrow. I am in LOVE with this club, and I especially like the more aerodynamic look and feel. Thing is, I can grip it and rip it and the darn ball just stays straight as can be. LOVE IT! (18 hdcp)

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mygolfspy April 18, 2011 at 7:26 pm

The K15 is a solid performer for sure George. Might not be the prettiest but still one of the best.

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Chris Hussey July 20, 2011 at 8:33 am

Great review. I have always struggled with my driver, losing countless shots right, leaving me without confidence on the tee (I play off 18). Went to get fitted following this review – UST (i think) Tour Regular shaft (higher kick piont) which just feels so balanced, an inch longer (I’m 6’5″) with slightly bigger grip. WOW – BANG, straight down the middle, and again, and again. Played 5 rounds with it now and missed one fairway (only just and still playable). Can take driver from any tee now – total confidence, I know exactly where its going, brilliant club.

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Brian August 14, 2011 at 8:06 am

Very happy with it, gained a bit of distance ~10yds. I’m a fader but had better probability of keeping the ball straight vs my previous driver.

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Paul Davies February 22, 2012 at 9:57 am

Just bought the k15 3 wood and is the 1st one that i can hit straight and long everytime, and have tried lots of 3 woods over the years, would reccomend if you have trouble in getting any height on your ball flight and slice.

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Tony Hallas March 5, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Went to Haggin Oaks (Sacramento, CA) to try out an “infinite” number of drivers. I am cursed with a fade on occasion that kills an otherwise good score. I play a “mountain course” … go off the fairway and it’s a lost ball. When I hit the K15 it was a revelation … not only does it go long, but the ball flew straight as an arrow. As someone else mentioned you can still fade this driver but a nice, smooth swing delivers a beautiful ball flight and dare I say it, a modicum of confidence creeps in where before there was just a wing and a prayer. I bought the club … it stood out from all the others tested.

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Jenner April 8, 2012 at 10:25 am

After recently getting over the shock of having my clubs stolen, I was surfing around looking for reviews as a starting point to putting my bag together again, I came across My Golf Spy. – and what an excellent site it is !

I really was missing my stolen customised Rapture V2 driver but your extended piece on the Ping K15 Driver made it a ‘must try’ option. Tried it – liked it – bought it. In all areas it lives up to your review and in-depth analyses and I’m delighted with the outcome. Whilst I’ve never been plagued with a slice, I have always had to counter a fade with my drives. Early days yet but the K15 seems to have banished my in-built fade to history without (so far) any pulled shots. I’ve now played it for three rounds, have hit nearly every the fairway and even my not-so-good-drives have been no worse than the first cut……………Good news to a 13 h’cap hacker !

As a very forgiving driver (without a closed face or, worse still, one of those offset heads) the K15 sits really well behind the ball, is very pleasing to the eye and must go down as one of the most simple, effective pieces of engineering since the Anser putter.

I am now a disciple of My Golf Spy. This is my first post and I’m just hoping I did the right thing ordering customised Ping i20 irons ………………Jenner..

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TW May 15, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Really sweet sweet driver!!! Mygolfspy review tilted my decision to buy this driver. Wanted to get D910 or Callaway Razr Fit. But guess I’m not there yet.

Yes, I’m the right sided driver! Understanding my game weakness, means a way to improve. Bought the K15 driver a couple a days ago. Only went to the range. But the perfomance it’s unbelievable! Center or left, though still sometime right! But slice is almost gone. I can really give the ball a hard whack with it and be sure that it will be somewhere in the center!

Another thing to note is that due to the design of the club, I can swing much better on down swing. It just encouraged it! I can feel the flow of the club… Really great feeling! Sound is a bit loud but still ok compare to Burner.

Slicers, this is our cure! Will come back with my thoughts after a game on the green.

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Ron June 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Just bought one. 10.5 degree, regular flex shaft. I’m a 14/15 handicapper. Have hit the G10, 10.5 degree, shift flex shaft for past 5-6 years. Hit the G15, G20 and K15 on the range. It was an easy decision. Didn’t even have to hit a full bucket of balls to know which one was the right choice. Two things I like most about it: I was able to hit a fade/cut, as well as a draw when I tried to work the ball. And when I was trying to hit it straight, my misses/poor swings were still fairly straight ball flights. Probably will hit this for many years to come.

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Jae July 27, 2012 at 8:47 am

What an awesome review. I was considering Ping G20, K15, Taylormade R9 420, and Taylormade Superfast 2.0 TP. After reading reviews of your K15, I had to stop by the shop nearby and try K15. There, one of the employee let me compare K15, G20, and R11s. Unfortunate they didn’t have Superfast 2.0 TP and R9 but it didn’t matter. With G20, I was hitting longer but showing fades after fades (from slight to far). I don’t know why but my club speed was around 105mph – 110mph, slightly faster than my normal 100-103mph speed. Anyway, then came K15 9.5 loft and 10.5 loft. Since I wasn’t the fastest swing owner, I tried out the regular stock shaft. Oh boy, did I hit them straight. I tried at least 20-30 balls and it showed only 95-98mph club speed but I was hitting them straight or very slight fade with 250-280 yds. If I really crank it to 100-105mph, I know I can achieve a better yards. K15 gave me lots of confidence until I started hit R11s. Mind you R11s was not hosel adjusted and was stock neutral. I was hitting them hard with 105mph but with huge fade. I know you can shift weight and change the club face to closed but I just like how K15 just came with “auto correct” draw biased. After toggling with hosels, R11s showed lots of improvements. I was hitting it hard and showing minimal fade. Love the sound, love the feel and love its matte white finish. However I know that matte white finish on R11s will grow old on me quick. And the price difference was very steep between R11s and K15.

Not surprising to say, I walked out with K15 fitted with new grip and new adilia NVS shaft. Since I kept the original grip and shaft with me, I feel like I gained bonus. Anyway, with all fitting and K15 costed me less than R11s stock. I know I am not going to hit consistent 300-330 yds with K15. But I know I can hit it with confidence for 280-300 whenever I want to with K15.

Thank you fory your great review and helping me make my decision on my “next 10 years” driver.

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TW August 5, 2012 at 3:43 am

Really fantastic on the green!!! As promised, I gave you guys a review when I had played on the green. I missed one fairway, because I outdrived on a dogleg! Amazing!!! Please buy one!!!

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James August 9, 2012 at 6:52 am

I am 36 years old and started playing golf three years ago. My handicap’s were 30, 24, 19 respectively during those three years. Chronic push slicing was always my problem due largely to an over-the-top golf swing. I finally gave in and starting taking a lot of lessons this year, about one per week.

My irons finally came around and I was able to mostly alleviate the over the top golf swing with my irons. However, my driving still had a vicious over-the-top push slice. No matter what I did, my scores were awful, predominately due to the bad slicing off the tee.
I broke down, due to great reviews, and recently purchased the Ping K15 9.5 with an Aldila NV 55 stiff shaft. Wow, what a great feeling piece of equipment! Now my bad drives are an over compensating hook, which plays a lot better than a slice. By the way, I’m 6’2″ and also shortened the shaft a bit for more control.

By no means is this a magical club; however, it sure is easy to swing on the proper plane. I demoed a lot of other drivers with no where near the consistency of the Ping K15. In addition, I was hitting a Cobra 350 CC.

Highly recommended.

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