PRGR GN502 Tour 440 Driver Review
28 Mar 2010
Pro Gear or PRGR as most of us know Yokohama Rubber's golf wing as, was kind enough to send me a few demos including the new Tour Driver and Forged irons as well as the RED 505 driver and irons. Having both the new RED 505 and 440 Tour side by side really showed what different drivers they are, which is a separation PRGR really wanted to make with this years driver lineup. The thing is while last years GN502 Driver and GN502 Tour Driver were indeed best sellers in Japan, they were a tad too much alike when it came to design and looks, and performance and feel. Even though last years Tour Model was dubbed Tour, it played forgiving enough that even the average golfer could play it.
440cc Equals Optimal Size...
The new 440 sets out to meet the demands of the better player the way the 2009 GN502 probably could not. PRGR decided on going back to basics when it came to design and head shape. They decided that 440cc was the optimal size that would allow a driver to be workable yet still have a big sweet spot creating maximum distance. The did away with the recessed top line that both 2009 GN502 models shared and went back to a traditional pear shaped head with square to open face angle and a deeper face than the 2009 Tour.
Click on READ MORE to check out the full review plus VIDEO of the driver in action!
New Variable Thickness Face...
The new PRGR GN502 Tour 440 features a high back design with a mid to deep face. Pro Gear has implemented a new variable thickness face design which enhances both feel and ball speeds at impact. The all Titanium 6AL-4V face and body maximizes energy transfer along with a shallow CG for a strong penetrating trajectory. Previous PRGR drivers boasted high gravity angles which help the head rotate faster to a square position at impact. This benefited slicers and those battling an open face at impact but for the better player and faster swinger, it led to shots left. The square to open face plus a low 19* gravity angle allow great workability and control.
Personally I liked how this driver set up and at address the face on my demo does appear slightly open. What I also noticed is that it seems to have far less face bulge than the previous model, allowing for more control . There is no alignment mark on the head which is something I personally like. The shaft which is red towards the butt goes gradient to black at the tip so there are no distractions when you are framing the ball at address along with a much straighter top line.
CG Placement towards Heel...
The sole is pretty no frills and shape wise it is relatively plain with what appears as two wings towards the back of the sole toe and heel. This appears to be weighting of some sort to help increase MOI and launch. PRGR claims that the sweet spot of the Tour 440 is bigger especially high and low on the face where a better golfer's typical miss is (if they do miss at all) unlike average golfers who miss towards the toe and heel. The CG point is actually placed towards the heel side but with the variable thickness, the most flexible part of the face is opposite the CG point towards the face. This creates a slingshot like effect for which is part of PRGR's center of gravity design to create maximum ball speeds. PRGR which had typically used their own branded shafts ie Inspec, and GN502 shaft in the past now uses a shaft made for PRGR by Mitsubishi Rayon simply called Tour Original Flex. The Tour 440 come stock with a 60g range shaft that is mid kicking. Custom shafts are also available from PRGR.
Soft but Crisp Feel...
So of to the range I went to see how this driver performed. I did spend time last year with the 2009 GN502 Tour which I found had a very hot face. The first thing I noticed was that the new Tour still has the feel PRGR is known for at impact which is soft but crisp. Launch is lower than last years Tour Model and definitely penetrating. The ball is workable especially fades as the lower gravity angle and open face made it hard for me to force the ball left. One thing I really like is that PRGR always makes their so called "Tour" models 45" or shorter which shows a focus on control unlike average golfer models striving for distance with their long lengths of 45.75 -46.5". This gives a great sense of stability when swinging this driver, especially with a stock shaft that gives a lot of feel. The torque numbers are higher on this shaft and this does contribute to the feel of the club. The stock shaft is a pretty good match for the driver head and gives what Japanese call a high "shinari" feeling. "Shinari" describes the ability to feel the shaft bend or load and unload.
Strong Trajectory with good distance and roll...
The soft but crisp feel and nice sound at impact equal great distance distance, I tested this at the same range I tried the 2009 Tour Model at and was definitely hitting this driver further and with more roll. I like this driver a lot.
This time around I am going to introduce some videos from our friends over at Golf Digest Online. Kanatani Pro is a top tester for GDO and a former winner on the Japan tour. In this video he tests the Tour 440 so you get to hear the sound at impact and some of Kanatani Pro's comments though they are in Japanese. Its too bad in the morning sun and dew we can't see the ball flight well but he describes it as a strong piercing trajectory from this compact head. He also notes as I did the lack of face bulge on this driver and sharp and straight face lines. The below video will open in a separate pop up window so make sure you allow for popups. It also requires Windows Media Player as this is using Windows Media.
Simply click on the image below to view the video (in Japanese but see and hear the driver in action).
Highly Recommended for the Better Player...
So this new PRGR Driver looks to be a great one especially for the better player wanting a compact head, nice feel and sound, but most of all control and a strong trajectory ball with ability to work left and right. You can check it out in the pro shop here and also see the pictures I took below.