If you've watched golf on TV in the last couple years, you've heard Bob Parsons' unbridled, booming enthusiasm for his PXG golf club brand on any number of bold - sometimes eccentric - ads.
If you follow the equipment side of the golf industry at all, you've likely been intrigued by PXG's rise since its founding in 2014.
But if you're not a big spender on clubs, you probably took one look at PXG's prices early on - upwards of $800 for a driver and $3,000 for a set of irons - and wrote them off as forever beyond of your budget.
It's odd to say this of a company barely seven years old, but this ain't your granddaddy's PXG anymore. Yes, their brand-new quintuple-forged-then-milled flagship GEN4 0311 T irons cost a pretty penny at $249 a head (and more than $2,000 for a set), but their current driver - the one in the bags of pros like Lydia Ko, is currently selling for $399, putting it a good $150 below the offerings of the brands it's looking to disrupt. Along even more budget-oriented lines, the company's forgiving 0211 DualCor irons are just $89 a head, adding up to less than $650 for a set from 5 iron through gap wedge.
These twin pricing and product strategies put PXG in competition not just with the Titleists and TaylorMades of the world, but also the up-and-coming direct-to-consumer (DTC) golf equipment brands that are helping disrupt the market at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has revived many lapsed golfers' interest in the game and inspired non-golfers to pick up a club for the first time.
PXG hews toward the DTC philosophy when it comes to their clubs. You cannot buy PXGs through big-box retailers - only through their roving fitters, their fitting studios or their website, plus select larger-scale fitting partners like Club Champion. The rows of weighted screws adorning many of their clubs point to the ability to fine-tune them. Custom fitting is as much a pillar of PXG as any other clubmaker.
The PXG golf club fitting experience
Before recently, I had hit a grand total of two shots with PXG golf clubs: four or five years ago, when a fellow lefty I was playing with let me give his original PXG 6-iron a couple tries. That original iron was not my preferred size or shape, but it felt nice enough.
Fast-forward to a few weeks ago. Now, PXG has not one but three blade-style models of iron I figured could challenge my decade-old Titleist 710 MBs: the brand-new GEN4 0311 ST blades, the previous-generation 0311 ST and the more budget-oriented 0211 ST. I made the hour drive from my house to the PXG fitting hub at Old Palm Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., to give them a whirl.
The first sign I was in good hands: area sales rep and master fitter George Griffin greeted me with a display of seven different left-handed iron models. PXG is one of only two major golf equipment manufacturers that makes its full line of clubs for both lefties and righties - PING being the other - which left an immediate positive impression. I understand that the fact that less than one in five golfers are lefties makes it an extra expense for companies to outfit their manufacturing processes for us southpaws. The fact that PXG and PING go to those lengths for us is something I respect very much.
When I have attended other OEMs' fitting days, I've often left unsatisfied because inevitably, the clubs I'm interested are either subject to a limited lefty fitting matrix or simply unavailable, period. The sight of the full range of PXG's lefty clubs set the tone: I was going to walk away from this fitting feeling like I had truly found the right setup for me.
PXG bases its iron fittings around 7-iron performance, so after warming up with Old Palm's Titleist ProV1 range balls (another advantage to getting fitted at an upscale club), we established baseline numbers with mine on George's TrackMan and went from there. He'd switch out shafts every four or five shots (sometimes sooner if it was clear a particular combination wouldn't be productive for me) and solicit feedback on feel, both throughout my swing and at impact. It was a collaborative effort, rather than a dictatorial one.
As much as I loved my Titleist irons, one main opportunity for significant improvement revealed itself: height. I'm fortunate to be pretty good at making solid contact, but I deloft my irons at impact more than most golfers, resulting in a pretty low default ballflight. This isn't a big issue on the short irons, but with the longer ones, I tend to struggle to land approach shots on long par 3s and 4s as softly as I'd like.
After trying several different shafts, George settled me on the Modus3 105 shaft from Japanese manufacturer Nippon. In the same extra-stiff flex, these shafts are 18 grams lighter (112g vs 130g) than the KBS Tours that were in my Titleists. It may not sound like much to some, but the change in weight and bend profile were crucial for me. I was able to raise the maximum height of my shots by approximately 10 feet. It was, as you might hear pros say, "a higher window" to see the ball in at its apex. While reviewing TrackMan data, I noticed that the Nippons shallowed out my angle of attack slightly, too, so I was launching the ball higher from the start without making any conscious swing adjustments.
At the business end of these shafts: the aforementioned GEN4 0311 ST blades, which PXG sent me in the wake of the fitting with the further specs George and I settled on: stock lofts and length, a degree flatter-than-standard lie angle and the same model of midsize Winn Dri-Tac grips I've used for several years.
Having had a month to get used to them, I am every bit as impressed with their looks and performance as I was during the fitting. Some quick thoughts:
- In my very first round with the irons, I hit the flagstick with an 8-iron from 160 yards. Nice start to the relationship.
- There were some indications during my fitting that I might end up grabbing a few extra yards with the new irons, despite their "traditional" lofts (e.g. a 47-degree pitching wedge). That has proven to be the case; I seem to be capable of hitting them about half a club farther than their predecessors.
- At a time when players are ditching the pitching wedges from their iron sets in favor of a 48-degree wedge, the new 0311 ST model goes against the tide, making a 52-degree G wedge.
- The more I look at them, the more I like PXG's irons' the modern and industrial looks. The array of weighted screws and horizontal mill marks are in contrast to the smooth shine of the old-school blades out there, but their designers' commitment to that aesthetic gives them an identity all their own. They're not trying to trick you, and I respect that.
- With most manufacturers experiencing significant shipping delays, I was impressed with how quickly PXG got the irons sent to me - less than two weeks, which is impressive given COVID supply-chain issues affecting practically all industries.
In less than a decade, PXG has shown pretty broad capabilities. Consumers have learned to be justifiably wary of other brands that market in a similarly splashy way, but with quality product (including more affordable clubs than ever) behind the bombast, Bob Parsons kaboom-baby brand seems well-positioned to continue disrupting the golf equipment market.