PXG Explodes Onto the Golf Scene

Signing Zach Johnson and 11 other tour pros, GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons’ club company shakes up the industry.

Although the company was officially founded in September 2014, the first time anyone outside of its small group of employees and golf industry observers heard of it, however, was last January.

That's when Ryan Moore (below) showed up at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Maui with a set of its prototype 03x irons. The hum grew steadily throughout 2015 as the company’s distinctive clubs received a measure of editorial coverage.

This is the year however, that everyone will know the name PXG.

Parsons Xtreme Golf is owned by Bob Parsons, who founded GoDaddy, the multibillion-dollar Internet domain registrar and web hosting company. A seriously avid golfer, Parsons claims to have spent as much as $300,000 a year on equipment and has invested untold millions in “to develop the finest equipment on the planet.”

If that kind of mandate and capitalization doesn't position PXG to become a major player in the equipment world, then the announcement the club manufacturer made at midnight on January 3 certainly did.

PXG revealed on its web site it had added eight Tour pros to its playing staff, including the reigning British Open champion Zach Johnson (above), and former FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel. 

Also on the roster are Chris Kirk, James Hahn, Charles Howell III, Cristie Kerr, Alison Lee and Gerina Piller. They joined the company’s existing Tour staff of Moore, Rocco Mediate, Beatriz Recari, and Sadena Parks.

The most significant addition was surely Johnson, a two-time major winner, who does not come across as the sort of man who’d accept a fat new contract unless the clubs performed to his exactingly high standards. Indeed, Johnson says he was meticulous in weighing up the pros and cons, involving his whole team in the decision.

Not surprisingly given their excessive price tag (the 0311 irons are $300 per club, the 0811 driver is $700, 0341 fairway woods are $500 each, 0317 hybrid is $400, 0311 wedges are $325, milled putters in six different styles are $400), PXG has, until now, been regarded purely as a niche, boutique, status symbol. But Johnson’s signing in particular suggests PXG clubs are more about performance and capability than prestige and cost.

To create his clubs, Parsons hired two former Ping engineers—Brad Schweigert and Mike Nicolette, a PGA Tour player in the 1980s who beat Greg Norman in a playoff to win the 1983 Bay Hill Classic. Though a privately-held company free of shareholder obligations, Ping follows a similar path to other industry giants releasing new clubs at a fair clip. 

At PXG, however, Parsons gave the pair no budget restrictions or time allocations. He merely wanted the best golf club ever built, and it didn’t matter how long it took to create or how much it cost. His only stipulation was that the iron look like a blade but feel like a game-improvement model.

Other manufacturers have certainly made advances with players’ club design in recent years. By strategically positioning tungsten weights and/or polymer inserts, once hard-to-hit blade and shallow-cavity irons have become a good deal more forgiving. It wasn’t enough for Parsons, though, who wanted the classic look combined with exceptional feel and industry-leading forgiveness.

The back of one of the first iron prototypes had 16 tungsten screws placed around the perimeter. Schweigert intended it as a prototype, a model to be experimented with and refined later. But Parsons loved the highly distinctive and attention-grabbing look.

The screws (PXG prefers them to be referred to as weights) remained, and far from being merely a cosmetic gimmick, there's serious science behind them. Whereas most other weight-adjustment systems move the weight around in large chunks, Schweigert argues the PXG system fine-tunes the golfer’s preferences to a much greater degree, spreading the weight around the head and improving the club’s MoI.

This, he says, makes these clubs unmatched in terms of forgiveness.

You either dig the look or think it's ugly. What everyone will probably love though is the iron’s feel—achieved through a combination of forging the head’s body with S25C soft carbon-steel, plasma-welding the thin HT1770 high-strength steel face on to the body, then injection-molding the hollow head with a low-density Thermo-Plastic Elastomer (TPE) which dampens vibration. That not only enhances the club’s feel, says Schweigert, but also the sound of impact.

High production costs and the resulting sticker shock mean that PXG’s sales figures will never sniff those of Callaway or TaylorMade, but that is of no great concern to Bob Parsons who cares only that his clubs perform better than the competition's. It’s very possible they do indeed feel better, sound better, and produce better launch monitor numbers than the others. And if you have the money to find out for yourself, why wouldn’t you?

The only PXG dealer in Colorado at present is D’Lance Golf in Englewood. If you want the VIP experience, however, you can head to the company’s headquarters in Scottsdale. There, PXG’s own fitting staff will custom-build you a set; you can play two or three rounds at the ultra-private Scottsdale National, which Parsons owns; you sleep at the Four Seasons; and you're driven to it all by Parsons’ own chauffeurs.

The PXG Experience starts at $12,500.

pxg.com

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