Only Elite Ball-Strikers Need Apply

PXG’s new 0317 ST may not be terribly blade-like in looks, but it certainly is in nature.

By Tony Dear

Golfers of a certain vintage (i.e. experienced, seasoned, mature…old!) struggled, initially, with heel/toe-weighted, Anser-style putters gradually becoming known as ‘blade’ putters. They weren’t. Not like great blade putters of the past such as the Titleist Bullseye, Wilson 8802 or Spalding Rabbit Foot. But they certainly didn’t resemble or share many characteristics with increasingly-popular mallets so, using some strange golf-equipment-industry-style logic (well, logic that was never explained to me, anyway), they became blades.

Likewise, old blade irons were…blades. They had nothing on them or in them and had the most basic design imaginable. Muscle-backs began appearing and, of course, have a legitimate look of the old blade about them but, though blade irons have never ventured as far from the original concept as putters did, there are one or two companies pushing the ‘blade’ envelope.

For the most pedantic of purists, PXG’s new 0317 ST Blade has far too much going on at the back to be labelled a blade. Unlike a clean, unsullied, pristine blade with nothing but a discreet logo elegantly etched into the back, there are some sizeable graphics here, conspicuous score lines and a rather prominent weight screw housed in an equally prominent structure. The traditionalist’s first reaction to seeing the word ‘blade’ included in the name is to baulk and maybe raise an eyebrow or two.

Make no mistake though, the elite ball-strikers – players who consistently find the center of the clubface with sufficient clubhead speed to loft the ball into the air and who reject forgiving, high-MoI (Moment of Inertia) clubs for those that offer exceptional feel and which enable them to work the ball – for whom blades are designed, are just the sort of golfers the 0317 ST are made for.

And there aren’t many of them. As with past PXG irons, the ‘ST’ in the name stands for ‘Super Tour’ which gives a pretty clear indication of the sort of golfer who might be tempted to put these in the bag.

PXG has made ST irons before, of course. The 0311 Gen 4 ST might have looked like a player’s club at address but for everyone else it looked anything but. The 0211 ST on the other hand, is a fairly simple, elegant and, dare-I-say-it, non-PXG-looking design.

PXG 0317 ST Blade (Chrome) Courtesy PXG

There is no filler inside the head of the 0317 ST to dampen sound and vibration. Indeed, there is no ‘inside’ to fill. These are solid, one-piece forgings. Long-irons in the 0317 ST set do offer some perimeter-weighting with a cavity back which sort of invalidates the name a little. But from the 5-iron on up, the cavity is gone.

PXG 0317 ST Blade (Xtreme Dark) Courtesy PXG

The 0317 ST (the military code for ‘Scout Sniper’ and the number previously assigned to PXG’s hybrids) is made of 8620 soft-carbon steel and forged three times to create the desired shape and a really tight grain structure for better feel. Following the forging process, the irons are precision-milled and polished robotically. The milling isn’t just for the aesthetics if, indeed, adding milled score lines to the back of a blade iron is aesthetically-pleasing. The milling actually ensures extremely tight weight-tolerances for consistency throughout the set. The weight-screw meanwhile, allows fitters to play with the club’s swingweight.

Naturally, there isn’t much offset, but the top line is relatively wide for a club named ‘Super Tour’. Lofts are ‘normal’, meaning the Center of Gravity (CG) isn’t super-low which facilitates launching the ball high and allows manufacturers to jack the lofts making it seem like you hit your irons incredible, Tour-like distances.

The PXG 0317 ST may not be the most graceful-looking ‘blade’ ever, but the low-handicappers in your group will probably appreciate the quality, consistency, workability and feel.

$200/club in Chrome, $220 in Xtreme Dark
Lofts – 4-iron 24˚, 7-iron 33˚, PW 46˚
Shaft – Numerous options – check web site
Right and left-hand
Available now

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