January 02, 2019
By Andrew Tursky, PGATOUR.COM
- A detailed look at the Gen2 XF and X drivers. (Andrew Tursky/PGA TOUR)
Bob Parsons is the founder and owner of Parsons Xtreme Golf (PXG); he’s also a billionaire entrepreneur, the founder of GoDaddy.com, a Marine and … now he’s a golf club designer, too? Well, maybe not exactly, but he did spark the idea for PXG’s new Gen2 driver technology, according to himself and the company.
Due to his love of muscle cars – Dodge muscle cars, to be exact, of which he has a Demon, a Charger, a Hell Cat, and a Durango 392 SRT, among others – Parsons suggested his engineers make a driver crown to look like the hood of American muscle cars.
Parsons’ idea to mimic the scoop of a muscle car on its new 0811 Gen2 X and XF drivers, which have titanium faces and bodies, led to a carbon fiber crown design that is said to raise ball speeds by keeping energy focused where it needs to be at impact. It’s called “hot rod” technology, according to the company.
“We went down a rabbit hole, and my god there was a rabbit there,” Parsons told me.
So Parsons, while simply making a recommendation for an aesthetic design based on his love of American muscle vehicles, actually came up with a new engineering technology. Here’s how the story goes, straight from Parsons himself.
“So I come in one day and I say guys, why don’t we try on our driver, rather than making the crown plain, making it look like a scoop on a muscle car. And they didn’t want to do it at first, but they did. And then they thought about it and they said you know what it might be fun. So we did it. And what happened was, first it acted like an alignment aid, which is what I thought it would do. And I thought it would look kind of cool, which it did. To our surprise, there were performance benefits. One of them is stiffening that crown, and having that scoop there kind of focuses the energy, or keeps the energy there from dissipating.”
To reference My Cousin Vinny, does Parsons’ case hold water? For that answer, we turn to PXG’s engineers Mike Nicolette and Brad Schweigert for an explanation on exactly how the new technology works.
“The most noticeable thing is the crown. One of the things we’ve learned, working a lot more with polymers these days is just how they interact, the things they do well, the things there’s drawbacks on … the crown geometry is made up of carbon fiber and it’s binded together with the polymer resin. That resin material, when it deflects, it bends and it dissipates energy. We figured out a way to make the crown stiffer so that you don’t lose or dissipate any energy in the crown, which yields higher ball speeds and ultimately more distance. So that’s a big part of the story.”
Basically, with the muscle-car-inspired-scoop, the carbon-fiber crown has multi-level, variable thickness that works to reduce energy dissipation, thus increasing ball speeds across the face. Also, the multi-level design enhances aerodynamics by reducing drag, according to PXG. The crown also has a new matte paint with anti-glare to reduce distractions, according to the company.
Now, for the tough question: Are these drivers special? More specifically, will these drivers now hold the same appeal and performance as PXG’s irons?
Since July 2015, when PXG launched its Gen1 0311 irons, the company has been known mostly in the equipment world for its irons, which use a special TPE (thermoplastic urethane) material behind the face to increase both feel and ball speed. But when it comes to its 0811 drivers -- and the various low-spin X and higher-forgiveness XF driver launches -- PXG’s drivers seem to have lacked the same level of regard as its irons from the equipment world.
Schweigert takes on the difficult question:
“We knew it. The irons were special. They offered the consumer everything. They had a really unique feel, they had a unique technology story. They looked amazing, they performed really, really well. So, we knew those were going to be the all stars, so to speak. The driver category in and of itself is tough, because there’s a lot of product that performs pretty well. So it’s hard to differentiate yourself. I think the difference now with this new generation of woods is that I feel like we’re on the cusp of everything that we have with the irons. Because you have this really cool unique look that differentiates it from everything else that’s in the marketplace. It feels really really good, and that differentiates it. It has a different feel from everything else in the marketplace. Performance is outstanding. There’s a fitting story there, in being able to customize it for an individual. We’re cautiously optimistic that it’s going to take a seat alongside our irons as being considered industry-leading product. That’s the expectation for us. So far, all of the feedback we’re getting reinforces that expectation. Now it’s just wait and see, to see if that comes to fruition.”
Like its previous driver release, PXG’s Gen2 0811X drivers, will be a lower-spinning version, with forward CG positions available for even lower spin, and the Gen2 0811XF driver will be the more forgiving option. Those familiar PXG-signature weights have also been given a tweak to increase the adjustability of center of gravity (CG) – the X driver has 9 weight ports and the XF driver has 5 ports, with the silver Tungsten weights measuring 4.1 grams and the black titanium weights measuring 0.8 grams.
“The way we’ve constructed those weights, we made it more intuitive for the mass movement … it’s both more intuitive and more efficient. So when you move one weight you see a bigger effect.”
This change will help golfers better find the right setting to optimize their ball flight, and it will help fitters to dial in the consumer.
Overall, PXG reports a CG below the neutral axis in its X driver, and it says the XF driver is at the MOI (moment of inertia) limit mandated by the USGA. The drivers also have PXG’s honeycomb TPE insert in the inner portions of their soles to dampen vibrations and enhance feel and acoustics.
PXG reports its X driver is the lowest spinning driver on the market and has a 2 mph faster ball speed than the closest driver competitor, while the PXG XF is reported by the company as the highest MOI driver head on the market will 1 mph faster ball speed than its closest competitor on the market. Compared to its own Gen1 drivers, PXG says the Gen2 X driver has 1-2 mph faster ball speed, 300-400rpm lower spin rate, is 7-10 yards longer and has a 26 percent tighter dispersion area. The Gen2 XF driver, compared to the Gen 1 XF, has 1 mph faster ball speed, “similar” spin rate, “slightly” higher launch angle, is 3-6 yards longer, and has a 34 percent tighter dispersion area, according to the company.
There’s also been a drastic price decrease. PXG’s previous retail drivers sold for $850, while the new Gen 0811X drivers (9, 10.5 and 12 degrees) and the Gen2 081XF drivers (9, 10.5, 12 and 14 degrees) will sell for $575 starting on January 15. Each of the drivers have a 60-degree lie angle, measure 45 inches in length and come stock with a swing weight of D3.
Parsons explains the price drop: “We priced it to take advantage of our scale now. And it’s still the most expensive driver there is, but it’s now an affordable luxury, moreso than it was. When we did our Gen 1 stuff, we’re a small company. Just getting going. You know, we’re not selling all that much so reach out and we start buying. And you don’t buy really in quantity, or you don’t know what you’re quantity is going to be. And so, you know it’s like you, when you go buy stuff and you buy just a few, you pay more than when you buy a lot. Same here. We’re always going to be a high performance brand. So we will never make a low performance product at a low price. It’s just not something we’ll do. Our stuff is always high performance period. And it will always outperform anything that we run up against. At least in our eyes it will. So from that standpoint, I don’t ever look to change that.”
PXG fairway woods and hybrids
Like the Gen2 0811 drivers, the Gen2 0341 fairway woods and Gen2 0317 hybrids also have the hot rod technology on their carbon fiber crowns to improve ball speeds. They each have anti-glare crowns, honeycomb TPE sole inserts, CG-adjustability in their soles via weight ports, and weight forward designs for lower spin. Same as the drivers, the fairway woods and hybrids have 4.1 silver tungsten weights and black 0.8-gram titanium weights for fine-tuning the soles.
Compared to the Gen1 0341 fairway woods, PXG reports the Gen2 woods have 1-2 mph faster ball speeds, 300-400rpm lower spin, “similar” launch angles, are 7-10 yards longer with a 3 percent tighter dispersion area.
Compared to the Gen1 hybrids, PXG reports the new Gen 2 hybrids have 2-3 mph faster ball speeds, have “similar” spin rates, “similar” launch angles, are 4-7 yards longer with a 6 percent tighter dispersion area.
The Gen2 0341 fairway woods (13, 15, 18 and 21 degrees) will sell for $425, and the Gen2 0317 hybrids (17, 19, 22, 25 and 28 degrees) will sell for $375.