If you’re under the age of 55, you might want to skip this article.
If you have a driver swing speed over 85 MPH, you’ll probably want to skip this article.
And if any article on PXG or similarly-priced golf equipment makes you grab your torch and pitchfork and find an angry mob and a castle to storm, you should definitely skip this article.
XXIO isn’t as polarizing as PXG, but it’s close. An $850.00 price tag on a driver will do that to you, and I know, I know, expensive clubs won’t fix your swing or make you a better golfer, yadda, yadda, yadda…
But XXIO is unapologetically high end and is more than confident its products deliver performance that more than justify the asking price – for its target demographic.
If you’re an athletic golfer in your prime with a 100 MPH swing speed, you are most definitely not part of that demographic, and XXIO will tell you its products won’t work for you. They’re not designed for you. Your parents, maybe, but not you.
XXIO’s thing is lightweight, easy to hit equipment to make the game easier and more fun for those of us on the, ahhh, back nine of life. Today we’re taking a first look at the updated XXIO Prime, a super-lightweight offering for golfers pushing or past 70, who’ve lost considerable swing speed and no amount of fitness, lessons or Super Speed Golf training is going to bring it back.
Father Time Doesn’t Lose
Think of XXIO like a coffin: you’re going to need it eventually.
“The fact of the matter is 60% of the rounds in the U.S. are played by people over the age of 50,” says Chuck Thiry, XXIO’s VP of Strategic Partnerships. “If you look at the group playing most of the golf and spending most of the money on golf, it’s the baby boomers. We align pretty well with that group.”
XXIO Prime is for the golfer who swings under 85 miles an hour and who may not have a ton of golf-playing years left, but who still wants to get out there and have some fun. “You can talk about innovations all you want,” says Thiry, “but that player needs speed. That’s what we give them.”
The XXIO Prime driver is very light – with the head, shaft and even the grip all designed specifically to work together in ways a typical driver head with a lightweight Senior-flex shaft can’t.
“Most companies, when they talk lightweight, they’re talking 280 to 300 grams,” says Thiry. “Prime is less than 250. Our balance point on the shaft is way up near the grip. Our engineers will tell you the golf club delivers the head on a much more efficient path and delivers it quicker to the ball. That comes from a 36-gram shaft, a 22-gram grip, and a 185-gram head.”
If you’ve never hit an XXIO driver, I’d recommend it, even if you’re not in the target demographic. If you have a swing over 95 MPH, you’ll find the shaft ridiculously whippy, and you’ll hit the ball high enough to threaten low-flying aircraft. But it will be one of the most unique clubs you’ve ever hit.
“If you hit a Callaway 10.5 with a regular flex shaft, a Titleist 10.5 R or a TaylorMade 10.5 R, they’ll be a little different, but you’re going to see a lot of similarities,” says Thiry. “With our club, it’s going to be the one where you’re going to go ‘holy cow, this one is different.’”
XXIO’s regular flex Prime shaft is going to be much lighter with much softer tip than most mainstream A-flex shafts, again because it’s designed for golfers of a golden age. The head itself is designed with a draw bias: the shaft in the 2019 model has been moved closer to the center of the face, the toe is a bit higher, and the heel is a bit lower. The hosel is much shorter and lighter, which gives XXIO some extra mass to move around, which also helps.
“The lighter grip has an effect. The light shaft has an effect, the high balance point has an effect, and the slightly heavier head compared to the grip has an effect. We don’t encourage anyone to take our club apart and rebuild it. We’d rather not make the sale in that case.”
Soft Tips, Closed Faces
XXIO is a totally home-grown brand and a full partner in the Srixon-Cleveland-XXIO troika. All components are designed, manufactured and assembled in house, and are designed to work with each other. For example, the draw biased head is built to work specifically with the Miyazaki-made XXIO shaft.
XXIO says the combination of the light shaft and grip, the high balance point and the design of the head make it easier to hit the ball square on the sweet spot. If that sounds like heresy, get a load of this: the XXIO Prime driver is built to 46.5 inches.
“Because of how it’s constructed, we can make it that long and you’ll hit just as many, if not more, shots in the middle of the face,” says Thiry. “That’s because of the ratio of the balance point to the weight of the components and how it swings on a more efficient path.”
Senior golfers often – not always, but often – simply don’t generate clubhead speed and often have an out-to-in swing path, which leads to low cuts that are equal parts roll and carry. The XXIO Prime shaft is made from high-strength, high-elasticity, and lightweight Torayca T1100G carbon. The super-soft tip helps close the face at impact and get the ball up in the air.
The rest of the XXIO Prime metal wood lineup follows the same recipe as the driver. For many players, particularly the aging baby-boomer, there’s no club in the bag harder to hit consistently than the 3-wood.
“That’s because they don’t generate enough clubhead speed to make the lower loft work for them,” says Thiry. “We’ve designed this so it’s low in the back of the crown, so the golfer gets comfortable quicker. We also take weight away from the face and move it low and deep – there’s a 27-gram weight on the bottom of the sole. It’s all designed to get the ball up in the air.”
As with the drivers, fairway and hybrid shafts are longer than normal, with the same soft tip. The fairway woods share the same ultra-thin, and ultra-light Super TiX forged titanium cup face with the driver, while the hybrids use a forged maraging steel cup face.
“When you go to a demo day to hit XXIO products, start with the fairway woods,” says Thiry. “They’re kind of the magic bullet in the whole set because they’re so easy to pick off the ground. That’s an area where most golfers struggle.
Prime Irons and The Big Easy
XXIO Prime irons are true Super-Duper Game Improvement irons with a very wide sole, a deep cavity, and a Prime-specific graphite shaft. They’re cast bodies with a forged Super TiX titanium face. There’s tungsten and nickel weighting in the head to get the center of gravity as low as possible to – let’s say it together – help get the ball up in the air.
You’ll also see a Speed Groove in the cavity, very similar to the what’s used in Srixon’s Z 585 irons. The purpose is the same: make the face more flexible and forgiving across the face and to maximize ball speed. A brief winter-time session at a heated driving range had some interesting results – very high, predictable draws with very consistent impact on the face – something that’s not in my arsenal in the middle of summer, never mind mid-winter.
As you’d expect, the lofts on XXIO Prime are strong with the 7-iron checking in at 28-degrees which, along with longer and lighter shafts, help deliver what XXIO’s target golfer is looking for: lost distance. XXIO doesn’t apologize for any of that.
“A 70-year-old only averages about 80 miles an hour clubhead speed, and that player needs the most help,” says Thiry. “Other manufacturers ignore that player because they have to. They have to be true to their PGA Tour-based marketing strategy. We couldn’t care less about the Tour.”
So then what’s the deal with Ernie Els?
“That’s the oxymoron in the conversation,” admits Thiry. “Ernie is 48, but he’s basically a global ambassador for the brand. He plays XXIO woods that are actually built for different markets worldwide that are stiffer and heavier. Ernie is good for the brand because the most important word in the XXIO lexicon is ‘easy’ – it’s easier to swing, it’s easier to hit, and it’s easier to hit far. And Ernie is the Big Easy.”
Price, Availability and Final Thoughts
Let’s get the price out of the way first: the driver costs $849.99, the fairways $579.99, the hybrids $379.99 and the irons $259.99 each.
Yep, those are some hefty price tags, no doubt about it. But according to Thiry, XXIO continues to grow nicely, and 35% of XXIO’s sales in the U.S. are XXIO Prime. XXIO’s presence at retail is also growing.
XXIO Prime won’t be included in MyGolfSpy’s Most Wanted testing – considering the target market, there’s no point. XXIO X, which is earmarked for the mid-50 to mid-60-year-old golfer, was tested last year, finishing in the middle of the pack for the slow swing speed (70-90 MPH) player.
Does that mean all of XXIO’s claims are bullshit? The cynic is all of us should certainly be suspicious, and sometimes anecdotal evidence is all we have. To wit, a senior golfer I’ve played with – she’s a member of the Rhode Island Golf Hall of Fame – recently won the Florida Senior Olympics after switching to XXIO Prime and all her opponents wanted to know was how she was hitting the ball so far.
And this was two weeks before long-delayed shoulder surgery.
So if you’re in your 70’s, well-heeled and want to make the most of whatever golf you have left, if someone gives you something longer, easier and more fun, does price become less of an issue? The answer depends on the golfer, but XXIO is building a nice little business on it.
“Show me a golfer who can pass up 10 or 15 more yards. I haven’t met him,” says Thiry. “Show that golfer real performance and real distance, and price goes out the window.”
“I’m never going to say don’t go get lessons,” he adds. “But there’s nothing I’ve seen that can give you speed back as quickly as a golf club like this can. Yes, work on your game, but this will get your speed and distance back.”
“Our golfer has expendable cash, and he’s given up all his other sports,” Thiry continues. “He’s given up bowling; he’s given up softball. Golf is his thing. He’s more passionate about golf than he’s ever been before. If you go down to Florida, people buy $500,000 houses just to be closer to the golf course. They’re not going to balk at the price of golf clubs that are going to help them.”
XXIO Prime will be available starting March 1st.