Timing is Nothing
It’s been just a bit more than two years since PXG officially launched its inaugural collection. For a good bit of the industry, 2 years might be considered an extended release window, but in this case, any correlation between today’s announcement and the date on the calendar is pure coincidence.
Unlike the mainstream wing of the equipment industry, PXG doesn’t do release cycles.
“We don’t actually care what when we launch says,” PXG’s Chief Product Officer, Brad Schweigert. “We don’t have this big five-year roadmap where we’re saying we need this here, that here, and that over here. It’s where can we make a noticeable improvement to help make the products significantly better.”
The timing is irrelevant.
With no specific due date, there’s no need for good ideas to be left in reserve for the next model either. Development continues until PXG’s engineers run out of ideas for ways to make the product better. And while Founder & CEO, Bob Parsons, is the final arbiter of what moves forward (if he’s not wowed in a handful of swings or less, the team isn’t done), the lack of time constraints coupled with PXG’s notoriously unlimited R&D budget allows the company, says Schweigert, to be more innovative than traditional golf companies.
Case in point, the new X collection. Parsons says X could have been released 2 or 3 iterations ago - and it would have been really good, but PXG’s R&D team, which includes former PING and Cobra engineers among others, kept coming up with more ideas.
The result is a collection of metalwoods that leverages semi-exotic materials to push design – and driver design in particular - into uncharted territory.
It's Expensive, and that Pisses Some People Off
This is a PXG story and I know what's coming. I’m certain some of you are already rolling your eyes as you prepare to bang angry strokes nearly through your keyboards. So yeah, it costs what it costs and it is what it is. All I ask is that before you pass final judgment, allow me to take a stab at answering some of your likely questions.
Is the 0811X a replacement for the 0811?
No. According to Bob Parsons, the 0811X augments the 0811. The latter will remain in the lineup, price unchanged. PXG believes the new model will be a better fit for the majority of golfers; however, the original remains the better option for low spin golfers. To give you some small frame of reference, both Ryan Moore and Zach Johnson are expected to continue playing the 0811.
It’s also worth noting; Parsons was assertive in saying that, unlike nearly everyone else in the industry, PXG will never discount its products.
What’s new/different/better about the 0811X?
When PXG launched the 0811, it thought it had something special. It was certainly a competent driver; offering performance as good as anything in the mid/back CG space. That said, the sound wasn’t the best, and for a good bit of golfers, the single prevailing adjective was spinny (even with all eight heavy weights forward).
With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, even PXG would likely concede that the 0811 didn’t wow like a PXG product is supposed to.
The company believes that has changed with the 0811X. The new modely features three significant changes (four, if you like fewer weights) from the 0811, each implemented with the goal of creating a product that offers more distance, tighter dispersion, and better sound and feel.
Here’s what’s new.
Carbon Fiber Construction
The overwhelming majority of low/back CG designs feature some form of Carbon fiber construction. Notably, Callaway, TaylorMade, and Cobra rely on Carbon Fiber to free the discretionary mass necessary to power their back and sometimes low CG designs.
PXG claims its new carbon crown weighs only 8.2 grams. There's almost always nuance in these sort of numbers, but by nearly any measure, it qualifies as exceptionally light, even by carbon fiber standards. PXG's crown ranks among the lightest in the industry, and a quick check of the numbers suggests a nearly 22 grams savings over the titanium construction of the 0811. We’re talking about a sizable chunk of weight for PXG to play with it.
Honeycomb TPE Insert
I’m not a guy who hated the sound of the 0811 (full disclosure, mine has the sound dampening benefit of hotmelt), but it’s an area where PXG felt it had an opportunity, if not a need, for improvement. Not surprisingly, to solve the sound issue the company turned to the same TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) technology it uses in its irons. After trying several different approaches (putting the TPE directly behind the face, different thicknesses, etc.), the company settled on a honeycomb TPE sheet anchored to the interior sole.
Score another one for biomimicry.
The insert achieves the desired result of minimizing vibrations, particularly around PXG’s signature weights. Not only does the inclusion of TPE solve the sound problem, but it also eliminates the need for the often-complex rib structures used in other manufacturers’ designs. Gram for gram, the TPE insert saves weight over other methods of vibration control.
Variable Face Design
It’s fair to say that every manufacturer claims some sort of benefit from proprietary face technology. PXG is no different. In this particular case, the focus isn’t ball speed. PXG says its complex variable face design saves weight by way of an improved strength to mass ratio while at the same time helping promote tighter dispersion. Once again, we’re talking about taking weight out of the heavy part of a club so it can be placed where it will benefit the golfer.
It’s hard to talk about any PXG product without discussing the weights. Of no particular significance (consider it a bonus), I suppose it’s worth mentioning that PXG has simplified fitting a bit by reducing the number of screws from 16 to 10. The change still allows for front, back, draw, and fade settings, without being quite as wrench intensive as the 0811.
If there’s so much Tech in the 0811X, why can’t I see any of it?
It’s true that golfers love visible technology (I’m guilty of it) - that’s not a fact lost on PXG, nor Bob Parsons in particular. During the design phase, there were discussions about whether or not to make certain aspects of the 0811X’s technology more apparent on the exterior of the club. Ultimately Parsons decided against it. He’s of the opinion that visible technology is about marketing hype more than anything else, so PXG has a simpler idea.
“We’ll let the performance of the club speak for everything.” – Bob Parsons, Founder & CEO, PXG
What Are the Mass Properties of the 0811X
We haven’t measured the 0811X (yet), so we’re not able to independently verify the mass properties of the new driver. What I can tell you is that PXG is well-aware of our mass properties chart, and it wants the dot for the 0811X to exist in near isolation from everybody else. To that end, the company is making some bold statements about where it believes the 0811X fits.
The specific claim is a CG location that’s 1mm below the neutral axis within a Moment of Inertia (MOI) of 4800 g-cm^2. Plugging the estimates into our chart (above) we see that, if true, the 0811X would have the lowest CGNA of any driver measured, with an MOI (forgiveness) in the vicinity of the Callaway XR16, PING G LS and SFTec, Cobra F6/F7 (depending on weight position), and the 0811.
That would be uncharted territory - a unicorn of sorts - and it would make the 0811X special. Exceptional, really.
What Does that Mean for Performance?
In terms of the numbers, the biggest difference between the 0811 and the 0811X is spin. The 0811X should spin significantly less, launch marginally higher, and offer the added benefit of being easier to turn over. That means a driver that’s longer, and a bit more anti-slice than its predecessor.
The Robot Numbers
In PXG's robot testing, the company found that the 0811X launches .25°-.05° higher and spins 600-800 RPM less (depending on relative weight placement).
The stated distance gains are 8-12 yards of carry and 10-15 yards of total distance.
An additional 10 yards of left/right dispersion are produced by the respective draw and fade settings.
What’s the Deal with the LX Model?
In addition to the standard X model, PXG is also releasing a 0811LX. The LX is 8 grams (199g total weight) and five swing weight points lighter than the standard model. The LX is intended to fit golfers seeking a lighter driver and those looking to leverage longer shafts.
A good bit of the weight savings is attributable to a lighter TPE insert (8 grams instead of 14), but given the swing speed range of the anticipated demographic, it’s unlikely the smaller insert will hurt sound and feel.
What are the Specifications of the 0811X and 0811LX Drivers?
The PXG 0811X and 0811LX drivers are available exclusively through PXG’s network of custom fitters. The price is $850 with any shaft in the PXG catalog.
PXG X Collection Fairways and Hybrids
What’s a driver release without accompanying fairways and hybrids?
What’s intriguing about the 0341X (fairway) and 0317X (hybrids) is that unlike most OEM lines, the majority of the 0811X’s signature technology is consistent throughout the entire metalwoods lineup.
Both the 0341X and 0317X feature both carbon fiber crowns and TP honeycomb inserts.
PXG 0341X Fairway
From a design perspective, they key design detail is that the lighter crown has allowed PXG to drive the CG down and a bit forward. That’s right, forward, not back.
There’s a school of thought in fairway design that says that if you can’t hit a fairway wood, your best bet for success comes from a back CG design. If, however, you’re already competent with a fairway wood, front CG designs will often produce better results.
The 0341X has a longer heel to toe width than the 0341, which maintains the MOI of the original, despite the more forward CG.
In robot testing, the 0341X showed faster ball speeds (1.5-2MPH), launched higher (1°), spun less (300-400 RPM lower), and produced more distance (7-10 yards carry, and 8-11 yards total).
PXG also says the new model should prove a bit easier to hit, while offering tighter dispersion and, because of the TPE insert, generally better feel.
In addition to standard 3, 7, 5, and 9-wood models, the 0341X is also available in a 13° 2-wood. While still reasonably compact, the 2-wood features a taller face than the standard 15° 3-wood, which makes it more suitable for use off the tee, without compromising playability from the fairway.
PXG 0341X Fairway Specs
PXG’s 0341X Fairway is available exclusively through PXG’s network of custom fitters. The price is $650 per club with any shaft in the PXG catalog.
PXG 0317X Hybrid
I’ve already mentioned it, but it bears repeating: the PXG 0317X hybrid features the same TPE insert and Carbon fiber crown technology as the 0311X Driver.
Carbon fiber crown… in a hybrid.
While the resulting weight savings (nearly 10 grams vs. steel) aren’t as significant as they are in larger clubs, every gram counts.
The carbon fiber crown and TPE insert give the 0317X a technology upgrade, but other design changes are intentionally subtle. The 0317 is immensely popular with PXG’s Tour staff, so there was little motivation to create anything radically different.
As with the 0341X Fairway, PXG’s engineers got an MOI boost by extending the 0317X from toe to heel, but the design remains shallow from front to back, and look at address doesn’t deviate much from that of the 0341.
Where relative performance is concerned; in robot testing the 0341X produced 0.5 MPH more ball speed, launched 0.5° higher, spun 200-300 RPM less, while producing more distance (3-5 yards carry and 5-7 yards total).
For those who like their hybrids to spin a bit more for better green stopping power, the original 0341 might still be the better option.
PXG 0317X Hybrid Specs
PXG’s 0317X Hybrid is available exclusively through PXG’s network of custom fitters. The price is $550 per club with any shaft in the PXG catalog.
Bob Parsons tells us that PXG will be releasing another driver coming in the coming months. Uncharacteristically tight-lipped, Parsons says the next one well be aimed at a very specific segment of the market.
For more information on PXG’s new X Collection, visit PXG.com.