- Solid-body (3X) three-times forged muscle-back design
- Target golfer is the professional/competitive amateur.
- Introductory pricing – $349/club
PXG 0311 ST GEN4 irons.
It’s a long name with a short list of potential consumers. And that’s by design.
PXG founder Bob Parsons has often likened his brand to that of Ferrari. In that case, I’d imagine he’d consider the 0311 ST GEN4 irons as the SF90 Stradale of the GEN4 iron stable.
But as with any vehicle built for speed, there’s inherent risk. Put another way, there are no fender benders on the Autobahn.
PXG 0311 ST GEN4 Basics
Let’s start with the name. The “ST” stands for “Super Tour.” Or what other brands label muscle-back or blade irons. On paper, it’s PXG’s second iteration of ST irons, though the 0211 ST and 0311 ST milled irons both predate the 0311 ST GEN4 irons.
Given the target demographic of more accomplished ball-strikers, the 0311 ST GEN4 irons exhibit the hallmarks of what one would expect: Minimal offset, thin toplines, reduced heel-toe length and a design emphasis on feel and workability.
(Brief sidebar. The golf industry loves to take the absence of a desired characteristic for some golfers and turn it into a positive attribute for the likely consumer. Case in point. If an iron is “forgiving.” it’s likely not as “workable.” If it offers shot-making control and precision, it’s probably at the expense of some forgiveness. I call it marketing optimism.)
The solid-body 0311 ST GEN4 irons are forged from 8620 carbon steel and then precision milled as opposed to hand polished. The remainder of the tech story is rather simple. The PXG 0311 ST GEN4 is a Tour-inspired geometry engineered to give elite golfers more control over distance, trajectory and shot shape.
Thus, the thin faces, hollow cavities and XCOR polymer materials integral to the GEN4 XP, P and T irons are contrary to the engineering objectives of the 0311 ST GEN4. You don’t put a winch on the front of a Aventador.
Though the rest of the 0311 GEN4 iron family launched in March 2021, the 0311 ST GEN4 irons are firmly a part of PXG’s GEN4 extended release. What this suggests is that it’s reasonable to expect PXG to maintain something in the blade/muscle-back genre with subsequent releases.
PXG 0311 ST GEN4 Details
How soft is soft? It depends. While feel is inherently subjective, it’s often a notable talking point when discussing single-piece forged irons.
Golfers with a more refined palate (be it real or imagined) tend to prefer a feel at impact that approximates soft and solid.
With that, too many people fixate on the type of metal companies use. Yes, the 8620 carbon steel used by PXG is natively a harder metal than 1025 (S25C in Japan) we see in forged irons from Mizuno, Miura, EPON and others. That said, the sensation at impact (feel) is a function of material, design and geometry. Basically, a poor design can make a soft metal feel like rocks bouncing around inside a tin can. The converse is equally true.
In this case, PXG opted for 8620 carbon steel because the slightly harder nature should allow for better overall durability and longer groove life. The largest knock on softer forgings is that they tend to show wear (bag chatter) quicker. In addition, the softer metal means that sharp edges (think grooves) won’t hold up as well over time.
If you’re looking for contemporary examples, PING’s blade-style Blueprint iron is also a single-piece, 8620 forged design.
As with other GEN4 irons, the 0311 ST irons feature Precision Weighting Technology. An interchangeable center weight gives fitters the option to increase or decrease head weight to find optimal performance. You might be thinking this is all about matching swing weights. Not so fast, my friend. Most often, manufacturers have one stock head weight for each iron. Occasionally a second, lighter head weight is available for over-length builds. From there, builders add tip weights during assembly to reach a playable swing weight.
With PXG, the weights (available in two-gram increments up to 18 grams) serve an additional purpose. Some golfers find the desired combination of launch/spin/ball speed with heavier heads. Others need a lighter head weight. Regardless, I’d wager that most golfers haven’t been through a fitting with head weight as a variable.
No doubt, a milled finish creates a certain aesthetic that plays well with golfers that want—and are willing to pay—for a particular look. But PXG will tell you that, ultimately, milling is the most precise technique to account for inconsistencies in the finishing process. And, continuing that line of logic, any time you can achieve tighter spec tolerances, that’s a good thing.
As compared to the 0211 ST and 0311 Milled ST irons, the 0311 ST GEN4 are shorter heel-to-toe and feature marginally less offset. With that, PXG is using a progressive blade length concept. The long irons (3-5) are slightly longer heel-to-toe than the mid irons (6-7) which are fractionally longer than the short irons (8-PW). Also, the long irons have some weight removed from the upper cavity which helps achieve the longer blade length.
While it’s not like the 0311 Milled ST irons had much offset, the 0311 ST GEN4 have even less. The precise progress of offset is .120 inches (3-iron) through .015 inches (PW). For comparison, Mizuno’s MP-20 muscle back irons start at .102 inches (3-iron) and decrease to .075 (PW). The point is that, at address, the leading edge sits in line with the front of the hosel.
The primary reason for the reduced offset is player feedback. PXG’s Tour staff requested less offset and therefore the 0311 ST GEN4 irons have less offset. That’s pretty much the entire story.
Due to manufacturing complexities, the X-treme Dark DLC finish wasn’t an option on the PXG GEN3 irons.
But with GEN4, it’s back. Go ahead and queue up AC/DC if you’d like.
Dark finishes are tricky. Whether on the rack or just out of the plastic, the clubs look centerfold gorgeous. The question is how long do they stay that way?
Rule No. 1. Dark finishes wear quicker than chrome/satin finishes.
Rule No. 2. Not all dark finishes are equal.
The thin film coating hierarchy goes something like this.
PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) is the most used and least expensive method. It also tends to show wear faster than other methods. Some PVD applications are better than others, but the primary reason manufacturers go this route is cost.
QPQ (Quench-Polish-Quench) works the color into the top layer of steel. Think of it as impregnating the steel rather than coating it. As such, QPQ finishes create a unique patina where the club interacts with the turf (sole) and ball (face). The remainder of the club (topline, cavity, hosel) maintain the dark coloring longer than a basic PVD finish.
Miura and SUB 70 both use this technique.
DLC (Diamond Like Coating) is a process PXG started using on irons in 2016. At that time, it was a first for the golf industry. Like PVD, DLC is generally applied in a vacuum chamber. However, DLC is more durable and less prone to fading than PVD. The primary downside to DLC is that it’s a more expensive process. The upcharge for the DLC finish on the 0311 ST GEN4 irons is $50/club.
Admittedly, I’m a sucker for dark finishes. But, like my coffee, I prefer my irons as black as possible. For the same money, I’d prefer PXG to keep the weights and paintfill black.
PXG 0311 ST GEN4 Final Thoughts
Is your game ready the 0311 ST GEN irons? Sometimes the question is the answer. The primary performance attribute of blade (muscle-back) irons is that they do exactly what you tell them to do. Buttery fade. Punch draw. Towering shot to a tucked pin.
But the penalty for bringing anything less than your “A” game can be severe.
Whether the tradeoff is an asset or detriment is mostly a function of how skilled a ball striker you are.
Will there be some vanity purchases? You bet. But that’s not the point. I doubt PXG expects to sell boatloads or even rowboat loads of ST irons.
And, in that regard, maybe the latent value of the PXG 0311 ST GEN4 irons is that it gives PXG loyalists the full gamut of iron choices. No need to look elsewhere if a traditional blade iron is what you want.
As a longtime Mizuno muscle-back user, I’m antsy to see how these stack up against my gamers.
PXG believes the 0311 ST GEN4 can be a “thoughtful departure from a traditional tour blade.” If so, it’s fair to consider just how different can this, or any, muscle-back iron be?
0311 ST GEN4 Fitting and Availability
The 0311 ST GEN4 irons are offered in both RH and LH.
The introductory price is $349/club. Add $50/club if you’d like the Xtreme Dark DLC finish.
PXG equipment is available through authorized PXG fitting locations and online at pxg.com.
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