The conversation around fairway woods and hybrids is often one where OEMs both explain and justify which technologies from the flagship driver tricked down and which didn’t make the cut. That said, the intent of PXG’s 0341 X GEN2 Fairways and 0371 X GEN2 Hybrids release is clear – Offer a comprehensive product line, which stays true to its committed purpose of innovation without compromise. As such, the same template of Hot Rod technologies and the underlying structures which define 0811 GEN2 Drivers also provides the foundation for GEN2 fairways and hybrids.
Before we delve into the performance details, let’s talk price. The street price for both the 0341X ($425) and 0317X ($375) are roughly $200 lower than the GEN1 models each replaces. That’s still on the high end of the market, but we’re inching closer towards mainstream pricing – and I’d also point out that TaylorMade is about to drop a $400 titanium fairway on the market, so PXG isn’t living alone in the high rent district.
According to founder, Bob Parsons, the price reduction is due primarily to the advantages of economies of scale. Per unit costs of production decrease for larger volume product runs and this new price point maintains the integrity of PXGs profit margins while making the offering more attractive to consumers for whom the extra $100ish is a small stretch, rather than the kind of massive leap one hopes a significant other won’t notice. Stepping back a moment, it isn’t often that cheaper is included in the litany of typical selling points: longer, straighter, more accurate. With most brands, a decrease in price results in lowered consumer expectations. Given PXG’s established identity as a luxury brand, however; the drop is unlikely to have the same result.
REV-UP THE HOT ROD
Eye-popping ball speeds and maximum efficiency is just as relevant with fairway woods and hybrids if for no other reason than, excluding the driver, each club should be fit to a specific carry distance to help players avoid unhittable yardages. Whatever amount of increased distance players can find with a new driver, if the remaining clubs at the top of the bag can’t keep pace, it can create some funky and unwanted distance gaps.
To that end, the primary message of PXG’s Hot Rod crown technology is ball speed is king – but speed without the aesthetics and feel desired by better players isn’t the complete resume PXG needs if it hopes to win more 1:1 battles against category leaders. The premise and application of the multi-level carbon composite crown, advanced precision weighting, Honeycomb TPE sole insert, and matte black finish are of the same potency in the fairway and hybrid as in the 0811X GEN2 driver.
Bottom line, the GEN2 Fairways and Hybrids aren’t just faster, with the requisite allowance for subjectivity, they look and feel better too.
The raised carbon crown may provide some aerodynamic benefit, but its primary purpose is to reinforce and strategically stiffen the body. Because carbon is significantly lighter (1/4 the weight of titanium and 1/8 the weight of steel) it gives engineers more discretionary weight to play with – in this case, PXG positioned the mass lower and more forward in the clubhead. The downside to carbon, however, is that its construction requires resin (glue) which tends to absorb energy rather than deflect it. To increase ball speeds, PXG’s lead engineers, Mike Nicolette and Brad Schweigert, utilized the crown structure to create an energy barrier (the curved crease sits about 1/2″ back from the topline) which pushes everything back toward the face post-impact. The net result is more energy returned to the face and thus the improved ball speeds as compared to the GEN1 fairway woods and hybrids. An unintended benefit of the hood lines is a suggested point of convergence inline with the sweet spot, and though it’s a small sample size and certainly not statistically significant, some tour players have noticed more consistently centered impact as a result.
As with the driver, the individual tungsten (4.1 gr.) and titanium (0.8 gr) weights are heavier than those used in previous models and thus allow for greater center of gravity movement to dial-in launch/spin conditions. In both the 0341X fairway and 0317X hybrid, there are eight moveable weights – two in the heel, two in the toe and four under the leading edge. The stock/neutral configuration places the four tungsten weights low/forward for maximum ball speed, with the lighter titanium weights in the heel and toe.
Players can go through a trial and error roulette to find the optimal configuration, but this is an area where a quality fitter can make a world of difference. In addition to the stock weights, fitters will also have access to 2.5-gram tungsten weights, which are exactly 1 swing weight point (1.6 gr.) lighter. Because I tend to fight a hook (I like to call it my premium draw), my fitter suggested taking two of the heavier tungsten weights from the heel side of the front four weights and positioning them in the toe. This is now my neutral configuration, though additional tweaking may be required.
During initial testing, the trajectory of the 17° hybrid largely mirrored my 3-iron. The ball started and stayed online, without any ballooning. This is by design and a fact not lost on Mike Nicolette, who referenced some internal trade secrets which he politely declined to share. The result is a hybrid which performs as expected but with a more pronounced long-iron personality.
As with the driver, both the fairway and hybrid incorporate Honeycomb TPE inserts to dampen unwanted vibrations and improve sound/feel. The finish is a matte black with a contrasting silver “X” alignment aid, which works well to limit visual distractions at address, though the subtle lines do give some indication as to the features of the multi-level carbon crown.
PXG offers a single model in both the fairway and hybrid, which is a point of differentiation as other notable OEMs (Callaway, Ping, Titleist) offer multiple versions. The distinction can sometimes be one of price, but often it’s about having a specific model to address a specific need (lower spin, slice correction, etc.) Both the 0341X and 0317X are natively lower spin, but given the flexibility of the movable weight design, PXG feels that, with proper fitting, it can cover the bulk of the market with a single design.
According to PXG’s internal player testing, the GEN2 fairways and hybrids are longer and more accurate as compared to GEN1 product. Specifically, the 0314X fairway generates 1-2 MPH faster ball speed, 300-400- lower spin and is 7-10 yards longer, while decreasing dispersion by 3%. Similarly, the 0317X hybrid produces 2-3 more MPH ball speed, is 4-7 yards longer and offers a 6% tighter dispersion.
A Bull in the Market?
To date, PXG’s metalwoods haven’t garnered the same level of attention as its irons. That’s in no small part why PXG is hoping to do more than just push the innovation envelope with GEN2. It’s what Bob Parsons alludes to when he suggests success for this line is about “getting the perception of the irons to match the woods.” That’s no small task, but it is one which will benefit from the lower price point. That said, the purposeful exclusivity of PXG means its attempts to encroach on the market share held by The Big 5 (Callaway, Titleist, Ping, TaylorMade, Cobra), will be less a blitzkrieg, and more of plodding incursion. As per usual, time will tell, though if asked, I’d wager that the 0317X GEN2 hybrid will have some players – even better players – considering dropping the 4, 5 and 6-irons from the bag. Crazy? Perhaps.
You tell us.
Specs, Pricing, and Availability
The 0341 X GEN2 Fairway is available in lofts of 13°, 15°, 18°, and 21°. As an aside, the 13° version is listed as a 2-wood, which for my money, is more sensible than calling it a 3+ or Strong 3.
The 0317 X GEN2 Hybrid is available in lofts of 17°, 19°, 22°, 25°, and 28°.
As with any other PXG offerings, there is no stock shaft per se. PXG fitters have an extensive catalog from which to pull. There’s definitely something to fit anyone.
Retail price is $425 (fairway) – $375 (hybrid). Availability begins 1/15/19.
Also announced today: PXG 0811 GEN2 Drivers
For more information, visit PXG.com.