Our theme of something in a time of mostly nothing continues with a limited release of PXG 0811 X Proto and 0811 X+ Proto drivers. Billed as actual prototypes (as opposed to finished version), both models are on the USGA conforming clubs list, so you’re good to go for any tournaments you plan to compete in this month…ugh.
The PXG GEN3 Driver?
If 2020 were something remotely resembling a normal year, I would have expected PXG GEN3 metalwoods to launch in March or possibly October. The latter remains a possibility, though 2021 seems more likely at this point. For now, again, …here’s something.
It’s a reasonable assumption that these prototypes provide a preview of what the next generation of PXG drivers will look like. That said, we should note that not every PXG prototype driver goes mainstream. The conforming list holds several iterations of PXG drivers that never made it to retail. My guess is that what ultimately becomes 0811X GEN3 will be similar, though not identical to what you see here, bigger weights and all.
The current asking price for the Limited-Edition Tour Prototypes is $495.
If you haven’t been paying attention – and judging by some of the pervasiveness of uninformed comments on all things PXG, many of you haven’t – that’s $200 more than the cost of a GEN2 driver right now.
PXG – DTC on Wheels
Permit me a slight detour from our main story.
For the last couple of months, PXG has offered its Heroes pricing to everyone. That means that, with the exception of its wedges, all of PXG’s clubs are on sale. We’ll touch on this more in a bit, but this isn’t an industry-standard inventory dump; it’s just a sale, which remarkable as it sounds, it’s highly unusual within the golf equipment space. The discounts were set to expire at the end of April, but the company has extended through the end of this month.
The discounting is only possible because of PXG’s distribution model, which has evolved to something that can be described as DTC (direct to consumer) on wheels. The overwhelming majority of its clubs are sold through its fleet of mobile fitting vans and PXG-branded retail fitting locations. Acting as its own distributor and existing outside the standard retail channel gives the company more freedom to operate and adjust prices whenever it sees fit.
It’s also true that PXG is Bob Parsons’ world, and Bob can do whatever Bob wants. Still, given the uncertainty of the times, that flexibility is most certainly an advantage. I’d wager that Eric Burch of New Level Golf – another club company succeeding through aggressive price adjustments – would agree.
Cynics, of course, will take the price-cutting as an indication that COVID-19 is taking its toll on PXG. The company is growing desperate. Why drop prices if not to blow out inventory? The end is nigh.
The alternative perspective is that the brand sees an opportunity. Industry-wide, massive discounts are all but inevitable. While the mainstream guys working through the cascading complications that come with premature discounting and waiting for retail shops to open their doors en masse, PXG can get out front of its competitors and removing the pricing barriers that have kept its clubs out of the hands of curious golfers.
Which version you believe likely depends on how your worldview extends to PXG. On balance, releasing a prototype driver fits in either scenario. Time will ultimately tell if the former is the truth of the situation, while the latter is part and parcel of the stated why behind the release of the new drivers.
In its press release, PXG says tour players have provided the company with feedback on its new drivers, and now it wants to get feedback from average golfers.
As an aside within an aside, this would seem like a perfectly logical, if not intelligent, way to bring new products to market. Golf companies, however, are notoriously secretive about keeping pre-release products under wraps for as long as possible. Can’t let our competitors see what we’re working on, they’ll steal it. That last part is probably true, but that’s not to say there aren’t focus groups, but there could be benefit in putting products in the hands of consumers before spinning up full production.
Alright, enough of that. I now return you to our regularly scheduled story.
About PXG Proto Drivers
A couple of details standout about this (limited) release:
First, the drivers feature a refined sole cosmetic. On a personal note, I know at least one industrial designer who will applaud the change in logo positioning. I think more refined is a fair description. On cosmetics alone, it’s an improvement.
Most notably, PXG’s signature tuning weights replaced have been replaced with the larger versions used in the company’s GEN2 putters. It’s an implementation that should preserve the ability to move a fair amount of mass around the head (the Proto drivers feature four weight ports) without nearly as many moving parts to worry about. It also means fewer product-specific parts to manufacture, which is just smart business.
Score one for much-needed simplification and efficiency.
Second, the fitting story behind the 0811 X Proto and 0811 X+ Proto revolves around angle of attack.
An Important but Complicated Story
Whether you know it or not, Attack Angle has always been an essential component of the fitting equation. It may have taken us a while to realize it, and few have put it out front of the fitting and performance conversation, but it’s always mattered.
As strange as it sounds today, Nike was the first to discuss it openly behind the scenes and was working towards making it part of its larger public fitting conversation. As you know, Nike’s club business ended before that conversation started.
Nike’s initial efforts aside, there’s a good reason few discuss attack angle in their marketing materials. It’s not that most golfers don’t know their angle of attack, it’s that most golfers haven’t heard the phrase and don’t know what it means.
From a performance standpoint, it’s a solid approach, but as a marketing message, it’s only slightly less complicated than fitting based on ulnar deviation at P4.
Good luck with that one. My thinking is that by releasing Prototype models now, PXG could be looking to test both the performance of what’s likely GEN3 foundation technology as well as the viability of what, for most golfers, will be a very different kind of marketing story.
Cynics, of course, will again settle on cash grab. Haters gonna hate (hate, hate, hate, hate).
PXG 0811 X Proto vs. 0811 X+ Proto
The difference between the two PXG Proto drivers boils down to center of gravity placement. The PXG 0811 X Proto Driver is a low center of gravity design. It’s designed for golfers with downward (negative) to level attack angles. These are typically part of a package of impact conditions that produce higher spin.
The PXG 0811 X+ Proto is designed for positive attack angle golfers (hence the +). It’s described as a mid-spin, mid-center of gravity option. Both of the current GEN2 drivers are low CG models, so I’d expect the X+ to be the bigger departure from the mainstream (insomuch as PXG is mainstream) offerings.
PXG Proto Drivers – Pricing and Availability
The PXG 0811 X Proto is available in 9°, while the 0811 X+ Proto is available in 10.5°. Both models are available for right-handed golfers only. If nothing else, that detail suggests these drivers are still very much in the prototype phase.
Retail price for the PXG 0811 X and X+ Proto drivers is $495. For more information or to schedule an in-person or phone fitting, visit PXG.com.