By Tod Leonard
Jim Frenak-FPI Studios
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Leave it to an iconoclast like Bob Parsons to completely skip a generation in his club line, even if that’s mostly in name only. PXG (Parsons Xtreme Golf) debuted its GEN2 line of woods in late summer of 2019, and then in spring of 2020 introduced clubs that might have been dubbed “GEN3,” but instead were labeled “Prototype.” Now, the latest offerings have arrived, and PXG has skipped forward to GEN4 (though there were GEN3 irons).
That’s how fast they’re moving at the company, with Parsons so enthused about his new technology that he implored his designers to hustle for a spring release date when a fall debut might have been less nerve-wracking.
The results: A line of very distinctive-looking silver-and-black drivers, fairway woods and hybrids, and the company contends that the changes go well beyond the cosmetics. PXG is introducing AV (Aluminum Vapor) carbon-fiber tech, which provides the club’s pie-shaped silver accent on the crown—and also serves as an aiming tool—while also increasing the stiffness and stability of the carbon fiber. To its driver line, PXG added a third model for the first time—the tour-inspired 0811 XT, with a smaller, teardrop head shape whose sleeker aerodynamics are intended to maximise club speed for the fastest-swinging players. The two drivers intended more for everyday golfers are the X and XF lines. The 0811 XF GEN4 has the largest head (longer from heel-to-toe) for maximum forgiveness, while the 0811 X GEN4 is a high-launch/low-spin head with a deeper face meant to produce maximum distance. The GEN4 fairway woods and hybrids are redesigned, with the new woods having a deeper face to improve distance and forgiveness, and the hybrids getting a deeper, more squared face to better correct off-center hits.
THE DEEP DIVE: Parsons gave his design leaders—Brad Schweigert, the chief product officer, and Mike Nicolette, senior designer—a simple and emphatic edict for the GEN4 woods: Ditch the all-black heads of the previous generations and make them stand out. “But,” Schweigert said, “it had to stand out in a way that adds value to it.” Schweigert made the boss happy. “Pretty hot!” Parsons said in interviews, his distinctive voice recognizable from the PXG commercials.
“You can look at those drivers and fairway woods and instantly know they’re ours.”
The look comes in the use of the Aluminum Vapor in the carbon-composite panel of the crown. Schweigert became intrigued with AV material when he saw it being used my Mitsubishi in its shafts. In comparing the weight of AV fiber, it was one-fourth the mass of titanium and one-eighth that of steel. “If you replace those materials with carbon fiber, you save on mass and you can redistribute it to improve center of gravity and MOI,” Schweigert said. PXG began to experiment by depositing AV onto clubs’ crowns in a vacuum-sealed chamber. Then it became a matter of figuring out the optimum amount of AV—too much would mean loss of spring on the face and therefore distance; too little wouldn’t provide the stability that created more forgiveness. “In doing it this way we’re able to maintain the fastest amount of ball speed that we can,” Schweigert said. Though the carbon fiber being used in the crown is the same as on the Protos, the AV stiffens the head more, Schweigert said, and activates the face for greater deflection at impact.
All three of the new GEN4 drivers have new head shapes. The 0811 XF has a deep front-to-back shape that PXG says features increased MOI for greater forgiveness while maintaining a low-and-back CG for higher trajectory. The 0811 X has the tallest face with an “aggressive” sloped crown to lower the CG relative to the face center. PXG says those features create a high launch/low spin performance. The new 0811 XT—the “T” appropriately stands for “tour”—has the shallowest face, with a flatter crown design to reduce drag and increase speed. This one is clearly not for the weekend golfer. “The XT was built to maximize ball speed for players who are really fast,” Schweigert said. “To be honest, it’s really going to benefit players who can swing over 105 mph.”
PXG again is using an internal honeycomb thermoplastic elastomer insert near the toe of drivers to help with center of gravity, vibration and feel. The Ti412 titanium face material is the same used on the 8011 Protos and 0211s, though the interior face geometry was altered.
The adjustable hosel hasn’t changed, and there is still plus or minus 1.5 degrees to work with. For the first time there is a 7.5-degree option in the X and XT drivers, and one noticeable alteration from the Proto drivers is the use of three weight ports in the GEN4 instead of four, with the toe weight being eliminated.
“The toe weight was underutilized, and we had to add a lot of extra mass to create that,” Schweigert said. “It also created some harsher vibrations, so we feel like we’ve improved the feel.” For its fittings, PXG has an extensive weight system, with eight choices, from 2.5 grams to 20. The standard weight for the heavier screw on the drivers is 10 grams (15 grams for fairway woods and hybrids), and PXG says that heavier mass allows for greater CG movement.
Ten LPGA Tour players have put the GEN4 clubs into play, according to PXG, because the women have had more down time to test them, while on the men’s side, Zach Johnson and Danny Lee are playing them, with Kyle Stanley and Jim Herman starting to work with them on the range.
DEEPER ON FAIRWAYS AND HYBRIDS: The GEN4 fairway woods and hybrids all got new head shapes. “An evolved design,” Schweigert said. For the woods—which come in 2, 3, 5 and 7—there is a taller face design with the intent of improving distance and forgiveness. The face material is HT1770, a thin, high-strength steel that has been used in PXG’s irons but was first introduced with the woods in the 0341X and 0317 Protos. The body is AM355 steel and there are adjustable weights in the heel and front. “We’ve tried to optimize the CG location by moving the mass forward and keep the center of gravity low,” Schweigert said. “We’re trying to eliminate the high spin on a low hit. It’s easy to hit it thin on a fairway wood—that’s where you lose distance, and we’ve optimized the design to reduce that.”
For the hybrids, the steel body face materials are the same, but PXG changed the shape from the 0211 and 0317X to create a larger face from heel-to-toe. The toe is more squared, which provides more surface for off-center hits. “There is a lot more hitting area,” Schweigert said. “We really, really worked hard to improve the forgiveness more than anything else. Hybrids … we feel like we’re close to that optimal trajectory already. We don’t want to get the spin rate too far down because we’re hitting them into greens more often.”
The GEN4 0811 driver comes in 10 options (9, 10.5, 12 degrees in XF; 7.5, 9, 10.5, 12 in X; 7.5, 9, 10.5 in XT). In fairway woods, the GEN4 comes in four lofts (13, 15, 18 and 21 degrees). The GEN4 hybrids come in five lofts (17, 19, 22, 25 and 28 degrees).