For GOLF.com’s 2023 ClubTake a look at, we flipped the script on the standard testing course of, to offer an inside take a look at not simply new golf membership expertise but additionally the fitting course of from the angle of our editors. We name it ClubTake a look at for a cause, and with a various group of golfers on our workers — ranging in taking part in capacity and handicaps — we consider this testing and reporting format affords extra perception and training within the course of of shopping for tools, so you may make assured choices with your individual recreation.
TESTER: Alan Bastable (Executive Editor) | 12 HCP
GOAL: Add extra distance and consistency to irons, and fill in holes within the decrease finish of my bag and likewise amongst my wedges.
THE LOWDOWN: Even after working within the golf-media business for greater than 20 years, I’ve by no means been a lot of a gearhead. Largely, I’ve performed no matter tools I’ve stumbled upon by or at work — a case of balls right here, a spiffy new putter there. Which helps clarify why, till this fitting, I had a 15-year-old set of cavity-back irons in my bag from a producer that’s now not in enterprise. My fairway woods and hybrid have been additionally dated, and my wedges — a 52° and a 60° — have been from two totally different manufacturers. I did have a new driver mannequin, which I like. Mishmash was the one phrase for my set, so the notion of getting dialed in with a full-bag fitting from a single clubmaker was not solely thrilling but additionally lengthy overdue.
Mishmash can also be a good phrase for my recreation. I’m a comparatively regular 12-handicap however with a steep, sawed-off swing and a left shoulder dip that a colleague of mine has (precisely) likened to the pumping movement of an oil derrick. This flaw results in too many chunked irons, which I’ve realized to dwell — and play — with. On good days, when my timing is on, I’m dependable with my driver and serviceable sufficient with my irons to interrupt 90. On unhealthy days, my tee balls hang around to the correct, and too many fats or free iron photographs undo me, and my scores present it. With 4 children and a busy schedule, I play about twice a month through the season and likewise attempt to sneak in an low season golf journey. I’ve accepted my swing will seemingly by no means markedly enhance. The identical couldn’t be mentioned of my tools. Time to hit the improve button!
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PXG’s GEN5, GEN4 and 0211 irons are filled with revolutionary applied sciences that ship unimaginable efficiency.
FITTING PROCESS: For our first-ever staff-led version of ClubTake a look at, I used to be paired with PXG, as in Parsons Xtreme Golf, the nine-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz.-based model based by the high-energy serial entrepreneur Bob Parsons. When Parsons began his membership firm, he handed his engineers a clean examine and mentioned — we’re paraphrasing right here — “Build me the best $&(@! clubs you can.” Tall order, and I used to be desirous to see how Parson’s group had executed on his imaginative and prescient. My fitting was performed at PXG’s flagship retailer in Scottsdale, a gleaming 35,000-square-foot area with three moodily-lit fitting bays, a synthetic placing inexperienced and retail area. (You’ll take pleasure in the identical expertise at any of PXG’s 20-plus areas nationwide.)
My fitter was Nick Janke, PXG’s VP of gross sales, who from previous roles within the enterprise additionally is aware of his means round a launch monitor. Janke is just not solely a PXG and swing-data whiz however he additionally has a heat and inquisitive nature about him, important qualities for a fitter. Indeed, the very best fitters are half technicians, half therapists. They needn’t solely parse and interpret your swing information but additionally perceive your relationship to golf, which components of your recreation you consider most need assistance — TrackMan reveals solely a lot — and your enchancment targets. Wading by all that data to find out the very best clubhead, shaft flex and weight, loft and lie angles is a little bit of an artwork kind.
In Nick, I had an artist. For 2 hours and quarter-hour, we labored by my whole bag, minus the putter. Nick’s questions and observations have been limitless, as was the regular stream of launch-monitor information dancing in our heads (OK, principally in his). Swing, analyze, regulate, repeat. This is just not a cry for sympathy, however by the top of the session, I used to be bodily and mentally spent. Club-testing and -fitting is a superb grind.
My fitted gear
Full disclosure: My earlier gamer was the latest membership in my bag, filled with new-age tech and doubtless the membership I swung with essentially the most confidence. Nick had his work reduce out for him.
PXG has two driver choices in its premier line: the Gen 5 0311, constructed with an eye fixed on delivering velocity and distance, and the Gen 5 0311 XF, which is designed extra for forgiveness. Like many golfers, I’m in want of extra distance and forgiveness. But after hitting each fashions, it shortly grew to become evident that the FX was higher fitted to me, largely as a result of the marginally bigger face, deeper head form and 6% increased MOI than the 0311 helped tighten up my dispersion. Adding some additional weight to the heel additionally helped neutralize my proper miss.
Most surprisingly to me, I additionally picked up velocity and distance from my present gamer. When we in contrast my three greatest swings with every membership, the 9-degree 0311 XF delivered an additional mile per hour of ball velocity and 5 extra yards of carry distance (258.1 yards). Experimenting with seven totally different shafts was additionally an training, even when it did go away my head spinning. We landed on a stiff-flexed Tour AD TP 5, which helped me hold the ball down (i.e., no ballooning) and decrease misses to the correct.
The 0311 is glossy and understated — battleship vibes — an aesthetic you don’t discover in lots of new-age drivers. The face and many of the carbon-fiber crown is grey apart from a black band across the perimeter, which — when paired with a small “x” that stares up at you above the middle of the clubface — I discovered helpful when squaring up the ball at tackle. In the only of the membership are three interchangeable weights you can swap out and in to create a fade bias, draw bias or, by pushing the mass towards the again of the clubhead, excessive MOI and forgiveness.
You can’t speak concerning the 0311 with out speaking about its worth. Whereas most drivers from mainstream producers begin within the $500 vary, the base-model 0311s are solely $299. If worth is a precedence for you when driver-shopping, the 0311 ought to be in your quick record to take a look at.
Fairway Woods & Hybrids:
Having already dialed in my driver made the identical course of for my fairway woods a lot simpler, as Nick already had my shaft profile. The largest query to reply for my fairway woods was which lofts have been greatest fitted to my recreation, and the way these would mix with my hybrids. One of the problems with my present gamer set was the 25-yard distance hole I had between my 4-iron equal hybrid (22°) and 4-wood (17°). I additionally more and more have discovered myself chunking extra 3-woods off the green, resulting in a lack of confidence with that membership. The resolution: dump the 3-wood, pick up a new 0311 XF 4-wood (17°) and pair that with two 0311 XF hybrids (19° and 22°).
The hybrids required extra tinkering, specifically the 22° as we bounced backwards and forwards between a Ventus Blue S and KBS Tour Proto shaft. On paper, these shafts are comparable, which makes really attempting them important. After a bounty of swings, we agreed the KBS was the very best match. As Nick wrote in an e mail to me after the fitting: “You really hear the difference in the quality of the strike (which showed up in the higher smash factors), and I could tell the difference in how you described the feel. Six yards longer while averaging six feet higher? Yes, please!”
Indeed, the KBS shafted hybrid flew a mean of 185 yards with a 93-foot apex. Pretty candy. The 19-degree hybrid flew nearly 200 yards with out a lot lack of peak, and my 4-wood checked in round 215. I now not have a 230ish membership in my bag, however given how inconsistently and sometimes I used to be hitting my 3-wood, I can dwell with that. Bolstering my recreation from 180-215 was my aim, and this combo of hybrids and fairway woods has completed that.
If there was one a part of my bag that stood to see instant positive factors with a correct fitting, it was my irons. Not solely have been my avid gamers relics however they have been additionally off the rack. The notion of recent tech tailor-made to my swing had me giddy, and rightfully so.
It took me all of about one swing with a 0311 Gen 5 XP 7-iron to know what my bag had been lacking: the solidness of the strike was not a feeling which I used to be acquainted, and the ball jumped off the face, as if propelled from a rocket. That was thanks partially to a polymer core that helps hold the mass low within the clubhead whereas additionally permitting for a skinny, springy face. Also including pop is the U-shaped channel within the clubface that, as PXG describes it, “creates face movement and transfers energy to simultaneously increase launch angle, trajectory and ball speed.”
It took me all of about one swing with a 7-iron to know what my bag had been lacking.
When it involves membership tech, in fact, numbers communicate a lot louder than phrases, and by the top of my iron fitting, my numbers have been positively screaming: I picked up a mean of 8.4 mph of ball velocity (resulting in a 0.9 enhance in smash issue — that’s a lot!), 19 yards in carry distance and a 13-foot enhance in apex.
There are three fashions within the line: the 0311 T, 0311 P and 0311 XP. The T is the better-player mannequin (most compact head, narrowest high line, most workable); the XP is the game-improvement choice (largest head, wider high line, most forgiving) and the P is someplace in between. While not as good-looking because the woods — the 5 tungsten weights on the again of the irons give the golf equipment a little bit of bedazzled look, like rhinestones on a biker jacket — all of the ball-launching, slice-busting tech continues to be effectively disguised, and much more so when you go for all of the all-black Xtreme Dark mannequin.
The irons are an funding: $249 a piece, or $199/piece when you purchase 5 or extra, but when your present set was as dated as mine, it’s an funding with assured positive factors.
Similar to my fairway woods and hybrids, my gamer wedge make-up lacked correct gapping. Beyond my pitching wedge, I had solely a 52° and 60°, which didn’t give me sufficient trajectory choices across the greens. The resolution: drop the 52° and add each a 50° hole wedge and a 54° to raised bridge the divide to my lob wedge (60°).
The hole wedge got here from the 0311 XP household, whereas my 54° and 60° got here from the fully-milled Sugar Daddy II line, which have two choices: the C-Grind with a barely narrower sole (much less bounce) designed for firmer situations, and the BG-Grind — which I landed in — which has a wider sole (extra bounce) higher fitted to lush situations and a steep angle of assault (that’s me!). The high-toe weighting helps retains the clubface sq. at impression, and I like the “full face” groves that stretch virtually to the sting of the clubface for these less-than-pure photographs. With this new mixture of lofts and tech, by no means have I felt like I’ve had a lot versatility across the greens.
The wonderful thing about getting match is it eliminates these nagging questions on whether or not your gear is holding you again. When your golf equipment are dialed in to optimize your strengths — and decrease your weaknesses — you arrive on the tee with confidence and a sense of calm.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to attend lengthy to expertise that sensation. The fantastic thing about PXG’s Scottsdale location is its fitting studio, construct store and delivery facility are all underneath the identical roof. This means PXG can flip round customized units quick — like, actually quick. Less than 48 hours after my fitting, my new golf equipment arrived on my New Jersey doorstep.
In the a number of rounds I’ve performed since then, the largest distinction I’ve seen is the brand new muscle in my iron recreation, with every of my irons flying about 10 yards farther than my earlier avid gamers. This has taken some getting used to, but it surely’s been a enjoyable type of acclimation. I nonetheless hit unhealthy photographs — in fact I do! — however my good photographs really feel purer and launch by higher home windows, which isn’t a time period I felt snug making use of to my recreation till Nick schooled me up.
My earlier set of golf equipment had main distance gaps and consistency points whereas my new set configuration has allowed me to hit photographs I by no means may earlier than, from 200-yard approaches that fly excessive and land softly to tough quick photographs that require trajectories that are actually accessible to me. My set is now extra full, which implies my recreation is now extra full.
Oh, and I made a new good friend, too. “I want you to have my cell-phone number,” Nick mentioned earlier than our fitting wrapped. “You give me two days on the golf course, and I want you to tell me what you’re seeing and what tweaks we need to make. That’s part of the relationship with the fitter side — it’s an ongoing relationship.”
No tweaks wanted but, Nick. But relaxation assured, that decision will likely be coming.