Even to the most robotic of players, golf is about feel. Mashies and niblicks, those clubs of yore, might feel like Iron Age artifacts in the hand now, but since the sport’s early days, club makers have sought to give players tools that send clear signals from their fingertips to their brains and make them better golfers.
One of those driving club design and manufacturing forward is Parsons Xtreme Golf, known as PXG, an Arizona-based company set up in 2013 by the colorful GoDaddy founder, billionaire and golf fanatic Bob Parsons. The brand makes precision-engineered clubs to order.
Parsons’s vision, backed up by former tour pro and expert club designer Mike Nicolette and former Ping director of engineering Brad Schweigert, is to make “clubs without compromise,” using computer-aided design (CAD) drawings, 3-D printing and laser-guided milling. Not only would this mean players get a full set of clubs tailored to the idiosyncrasies of their own game, but they could also get them reproduced to the same tolerances and finishes if their clubs were lost or stolen or simply wore out.
Tour-level pros hit thousands of balls every month, hammering their wedges in particular as they hone control and distance. Some, according to PXG, replace them every month, having worn down the grooves that deliver so much of that all-important feel.
Currently, PXG works with around 30 players across the PGA and LPGA Tours. Zach Johnson, former Masters champion and the USA’s Ryder Cup 2023 captain, is among them, and he helped develop one of the company’s early wedges.
“Back in the day, almost everything was hand-polished, and there was lots of room for variation,” says Schweigert, PXG’s chief product officer. “For an expert, the difference would be clear. For the tour pro, a new wedge will be identical to the one before.”
Here’s how the PXG Sugar Daddy II is made.
Where it all begins. PXG uses CAD software to draft a 3-D model.
In the Groove
Material, cosmetic, weighting, loft, lie and groove-geometry choices have been made, all in line with USGA rules. Simulations show how the club will perform.
A Dozen for the Win
The design becomes a physical object through 3-D printing but only for reviewing the aesthetics. It can take up to 12 iterations to perfect the look.
Steel the Show
The wedge starts as a billet of 8620 steel, a high-quality raw material with no voids that is then forged by heating and stamping it at high speed.
A spindle moves across the block briskly, repeatedly removing tiny bits of metal until the final geometry is revealed. Halfway through the milling process, the wedge is removed and flipped so the process can continue on the opposite side.
Fully milled and looking like a clubhead, the piece will now be sandblasted, chrome-plated for hardness and corrosion resistance and then painted.
Worth the Weights
Swing weights are added to the back of the clubhead. During a fitting, players can adjust these in two-gram increments—between 2.5 grams and 20 grams—until they find their optimal weight. Once fitted, the weights aren’t intended to be adjusted.
Shafts of Light
Length and type of shaft are as crucial as the clubhead’s grooves, loft, lie and weighting. PXG uses third-party shafts. Every club is built to order.
Chip off the Old Block
The finished article emerges. The club now has its grip (there are several size options), and after final quality checks, it’s boxed and sent to its new owner.