“We don’t have goals — I believe goals are counterproductive.”
Bob Parsons is perched in a plush lounge chair behind the clubhouse at Scottsdale National Golf Club, the uber-exclusive desert outpost he carved out of scrub and rock nearly a decade ago. It's a 30-minute drive north of the city and the de facto home for the billionaire entrepreneur who’s most famous (and lucrative) business gambit was founding the Internet domain warehouse GoDaddy.com in the late 1990s. Parsons is out of that company, but today he still runs 14 different businesses. It’s clear within moments on a bright Arizona afternoon that his golf company, Parsons Xtreme Golf (PXG), is the one he holds most dear.
And its latest line of clubs, the GEN5, which launches on April 14, is his pride and joy.
“The Romans used to have this old saying when they went into battle: before you defeat your enemy, you must first defeat their eyes,” he says with a booming baritone that may sound familiar to Golf Channel viewers, as he also voices PXG's TV spots. “Well, the reverse to that is, if you want somebody to like what you have, it's got to first be pleasing to the eyes.”
“Anybody that sees the GEN5, it's like, 'Wow, is that sharp.' That sets the stage for everything beyond that.”
Parsons, 71, says his company doesn’t have goals in the literal sense, because once you scale that mountain, then what? He wants his team constantly innovating, but without the pressure of a timeline that demands a new club launch each calendar year. GEN5 is PXG’s fifth full set since Parsons founded the company in 2014.
The ambitious billionaire is right — the clubs are indeed visually striking, as they once again predominantly feature his preferred black-and-silver aesthetic. Thanks to new core materials, Parsons claims his irons have the thinnest faces in golf, all in an effort to create the hottest, softest, baddest set of golf clubs the world has ever seen.
A Closer Look at PXG's New Gen5 Series
The secret sauce within the new irons is a material it calls XCOR2, a springy polymer blend that is lighter and faster than any previous model. PXG also uses a "Power Channel" behind the clubface to add support during impact while boosting the coefficient of restitution (COR) for more ball speed and distance.
GEN5 irons also use an adjustable weight planted into the back of the clubhead. The irons come in three head shapes: PXG 0311 XP (Xtreme Performance), the largest and most forgiving; PXG 0311 P (Players) for more skilled golfers, and PXG 0311 T (Tour) for highly skilled players.
The irons are available in standard chrome and a striking black "Xtreme Dark" finish, part of a new Black Label Elite offering.
The drivers, fairways and hybrids are also new and feature many of those same internal materials that allowed for the thin, springy faces in the irons. The woods have a soft feel that also just sounds a little different. PXG says the GEN5 driver has made a 31 percent improvement over GEN4 in its moment of inertia (MOI), a measurement of the club's resistance to twisting. To say it another way, it's a measure of the club's forgiveness on poorly struck shots.
The driver features a traditional head shape — large and comfortable but not oversized — plus tall, deep faces and a low-spin design to max out the power. It comes in two models: the standard PXG 0311 and an XF (Xtra Forgiveness) with a larger face and hitting zone.
The fairways and hybrids boast similar gains in MOI and also come in standard and "Xtra Forgiveness."
A full bag of GEN5 with chrome irons runs $4,599. A bag with the Black Label Elite irons is $5,599.
A few weeks prior to GEN5’s launch, Morning Read/SI.com was part of a small group of media that attended a preview event at Scottsdale National Golf Club. Engineers tuned each participant into the new gear and cut them loose on the club’s 45 holes. There are certainly worse ways to demo new clubs than to be custom-fit and sent out into thin desert air. Giddy golfers launched shots higher and farther than they’d ever expected. At one point, after airmailing a green by 30 yards with a mid-iron, one golf writer gawked at both the dramatic setting and his wayward shot and quipped, “Am I in Scottsdale or Narnia?”
It was all a bit phantasmal, but it was also a blast. Hitting golf shots better than expected is one of the easiest ways to get hooked on this game, and PXG is all-in on delivering that feeling to as many players as possible.
The number 0311 is a callout to the Marine Corps and is code for a rifleman, which was Parsons' job during Vietnam. He was injured in combat and received the Purple Heart, and on this bright day he wears dark glasses, as an eye injury from the war makes him uncomfortable in the sun. Military veterans receive discounts on PXG clubs, and Parsons' foundation cuts big checks each year to the Semper Fi & America's Fund, which aids injured service members and their families. Parsons' military service is woven into everything that comes out of PXG. It's woven into his entire being.
"The Marine Corps taught me discipline in the sense that if you have a job to do, you have the backbone to see it through — doesn't matter if you like it; doesn't matter if it's comfortable," he says. "Anything I ever accomplished, I owe to the Marine Corps. They taught me the importance of responsibility. They taught me that I could accomplish much more than I ever dreamed I could. And they taught me that I had a right to be proud."
For a man who claims to have no goals for his golf company, Parsons' PXG is quickly evolving. It’s no longer a mere disruptor that produces clubs the working man can only aspire to afford – it’s now a central player that produces cutting-edge advancements. And, yes, he's proud of it. It’s clear from his unencumbered passion for the game, his resolute determination and his stylish and powerful new line of clubs that Parsons is still building his golf empire. GEN5 is another step up the ladder.
“That’s what we do, and we did our job again,” he says. “We’ve still got it.
“And now we’re working on GEN6.”