Driving Series

01/06/2015

When GoDaddy.com founder Bob Parsons entered the golf equipment market with Parsons Xtreme Golf, the move raised a few eyebrows.

The root of the skepticism was the background of his internet domain company, which famously, or infamously, relies on sex to sell. Scantily clad women fill GoDaddy’s commercials in a brazen display of “hey it works.” After all, how many other domain sites can you think of off the top of your head?

While the tactic is fair in the marketing world, it certainly wouldn’t appeal—on the surface, that is, if we’re being honest—to the powers that be in golf. No sport prides itself on nor curtails to a more conservative audience. Any leader of GoDaddy may play golf (it’s what the rich do), but he wouldn’t necessarily be of golf.

The second reason that caused many to scoff at Parsons Xtreme Golf is the market itself.

There are few equipment companies that do well financially and even Nike, aside from Tiger and Rory, has struggled to make a true impact on the industry. The nature of Parsons’ name, with the tired and vague extreme tag line spelled un-ironically with an “x,” places this venture firmly in the 1990’s, which is probably when it might have been most successful.

Still, Bob Parsons has gone all in on this project and the early returns look positive. The logo features a prominent “X” with a mirrored winged “P” and “G” on either side. It would look sharp on a black hat or maybe a movie cover of a certain Tom Cruise flick about fighter pilots. As we said, the whole notion is a bit outdated.

PXG

But there’s real intrigue here. The PXG 0311 irons proudly show the rivets that help form the club along with that sleek logo. This gives the iron a rugged look as wall as a strong one. You see the craftsmanship as well as the stamp of approval. And the company stands by its product.

“Nobody makes golf clubs the way we do,” the front page of the website reads. “Period.”

The boast is a good one if not a short-sighted one. After all, no one makes clubs with rocks and reeds anymore either. It’s here that the arrogance of GoDaddy slips into the equation as well as the description of the irons. They’re touted as the “world’s sexiest, most forgiving golf clubs,” which means if it doesn’t work out on the course they might make for a pretty decent spouse.

All of this is to say, someone needed to lend the company some credence. That happened this week. Who knows how much Mr. Parsons doled out in contracts, but he certainly attracted some big names to his cause. Ryan Moore, Chris Kirk, Billy Horschel, James Hahn, Charles Howell III, Christie Kerr and Alison Lee all jumped to PXG. Then came the real head-turner: Zach Johnson.

Never mind Johnson’s perpetual fight to be cool, because within this context the move makes sense. It’s his game that immediately legitimizes PXG as a big time player in the industry.

No golfer is better 150 yards and in than Johnson. He’s notoriously short off the tee so he relies on an inch-perfect short game to remain competitive. Johnson can’t do that with any old set of irons, let alone gimmicky ones. With such a reliance on precise play, to make the move for Johnson is a vote of confidence, in a big way. PXG must have, on some level, unlocked a secret to keep the two-time major champion satisfied.

Parsons may know something about golf—that has yet to be scene in depth on the grandest stage in golf. He surely knows about marketing. A year ago, Moore used a prototype set of PXG irons in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

This year, Johnson will head to Hawaii with a new sponsor in tow. In other words, the 2015-16 PGA Tour season kicks off in earnest on Thursday and one company in particular is in the news–Parsons Xtreme Golf.

Who knows what the end result will be or how much the players will adapt to the new clubs. Recall that Tiger struggled to find his game after he switched to Nike, a company tailored everything to his liking.

Still, trust me when I say this won’t be the last you’ll hear of Parsons Xtreme Golf in 2016.

Driving Series