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Behind the PXG Brand

Originally Published:
12/08/2020

It’s easy to look at PXG and see only the staggering price tags, but is there more to the picture? PluggedIn Golf’s Matt Saternus is joined by PXG’s Nick Jahnke to discuss the ideas behind the brand, latest products including the GEN3 irons.



 

Matt Saternus (00:04)

Hello and welcome to the PluggedIn Golf podcast. I'm your host, Matt Saternus.

Without a doubt, PXG is one of the OEMs that creates some of the strongest feelings, both positive and negative. And regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, I think you're going to learn a lot in this interview with Nick Jahnke from PXG, and it may change your opinion of the brand. I hope you enjoy the episode.

We are now joined on the PluggedIn Golf podcast by PXG’s Nick Jahnke.

Nick, thanks for coming on the show.

Nick Jahnke (00:36)

Oh my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Matt Saternus (00:37)

So, let's get started just with you for a minute and tell us about your history playing golf and getting to work in golf.

Nick Jahnke (00:46)

I am a golfer at heart. It's what I love. I wish I was better. I know the difference between a good player and a great player, and I'm certainly not a great player. But it's the sport that I've always loved, and I'm thankful that I'll get to play for the next 50 years of my life. But you know, I've worked in the golf industry in some capacity or another since I was 12 years old and basically done every job besides the head professional. I'm a super equipment nerd. So, the equipment side of the industry has always really appealed to me, and I cut my teeth doing fittings and really got into fittings and shafts when that wasn't really a common thing and interchangeability of clubs didn't exist. I've seen that end of the industry evolve and really just have always loved fittings. Then in the club aspect and people who really push the limits of what technology can achieve, kind of led me to my time with PXG and a company that I thought really resonated - in that regard - better than anyone else in the industry.

Matt Saternus (01:46)

Now we worked together on a fitting a few weeks ago and you did a great job. I'm really enjoying the clubs. And you've shared with me that you were actually out of golf for a minute, but you came back to golf specifically because of PXG. So what was it about PXG that brought you back to the industry?

Nick Jahnke (02:04)

Well, I'm glad you enjoyed the fitting of the clubs first off. To your point, I, after having a couple of different roles in the industry on the manufacturer side, stepped away from the industry for the better part of three years to start a couple of companies. I'm very entrepreneurial by nature, and I really wanted to be a part of something where I could really grow and help something develop. And honestly, PXG really just resonated with me because you have, in a lot of ways, a startup, very entrepreneurial company. We are young, and we've really made a dent in the industry and really grown substantially. We are a young company and can really make a difference here, but it just really spoke to me – the opportunity to be with a company where you could really have an impact. And it was really a startup company by nature that was just relentlessly focused on making the best possible equipment.

Nick Jahnke (02:56)

At the end of the day, I stand and take pride in the work I do. And with PXG, as an outsider and someone who had played the equipment before I came to work here, I just always really respected the manufacturing process, the way that PXG went about it and really pushed the limits. And as a player, that's passionate about my game, that really spoke to me. But the combination of that relentless focus on just the product combined with kind of that entrepreneurial startup culture really was an opportunity that I just felt like was custom fit for me.

Matt Saternus (03:30)

Now, as you were talking, it just occurred to me. It's funny to think that PXG is a very young brand, and it did come out of nowhere just a few years ago. There are so many companies that come into golf and try to make a dent and do things differently and a lot of the things that you hear over and over. What is it, if you could put your finger on one or two things, why is it that PXG has become this established brand in the industry where so many others have just fallen by the wayside?

Nick Jahnke (04:03)

That's a great question. I think golf is a game where you have people who are really passionate about what they're doing, and Mr. Parsons started PXG because he felt that there was really an opportunity in the industry to really push the limits of what was capable when you didn't have time limits and when you didn't have budget constraints. Is it just the absolute best equipment that can be made? Is it performance driven? Is it just the absolute top notch of what it can be? And I think he saw an opportunity that you have an industry of people who are passionate about their game to the extent that that really speaks to them as a player, and that equipment has resonated. We don't make equipment with any constraints. Whether it be materials, time, budget, anything, we don't have a launch cadence for when new equipment is going to come out.

Nick Jahnke (04:51)

We launch something when Mr. Parsons and our internal team believes it's better than not only anything that we've made, but anything in the industry. And I think as players have really seen how we're approaching the game and what we're trying to do, that has really resonated with them. That's a large part of the reason that we've had the growth that we've had in such a short period of time. But beyond that, I think the other thing that has really allowed us to take a foothold is that we really do go to the consumer directly and really work with them. We're not in big box stores. We're really focused on having a customized one-on-one experience that is frankly fun and personalized and allows an everyday player to get a glimpse of the type of fitting and customization that a tour player experiences. And when you have awesome product and you're delivering that kind of an experience and people hear about that, we've grown because of grassroots word-of-mouth efforts. The majority of the referrals that we get is people saying ‘I had an awesome time with that.’ Matt, I know you're also really passionate about your game, and you should check that out. I just think that's really resonated with the player that, that we're offering something different than what the industry was used to.

Matt Saternus (05:58)

Hopefully this doesn't touch on too many of the same things, but there are a lot of strong opinions out there about PXG. I'm sure you're very well aware of that. The review I just put up for the GEN3 Irons in just in a few hours filled with comments – very positive, very negative – across the board. For the person out there who's thinking that it is just an overpriced brand of clubs, they're soaking dopey rich people, what is it that they're missing? What would you say to that person? Why don't you just look a little more carefully at this?

Nick Jahnke (06:36)

I would say first and foremost, that they need to hit them and they need to go through the experience. In my experience with this brand, I found that a lot of people, who have those opinions, also don't have a personal experience with our company to really understand what we do differently and how we do it differently. Ultimately, my comment would really be that at the end of the day, performances are only a measure of success. As a company, we make unbelievable equipment that's amazing. It is expensive. And, if you're going to produce the finest equipment in the world, that takes time, it takes significant investment. We use different materials, different technology, and there's a cost in doing that. It costs us more to manufacture golf equipment and to go through the testing and to go through the process that we do to make it, but we end up with a better product that we're putting in the hands of the consumer.

Nick Jahnke (07:25)

And, we invest more time in that experience that we're working with them. We don't have daily demo techs that goes out and do demo days during the middle of the summer. We have full-time, salaried PXG Fitting Specialist who work with the best fitting tools available to them, the best shaft matrix that we can put in front of a customer, trackman, and we're working with a customer, but we're also working with them in a one-on-one variety. It's not a demo day experience where there's six customers hitting balls at one time. We schedule dedicated time with the customer who we're working with and make sure that they have a very personalized experience and invest that time in them. So it's not only the time that we're putting into manufacturing, into testing, into R and D, but it's also the time that we're putting into the fitting into the customization, the options we give them in terms of shaft.

Nick Jahnke (08:12)

We have built a much better mouse trap, but it costs more money to do that. Ultimately, that cost is passed along in what our equipment costs, but we are offering a better product to the consumer. And, at the end of the day, we're not going to be for everybody. We are making something better, but I would really just challenge those people, the naysayers, if you will, of our brand, I would just really challenge them to give us an opportunity and make sure that their opinion is an informed one because a lot of people have been very pleasantly surprised when they see the difference of what we bring to the table.

Matt Saternus (08:46)

Now, one thing I want to make sure we get in here and, hopefully all the naysayers are still listening, you talked about the personalized attention in a fitting and that you're not out at demo days. Please tell me, because I did not know this prior to meeting with you a few weeks ago, please tell everyone what is the cost of coming to get fit and get that one-on-one fitting experience at a PXG location?

Nick Jahnke (09:11)

Well, I appreciate you asking that. And to your point, we have some unbelievable retail stores around the country. We also have dedicating fitting hubs, and we'll also come to you at your green grass facility. The cost of any of those opportunities is zero. We have no obligation, no commitment. We're not charging a fitting fee. We're simply asking for the opportunity to be in front of you as a player and to show you what we're capable of doing. The commitment that we're asking from the player is for their time and for the opportunity for them to come with an open mind and see what we've made and how it may help their game. Wallet wise, we're not asking for a cent from them for our time to be there and to work with them. We just want to give them an awesome experience.

Matt Saternus (09:53)

I just want to double underline, italicize, bold that for anybody who is half listening. You can go to any PXG location. You can find the mobile fitting. You can go get a one-on-one fitting and try the equipment, learn about your game, work with the fitter one-on-one, and the cost is zero. So, by no means am I shilling for PXG. I don't care what anybody plays. But as you said, if you're going to have an opinion about PXG, let's make it an informed one, go try the stuff and go hit it. There's no cost to it.

Nick Jahnke (10:25)

For sure. And I appreciate it in your article, obviously calling out what the price point is. We make an unbelievable product that's expensive because it's better. But at the same time, I would say one of the misconceptions that I hear the most about our brand is what people do think our product costs. We have a GEN3 Iron that came out and it's unbelievable. It's $425, and an iron that comes with any of the very wide berth of custom shafts, grips, a full-custom fitting at no charge, that comes as a portion of that. But if you blind polled the people who a lot of times want to tell me what they don't love about PXG, when they talk about what they think our product costs, it really isn't in line with what it actually is. So I would just include that as the other part of the experience, get it in your hands, but really understand what the cost difference really is. When you see the difference in the quality, in what we're putting into the experience, I think a lot of people have understood that cost difference a lot better and found it to be pretty justifiable.

Matt Saternus (11:20)

I think especially when you talk about the shaft upgrades, the grips, all that, those add up. When you look at just a major OEM, the iron sets a thousand dollars, but then you add in $6 a club for the grips and another $30 for the shaft. You can get up there pretty quick. So, I want to touch on one other general PXG thing before we get into the GEN3 Irons and that's the PXG for Heroes Program. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Nick Jahnke (11:50)

I would love to and appreciate the opportunity. To be honest, it's my favorite thing about our company. It's been really one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. One of the wonderful things about Mr. Parsons and really that is very firm in the heritage of our company is he is a military man and really does a lot to support our armed services and those who serve. Whether it be fire, police or past or current many of the branches of the armed services, it's something very important to him and Mrs. Parsons and their philanthropy and that’s something that's super important to our company. We offer the Heroes Program for anyone who is active or past service, again, in any of the armed services or police or firemen, and this also extends to their direct family. But it's really just our company's way of saying thank you for what they've done for our country and the service that they've put in. We offer some special pricing on products. It's honestly comically low pricing at times, but it really is an incredibly neat thing. We have some strong veteran and what we call hero relationships within the local communities that we service. As you know, I oversee the Midwest for us and, as part of that, at our store in Chicago we do a lot of work with the local heroes’ community through there. And, I've had a number of times where people who have gone through our Heroes Program have followed up with me. I can think of three specific examples where people will follow up with me and said, ‘as a veteran, this is the most I've ever felt appreciated by a company.’ Which is sad to be honest and kind of puts life in perspective a little bit. I'm just the guy fitting for golf clubs and trying to make sure that they have an awesome experience and equipment that's going to help them play better, but it's an incredibly rewarding thing, and it's a really neat program that we offer. I would take that one step further. If you look at our company and if you were to ask Mr. Parsons what PXG means to him and what three things he would say the company stands for, I think the Heroes Program would certainly be one of the top three and philanthropy in general would be probably the second one. That's another thing that I don't think is incredibly well known about our company. Mr. and Mrs. Parsons are very philanthropic and do some really incredible stuff, a lot of which is oriented towards heroes giving. I think the last statistic I saw they are averaging about a million dollars every two weeks in giving and a lot of that is driven by the profits. They own 16 companies, PXG being one of them, and the profits that their companies make are primarily donated back as well on the backend.

Nick Jahnke (14:23)

So not only are we doing some things as a company to help, the profits we make are also being driven back to oftentimes veteran and underprivileged organizations, which is really awesome and I think something that most consumers wouldn't know about our brand. Just rounding out those top three, the third thing that we stand for is performance. But as a company, when you get to work somewhere where two of the three focuses of your company are really giving back to the community and the third is selling awesome golf equipment, it makes for a pretty fun job.

Matt Saternus (14:52)

Yeah, absolutely. Now let's talk about those awesome golf clubs. Let's talk about the GEN3 Irons. Let's start with just a general overview. Can you talk about how the new GEN3 Irons are different and improved compared to GEN2 Irons?

Nick Jahnke (15:06)

If you don't mind, I would actually take it one step further back just in case there's anyone that doesn't have a deep understanding of where our company came from. Not trying to go too crazy into the history, but you know Mr. Parsons is golf obsessed. You can go online and read how much he was spending on this personal equipment before he founded PXG. He is a passionate golfer at heart, first and foremost, which I think would resonate with a lot of your listeners. When he started this company, Brad Schweigert and Mike Nicolette, who are two unbelievable equipment engineers/designers, came to the company. Bob's comment to them was he wanted them to make an iron that looked like a blade, was more forgiving than a cavity back, felt better than anything he'd ever hit, had unbelievable distance and look sexy as hell, which is a tall task.

Nick Jahnke (15:55)

They were given no budget and no time constraints. He just really wanted to see if we had the right resources, if we could make something better. Right? So, we make a forged driver that is a hollow body design. It's really the best way to achieve ideal ball speed but also high forgiveness. The problem with that is that a hollow golf club feels like a hollow golf club, and that isn't what you want to feel as a player. You want to get great feedback. This is our third generation of our 0311 Irons. Kind of going back to that military comment, one thing I would say is I just love their really cool military interplay with our company. 0311 is a military code for a rifleman, which you'll see a lot of that in our company, like 26 Darkness was the battalion that Mr. Parsons served in. There’s just some really cool military heritage that's built into some of the naming and foundations of our company. GEN1 of the 0311 Irons, hollow iron, the first one we had designed, we put a TPE, a thermoplastic elastomer, in that iron. Think of it as a really soft kind of bouncy ball, but one that wouldn't bounce back. It would hit the table and just stop. It was meant to absorb the vibration and really, just frankly, prevent the face from cracking because we use the thinnest face in golf, and you have to support that face. GEN1 was really soft, but it absorbed the energy. Excuse me, GEN2, we used a different material that was a little bit more elastic and rebounded some of the energy into the ball. So GEN1 to GEN2 cosmetically were very similar, but the change was really the internal secret sauce, and it kicked some of the energy back into the ball.

Nick Jahnke (17:32)

GEN3 is a whole different animal. One of the comments that I've heard about this iron that I loved the most from Nicolette, who is an unbelievable club designer and probably my favorite person I've met in the golf industry, his comment was that the only problem he saw with the GEN3 Iron is that it should have been called GEN4 because it is not progression from what GEN2 was. It's really an entire leap forward. GEN3, we use what's called an impact reactor. So in GEN2, you had a bit firmer material on that to get a little energy back into the ball, but you didn't have as soft of a feel off the iron. With GEN3, we actually use a dual material in that so you have a very soft and flexible material that also stores and really kind of rebounds energy back into the ball.

Nick Jahnke (18:15)

So it's quiet, it's solid, but it's really powerful. At its core, there are some fundamental design differences between GEN2 and GEN3, but the biggest difference is that internal material. It's the secret sauce of our company and something we won't talk about, but it's unbelievably, incredibly impressive. I've seen cutouts of the irons, and it's incredible how intricate that design and the material is on the inside. People significantly smarter than me have done a lot of work to make that happen. But at its core, no pun intended, the biggest difference from GEN2 to GEN3 is the core and that internal material. We've found a way to just put the world's most explosive bouncy ball inside that club and what it does to make it feel soft and to really kick energy back into that ball is unbelievable. The performance of the club speaks to that, and I think you saw that in your numbers as well. When you're looking at an iron from GEN2 to GEN3 that is the exact same loft with the exact same shaft and the same specs, you're picking up on average three miles an hour ball speed and five yards of carry. And that's primarily because of that internal material. It's really incredible.

Nick Jahnke (19:24)

And now that leads me perfectly to my next question. Is that with, from GEN2 to GEN3, you kept the lofts the same, which if anybody, you know, for the nerds who are listening to this, and most of the people listening to this are equipment nerds, you know the lofts are just getting stronger and stronger and stronger. But you've kept the lofts the same, but you've got more ball speed. Tell everyone why that's so important.

Nick Jahnke (19:51)

It's important because that's when you know the club is really performing. It's incredible to do because you have to truly make something that's better at that point. Just speaking from my personal experience, I play our Tour heads going from GEN2 to GEN3. I actually weakened my set loss one degree and picked up five yards in total distance, which just speaks to, unbelievably, the performance of what that face is doing. It's really that internal material, but that internal material works in correlation with the face. Being able to keep the club at the same loss but get that enhanced performance, when you see that, you know there's something that's just truly better that's happening with that golf club. And the really neat thing about this iron, when you look at GEN3, is that the face and the internal that impact reactor, that internal material, the two of them really work together.

Nick Jahnke (20:43)

I've heard it described as a symbiotic relationship between the two. I think that makes a lot of sense. In traditional Mr. Parsons’ fashion, his comment is that one with the other would be like pizza without the sauce, right? They really complement each other and really work well together. So because we have this really stable, really fast internal material and that impact reactor, we're able to do even more with the club face. We already had the world's thinnest iron face. One of the things we've been able to do with this, because that internal material supports it so well, is we did a perimeter channel around the iron, which you don't see in irons at all. You see that at times in metal woods, but it’s really neat for irons. What it allows us to do is for that face to flex even more.

Nick Jahnke (21:25)

So when you look at the part of the face where you're going around that perimeter, we're able to get that face down to 1.2 millimeters around that perimeter channel, which is unbelievably thin. But again, it's because that internal material braces it so well. We can make a face that flexes more, and you're super powering the trampoline at that point. I mean, you're making something that feels soft, performance is awesome, but again to your point, at the same loft. We don't have to play the games of tweaking all of the lofts in it. It's just made to go farther. It's just a better design.

Matt Saternus (22:00)

And just adding from my perspective, somebody who hits it kind of low, when you take an iron and strengthen the loft, okay, it's going further, but now it won't hold a green. And now my iron set is ending at a five iron instead of a four iron. So I've just bumped everything up and I'm carrying an extra wedge. So that's not as exciting to me is saying no that ball's still lands like it was dropped out of a hot air balloon, but it's going 10 yards farther also.

Nick Jahnke (22:27)

It was a fascinating experience. I am a club nerd first and foremost, in my personal game, it was a fascinating experience for me going from GEN2 to GEN3. Faster ball speed, longer carry, but I'm doing it at a higher launch angle and with a steeper angle of descent. At that point you're telling me the ball is carrying farther, it’s landing softer, it's coming out of a better window on the way up. That isn't just an increase in distance, that's a significant increase in playability, and that's when it really benefits you as a player. That's the holy grail, right? Distance is cute, but playable distance is what matters. Do you want a ball flight that's going to be consistent wherever you hit it across the face? Which is really to me where our clubs shine is just the forgiveness

Nick Jahnke (23:12)

Once you get a millimeter off the sweet spot. Let's be honest, perfect shots with a Persimmon driver flies pretty well, if you hit it dead in the middle. Where we really shine is when you get off the face. Because when you get off that dead center spot, because of what we can do with that internal material in the face, not only can we make your perfect shot better, but we want to make your miss hits better. When we make them farther, higher, land steeper, that's when I can go out to the course and be a more effective player. And that's really what matters.

Matt Saternus (23:40)

Now let's not give short shrift to the short game. PXG has two new lines of wedges. Can you just give us a quick overview of what those two are and what separates those from other wedges we're seeing out there?

Nick Jahnke (23:53)

Yeah, absolutely. So our wedges, honestly, are my favorite things we make. I should probably say they're the irons, but the wedges to me are just the eye candy of our company. I think everything we make is pretty, but the wedges really always get my attention. We have, to your point, two lines of what is a forged wedge and a milled wedge. Forged wedge - incredible. It lines up very well with the 0311 Iron. It's a three-time forging process. It's very intricate in terms of how we go through that, how we do the grooving. The real change in the new iteration is how can we push as much weight to the toe area, and particularly the high toe, but it top-down has the look the player wants it to. We can increase the stability and the MOI of that wedge, but make it look player-preferred from the top down.

Nick Jahnke (24:43)

So, the forged wedge – incredible. Our forged wedges have always been awesome, really soft feel. Again, like everything else we do, we do almost full custom so a very wide variety of shaft options, and we'll match it up very well to your irons and make sure that's a nice progression. The milled wedges to me are really, and I mean this is a great thing, it's the craziest product we make. I think they're unbelievable. It is a forged body that is a hundred percent machine meltdown. When we first started making them, it took 10 hours. We've gotten it down to six-and-a-half hours, but it is a very, very intricate process. But what it allows us to do is make a wedge that is at the absolute legal limit of what we're allowed to do from a fade standpoint. But from a body standpoint, do everything we can to ensure perfect consistency.

Nick Jahnke (25:30)

And that's one thing with our brand, there's a really great story when we were signing one of the tour players that came in with three 60-degree wedges and they were the same. And after we spec them all out the question was, which one do you like? And he said, they're all the same. It's like, no, they're not. Ultimately, if you work for a company and, Matt, if your job is to be the guy that buffs and polishes the golf club, you could be the best polisher in the world, but if I give you 10 clubs, the odds that all 10 of those are the same are zero. It's just not going to happen. There's going to be a variance when you're having a human do that. So, we've taken real steps on how can we eliminate those inconsistencies.

Nick Jahnke (26:09)

How can we ensure that if you have a 58-degree wedge that you love and is the best thing that you've ever had, and it's time for you to pop a new one in your bag, the one that you're getting next is the exact same and that we can make that a very consistent part of your player experience, but, manufacturing wise, that we're ensuring we're giving the great consistency of product to everyone? So our milled wedges, where it is the full machine milling and that we're making it to the most precise specifications possible, what that allows us to do with the grooves and with the weighting is just awesome. But the neat thing on the milled wedges in particular is we use, what our company's really known for, our signature tungsten weighting around the perimeter of the golf club.

Nick Jahnke (26:54)

On the milled wedges, we put a dramatic amount of that weight up in the toe to increase that stability. We make those wedges from 50 degrees up to 64 degrees in two-degree increments, and we can change the weight of those tungsten plugs internally. So on the 50 degree, we pull the majority of the weight down to the bottom of the wedge. Obviously we want the weight lower in that club, but as we get up into the 56, 58, 60 and higher, we can put significantly higher tungsten weights up in the toe to really stabilize that club and increase the MOI and ensure that it stays nice and stable through the hitting zone, the way that the player expects it to. I obviously get excited about this stuff and I'm nerdy about it, but if you haven't hit our irons, if you hadn't hit our wedges, we don't charge anything to come in for a fitting*. We really want you to experience what makes us different, but the milled wedge is something that you're not going to see from anyone else in the industry, and it's really just a piece of art that you get to play golf with. It's awesome.

Matt Saternus (27:50)

Yeah. So hopefully people will take advantage of that if there's a PXG location near them, or they can get access to that fitting. Again, no cost to go check it out. So definitely something to do.

Nick Jahnke (28:03)

If I could drop one comment on there, we have retail locations around the country. Our headquarters is in Arizona. We have retail stores in Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Westgate in Phoenix. But the really neat thing that we do is we partner with local facilities to essentially set up these local fitting hubs. So, in my region we have really nice fitting hubs in Detroit, Indianapolis, Columbus, Ohio. We're looking at some new opportunities, but we have those all over the country. Regardless of where you are in the country, we have mobile fitters in each market that are happy to come to you, and we have awesome PXG hubs where we have most of them, depending on where they are in the country. We have indoor/outdoor hitting bays that have that full PXG experience, where you can come at no charge. But if you're not near a retail store, we have a network of people around the country who will come to you and where you can go to have an awesome brand experience with us and just see what we're known for. And again, there's no obligation there. We really have tried to build on a network to make it really easy for the consumer to be able to interact with our brand.

Matt Saternus (29:08)

That's awesome. We'll go ahead and leave the heavy stuff there for right now. We'll switch to our backend to wrap up. And I'll start out by asking, what is your favorite golf club you've ever owned?

Nick Jahnke (29:21)

Yeah, I am going to be that guy. Before I worked here, I didn't have the milled wedges in the bag; I had the iron. I don't think I've ever been as excited as when I came on board with PXG and got to order some milled wedges. The performance is nuts. It makes me feel like I'm playing with a wedge from 15 years ago when I can just hold it open and hit these little shots that you get side spin, and they check up in a way that the golf ball isn't supposed to do anymore. It’s just unbelievable. And, like the golf nerd who’s proud of my bag, I have never had a club in my bag that gets more reaction and more people walking by saying, ‘Hey, can I just look at that for a second’ and pull it out of my bag. It's a really neat thing. Honestly, it makes me very thankful that I'm left-handed because otherwise I think there'd be a ton of people trying my equipment, and I'm kind of protective of that. But it's definitely the milled wedge – the 60 in particular. It's just a fun toy that just looks unbelievable, and every time I get to hit it, I get pretty excited.

Matt Saternus (30:24)

That's cool. What's your best moment or biggest accomplishment on the course and it doesn't have to be related to playing well, it could just be something memorable for you.

Nick Jahnke (30:32)

I'm going to go to the player side. I grew up playing with a lot of great players and players who in hindsight made me think that's what normal golf looked like, and in hindsight, they were not. They were people that were capable of playing at a Tour level, so I had a false conception of what good golf looked like. But the biggest thing for me was probably the first time I shot in the sixties because I had really botched my round and screwed it up and had to make a couple of late birdies to get it back. Just mentally being able to overcome that and start to see that growth in the mental side of my game was a pretty big thing for me and started to change my golf game. That was probably my proudest thing.

Matt Saternus (31:13)

What is a feature that you hate to see on a golf course?

Nick Jahnke (31:17)

Fake waterfalls? Is that fair? I'm a traditionalist. I like tree-lined, natural-sloped fairways. When I get to a course and the first hole has a bunch of fake waterfalls and stuff, I feel like I'm in for a more manufactured golf course than one that really plays to what the land gave it in the first place. That being said, one of my favorite golf courses I've ever played also has a fake waterfall running through the clubhouse. So maybe I shouldn't say that, but I like courses to take advantage of what the land gave them. That's what this game to me is supposed to be – a way to really highlight the feature of nature that was already there.

Matt Saternus (31:59)

Well that leads me to the next question. What's your favorite golf destination?

Nick Jahnke (32:04)

I've been pretty spoiled in my life. I was lucky enough with a very good friend to go and play Old Heads overseas, which just honestly is one of the most memorable days of my life. One of those days where you go to bed and it's like, man, that couldn't have been real. It's not cheap, and it's not easy to get to, but if anyone ever has the opportunity to go there, it really was just unbelievable. I'm very thankful to be from Wisconsin and Whistling Straits is an incredible experience. Those guys are incredible. I have great relationships with a lot of people that work there and that's one of my favorite courses. The moment I went I was like, okay, I see what we're trying to do here – I see what the intent was of Whistling Straits. And, Old Head was just an unbelievable experience, and one I'll never forget.

Matt Saternus (32:52)

Okay. If you could trade places with someone in golf today could be a player, announcer, industry, anybody who would it be?

Nick Jahnke (32:59)

My gut instinct would have been Tiger just to see what the circuit feels like to be in it. But in a past life, I worked for Nike, and I grew up a Tiger Woods kid and I'm a big fan. I've seen a bit of that circus from the outside, and, honestly, I don't think I would want that life. I'd say I'd want to be like Max Homa, maybe someone who's won a Tour event, and it has all the perks of being on a PGA Tour but can also go out to dinner after and not be bugged by 10 people. I want to see what it's like to live that life for a day where you can just be a normal player on the PGA Tour and just really get to experience what that looks like, but where you can also be a normal human at the end of that day.

Matt Saternus (33:42)

Okay. That seems smart. I like that. What do you use as a ball marker?

Nick Jahnke (33:48)

I'm a penny kind of guy. I've got a penny for my birth year. I'm pretty boring that way, and they're easy to replace because I lose them pretty frequently.

Matt Saternus (34:00)

What is the best shot you've ever seen, preferably in person. If you saw one on TV that really stands out to you that that works too.

Nick Jahnke (34:08)

There's a golf course, it’s actually not open at the moment which is sad because it's an unbelievable golf course. There's a course called the Adena down in Ocala, Florida that’s a really beautiful private course. The gentleman who was kind enough to bring me over to Old Head, he and I were playing together and there are incredible par 3s. It's a golf course with a bunch of quarries in the middle of the golf so all the par 3s play over the quarries. They have a big kind of tortilla chip. I wouldn't call it a Punchbowl but a very contoured green, and he hit a really good shot with a hybrid, and it kicked up to the left side of the green. It was one of those where everyone started walking away and you might want to wait a second.

Nick Jahnke (34:51)

We watched that ball, and you're on a very elevated tee, and we watched the ball for probably 30 seconds where you could see it barely start to make progress rolling down probably 55 feet from where his ball mark was and hit the pin dead center and drops. I've seen some other hole in ones, but never one where you had that much time and where you could literally watch it as if you were watching it on television. It was a pretty incredible experience and resulted in clubs being thrown in the air and running around like 10-year olds. But it was pretty memorable.

Matt Saternus (35:21)

That's cool. If you were the golf czar and you could change anything about the game, what's the first thing you would do?

Nick Jahnke (35:28)

I think it would be alluding to the ready-golf pace of play type situation. I'm all for formality and who has honors on the tee and being respectful to your playing partners, but golf is more fun to me when I'm playing with guys who understand each other and understand their own games and are ready to go and can play quickly. You get the flow of that, where you're not standing and waiting, and you're not sitting on tees to the point where it really kills momentum. It just makes the game a lot more enjoyable and makes for a better social experience. I like what the PGA Tour is apparently starting to try and do from a pace of play perspective and would love that to filter down into the amateur level and just Saturday games as well. There's a lot of really fun courses in Wisconsin that, unfortunately, you can't really go play on a Saturday anymore unless you're willing to commit five plus hours to a round of 18, and that's just unfortunate. It really takes away from the fun of the game.

Matt Saternus (36:22)

You’ve described all of Chicago golf.

Nick Jahnke (36:25)

So I've heard. I'm going to have to stick with Wisconsin golf, I guess, apparently over the weekend. That's not how golf was meant to be.

Matt Saternus (36:33)

You'll be a popular czar. That is a definitely a popular way to go. My last question is if you could tell all golfers one thing, what would it be?

Nick Jahnke (36:42)

This isn't from the PXG side, if I'm removing myself from that, if I could tell golfers all one thing, it'd really be just understand that your equipment has to work for you and that fitting means a lot of different things. But to me, the core part of fitting is really understanding where you are as a player, what you're trying to achieve, what’s your set makeup, what your clubs specs should then look like for you. That it might not be a 14-club set, it might be a ton of fairway woods, a ton of hybrid and working with a partner who understands your golf game, what you're trying to achieve and where you are in the game that is incredibly valuable. Your equipment should be customized. It should be fit to you, and it should be something that you really take pride in and aligns well with where you are in that moment as a player.

Nick Jahnke (37:30)

I would just really encourage people to take more time with that. And like I said, that to me, isn't just the clubs specs and is this the right shaft, it's really bag makeup and kind of taking your ego out of the play there. If you need to have a bunch of hybrids and a bunch of fairway woods and that's what's going to help you play better golf – awesome. I wish more players would look at LPGA bags versus PGA Tour bags when they're getting their conception of what normal should look like. Because I love watching the PGA Tour and obviously we have a wonderful stable of tour athletes, but the reality is I don't hit the ball like Billy Horschel. When I look at a lot of my club speed and ball speed data, and I look at the majority of the players that I fit, it really aligns better to the LPGA side. We should be taking cues from them on how to make the game easier, not how to have our bag look cooler.

Matt Saternus (38:19)

Very good point, very underappreciated, part of the fitting makeup. So great stuff there, Nick. Thank you so much for coming on. I want to thank my guest, Nick Jahnke, from PXG as well as all of you for listening. If you're enjoying the PluggedIn podcast, please subscribe and leave a review and we'll be back next week with another episode.

This episode was recorded in January 2020, courtesy of PluggedInGolf

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