The XXIO X line of woods and irons are the latest examples of how the top-rated Japanese high-end brand is attempting to make inroads in the U.S. market by improving not merely the head or the face or the shaft, but the entire club as a system.
The goal is to develop clubs that the distance-hungry golfer can swing not only faster but more efficiently while essentially expending the same effort he’d been using on his current clubs. The lighter weights on the XXIO X line are working in the area of “swing moment of inertia (MOI).” Unlike clubhead MOI, which refers to how much a club twists as a result of an off-center impact, swing MOI refers to how much effort a golfer makes to deliver the club to the ball. It’s not just the light weights of the XXIO X line, said Jeff Brunski, director of research and development at Cleveland/Srixon/XXIO.
“Swing MOI is more relavant because it captures both the idea that you’re moving a lighter object this distance, plus the object itself is easier to rotate,” he said, noting that the difference between a high swing MOI (bad) and a low swing MOI could be between five and nine miles per hour of clubhead speed, depending on how much energy a player exerts in swinging the club.
A crucial part of the XXIO woods (driver, fairway woods and hybrids) and irons is the shaft, which features extremely light weights (43 grams on the driver shaft) and higher balance points. Called “Smart Impact,” the higher balance point is important because it means the balance point of the entire system (head and shaft) is closer to the hands, which XXIO’s engineers believe makes it easier to control and swing faster, particularly for moderate to slower swing speed players.
The XXIO X line also includes a special shaft bend profile designed to help golfers swing the club closer to the body, producing more efficient speed and more consistent center-face impacts. Again, the lighter weight means certain average to below average swing speed players will swing with better balance, leading to better contact.
For all the focus on how the club is delivered to the ball, what the XXIO X line is actually bringing to impact is not short on technology either. The XXIO X driver, which has a total weight of around 270 grams or 10-15 percent lighter than the majority of drivers on the market, features variable thickness special titanium alloy cup face, which is designed with higher flexibility in the areas where golfers commonly make impact. That includes thinner sections in the low heel, high toe and in the crown at the heel and toe.
The driver, which eschews adjustability in the interest of saving total weight, utilizes a face with six-part variable bounce and roll to better tweak ball flight back toward the center on those specific off-center impacts. Thanks to a heavier steel weight plaque in the sole and a lightweight Ti 8-2 body, the center of gravity of the XXIO X driver is lower and farther back than in the XXIO 9 driver from two years ago.
The XXIO X fairway woods and hybrids feature custom 450 steel bodies with high-strength steel HT1770M cup face constructions.
The new XXIO X irons also benefit from fast face and lightweight graphite shaft technology. The XXIO X irons, aimed at moderate swing speed players, feature a titanium face insert made of the same alloy used in the driver face. The face insert extends an extra few millimeters closer to the leading edge to provide better rebound on shots hit low on the face. It also features both steel and heavy tungsten-nickel weighting in the sole to promote a deep, low center of gravity for forgiveness (higher MOI) and higher launch.
The XXIO X irons use a lightweight graphite shaft in the 50-gram range depending on flex, and also offer a lightweight sub-90-gram steel option (Nippon NS Pro870GH).
As has been the case in the past with XXIO product introductions in the U.S., the line will go high end. The XXIO X driver (8.5-, 9.5-, 10.5- and 11.5-degree fixed lofts) will retail for $650, while the fairway woods (15, 18, 20, 23 degrees) are $400 and the hybrids (18, 20, 23, 26 degrees) are $300.
The XXIO X irons (available in 4-iron through sand wedge lofts) will retail for $200 per club in graphite and $160 per club in steel.