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Srixon ZX7 irons: A development deep dive

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Upon their release, Srixon ZX7 irons became the fastest irons to be put into play by Srixon staff members—and at GolfWRX we took notice. ZX7’s even replaced some of the most long-standing irons in play on the PGA Tour including multiple sets of the cult classic Z745’s.

As someone who has always been enamored by the engineering and design process, I reached out to Srixon to get the inside scoop on how the ZX7 irons were so successful from the start. I spoke with Srixon’s Tour Engineering Manager Patrick Ripp about the development process.

Ryan Barath: How long is a development cycle for irons, and what does that timeline look like? 

Patrick Ripp: Development is non-stop, and we typically work on two-year product cycles roughly broken down into six-month blocks.

  • Research phase: This involves blue sky research for new technologies—new materials, performance directions for a specific market segment, and doing research into new manufacturing techniques.
  • Design (industrial design): This is the “whiteboard phase” and includes a lot of early sketching before moving into 3D CAD ( computer-aided design).
  • Development: This is all about working with our manufacturing partners on new capabilities, confirming our design will be achievable with the manufacturing techniques that we are pursuing before a pilot run sampling and final spec setting.
  • Production: The final step is to start mass production to hit forecasts for product launch dates.

There is quite a bit of overlap and a lot of collaborations across the teams, but that is the simplest way to break it down.

Now, when it comes to tour products, the schedule is pulled forward when we introduce products on tour prior to the public release. This introduction phase is one of the most valuable research periods for the next generation products. The introduction allows us to get the most in-depth testing and performance feedback as players work the new product into play.

Tour product research is generally non-stop as we are constantly fitting which can turn into testing based on the fitting results. If we need to solve a specific issue, we can easily and quickly prototype new concepts for further testing. If the testing goes well, the new feature or technology may end up in the next generation product line.

RB: As far as product creation is concerned, you talked about the sketching process—are there specific points of inspiration for creating new products?

PR: In terms of inspiration, it is different for every individual. For engineering, there is definitely a lot of inspiration pulled from other sports products. Aerospace is another big influence with a lot of our engineers studying or even coming from that background. The designers seem to pull design line inspiration and details from the automotive industry. Modern tech products and sports products are always on the inspiration boards during presentations.

Like so many others, the R&D team is always sharing YouTube clips of new manufacturing and finishing techniques that we might be able to take advantage of in the future.

RB: How do you decide on the final aesthetics, and how much does that relate to performance?

PR: We have a talented internal industrial design team within our R&D structure, and they handle a lot of the early design research. Typically, starting with 2D sketching, then 2D rendering, and then moving into the 3D CAD files to confirm CG properties. The engineers will work closely with the design team throughout that process.

In the 2D work, engineers provide CG targets and feedback on the design feature and how they might influence the CG properties good or bad.

For a one-piece forged cavity back iron like the 7 Series, the design has a massive influence on the performance. You need to adjust all your discretionary weight through design features. This makes it very important to choose the correct design early and then have a lot of collaboration between the engineers and industrial design to achieve the final production design.

RB: One of the most popular iron Srixon ever produced was the Z745. Was this the starting point for the new ZX7, or was it a from-scratch process working with tour players to deliver on their requests?

PR: We didn’t start from scratch on the ZX7’s, especially with the success of the 785’s on tour, but we did make a point to take a step back and reassess our Srixon iron lines. With the rebranding to the ZX line from the previous numbering system, we wanted to make sure this product line was more than a subtle evolution from the previous generation of irons.

For the 7 Series specifically, we wanted to understand what has been successful on tour and why certain models resonated with our tour staff. Obviously, the 745’s and even the 945’s have been really successful for us on tour, and the few players who were not playing the 785’s or Z-Forged were definitely in the 45 Series products. With the 45’s and 85’s being the most successful tour products, we started to iterate off of what made those irons lines so popular and how we might be able to improve on them.

As you may have picked up on the ZX7 irons, they are basically a beast of the Z745’s and Z785’s for shape and sole with upgrades all over, including tweaks to the V Sole specs. The other upgrades in the design are all thanks to the new tour cavity, which puts the sweet spot closer to the scoreline center and offers improvements to hi/low MOI for greater consistency.

The ZX7’s tour introduction has been the most successful iron introduction in our company’s history, even with the restrictions that we have had on tour throughout the introduction phase. Since the restart of the PGA Tour on the west coast, after players have had time to test over the winter, we have 90 percent (20 out of 22) of our PGA Tour staff playing in-line irons. Four of those 20 sets are Z-Forged and the rest are ZX7.

We only have one set of 785’s and one set of 745’s still in play. We have also had four players switch out of blades into the ZX7’s. It has been amazing to see the conversion and hear the positive feedback about the new ZX line.

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Ryan Barath is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Pingback: GolfWRX Members Choice: Best irons of 2022 – GolfWRX

  2. Pingback: GolfWRX Members Choice: Best irons of 2021 – GolfWRX

  3. Pingback: Best irons in golf of 2021: The shotmakers – GolfWRX

  4. Jason Spreitzer

    Mar 27, 2021 at 8:17 pm

    Love seeing Brooks switch to the ZX7’s from Mizuno!

  5. MK808

    Mar 23, 2021 at 4:00 am

    If you’re on the fence about getting the ZX7… get them. They exceed the hype.

  6. MK808

    Mar 23, 2021 at 3:59 am

    I have a combo set of Z-Forged and ZX7. Truly fantastic irons. Looking back on it, I wish I ordered the full set of ZX7s, they are that good. It took me 7 years to switch off my old Mizuno MP58s and I’m glad I waited. The feel of the ZX7 is, at least to me, pretty unique. They are buttery soft, but have a strong, powerful acoustics to them. Z Forged are not slouch either. They are everything you want out of a blade, but the slightly larger head size for a blade makes them inviting. Mind you they are blades, and you can pinpoint to the millimeter where you strike location.

  7. Cosy

    Mar 20, 2021 at 7:52 pm

    I ordered a set. Just waiting now… back orders suck!!

    • Tater

      Mar 21, 2021 at 1:34 am

      I’m 2 rounds in w the ZX7’s.. believe the hype

  8. Rez

    Mar 20, 2021 at 4:45 pm

    Give us that unplanted club as an option srixon!

    • jake

      Mar 22, 2021 at 6:49 am

      Agree, wish they had a raw options. No stamping is a bonus too

  9. Tom Duckworth

    Mar 20, 2021 at 2:22 pm

    Damm you had to do this! Now I really want to trade in my Z765/565 combo set for these.

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Whats in the Bag

Bryson DeChambeau WITB 2024 (June)

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Driver: Krank Formula Fire Pro (6 degrees @5)
Shaft: LA Golf Bryson Series

3-wood: Krank Formula Fire (13 degrees @12)
Shaft: LA Golf Bryson Series

3-wood: Krank Formula Fire (13 degrees)
Shaft: LA Golf Bryson Series

Irons: Avoda Prototype (5-PW)
Shafts: LA Golf Bryson Series

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 (46-12S @45, 50-12S, 56, 60)
Shafts: LA Golf Bryson Series

Putter: SIK Pro C-Series Armlock/LA Golf Proto
Shaft: LA Golf C2L-180
Grip: JumboMax JumboFlat 17

Grips: JumboMax UltraLight XL

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x Left Dash

Check out more in-hand photos of Bryson DeChambeau’s clubs here.

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Equipment

Callaway launches Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver

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First in our sites on the PGA Tour at the RBC Heritage in April, Callaway announced today it is bringing its Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver to retail as the competition for the “not quite a driver, not quite a fairway wood” slot in golfers’ bags continues to heat up.

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver: Tech story

At 340 cc’s and designed primarily as an alternate tee club (11.5 and 13.5-degree lofts), the Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver features the same Ai Smart Face technology as the Ai Smoke family of drivers — for more on Micro Deflections and Swing Code, check out our driver launch piece. Additionally, with the mini driver Callaway engineers opted for a dual weighting system (four grams and 12 grams), which can be swapped to adjust launch and spin.

Discussing the mini driver, Paul Winterhalter, Product Manager at Callaway, said, “This isn’t necessarily your “bomber” spec; this isn’t looking for extra added distance as compared to your driver. But this is an alternative club to where it’s giving you that consistent distance. It’s that smaller footprint for a player that’s probably a little bit higher caliber, looking to control.”

Added Advanced R&D Manager Nick Yontz, “What we’ve seen from a Tour aspect is that Tour players are rarely hitting their 3-woods into greens as approach shots. The 3-wood has become nearly a tee-only club, so situationally I think we’re going to see tour players lean into this at certain golf courses and certain setups as a club that they can use to hit more fairways.”

Yontz also stated the mini driver is 43.75 inches in length, two inches shorter than a traditional driver. He described it as “easier to swing and easier to hit straighter, because of that shorter shaft being able to square it up and control it a little bit more.” He also mentioned the Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 is well suited to players who struggle to hit their 3-woods, particularly off the tee.

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver: Pricing, specs, availability

  • Price: $449.99
  • Lofts: 11.5, 13.5 degrees
  • Shafts: Project X Denali Blue (50, 60), Project X Cypher (40)
  • Pre-sale date: 6/11
  • At retail: 6/27

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What’s the most forgiving and longest driver you’ve played in past 5 years? – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the most forgiving and longest driver they’ve played over the past 5 years. WRXer ‘bogeykibg’ poses the question and also asks “does forgiveness mean shorter?”, and our members have been sharing their thoughts on the subject in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Kai Slater: “The Callaway Rogue ST Max driver is the most forgiving/long driver that I’ve personally tried.  It’s my current driver and, although, I see no reason to change, I’m very curious about trading up to the AI Smoke when the prices drop later this year.”
  • Ger21: “Srixon ZX5 LS MK II. Remarkably forgiving.”
  • scooterhd2: “If we are talking about average on course distance, and not max distance, or good hits on a sim, then its G400MAX. Theres no rollout in the woods or the lake. Hit em straight.”

Entire Thread: “What’s the most forgiving and longest driver you’ve played in past five years? – GolfWRXers discuss”

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