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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 part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He 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.

9 Comments

9 Comments

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

  2. Jason Spreitzer

    Mar 27, 2021 at 8:17 pm

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

  3. MK808

    Mar 23, 2021 at 4:00 am

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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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Equipment

Bridgestone launches special First Tee edition e6 ball

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Bridgestone Golf has launched a special First Tee edition e6 golf ball, with a portion of the proceeds going directly to First Tee, a youth development organization that helps kids and teens build their strength of character through golf.

The special First Tee edition ball is available now exclusively through PGA Tour Superstore and comes in both white and optic yellow color codes.

“We’re very pleased to offer this special First Tee edition e6, exclusively at PGA Tour Superstore. For decades, First Tee has done very fine work, helping young people learn and grow through the game of golf, building strong individuals and communities. It is an honor to create a dedicated product where the proceeds from the sales will bolster their charitable endeavors.” – Dan Murphy, President and CEO, Bridgestone Golf

As a reminder, the e6 is the longest-running model in Bridgestone’s current lineup. The latest model, new for 2021, features a larger, softer core in design for a more responsive feel added distance for moderate swing speed players.

The new design, which is specifically tailored to modern players who value a ball that provides a very soft feel at impact, retails for $21.99 per dozen.

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Equipment

Adidas unveils new Stan Smith golf shoe in classic colorway

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Adidas Golf is bringing the classic Stan Smith colorway to the course, with the new unmistakable white and green golf shoe.

Building upon the new PimeGreen upper made with high-performance recycled materials1 as part of Adidas’ mission to End Plastic Waste, this version is also waterproof (one-year warranty) to help keep golfers dry both on and off the course.

The new Stan Smith golf shoe features a PU cushioning in targeted areas in the midsole to go alongside a PU die-cut sockliner in a bid to provide maximum comfort.

The shoe also contains an adiwear spikeless outsole that features lugs inspired by the shoe’s original sole design, offering some added traction for all course conditions to go along with their style.

“When we were talking about bringing this shoe into golf, the original white and green colorway was a must-have as part of our planning. The Stan Smith silhouette is known throughout the world for being so versatile from a fashion standpoint, so we’re excited to give golfers that same style and versatility for when they head out to the course, now in a more sustainable way.” – Masun Denison, global footwear director, Adidas Golf.

As an ode to the traditions of the past, Adidas has also included a removable white kiltie to provide players another way to wear their shoes and give off some added flair for their round.

This classic white and green colorway of the Stan Smith Golf will be available on adidas.com, through the Adidas app, and at select retail partners worldwide beginning Saturday, May 1.

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Lob wedge or no lob wedge? – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the necessity of a lob wedge. WRXer ‘rickybooby25’ kicks off the thread, saying

“Do you use a Lob wedge in your current set-up or not? Players nowadays immediately default to using a LW when playing a chip shot around the greens. I currently have a LW in the bag but have been debating on taking it out completely because it creates bad habits when facing a chip shot. What are your thoughts?”

And our members have been sharing their thoughts on the subject in the forum, with some very interesting responses.

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.

  • Chadwickog: “I am in the NO lob wedge camp, it simplifies the decision making when it comes to wedge play, and all shots are still possible if you know how to hit them.”
  • jholz: “I’ve always looked at the lob wedge as a specialty club for special situations. Lower lofted wedges (54* or 56*) are the ones I use for the vast majority of generic chip shots.”
  • timmekang: “I’ve mentioned this in prior posts, but I carry 2 lob wedges. Not all lob wedges are created equal to don’t be afraid to bring more than 1 out on the course with different bounce/grind/etc. and see what works best depending on your lie and circumstances.”
  • lefthack: “I bought one, learned to hit it, but didn’t find a need for it in my bag when there are other clubs I would use more.”

Entire Thread: “Lob wedge or no lob wedge?”

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