How this golf-equipment company is helping to make the game more diverse and inclusive
Courtesy of PXG
Employees are used to taking vacation days, sick days and, in certain climes, the occasional snow day.
Earlier this year, nearly 80 female members of golf-equipment manufacturer PXG’s workforce had a golf day.
The June outing was conducted at Scottsdale National Golf Club, one of Arizona’s most exclusive enclaves, and bestowed upon PXG’s women staffers by company owner Bob Parsons and his wife, President and Executive Creative Director of PXG Apparel, Renee Parsons. Some of the women had never swung a club before, but no matter: All were made to feel welcome. They could glean advice in a clinic, play a round or simply enjoy a meal together — without sacrificing a day’s pay.
Beats a company softball game, right?
“PXG Women’s Day to Play is a punctuation mark in an ongoing effort by the company to encourage more women to get into golf,” Renee Parsons shared via email. “This opportunity brings the women of PXG centerstage and celebrates their daily efforts to help grow the business and the game.”
The event was a cool scene but just one of many ways PXG has demonstrated its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion over the last two years.
“Golf needs to have the courage to welcome new people into the game, and the best way we can do that is by exemplifying inclusive behavior,” Leela Brennan, PXG’s VP of brand communications and engagement, told me on a recent call. “If you look in [Bob Parsons’] history, the context of his things — there’s lots and lots of women who have contributed to the various businesses he builds. But to see so many women inside of golf, a historically male-dominant group, have so many meaningful roles in leadership, in engineering, in all different parts of this company, that is really exciting.”
Some may be surprised to hear that Parsons, who founded web domain registrar GoDaddy, which gained notoriety (and criticism) for its racy and controversial commercials, is the driving force behind such equity initiatives. (Parsons sold his remaining stake in GoDaddy and retired from the board in 2018.) But Brennan said that supporting women is an integral part of the company’s ethos.
Last year, PXG became the title sponsor of the PXG Women’s Match Play Championship. The company also sponsors the Women’s All Pro Tour and the PXG Race to Stage II, which awards top performers with exemptions into Stage II of LPGA Q-School. Additionally, Brennan said that it has always been company policy to provide equal investment into both men’s and women’s collegiate programs.
“We don’t make golf clubs for men, we don’t make golf clubs for women, we don’t make golf clubs for juniors or seniors,” Brennan said. “We engineer golf clubs for golfers. We take care of the individual and the human standing in front of us. And our measure of success is their performance.”
In addition to the club-making portion of the business, which launched in 2013, PXG has been expanding rapidly in the apparel space since the first collection debuted in 2018. The company has 16 brick-and-mortar apparel stores, with plans to add eight more by the end of the year.
Given the added visibility of the brand, Brennan said that gaining a reputation as a company with strong community ties has been a priority.
“We’re looking for ways to be great partners inside of the communities where our stores exist,” she said. “Because we have a facility and a presence where we can actually start talking at a much more local level and make connections, develop programs, and create opportunities that we didn’t necessarily have access to before.”
One such example of PXG’s commitment to community outreach occurred at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July, where a partnership with Rocket Mortgage and DAPCEP (Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program) enabled 24 local high school students to visit PXG Detroit for an up-close look at golf-related STEM fields.
The students had an opportunity to measure smash factor, calculate face angles, use a Trackman and chat to PXG employees about the real-world intersection of science and golf. Afterward, the students watched the pros in action at Detroit Golf Club — and even got some face time with PXG staffer Zach Johnson.
The event was such a success that PXG has more planned in the coming year, and Brennan says that the company is determined to do its part to grow the game as equitably as possible.
“The reason we make golf clubs is because we love the sport, and we believe that everyone has a place in golf,” she said. “Sometimes you just need to invite them to the table. And one of the ways you do that is you invite them before they think they shouldn’t be there.”