Rice alumna aces career as PXG product test engineer

Grace Wilson ’21 combines passion for golf and engineering to design custom high-end golf products.

Grace Wilson

Golf came naturally to Grace Wilson ’21, as did the science of golf, its physics and engineering.

Wilson grew up 15 minutes away from the Rice campus in the Houston neighborhood of River Oaks. At the age of five she was introduced to golf by her grandfather:

“He would go on to be my main golf influence and partner when I was a little girl and into my teen years. I discovered that I enjoyed the game and had a knack for it. From the start it was a lot of fun.”

In 2021, Wilson earned her B.S. in mechanical engineering (MECH) from Rice. She had interned the previous summer at Parsons Xtreme Golf (PXG), a manufacturer of custom-made clubs and other golf equipment, and was hired full time as a product test engineer by the company after graduation.

“Some of my earliest memories are throwing the football with my dad and brother and going to the driving range with my grandfather,” said Wilson, 24. “My family never categorized activities or school subjects by gender. They trusted me to follow my interests and gave me the confidence to disregard stereotypes.”

Sports generally, especially golf, have characterized Wilson’s life. In high school she started playing the game competitively. At Rice, along with her major in MECH, Wilson minored in engineering design. She worked closely in the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen with Matthew Wettergreen, associate teaching professor of bioengineering and director of the Global Medical Innovation Program.

“In the OEDK I designed a device to measure putting speed, which was nice preparation for what I’m doing now,” she said. During her PXG internship she designed and built a semi-automated golf-club shaft cutter and a putter durability testing machine.

Since working full time, she has built a putter pendulum that allows for isolation of each degree of freedom to enable improved precision; wrote numerous programs for automated report generators for the full-swing robot, putter robot, and player testing; and developed a fixturing system and program to accurately measure center of gravity and moment of inertia of the golf club head.

“My job is to design, prototype and develop automated systems, devices and tools for the club production floor at PXG. I’ve independently designed and built a laser gripping station and automated ferrule installer, and even made a metered epoxy dispenser for the production floor,” she said.

Along with its manufacturing center in Scottsdale, Ariz., where Wilson works, PXG has 23 retail outlets across the country, with a 24th soon to open in Huntington Beach, Calif.

“Our clubs are custom-built for our customers. These are sophisticated, high-end products for the serious golfer and first-time golfer alike. I feel very fortunate working for a company like this, in a game that’s so important to me,” Wilson said.