What’s New: 2014 PGA Merchandise Show Picks
For those who work around and play the game of golf, the PGA Merchandise Show held annually in Orlando, is like Christmas morning, only you get to open hundreds of presents at once.
This week marks the 61st annual event, which has evolved from showcasing golf products from trunks of cars in 1954 to nearly 10 miles of show aisles and 1 million square feet of interactive exhibit, product demo and industry presentation space. No wonder one of the popular stops is the neck massage therapists on the main corridor!
From the seemingly endless new product launches from all of golf’s major businesses, here are our top picks from this year’s show.
Grips, Bags & Balls
Overall bold bright colors and patterns in apparel, golf bags, equipment and just about everything else ruled the first day. Even companies like SuperStroke known for their Flatso and Fatso putter grips used by Jordan Spieth and Jason Dufner, had rendered their products in eye-catching rainbow colors. According to President Dean Dingman, the whole idea in these larger grips is to take the hands out of the stroke thus minimizing the yips. The grips also come in thinner sizes.
One of the simplest yet brilliant bit of wizardry we found is the Grip-Dry gismo, a round plastic disc you snap on the shaft of your club allowing you to drop the club onto wet grass thus protecting your grip from dewy mornings. Available in pink, yellow and white, it also fits into your pocket.
In the golf ball category, the new “Soldier” is designed with an air minimizing oval dimple while Bridgestone continues to roll out balls for all swing speeds and skills.
After being on hiatus for a year, the quality Belding Golf Bag company is back with a number of wow custom designs including a bag stitched with pinstripes similar to those found on the New York Yankees’ uniforms. Although most of Belding Bags are custom made, their go-to line is wonderfully classic sporting waxed canvas bags accented with leather.
Sun Mountain Sports scores again with a new sleeker ClubGlider tour series model for travelers, their V1 Sport Speed Cart, the H2NO waterproof golf bag certain to get a lot of play and a push cart with a pull-out seat, perfect for those who leave their clubs at the pro shop and want to walk yet need a sit down every now and then. Seems to do everything but serve drinks.
Apparel & Shoes
VIbram, the company that brought you those goofy flexible shoes with toes last year, has returned with a golf shoe resembling a traditional wingtip style that is becoming a hot item for younger golfers.
With Second Skin Garment Company, it’s all about layering and really soft-to-the-touch performance fabrics. Start with a scoop neck tee with some Tencel in the fabric, cover that with a quarter zip long sleeve basic then top that with a thermal tech jacket for warmth and perhaps a down jacket or vest for super cold days.
The flagship store for Tom Morris apparel is located in St. Andrews, Scotland in Old Tom Morris’s original shop near the Old Course. Winner of last year’s Buyers’ Choice for “Best New Brand in Show,” the Tom Morris golfing garb is class all the way with spiffy “Donegal” blazers with leather accents, tweed blazers, jackets, bags, belts and other golfing attire for gentlemen. You gotta love the “percha” fine stripe shirt and the “Kerr” Tom photo print tee.
And here’s a twist for those who dig a more formal look: Ryan Heiman of Vesti Ascendi was seen on the range hitting balls wearing his long-sleeved shirt and tie with a twist: this look is all cleverly crafted to play golf. The tie has a concealed strip that buttons into the shirt while the shirt itself is sewn in fabric that has enough give to allow easy swinging. Or as Ryan puts it, “golf like a gentleman.”
Loudmouth will be turning heads in this year’s Olympics, and viewers shouldn’t have any trouble spotting the Norway Curling team on ice. They’ll be wearing Loudmouth’s red, white, and blue Chevron pattern. Loudmouth also showed a greater number of licensed products from shoes and hats to umbrellas, sunglasses and bathing suits.
Clubs & Tech Gear
Introducing its new CB Pro fairway wood, TourEdge explained how this stylish club’s wavy Slip Stream sole allows the club to slide through the turf. The sole is designed with a raised, groovy pattern so that minimal turf contact occurs leading to maximum speed through impact. Additional features include a beta titanium cup face and a no-weld design along with Fujikura Speeder 757 and 661 series shafts. TourEdge also introduced its CB Exotics hybrid irons with 2-5 featuring a hollow back design and 8-PW incorporating a cavity blade. Other notable clubs included the Beta adjustable driver, the XCG7 and XCG7 Beta fairway woods.
Golf Buddy, the people that brought you the Voice GPS unit that tells you distances to the pin and more, unveiled its newest models including the GolfBuddy WT3 Watch. The Golf Buddy VT3 comes equipped with a touch screen to navigate through the menus, an integrated wristband and a large display to provide all the information in one glance. There are 36,000 courses preloaded in the devices and the accuracy is pretty amazing – each course has been physically walked to map the various coordinates. Golf Buddy’s top selling point: no fees. Once you buy the unit, you can access the course stats forever.
Fusion IONZ Bandz was showing off their lineup of new colors and style of wrist bands said to produce an increase in performance, flexibility, balance, strength and pain relief. The black Bandz were smartly styled with a chrome center while others came in bright hues. Also new from the company is the Fusion IONZ PROTECT, a silicone insert to fit inside a cell pone to neutralize the bad radiation.
Travel & More
Scotland hosted a media day at Grand Cypress Golf Club, turning up the heat on the upcoming Scottish Open to be held at the Royal Aberdeen Golf Club July 10-13 and the Ryder Cup taking place at Gleneagles in September. Ready to organize custom trips to Scotland and beyond, David Harris, founder of the 10 year-old Bonnie Wee Scotland tours company based in Aberdeen, was on hand at his booth to assist in arranging group and single travel to his part of the world. Colin Harris, a retired doctor-turned-luxury-coach-owner (Luxury Coach Company), ferries golfers around in a sleek Mercedes with a bit of tartan to remind passengers where they are.
For those who look at life and golf gear from the practical, thrifty side, there’s ReTee, allowing you to sharpen broken tees, pencils and repair your divots. And those who love Martini tees will be happy to hear they now have two more versions: a shorter one and one with a ridge allowing the perfect placement into the ground.
Catching the imagination for innovative golf pull carts, Big Max Golf’s Blade golf cart folds so flat it looks like it might have been squashed by a steam roller. Made in Austria, the Blade folds to less than four inches thin. They have a bag too you can store it in.
Tune in for more tomorrow!
Agree with out top picks? For those in attendance, what were your favorites from the show floor?
Featured image courtesy of The PGA of America.