Wednesday, February 1, 2017

2017 PGA Merchandise Show Favorites

Hey dimpled ball fanatics, welcome to golf heaven! The annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando in late January showcases oodles of products and gives golf industry types a chance to schmooze and celebrate the game. Aisles and aisles are lined with booths featuring everything from new drivers and putters to the latest threads and shoes. More than 1,000 companies are represented.

You'll also see lots of golf celebrities wandering the convention center to promote their endorsements and offer advice to attendees. This year the list of golf royalty in attendance included Greg Norman, Johnny Miller, John Daly, Bubba Watson, Annika Sorenstam and Colin Montgomerie.

By many, it's simply referred to as "The Show". More than 40,000 people attend every year and it's not open to the public. You'll have to rely on the Guru to take you down the aisles.

Here are some of my favorite products from the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show:

Vertical Groove Driver-During Show week I attended a demonstration of this new driver. John Daly serves as a global ambassador for the Jupiter, Florida-based company. Daly has the driver in his bag and plays it on tour. The company says the Vertical Groove Driver reduces side spin at impact leading to 40% straighter ball flight on average and increases driving distance. While I'm firmly convinced Daly can pretty much hit a tree branch 300 yards, his demonstration was very impressive. I hit about 10 to 12 drives with the Vertical Groove and I absolutely can confirm I hit the ball straighter.
Tagmarshal--I spoke with company president, Bodo Sieber, about this innovative pace of play management system, which helps reduce average round times and number of slow rounds, reduces the cost of field management, enhances the golf experience and increases ROI. Walking groups attach the small tracking device to one bag in a foursome or its carried by a caddie or installed in a golf cart. The accurate, real-time data is submitted to Tagmarshal's cloud service, which is easily accessible to marshals and management. "Our system results in faster play, the golfers are happier and it increases revenue for the courses," said Sieber.

Nikon Coolshot Golf Laser Rangefinder--Hey, we've all had shaky hands and nerves that hinder the ability to hold a compact rangefinder steady. Nikon has solved the problem with its Optical Vibration Reduction technology.

Callaway Epic Driver--I didn't get the chance to hit one, but this driver was the talk of the Show. Callaway claims their Jailbreak Technology, whatever that means, has resulted in a driver that produces more ball speed across a larger area of the face. This driver, they say, will increase your swing speed. The combination of an aerospace-grade titanium with an ultralight triaxial carbon crown and sole gives the club a  light, well-balanced feel. 

Zero Friction GPS Glove--Forget wandering aimlessly on the fairway searching for yardage markers, this glove cures that problem. Powered by Bluetooth, the small device sits on the glove flap and weighs less than half an ounce. It has more than 35,000 courses programmed worldwide. As you walk up to your shot, the read-out gives you front, center and back yardages to the green.

Topgolf Orlando--Slated to debut in fall 2017, the Orlando version of this phenomenally popular entertainment and dining complex will be "huuuuge". The 65,000 square-foot Topgolf Orlando will feature 100+ climate-controlled hitting bays, full-service restaurant and bars, private event space and meeting rooms, rooftop terrace with fire pit, over 200 HDTVs and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Biion Footwear--You can say goodbye to boring golf shoes with this innovative brand. They've got some amazing designs in a wide variety of colors and styles. Let's face it, if you don't have game at least look good while you're traipsing through the woods and burrowing out of bunkers.
Henrik Stenson Eyewear--Chances are you won't play like this sweet swinging Swede, but you can at least tap into some of his swag with these shades. They offer complete protection from solar radiation, blue light and UV radiation as well as contrast enhancement and sharper clearer vision.


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