Photo by Krivosheev Vitaly / Shutterstock
We went to the mother of all golf shows so you don’t have to (actually, you can’t), and here’s what we found.
The 66th PGA Merchandise Show set up shop this season in Orlando, Florida. But unlike the first show in 1954, when equipment dealers set up shop from the trunks of their cars, the latest installment again took over the vast confines of the Orange County Convention Center.
The numbers are always impressive: more than 1,000 different purveyors of golf gear, apparel, game improvement gizmos, course equipment and, frankly, anything anyone can imagine necessary to fully deck out a golf operation—and not a few you couldn’t imagine. All this was featured in more than one million square feet of exhibit space and ten miles of aisles. Celebrity sightings are common; everyone from past greats like Annika Sorenstram, Nancy Lopez or Greg Norman to young stars like Lexi Thompson and Brooke Henderson to fan favorites like John Daly.
While not open to the public, some 40,000 sellers and buyers, golf professionals and club owners converge on the show each year to plan for the season ahead, usually leaving both exhilarated and exhausted.
Celebrity sightings are common; everyone from past greats like Annika Sorenstram, Nancy Lopez or Greg Norman.
While it was challenging to narrow down our favorites, we’re nonetheless here to serve, and this is what caught our eye this year:
Get Your Battery Running
The thought of zooming a motorcycle around a golf course like Peter Fonda in “Easy Rider” may make purists blanch. Until they try out the experience on a FinnCycle. The quiet, single-rider two-wheel electric cycles reach a top speed of 16 mph, do no harm to turf, and could get a foursome of riders around 18 holes in under two hours, which could be a boon to players and courses alike. The golf bag sits along the center-line of the cycle, making for easy club access and stability. Making golf fast and fun—what’s not to like? The FinnCycle will be sold to golf courses with an innovative revenue-sharing model, so ask your pro when they’ll be arriving at your club.
Nitron Push Cart
Open Says Me
Mark Twain notwithstanding, golf is not really a good walk spoiled. Even if your game is going sideways, hoofing it out on the course is still grand exercise. There’s no lack of push or pull carts on the market, but Bag Boy’s new offering earned high marks at the show for its technological cure of one annoying aspect of the carts—unfolding them once you lift them out of the trunk. With the lightest of lifts on the Nitron Push Cart its nitrogen-powered system takes over and unfolds the cart instantaneously, hassle-free. Available in eight colors.
Walk Softly With Your Sticks
A golf swing has never been improved encumbered with barking dogs. So, whether players are walking or riding, foot comfort can’t be overrated during a round. The Danish company ECCO has been pouring golfers into its cozy yak leather golf shoes for some time now. Its newest innovation is the BIOM G3 shoes for men and women, featuring natural motion technology with heightened traction, comfort and waterproof protection.
And There’s Always a Tee Time
Golf simulators hit the political pages recently when it was revealed that President Trump had replaced a model President Obama had installed in the White House with a new $50,000 unit. You could spend that much for your own home simulator, but most of aboutGOLF’s units are custom-designed in any case. The official simulator partner of the PGA Tour and the Golf Channel, aboutGOLF has released its new aGLinks platform, which only enhances its already stunning indoor golf technologies. Not only can players can tee it up at some of the world’s greatest courses without ever leaving the house, but they can generate an almost infinite amount of game improvement data.
Don’t Mean a Thing If You Ain’t Got a Swing
In golf there’s some truth to the old saying that it’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian. But playing with clubs ill-fit for your game will only magnify any swing flaws. A proper fitting will go a long way to shaving strokes off a round, and Club Champion has taken the process to premium levels. In 50 fitting studios across the country (nearly 80 expected by the end of 2019) the company will analyze your swing to the nth degree and build your clubs to match it if desired. And it will do that from a mind-boggling collection of name-brand clubs and shafts, allowing for some 35,000 equipment combinations. One of which will surely work!
Kaeli Smith & Company
Dressing for the Par
When it came to new merchandisers at the Show, Kaeli Smith & Company finished as one of the top three vote-getters in the Best New Product tally. The appeal is pretty obvious, with all the bright and vivid prints hand drawn and colored by the eponymous founder, chief designer and creative head of the Delaware women’s apparel firm. Aside from the general line in four seasonal collections, Smith also does custom prints for clubs and resorts across an array of dresses, tops, bottoms and accessories.