ORLANDO, FL. – There are many ups in downs in the world of golf these days. Names like Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy are on the up, up and up, while Tiger Woods sees his game on the down, down and down.
Yet everything is rosy at the 62nd PGA Merchandise Show. The place was jam-packed with everything from new clubs and fashion to destinations one must see to believe. The Show offered something for everyone in the world of golf under one roof, and everything one can touch is new and improved.
The Show – which some call the Major Championship of the Golf Business - brings together more than 1,100 companies from throughout the world of golf, offering their latest and greatest golf clubs, balls, other equipment, fashion, trinkets and destination packages just to name a few. There are educational activities and State of Golf presentations featuring the biggest names in the industry.
It was not uncommon to see a Major Championship winner walking down the aisles, admiring the booths. Hundreds of golf media members had microphones, pens and pencils to chronicle the event, and golf professionals gazed at everything new in the world of golf.
While scaled back somewhat from its heyday --- the economy isn't booming if you had not noticed --- the "Show" still offers new product ideas that dazzled the 45,000 pros and industry representatives from all 50 states and 70 countries that grace the forum every year.
“Every year I marvel at all the people, their products and solutions,” explained LPGA Hall of Fame Member Annika Sorenstam, a New Jersey fan favorite and three-time winner of the ShopRite LPGA Championship at Seaview. “Our game has had its ups and downs but the PGA Show brings together the best people and shows our game is still growing. It’s an exciting kickoff to a new season. The PGA Show is a special event.”
Sorenstam, along with PGA of America officials and PGA Tour stalwarts like Bubba Watson, Graeme McDowell and Hall of Fame member Greg Norman addressed conferees at the state of the game sessions, while numerous other players could be seen wandering the conference center. The Golf Channel provided 12 hours of life coverage, and Sirius Satellite Radio provided number interviews in their programming.
From any viewpoint, the PGA Show was big….really big.
The major manufacturers bring in Tour professionals to help peddle their wares to the thousands of PGA professionals making buying decisions for the coming year. And no booth is too big or too small, for even the small inventor can be found hawking wares to a captivated audience.
It’s a Who’s Who of the Golf Business, wrapped up in the Orange County Convention Center. There are millions of dollars of sales as pros stock their shops for the coming season. Innovation is prevalent, as “new and different” is applied to golf products rather than soap.
Obviously, the big names in the industry attempt to outdo each other, but in the end the goal is to get their new products into the hands of players. As with most recent Merchandise Shows, technological advances were the buzz on the playing hardware, while enhancements to accessories and high tech shoes could be found throughout the building.
As at one’s local driving range, divers always create a buzz at The Show, with all the major manufacturers displaying the latest and greatest bombers that whet the appetite of those players looking for a little extra yardage. All the big names, from Callaway to TaylorMade to Titleist to Bridgestone, to Ping to Minuzo and others all brought out their best to woo the buyers.
The TaylorMade R15 driver promises to be another game changer from the company that’s been using technology to develop new offerings for years. The R15 is offered in a pear shaped glossy black or satin white finish and comes in two head sizes (430cc and 460cc). The R15 offers numerous adjustments to home the club precisely to one’s game as the golfer can adjust both clubface and lie angles and loft. According to officials the 460cc club is extremely forgiving on mis-hits, while the 430cc is the company’s lowest spin rate driver.
Tour Edge golf continues to be on the cutting edge of high performance fairway woods, and its new Exotics E8 Tour Fairway Wood is not only hot but can be tailored to a player’s needs. The E8 allows a player to dial up precise ball flight opportunities developed by offering multiple adjustable lofts and lie angle.
“We found that players love the flexibility of personalized adjustments tailored to their swing,” explained Joanne Miller of Tour Edge. “But it’s not just adjustability. We have a state of the art manufacturing process and the Diamana +Plus Series shafts are standard on the E8. We believe players will absolutely love these clubs.”
Adams golf unveiled its Pro Red Hybrid, getting design kudos for its ability to help correct a player’s tendency to slice or hoot by adjusting weights in its removable sole plate. Small weights, from 2 grams to 25 grams, can be moved to allow more flexibility in ball flight.
Callaway Golf President Chip Brewer was excited with the reception his company’s XR irons have had, and the XR driver has been added to the family. These clubs, which use Cup 360 design, are built for maximum club head speed. That speed translates to added distance, which some have said calculates to two additional clubs longer that prior irons. The XR irons also feature a high speed cavity back. Callaway also displayed its Big Bertha 815 driver which has a lower center of gravity , new face technology and promises lower spin with forgiveness. It was sweet to swing on demo day!
“We have found that it’s not a slogan, but our clubs test out longer because of our design,” explained Brewer, a Lower Moreland, PA, native who has turned around the fortunes of Callaway Golf with new innovations. “People tell us they are easy to hit and they love the extra yardage. They were a real hit at Demo Day and we believe they will be a hit with anyone who samples them.”
Driving irons, of the hollow face variety, are making a comeback, as Nike (Vapor Speed) and Bridgestone (J15DF) both introduced irons promising a high trajectory, distance and optimal forgiveness for the good player. You won’t see many Touring pros using these clubs as they require precise distance control which is harder to achieve. Still for many amateur players this style of club can be a valuable addition.
Cleveland Golf will continue to offer customized wedges in two finishes, raw (which will rust by design) and black satin. But finish is just the start, as performance is the goal and Cleveland promises its wedges will fit any player’s requirements. There are 11 models, from 48 to 60 degrees of loft, with the 56 and 58 degree wedges offering a standard and low bounce option. Tour players contributed to the 60 degree wedge design that offers low bounce, standard and wide sole, which is especially good for open face shots.
Feel and forgiveness is the objective of the new Scotty Cameron GoLo putters. The mallet flat sticks of today, in the bags of more than half of new putter purchases, use a blend of aluminum face-core sole and stainless steel frame to give the player a club that gets the job done in style with incredible accuracy.
Golf balls are changing, including the highly successful Pro V1 and Pro V1x from Titleist. These popular balls have a new softer cover that promises to increase spin required in one’s short game while improving feel off the club face. According to Titleist Director of Golf Ball Development Michael Mahoney, the newest ball was developed by more than 70 engineers who worked feverously on finding the best ball the company has had in its arsenal. “We believe we got it right,” explained Mahoney. “We believe we have a better golf ball.”
Do you prefer a “built up” feel in your golf tape? Would you like that feel without jiggering the grip with extra tape? If so, the Golf Pride MCC Plus 4 grips might fill the bill. These grips have a larger diameter on the lower portion of the grip to give the feel that many players seek.
Sun Mountain Golf continued its reputation as an innovative provider of superb golf bags with new legs and its ClubGuider travel gear. This team knows its stuff, as each year it brings to market usable, innovative and classy product.
Cape May’s own, Jerry Quinlan, was on hand to describe incredible opportunities to travel throughout Ireland and play stunning courses in the Emerald Isle. Quinlan’s Celtic Golf has been handling dream vacations for years, and the team can tailor arrangements that fit your budget. “Our golf vacations are custom built around our customer’s goals, and we do our absolute best to make each vacation memorable in every manner.”
The 2015 PGA Merchandise provided the cornucopia of opportunities to see the best of the new in the world of golf. Merchandise from the Show is available at most local pro shops and will undoubtedly help the games of low and high handicap players alike. Check out all the wonderful additions to the product lines!
Show Stoppers: Buddy Marucci, the 2008 United States Senior Champion, was on site and spent an hour being interviewed and answering question on Sirius Satellite Radio. Marucci is expected to play in this year’s Senior Am at Hidden Creek Country Club in Egg Harbor Township. “I’m really looking forward to it. A wonderful venue and it’s obviously a senior major…New styles of foot ware was found in many booths, as Puma Golf and Foot Joy each had new offerings. The Puma Titan Tour shoes are nicknamed the “Coolest Shoes in Golf” as their cooling technology was developed in the same manner that allowed Astronauts to be comfortable in space. Its Shape Lock memory foam allows for maximum comfort and stability. Not to be outdone, Foot Joy displayed its Hyper Flex show which is not only comfortable but helps control feet during the golf swing….Cutter and Buck displayed numerous new cuts of golf fashion are that is comfortable and stylish.