By Jason Bruno
The week kicked off at Orange County National in Orlando for Demo Day.
The 61st PGA Merchandise Show
Another year and another trip to the annual Golf equipment showcase also known as the PGA
Merchandise Show. For most in the biz, show week is looked at as the Super Bowl of the Golf
industry. The show this year had a great vibe, with tons of great new products on display . . .
the buzz had an air of optimism, but there is a reality in our game that continues to plague it's
growth. Participation in the sport continues to trend downward, and there aren't any real signs
of that changing right now. Can the industry look outside the box and rally to create new
participation and enjoyment in our great game?
So before we get into all of the new toys, and specifically our favorites, I'd be remiss if I
didn't speak about the new initiative being spear headed by TaylorMade's Mark King in joint
partnership with the PGA of America.
The vision here is for all to look outside the box for ways to make the game more enjoyable.
According to the National Golf Foundation, King, PGA President Ted Bishop and business guru
Gary Hamel, standing pat and expecting the game to grow is what we've been doing . . . and
it's not working. At LinksNation we support the initiative and look forward to bringing you
updates as they develop. For more info you can go to http://www.hackgolf.org or watch the
Callaway went way outside the box with their display, the tank definitely grabbed its share of attention
Our best New Products of the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show:
Zepp Golf's 3D motion sensor identifies your swing plane, swing speed, tempo and so
much more - all in a simple device that attaches to your glove. The Zepp device relays
the info back to the app on your phone or tablet instantly.
Nike Covert 2.0 driver - the new model features "Fly brace" technology at the top of the
cavity, which stabilizes and removes unwanted vibration in the clubhead. The Tour model
(shown above) also features a more forward CG and a slightly bigger face than the original
Covert Tour. Tom Stites cited improved sound & feel in this generation as a big factor in
Covert's evolution. Nike's Flex-loft sleeve is another unique feature in all Covert woods.
The Covert 2.0 comes in the standard version as well.
Cobra's new driver line in 2014 is Bio Cell. New features include MyFly8 adjustability and the Project
X-PXv shaft. Bio Cell+ is a slightly smaller head that offers a more penetrating trajectory for faster
swing players, and comes equipped with the Matrix 6Q3 Red Tie shaft. The crown on the Bio Cell+
is a light weight Venollum alloy that helps lower the clubs CG.
Puma's shoe creator Grant Knudson is to golf shoes what a young Karsten was to club design
. . . brilliant and innovative. Knudson told me that Rickie Fowler asked for a lightweight tour shoe,
the new BioFusion Tour is the result . . . ultimate comfort in a superlight total performance shoe.
TaylorMade Tour Preferred Irons - CB, MC & MB . . . The Tour Preferred line is back.
These beauties were certainly worth the wait, designed for the serious player. The
Muscle Cavity model features a cast body & Speed slot in the 3-7 irons and a forged
head in the scoring clubs 8-PW.
Adidas - Adizero One is the latest version of their lightest spiked golf shoe, new for this year is an
ultra-light Sprintskin one piece upper - the first of its kind.
The sole not only enhances traction but greenskeepers will applaud the new turf friendly spikes.
Golf Pride's softest performance grips ever, the CP2 & CP Pro feature less taper down the grip.
The gray stability inserts (shown) go inside the grip to reduce torque during the golf swing.
The 2014 Crocs line mixes things up, new styles and soles with more of an emphasis on
performance and stability in the golf swing. If you haven't noticed yet, shoes were a big theme
at this years show.
Game Golf—a comprehensive system designed to seamlessly capture and display your golf game in
a dynamic interface with stats and a social component to compare with colleagues and friends.
Endorsed by Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood, GameYourGame was the talk of the show.
Ashworth's 2014 apparel line combines performance with classic style, once again look for U.S
Open Champion Justin Rose to be the brand ambassador on the PGA Tour this season.
The Highland pant by Maide Golf (produced by its parent brand Bonobos), was hands down our
favorite pair of golf pants/slacks at this years show. Great fit, and a classic yet youthful style. The
grip insert in the waistband and hem zipper are just a few of the details included with the Highland
golf pants. Not bad for a first time exhibitor at the show.
Golf Ball creator Rock Ishi sat down with me to explain the technology in Nike's new RZN golf balls.
The new shape and texture molded into each core allows it to be cohesive with the other layers
within the ball, thus more energy is stored which = more distance and control. Ishi said, Rory
McIlroy loves the new ball . . . and used it in his win over Adam Scott in Australia.
The company known for golf and travel bags - Ogio does shoes now !!!! Available in
four models: Race, City, City Spkied and Sport
Best Ad at the entire show was for Ogio apparel (I'm a sucker for a classic car-especially a Shelby)
Although TaylorMade's SLDR came out in the fall of 2013, this year the "LOFT UP"
campaign goes to a new level with a 14 degree model. Tom Kroll from TMAG sat
down to chat up all things metalwoods, and on the subject of SLDR & Loft he said,
"We've just begun, a year ago at Sony we had 3 guys playing a 10.5 degree driver,
this year at Sony we had 20 guys playing 10.5* and 3 guys playing 12*. . . at
Humana we had 24 guys playing 10.5* and 5 guys playing 12* drivers!
I must admit I love new shoes (hence all of the golf shoes featured), but shoes are nothing
without the right socks. With all the walking we did, I welcomed the new Kentwool Socks
to my sore and tired feet . . . great quality! #Cushion
Adams brings back Tight Lies, the new version has a speed pocket and sleek black clubhead
Callaway Speed Regime golf balls simplify your choice: Swing Speeds below 90 mph = SR1, Swing
Speeds 90-105mph = SR2, and 105+ = SR3
New Balance - Long known as a leader in running shoes, NB is now in the golf shoe market. The
Minimus Sport is their lightweight spikeless offering (pictured).
In the Wedge category, one model stood out with it's unique sole :
Nike's new Toe Sweep Wedges are as Tom Stites says "an outside the box innovation", he went
on to say that a few tour players wanted to put them in their bag when they were spotted as
prototypes at "The Oven" in Texas.
Bridgestone's new True Balance Putters feature a dual insert, and a graphite shaft/grip combo that
are only 55 grams combined.
The new GolfBuddy WT4 is super sleek and has the style that can worn anywhere.
Digital/Analog watch feature.
Faster data transfer on PC sync mode
37K + global courses pre-loaded
Full target and hazard info
Dynamic green view
Finally, another amazing pair of golf shoes . . .
The Nike TW '14 - based on natural movement and the Nike Free concept. The wide base of these
shoes gives amazing stability. Better styling for '14 gets the TW shoe onto our list. Tour proven -
if the best player in the world can walk 8 miles a day and swing 120 mph in these . . . nuff said.
Honorable mention :
Callaway's Big Bertha Alpha - Gravity Core
TaylorMade's Tour Preferred ball - New cover for better scoring inside 100 yds
ScorGolf Wedge system - Complete 41 to 61 degree wedges for perfect gap separation
Titleist SM5 Vokey wedges - Deeper TX3 grroves
Finger Grippers - Neoprene finger sleeves for injury prevention
Giannini Putters - High quality milled putters
SkyCaddie LINX watch - Next generation in GPS watches
Bridgestone B330 series - new Hydro-Core for better performance
Footjoy D.N.A shoes - Dryjoys Next Advancement