By Jason Bruno
The 63rd edition of the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando had a bit of everything.
The annual get together of 42,000 golf industry professionals from around the globe
converging into Central Florida (for Demo Day, new product launches, filling orders,
charitable causes, and even and some time on the golf course) for a week that I
always look forward to. It's a celebration of the game unlike any other in the world.
Over 1000 companies (284 new) were on hand to show their wares.
Truthfully, there are some really nice new clubs coming out in 2016, most notably
from Cobra, Exotics, TaylorMade, Nike (who wasn't present at this years show) and
Sentio Putters, but the biggest leap in the industry continues to come from the Tech
sector. Companies like VPAR, GAMEgolf, GolfBuddy, SkyGolf, Zepp and Blast are
advancing the ways you can analyze and improve your game in every way. Great,
we'll finally have all of the latest gadgets . . . now all we need is to find the time put
them to good use. Because the show has become so large in terms of product
launches, we've decided that in order to give you comprehensive coverage
of everything - we will break the feature into two parts. In Part 1 of our
"Best New Products" we'll focus on clubs, balls and GPS/Tech devices. Part
2, (coming soon) will feature Apparel/Belts/Shoes and accessories such as
grips, gloves, eyewear etc.
TaylorMade kicked off their own event days before the show by introducing their
new M2 line, essentially a max distance oriented product line that will sit beside
M1 (essentially replacing the AeroBurner).
Tour Edge/Exotics annually hosts their own Media pre-show event, and did so this
year at the Golden Bear Club at Keene's Pointe in Windermere (just a stones throw
or so from Isleworth and Bayhill). This is Perhaps the best pre-show media event
each year. They gather a group of other OEMs to present their new product lines -
this year on hand were Bridgestone, GolfBuddy, Golf Pride, Kentwool, Sketchers,
Chase 54 Apparel, Sun Mountain and more.
Tuesday at Dubsdread Golf Course we were introduced to an innovative app called
VPAR by two of the company's finest - Charlie Cooke and Rowan Northcott, both
brilliant lads from the UK. VPAR is a live scoring system that keeps tabs on the
group or groups that you are competing against in any type of format. In our two
foursome competition, our team was behind the entire match as we kept track hole
by hole on the VPAR mobile app. By the time we reached the 18th tee (a reachable
par 5), we checked the VPAR app and saw that we trailed by just a stroke.
What followed was tons of excitement and energy in our group knowing that we
still had a chance. I was fortunate enough to hit my best two of the day to reach the
green in two. The tap in birdie tied the match, and now we had two other putts in our
group for the win. Neither dropped, leaving us in a tie, but the real story was the buzz
the VPAR app created down the stretch - by simply giving us the knowledge of our
position. The tournament like excitement for us on the 18th was a feeling that most
amateurs rarely get to experience.
It's not only a real time leaderboard, there's also GPS feature, a course planner and
performance tracking. Check out VPAR, it's available on Apple or Android devices.
In the equipment/ball category these products were our picks as the best at the show:
Vokey's SM6 wedges available in vitually every loft, bounce, grind and finish. The
fine tradition of the master wedge creator keeps rolling on.
Scotty Cameron's new M2 Select Newport. There are new sole plates and different
face millings, but the quality craftmanship still remains. Flatstick eye candy is how
they roll at Scotty. http://www.scottycameron.com/putters/
Cobra's entire new line is moving up the ladder in both innovation and appearance.
The King LTD (shown above) and King F6 drives are worthy. According to Mike
Yagley Director of R&D for Cobra "The spaceport in the LTD is 16 grams and is
strategically located just below the CG and back slightly, the poly-carbonate window
was a joint idea from both marketing and R&D. Combined with an internal weight
that's positioned all the way in the back, this creates an incredibly high MOI and
Zero CG (or neutral)." LTD is adjustable from in 9-12 degrees, Pro version 7-10
The new Cobra King forged Cavityback and Muscleback irons are as impressive as
any of the new sticks we saw at the show. Available also as a combo set, tungsten
weight ports in the toe moves CG and in turn gets the sweetspot away from the
hosel. The satin black finish looks sharp. Cobra's King Forged Tec model offers a
combination of feel and forgiveness in a slightly larger head. I'm really looking
forward to testing both of these models in 2016. http://www.cobragolf.com/
Taylormade M2 - Naming
the new line M2 creates the
perception that it replaces
M1, it doesn't. M2 was
created with less adjust-
ability and max HP. Think of
the M1 as the 4 door
touring sedan with 320 hp
and all of the bells and
whistles . . . M2 as the
roadster with 400 hp and
with no AC or power
accessories. One gives
you best of everything,
the other just goes fast,
real fast. The M2 fairway is
a club that I'm eagerly
looking forward to testing
M2 irons, say hello to crazy trampoline like trajectory and distance. Check the
fluted hosel (engineers will do anything to save a gram or two, they salivate
anytime they can move weight for performance gain). Also available in a leaner
TaylorMade's new OS CB Daytona Putter is an oversized anser style blade that
features a red anodized aluminum site line and trailing edge that also acts as a
sealer for the foam filled cavity. The face insert is milled vertically to create a
pure roll. Designed by the famed clubmaker - Clay Long (who created the
McGregor Response putter that helped the Golden Bear win his sixth Green Jacket
30 yrs ago this spring). The OS series comes in two sizes and three styles.
Exotics, Long known by serious golfers for their fairway woods and hybrids, the EX9
hybrid (shown below) features a maraging steel cup face and slipstream sole. The EX9
hybrid comes stock with a UST recoil graphite shaft. The EX9 driver and fairways will
make noise this year, David Glod's standard of innovation and performance can't stay
underrated for much longer. http://www.touredge.com/
For Callaway loyalists, the new XR16 Driver driver features aerodynamics in a joint
venture with Boeing Aerospace engineers. http://cmp.callawaygolf.com/
If you haven't noticed recently, Brandt Snedeker is "En Fuego" at start of 2016 and
his new driver certainly has to get a bit of the credit. After playing his old trusty 2007
Burner TP for the last decade, Bridgestone finally was able to get him into one of their
own - JGR Driver.
The JGR features F.A.S.T (Flex Action Speed Technology) Crown design for increased
ball speed & higher launch angles and a power milled face design. Available in 9.5,
10.5, & 12 degrees. Aldila NV 2KXV Orange is the stock shaft.
The Hogan company has been
reborn and is starting to get
noticed in the premium forged
iron marketplace. The PTx
(shown to the right) gives a bit
more forgivness than the
typical Hogan blade in a
moderately sized cavityback
The Hawk might have played
blades throughout his career
but he would be proud of these
AlsoLook for the new sleek
VKTR hybrids, they come in
every loft - so you get the
exact club gapping for your
As far as innovation goes, it's been forever since we've seen anything significant
since the face insert was created eons ago - until now. Enter the guys at Sentio.
This two piece flatstick design features a third element that is the game changer -
a polymer core between each component of stainless. There are three variances of
polymer, which dictates feel. Each is color coded and delivers a significant change
in the feel. If you know what a hard cast iron feels like at impact, as opposed to soft
premium forging - this is just as big a difference in feel. Green is buttery soft for
players who prefer the feel of an insert and/or usually putt on superfast greens, Red
is medium feel and is the most versatile of the three models, the Blue polymer model
is firm and has the feel of your typical milled putter.
I was so impressed with the feel and performance (just rolling 10 footers
in the booth), that Sentio President Jim Varney had to issue me a citation
for loitering. Just kidding, but quite honestly this was our favorite new
product of the entire show. The only question is do I want the 33" Green or Red
model? Look for a Full review of Sentio Putters coming soon.
Many industry folks walked past the L2 display all week at the show probably
because it's way outside the box. Yes it's way too big. Yes it's way too heavy.
Yes it doesn't look like a Scotty, a Bettinardi, or even an Odyssey for that matter,
but for those who are searching for an answer to the new USGA anchoring ban,
or are just struggling to make a consistent stroke, John Ambrose might have
created your solution. The L2 has a 600 gram head and 200 gram 16" elongated
grip that creates incredible stability. The enormous sweetspot is enhanced by a 4"
acrylic face insert that provides soft feel. http://www.l2traditionalputter.com/
Ping celebrates the
50th anniversary of
the original Anser
putter. Today it's still
the most played and
copied putter style in
the world. Today
there are hundreds
of different versions
of the Anser style.
Ping put up this Ode
to their founder
Karsten, and the
design that changed
GAMEGolf the original shot tracking device and data system for consumers that
launched two years ago, now raises the bar with their collaboration with Golf Pride.
Game tags will soon be incorporated into your tour velvet grips. A really cool feature
will be a sensor within the tag that will alert the golfer to when his or her grips are
due to be changed. An "oil change" like reminder for your clubs . . . you say who needs
to be told when they need new grips? Believe it or not, this could benefit many golfers
who discount the significance of a fresh set of grips. The new Golf Pride grips will be
available to GAME users this spring. https://www.gamegolf.com/home/en-us/
GolfBuddy's compact LR5 laser with its 1 click scan feature and 6x magnification
got our attention. Although it's been on the market for months now, it's our first
glimpse. At only 4" in total length and less than 8oz, ($249) this unit will fit in the
hands and budgets of all. http://www.golfbuddyglobal.com/
LINX GT GPS
HoleVue tech -
you can track all
of your shots.
The LINX GT also
functions as a
watch and fitness
Blast Motion Golf Swing analyzer was created by golf professionals for players of all
ability levels, focusing on the mechanics and performance of your full swing all the
way thru your bag to the putting stroke. The device easily attaches to the end of the
grip and instantly sends data to your device on the last shot played. After witnessing
the live putting demo We're excited to review Blast Motion, look for our feature this
Spring $149. https://blastmotion.com/products/golf/
The best teachers all agree that a proper setup is essential to any level of
consistency. Ojee Golf was created by Matt Hulbert from the Uk, as a device
that monitors all of your set up poitions - including face angle, address lie
angle and posture angle . . . and gives that data to you instantly via the Talon
digital display at the end of the grip. The more often you can get setup with
the proper angles, the more consistent your swing will be.
The Ojee system includes clubface angle sensors , grip caps and the digital Talon
read out screen. The adjustable belt is designed to fit comfortably and securely
around the waist to accurately measure spine angle. Many great instructors agree
that most golf swings go wrong before the club ever moves, if this is true than
probably every teaching professional should have an Ojee system for their students.
When it comes to new golf balls, the industry leader (Titlist PoV1) is in the middle
of a two year cycle, so we'll have to wait till next year . . . but there are three other
brands whose premium urethane ball gained our attention, and the first of those is
Bridgestone who introduced their new B-Series ball with SlipRes cover at the show.
According to Adam Rehberg with Bridgestone, the new balls were over 4 years in
the making, and are so different that the company considered changing the name,
but after some research they found that brand loyalty was strong and identifiable
with the "B330" nameplate.
The new RX versions which are for players who swing under 105 mph (Testing has
shown that 75% of all players fit into this category) have a 28% softer core. The
new SlipRes cover reduces driver spin, and increases spin around the greens - all
while providing superior durabilty. Bridgestone is calling this ball "The Best Ball
Ever". Sounds like somebody is challenging the script over there in Fairhaven,
The original Kick X Tour Z ball has been a huge success for Medicus Golf. The new
version called A.i.1 is softer and features the SmartMap putting system sidestamp.
SmartMap is a group of angled lines to aide golfers on where they should aim after
accounting for the slope of that particular green . . . interesting idea. Also keep an
eye out for the new Kick X Blackout wedge, also available this spring.
The other brand mentioned is Nike, (who wasn't at the PGA Show - but they were nice
enough to send us the new RZN Tour Platinum & Black before we even left for Orlando)
to read our review of Nike's new premium models just click the link below:
Coming soon as mentioned - Part 2 of our "Best New Products" from the
63rd PGA Show. Apparel, shoes and accessories (such as belts, gloves,
grips, tees etc.)
This feature like many others works by Jason Bruno can also be found on our affiliate site - Golf Life
(A division of Action Media): http://www.golflife.com/