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PGA Merchandise Show
The sole on the United Golfers Free Release Shoe slides so your foot can pivot even while your spikes stay grounded. (Photo: United Golfers)

Thursday Blog: Less heralded but very cool accessoriesThursday Blog: Less heralded but very cool accessories

Out of the 2009 PGA Merchandise Show will come the innovations that will shape the future of our golf games. While the experts make their own picks,'s John Kim has identified a handful of items he think will make a splash.

By John Kim, Coordinating Producer

ORLANDO, Fla. -- With nearly 40,000 golf industry professionals convening here in Orlando to showcase the Latest and Greatest in golf, this week's PGA Merchandise Show truly represents the future of the game we all love. Out of this gathering will come the innovations that will shape how you play, how you plan, how you look and how you view the world of golf.

There is a select group of industry bigwigs that deem items "Most Innovative" or "Best New Product" at the conclusion of the Show -- I would never try to compare my golf knowledge with theirs. But what they don't award are recognitions that really mark this week as the most significant trade show in golf.

Thus, I will gladly fulfill that role. Here are my marks for the lesser heralded but still very cool items of the 2009 PGA Merchandise Show. Today's focus: Equipment.

The "That Could Have Changed the Course of Golf History" Award: United Golfers Free Release Shoe has a patented sole that slides, so as the golfer's spikes stay grounded, the golfer's foot can pivot. The claim is that there is a 99 percent reduction in stress on the ankle, knee, hips and spine. If true, and a certain golfer we all know had used the shoe, ….well, just sayin'. I would think I might slip and slide all over the place if wearing it, but I'm not one of the doctors that designed it. It will be interesting to see if this catches on.

The "That's Just Too Cute" Award: Daphne's Headcovers are famous for designing animal headcovers for a host of Tour players. But their most popular might be a talking Labrador headcover. They aren't allowed to claim any resemblance or tie to a popular movie right now (rhymes with "Carly and Me"), but that was the buzz from everyone that stopped by. I'd have to think this will be a top seller.

The "If I Had a Spare $50,000" Award: The golf simulators from Full Swing Golf are the crème de la crème of golf simulators from what I could see. Their graphics move, showing trees blowing in the breeze, rain falling, and grass and sand flying. It's all high-definition pictures and the flight of the ball (or roll) is as close to reality as you'll find outside of -- well, being outside. You'll pay for the quality, they aren't cheap. But Donald Trump, Bill Gates and Caesar's Palace are a few of the clients that will vouch that Full Swing Golf is the choice for those who will settle for only the best.

The "That's A Lot of Science for a Glove" Award: The Bionic Glove was developed by an orthopedic surgeon and has special pads stitched in and a futuristic appearance that seems to scream "most science-y golf glove ever!" It, of course, promises to help you hit longer, straighter shots. The thing is, the way they explain it -- it makes sense. You may endure some ribbing from your playing partners for the avant garde look, but that will dissipate if you're collecting their cash after the round.

The "Item My Wife Would Love The Most" Award: Cleveland Golf has come out with a new line called Bloom -- a women's line of fashion and clubs designed specifically for the female golfer. Early reviews from observers were overwhelmingly positive, the science and technology behind the clubs are especially impressive in how detailed they are for a woman's game. But just as important according to some of the visitors to the display -- the tiffany green and white design was sleek and stylish -- and in the words of one buyer, "feminine but not sissy." If my wife is looking for new clubs, I'd think this would be high on her list. That being said, I hope she's not looking for new clubs.

On Friday, we'll look at what type of clothes impress me from the over 1 million square feet of displays here at the Orange County Convention Center. Of course, for those that know me and how I dress -- some of these companies might pay me to mention they fit my taste. Just sayin'.

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