By John Kim, PGA.com Coordinating Producer
ORLANDO, Fla. -- As I walked around the floor of the world’s largest golf industry gathering, two thoughts that jumped out at me. 1.) Manufacturers, merchandisers and technology companies are more innovative and creative than ever, and 2.) The nearby Disney World Resort has nothing on the amount of fun and excitement that goes on here inside the Orange County Convention Center (at least one week a year!)
You are going to see and read so much on PGA.com and all over all media sources about the great new drivers or the best in windshirts or shoes. Those are so important and will be all year long. But to really appreciate what makes the PGA Merchandise Show more than a convention -- it’s a real event -- you have to know what’s buzzing around the Show floor.
I set out to find a few of the most compelling and interesting happenings -- not necessarily products, mind you, but whatever people were excited about enough that they belong in the “Thursday Buzz.”
1. Matt Kuchar: The 2010 PGA Vardon Trophy winner and PGA Tour money list winner kicked off the PGA Merchandise Show with a ceremonial tee shot bright and early this morning. The atmosphere was festive and energetic. As for the drive -- let’s say he hit a whole lot more great tee shots at the Ryder Cup.
2. Annika Sorenstam: The LPGA icon was one of the celebrity judges for “The Little Linksters Best PeeWee Swing in America.” A large crowd gathered around “The Littlest Golfer” booth to watch videos of some amazing toddlers and kids and the celebration of the winners. http://www.brendonelliottgolf.com/little-linksters/ and http://www.thelittlestgolfer.com/
3. Spotless Swing: After attending a few of these Shows, you realize that there’s only so much “swag” you need. I have enough golf tees, ball markers, hats and flash drives to last me five lifetimes. But every once in awhile, I’m offered something unique and simple, and an item I know I’ll use. So I proudly tell you to check out the Spotless Swing golf towel. Its tagline is “three towels in one,” and it is. Not overly fancy nor expensive, nor will it impress your foursome. But it’s effective and you’ll use it. Perfect. http://spotlessswing.com/
4. Puttermaster: So simple, so effective. Top golf instructor Mark Immelman is endorsing a product that he guarantees will lower your scores. They all say that, right? But this one seems to have some merit. Quiet the wrists and arms and you’ll make more putts. Everyone knows that -- but how? Well, that’s why smart people come up with these things. Give it a look. You can thank me (and Mark) later. http://puttermaster.com/
5. Kentwool Tour: Who gets excited about socks? Seriously? Well, apparently PGA Tour star Bubba Watson, who boasts of his affection for the socks on his Twitter account. And LPGA standout Lisa Strom was showing off her socks at their booth. So I had to stop by and investigate. Weird thing is, they convinced me. Some golf shops carry them, but right now it’s easiest to get them online. Full disclosure: Oh yes, I got me a pair. http://www.kentwool.com/shop/
6. Heavy Driver: Most golf aficionados know about the the Heavy Putter from Boccieri Golf. Put so much weight in the clubhead and there’s no way you’ll twist it or get that face off line. But in a driver? The line around the booth was long and the buzz was loud. Folks that visited their area on Demo Day were back to buy and buy some more. One industry expert told me it was one of the most effective clubs he’s ever seen -- and he’s seen them all. Good enough for me. (No, I did not get one of those.) http://www.boccierigolf.com
That’s not even close to all cool things that were buzzing on Thursday, but I’ve got to save some good stuff to write about on Friday and Saturday, too. So go ahead and look at all the pretty pictures of the latest iron sets and golf carts and high-tech swing simulators. If you really want to know what it’s like being at the largest and most exciting industry event in golf, come back and visit tomorrow.