By John Holmes, PGA.com Interactive Producer
ORLANDO, Fla. – The 2012 PGA Merchandise Show was spread out over roughly a million square feet, and believe me when I say none of those million square feet was wasted. All the terrific products we saw over the last three jam-packed days began to blur in our minds as the Show wound down, but some things great and small still managed to break out of the crowd and into our consciousness. Here’s what stood out to us on Saturday:
Odyssey FlipFace Putter. Adjustable drivers have become all the rage in recent years, so Odyssey figured it was time to create an adjustable putter. The face of the FlipFace blade has two different hitting surfaces, one on the front and one on the back, and you choose the one you want depending on the conditions – faster or slower greens, wet or dry weather, and so on.
Using a special key, you unlock the face, rotate it to the one you want, and lock it back into place. One face contains Odyssey’s popular White Ice insert, while the other one has its new Metal X insert, which includes a lightweight aluminum outer layer with a series of oval depressions for extra grip. The FlipFace has a rounded heel-toe weighted head with a crank-neck hosel and full-shaft offset. The putters will hit the market in April.
Swingbyte. One of the smallest products on the Show floor made one of the biggest impressions. The brand-new Swingbyte, weighing only about an ounce, clips right below the grip onto any club in your bag. Containing a variety of sensors and Bluetooth capability, the tiny unit captures more than 500 points of data about every aspect of your swing in 3D and transmits it to an app (available in both iPhone and Android) for real-time analysis. You can see your swing from any angle, compare it to a baseline, and review and rate your swing. The device is always on and is easily rechargeable, and you can even transmit your swing data to your PGA Professional for review. There are a lot of swing analyzers on the market, but few are as convenient and easy to use as this one. Click here for more.
Cleveland Classic Driver. The best blend of modern technology and traditional good looks anywhere on the Show floor is the new Cleveland Classic Driver. With a color scheme inspired by the old persimmon drivers and a large, deep face, the Classic looks like something that Hogan or Nelson -- or Don Draper -- might have played, and is the coolest-looking driver on the market. Underneath the old-school wrapping, though, is a lightweight titanium head with MaxCOR2 technology to provide maximum distance, even on off-center hits. It comes in three different editions – the lightweight 270 model (it weighs 270 grams) for easy swinging, the slightly heavier 290, and the Classic Tour, which weighs in at 310 grams. Click here for more.
Innovex Golf Balls. The golf ball business is so thoroughly dominated by such awesome and accomplished companies as Titleist, Callaway, TaylorMade and Nike that I can’t imagine anyone else deciding that what the industry needs is another ball. Having said that, I also have the greatest respect for anybody who decides to take on the titans. Innovex Golf, which began in 2004 as a maker of irons and wedges, made news last year by buying and breathing new life into the highly regarded Rife Putters, has unveiled two new ball models. The V-Motion is billed as a Tour-quality urethane ball for golfers who want high spin and great feel around the greens as well as extreme distance off the tee. The complementary E-Motion is a dual-core, three-piece model designed to for distance and durability. Innovex has chosen one of the highest mountains in golf to climb, and I salute their moxie. Click here for more.
Straight Down. On the Show floor, the Straight Down booth was easy to spot – you just had to look for the big red 1946 Spartan travel trailer whose name, of course, is “Big Red.” It and Straight Down’s silver 2009 Airstream trailer are frequent sights at golf events, where the company sells men’s and women’s outerwear, shirts, luggage and accessories. Straight Down clothing reflects the cool sophistication of its central California home base, with traditional polos made from anti-microbial, moisture-wicking fabric and fleece pieces made from recycled cotton fibers mixed with polyester and acrylic and trimmed with ultrasuede. On the women’s side, garments made from a blend of microfiber polyester and spandex jacquard twill are flexible, comfortable and made for layering. In addition, Straight Down is able to custom-embroider in-house every piece of clothing they make. Click here for more.
Tees. I thought I knew the golf industry pretty well, but I was stunned to discover that three dozen companies on the Show floor were selling tees. Who knew that the simple tee had become such a growth industry? The reason, of course, is that the technology and innovation driving so many advances elsewhere in golf equipment has found its way to this small but important concern of the industry. Three tees stood out to me. The TefTee is coated in Teflon, the no-stick cooking stuff, to keep your drives from sticking around. The 4 Yards More tee claims, of course, to add four yards to every drive, thanks to a flexible six-prong tip that reduces resistance. And Zero Friction’s ZFX 4-prong Performance Golf Tee has a patented design that allows for 66 percent less contact with the ball. After examining all these creative new models, the old wooden peg will never seem the same.