LAS VEGAS -- It seems there is some confusion about the PGA Expo, so let's get that cleared up first. It is an industry trade show, so, unfortunately, it's not open to the general public. It's a smaller scale than the mammoth PGA Merchandise Show held in Orlando, Fla., each January, but the premise and the objectives are very much the same.
Golf companies, large and small, come here hoping to catch the fancy of PGA Professionals, buyers from retail markets and of course, the golf media. The better products will ultimately find their way into your local clubs (and hopefully, into your bag, closet or garage) within a few weeks/months.
You already know about the big boys of golf. I was able to peruse some great apparel from FootJoy, Zero Restriction and Cross Golf Apparel. I swung some clubs from TaylorMade and tried on shoes from True Linkswear.
But I know that if I came to one of these expos for the first time, my big desire would not be to see the items I can see everyday in my local golf shop – I want to know what stretches the imagination. What products are being displayed that are innovative, unique and actual game changers? Well, I've found quite a few. Here are nine that I think are so imaginative, different and useful that you might want to keep an eye out for them (or become an early adopter and order before your golf buddies do.)
1.) Finger Braces: What? These "sleeves" for your fingers are designed to be worn on your non-glove hand to prevent blisters, calluses and general soreness. They look a little different, but they've been well-received everywhere they've been introduced. Check them out. http://www.preneproducts.com/
2.) Golf Tee Designs: Another concept so simple, how was this not invented four decades ago? Company President Steve DeBacker basically designs an artistic logo or graphic on a piece of plywood, and then creates that image using golf tees (think, coolest pegboard ever). Simple, right? But they look really good. He can do company logos, schools, names, etc.) You can check out his past work and/or custom order what you want at his website. www.golfteedesigns.com
3.) Stenten Golf Cart Accessories: Quite a few people have their own golf carts, and a certain number have their carts customized to their every whim. Stenten takes it one step further with luxurious and impressive cart accessories (from wood grain steering wheels to air conditioning units) that make the old "Pimp My Ride" MTV show look like your neighborhood body shop. www.stenten.com
4.) MistyMate: It's your basic small water bottle – that sprays a mist to keep you cool. No batteries necessary, holds enough water to last you five or six holes before you refill at the next teebox cooler. So simple. So needed. www.MistyMate.com
5.) Kitty Keller Designs: Named after their mother, two sisters started a custom ornament business that has now taken off. Yes, I said ornament. As in Christmas ornaments. And they've become a big hit. The two recently sold their wares at the U.S. Open in Merion (where they sold out) and have their eyes on more big events. But they will custom create for your smaller event, too. I'm not really an ornament guy, but my wife loves buying them – and she would absolutely love these. www.KittyKeller.com
6.) Catherine Wingate: I don't usually write about women's clothing. But after watching fashion gurus Marty Hackel of Golf Digest and Golf Channel's Win McMurry conduct a fashion seminar this morning, I couldn't help but take another walk down the clothing aisles and look at the new fashions with a more artistic and critical eye. This company designs women's attire that looks like it's ready for the office or fine dining (nothing golf-y about it). But the fabric, the utility and the design are all put together with the female golfer in mind. This is the type of golf clothing that my wife might actually wear. www.CatherineWingate-apparel.com
7.) Electronic Massagers: There are four or five booths featuring companies selling electronic massager units. They look like miniature defibrillators – complete with the pads that attach to your body and then send an electronic pulse to stimulate the muscles and provide a pretty soothing (and actually powerful) massage. Golfers, who doesn't need one of these? There are bunches out there. The IQ Massager is probably my favorite of the bunch, partly because they remembered me from last year. www.iqmassager.com
8.) ForeGolfaholics: You've heard of the lifestyle brands "Salt Life" and "Life is Good." Well, now an enterprising group out of Florida has come out with a line designed by and for golfers. They center their images around a Golf Tee. I don't really think about my casual wear (just kind of grab what I have lying around), but I could certainly see this becoming quite popular for avid golfers who can't advertise enough that they love golf, even when doing other casual activities. foregolfaholics.com
9.) Coobies: Yep, I'm writing about a bra. It's a one-size-fits-all bra that is functional, athletic and looks good (or so I'm told, I didn't actually see anyone wearing one). The hook is, women golfers have tons of apparel designed for them, but no one actually has designed a functional golf bra. OK, I didn't really dig deep into details for this, but I promised you "different" and "outside the box" products. And this is. www.shopcoobie.com