After a digital version in 2021 and two rather tame events since, the PGA Merchandise Show was humming this year
By Tony Dear
Last week, when over 30,000 animated golf industry professionals packed into a 7 million square foot convention center to talk business, run their eye over thousands of incredible new products from almost a thousand exhibitors and basically bask in the glory of an industry given a mighty boost by a global pandemic and awash with innovation and technological breakthroughs, we ran a story about a one-man operation designing toddler golf bags and distributing them from attic space above his garage.
Unusual timing, perhaps, but a nice change of pace we thought. And who doesn’t love a story about someone working his tail off doing long hours to start a family business he hopes will allow him to leave the corporate world and establish something he really cares about? And besides, we could always list the best products, or as many as would fit, into this week’s newsletter.
In the weeks leading up to the show, we (along with everyone else registered as ‘media’) received dozens and dozens of formatted circulars from manufacturers large and small introducing us to their latest golf gear. As golf equipment geeks, we read every word of every message getting progressively more excited about what each new item might mean for our games and yours.
We picked ten of our favorite stories from ten of our favorite manufacturers:
It has been a busy start to the year for Huntington Beach, CA-based Cleveland Golf. We featured the new Launcher XL 2 driver a few weeks ago and since then the company has added the ZipCore XL and HALO XL Full-Face Irons, CB4 ZipCore Wedge, HB Soft 2 putters, RTX Full-Face 2 wedge, and Smart Sole Full-Face wedge.
The launch of new Tour B balls is always exciting and the arrival of this year’s lineup featuring the new REACTIV X System is certainly no exception. Another fascinating innovation is MINDSET, a visual technology devised by Bridgestone player Jason Day and his mental coach Jason Goldsmith designed to promote a pre-shot, visualization routine that could prove beneficial to your putting. Mindset is available on all the new Tour B balls.
Ben Hogan, Ram, Zebra, MacGregor, and TearDrop
Over the past 18 months, we’ve welcomed the return of once-great equipment brands – Ram, Macgregor, TearDrop, and Zebra putters – revitalized by entrepreneur Simon Millington and his company Golf Brands Inc. In Orlando, Millington’s company introduced the new Ram FXT irons and Ram Wizard Hybrid iron set, three new MacGregor irons sets, CNC-milled Zebra Putters, new putters from TearDrop, and new forged irons and wedges from Ben Hogan which Millington acquired the license for last October.
By now you’d think the excitement surrounding a new SM wedge launch might have dissipated somewhat. But it hasn’t. The SM10 features a shift in Center of Gravity (CG) which will lead to even more penetrating flight and the Spin Milled Grooves will bring your ball to a quick halt hopefully close to the flag.
Most of the attention Cobra Golf clubs attract is directed at its drivers and irons. But the 3D Printed and Vintage range of putters have proven Cobra is pretty effective on the green too. Good-looking and tech-filled putters for ’24.
One of the most exciting stories to come out of Orlando 2024 was the return of Never Compromise putters, acquired by Cleveland Golf from Adams Golf in 2003 and now part of the Dunlop Sports stable (Cleveland, Srixon, XXIO). The brand’s attractive line of Reserve Putters are 100% CNC-milled from soft 303 stainless, and the company is offering an innovative new fitting system to ensure your putter is the correct length for your body and stroke.
Tech played a huge part in this year’s Show with companies touting their new simulators, launch monitors, performance apps, etc. everywhere you looked. We have featured ShotScope products numerous times, and the company is now established as a market leader so it was no surprise its new Pro ZR laser rangefinder had all the features, accuracy, durability and looks boxes ticked.
The Pro X3 laser rangefinder now includes wind speed and direction in the display which is a nice addition. Bushnell says the Pro X3 is the “most feature-rich, best-performing laser rangefinder on Earth” and we’re inclined to agree. It will retail at $600 while the ShotScope Pro ZR (above) is $300.
The Wingman 2, meanwhile, features an upgraded, integrated BITE magnetic remote, a new battery light indicator, a USB-C charging port, and improved audio quality.
Ashworth Golfman hoodie
Gen Xers whose 1990s golf wardrobe was full of Ashworth gear will love the Golfman hoodie. I already put in my order.
The ace putter-maker was there with ten new Phantom models and two 38-inch Long Design putters.
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