PGA SHOW

2019 PGA Merchandise Show and Demo Day Recap

Eric Benzenberg Apparel, Equipment Leave a Comment

As every golf junkie out there is aware, last week was the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show—an annual convention where all the biggest brands in golf, ranging from equipment, apparel, to even course maintenance and golf carts, get together and launch all of the new equipment they’ll be bringing to market.

And while there was some drama leading up to this year’s show, in particular TaylorMade’s decision to not even attending, there certainly wasn’t a shortage of awesome stuff to check out and be excited about.

Full Disclosure:  I did NOT see everything. In fact, I probably didn’t even have a chance to see most of the stuff that was being featured at this year’s Show. And that’s largely due to the fact that were thousands of companies featuring their newest products. 

As a result, here’s a list of top things I saw and got really excited about while attending Demo Day and the Merchandise Show (and make sure to listen to The Golf Podcast Episode 255, where Mike, Frank, Kris, and I talk about our impressions from Demo Day).

EQUIPMENT

The past couple of years have brought us Jailbreak Technology, Twist Face, and CNC milled faces, but Lynx Golf is going a completely different direction with its Switch-Face Technology (SFT).

 

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As we’re all probably familiar with, drivers are adjustable. However, when you start making changes, your 10.5° driver is no longer providing 10.5° of loft and, in addition, the face is now positioned slightly open instead of square to the target. 

Lynx Golf is looking to remedy this problem with its new Prowler VT driver. In contrast to every driver I’m aware of, the Prowler VT allows golfers to swap different driver faces to adjust the true loft and face angle of their club. In fact, Lynx is currently offering 25 different face and loft angles combinations, with more to come (and the possibility of this technology expanding beyond the Prowler VT driver).

Two things really stood out to me about the Prowler VT. First, it’s obvious how this will be a huge benefit for every golfer and fitter who wants to make sure the club is set up exactly as you want it. 

Instead of having to go with the stock 10.5° and, with an adjustable hosel, add in some extra degrees of loft and compensating for the altered face angle, you can now purchase a true 12° head with a square club face. Additionally, the removable club face allows fitters to easily introduce some customization secrets like hot melt to help dial in the perfect sound and feel. 

Second, the Prowler VT is loud, like, cap gun loud. And I kinda like it. It’s different and is sure to let everyone know that you’re hitting something very unique.

Golf balls have become a very interesting subject in golf recently, largely due to the ongoing dispute over whether to roll-back or bifurcate the ball. So while everyone argues about whether the ball goes too far, Mizuno has decided to kick in the door and bring its first golf ball to the United States

While Mizuno is certainly one of the first names that come to mind when discussing top tier, forged irons (more on that in a second), the new RB Tour and RB Tour X have been designed to make Mizuno a competitor in the golf ball marketplace.

 

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What primarily sets the RB Tour and RB Tour X from its peers is the unique dimple design. Specifically, Mizuno features C-Dimples (visualize a cone shape, as opposed to the traditional sphere) for reduced drag and more speed and in-flight stability. In addition, both balls feature a 4-piece construction that will offer plenty of distance and short game feedback. 

If you’re unsure which one is best suited for you, the RB Tour has a softer compression and feel and is aimed at golfers who are looking for a bit less spin and trajectory off the tee. Meanwhile the RB Tour X is a bit firmer and is best for those who need a bit more spin off the tee for optimal trajectory and distance.

But that’s not all. 

Mizuno also debuted the new Hot Metal Pro irons. Constructed from the same unique Chromoly material used to build the standard JPX 919 Hot Metal game-improvement irons, the Hot Metal Pros are designed to fit in the player’s distance category and, as a result, are a great option for better players who want to squeeze out a little more distance and ball speed.

And while we’re talking about golf balls, it’s also worth highlighting two “guerrilla” brands that have been making waves in the golf ball industry.

First, OnCore Golf. 

OnCore has largely made themselves known by pushing the envelope with golf ball design. For example, Oncore’s patented hollow-metal core technology featured in its Caliber ball helps reduce side spin, thereby allowing the ball to travel along a straight trajectory.  But perhaps most interesting is the GENiUS Ball, which will finally be coming to market this year.

For those unfamiliar with the GENiUS, OnCore has basically developed a ball that provide you with all the invaluable data you’d get from a TrackMan session while playing a round of golf. 

That’s right, whether you’re hitting tee shots, approach shots from 150 yards out, or hitting a wedge out from a bunker, the GENiUS will provide you with (1) GPS location within 1-foot accuracy; (2) shot velocity (off the tee and average); (3) carry flight within 1 foot; (4) degree of draw or fade; (5) spin rate (back, side, front); (6) angle of descent; (7) height apex; and (8) roll distance. And because the GENiUS is equipped with a GPS, unless you hit it in the water hazard, it will be significantly easier to track down and hit back into the fairway (or pickup and drop right where you would’ve hit it anyhow).

Additionally, OnCore recently partnered up with Vuzix, a retailer for smart, augmented reality (AR) glasses. The partnership is hoping to provide golfers with AR instructional, entertainment, and educational programs that can be enjoyed at any venue, including driving ranges, golf entertainment centers, the golf course, and at home. In fact, while attending the PGA Show, I was able to hit a few OnCore ELIXRs (their premium golf ball) on a launch monitor and, instead of having to look at the screen, the Vuzix Blade glasses displayed all of the relevant information (e.g., carry distance, total distance, shot velocity) in my right eye. 

While it’s still early, Oncore is hoping that you’ll eventually be able to pair the Vuzix glasses and GENiUS ball together to use while playing a round of golf, including caddying advice and displaying shot information in real-time.

 

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Second, Cut Golf, who’s become known as the manufacturer of the “Best Damn Golf Balls Under $20.” 

By focusing on premium quality at a super cost-friendly price point, Cut has quickly become a very successful company. Indeed, Golf Digest’s 50-yard pitch shot testing revealed that the Cut Blue (a 4-piece urethane ball) was one of the highest spinning and lowest launching balls in the entire field. But that hasn’t stopped Cut Golf from pushing the brand even further. In fact, two noteworthy things are in their pipeline: breaking into brick-and-mortar stores and selling Cut’s at the same price as online (i.e., HUGE savings without having to worry about shipping and not having your favorite Cut’s for that weekend round) and a new flagship, premium ball that will be looking to take on the big boys in the golf industry.

TECHNOLOGY

Every golfer, whether they want to admit it or not, loves toys. And with all the technological updates over the past year, the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show had no shortage of new stuff that’s worth considering if you’re due for an upgrade.

Garmin has always been one of the leaders in the golf GPS marketplace. While their Z80 laser rangefinder and GPS unit has garnered lots of attention, that hasn’t signaled the end of Garmin’s GPS product development. In fact, the new Approach G80 builds off the Z80’s “complete package” mentality by offering golfers a handheld GPS that also provides launch monitor data. 

With its 3.5” sunlight-readable touchscreen display, the Approach G80 can easily display more than 41,000 detailed color golf course maps worldwide or, while you’re practicing on the range or indoors, provide you with launch monitor data, including club head speed, ball speed, smash factor, swing tempo, and estimated distance.

 

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Topped off with features like PinPointer, to help determine where to aim on blind shots, PlaysLike Distance, which takes into account elevation changes to calculate the distance that next shot is playing like, and a battery that’ll last up to 15 hours, and you’ve got yourself a super portable GPS system and training device that you can take with you anywhere in the world.

OptiShot is most well-known for the OptiShot2 simulator; a small mat with infrared sensors that then calculate ball flight. While is certainly a great option for anyone looking to put together their own home-simulator, the more dedicated golfer will probably be looking for something more. Fortunately, OptiShot is gearing up to release a launch monitor that will compete with the big boys, but at a fraction of the price: the BallFlight.

Featuring three different ball-tracking technologies—camera, radar, and infrared camera triggering—BallFlight provides users with all the data you could ever want in a home-simulator system: total and carry distance, ball speed and spin rates, horizontal and vertical launch angles, and club head speed. In addition, BallFlight can easily be used indoors and outdoors. 

While the BallFlight will not be “cheap,” it will be significantly more reasonably priced than some of the other, more established options and, as a result, opens the door for a home simulator setup that will provides amateur golfers with very, accurate and detailed data.

 

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Arccos Golf is finally releasing a solution to one of its biggest shortcomings (i.e., having to play with a phone in your pocket) with the Arccos Link.

 

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As you can see in the pictures above, Arccos Link is a small, lightweight receiver that can easily, and with minimal interference, clip onto your belt or pocket and relay all of the information to your smartphone and Arccos Caddie app. The weather-resistant Arccos Link weighs less than 25 grams and is powered by a battery that should last up to 10 hours. 

While I can’t comment on the impact Arccos Link will have on your smartphone’s battery yet, hopefully this setup will be substantially less taxing and allow you to finish a round with more than 75% of your charge left.

APPAREL

While most (see: all) of us wish that we were even half as talented as JT, there’s not really much holding us back from looking (almost) as good as him when we step on that first tee.

Original Penguin traces its roots back to the roots in the 1950s and 60s, during which time it was worn and immortalized by people like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Arnold Palmer, and Clint Eastwood. And to help keep that spirit alive, Original Penguin has remained true to its heritage. 

Indeed, influences from that time period visibly remain a strong influence in its product line today.

 

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And that’s great, because I’m a huge fan of the fact Original Penguin embodies, owns, and never shies away from what it is and what it wants to be. As a result, Original Penguin brings some life to your look regardless of whether you’re on the golf course or having a night out on the town.

If you thought golf clothes couldn’t be improved with technology, I’d have to explain to you that you’re wrong. Callaway Apparel’s new SWING TECH features a new construction and blend of materials that provides significantly less restriction and more stretch, ultimately allowing you to hit that maximum range of motion on every swing without any interference.

 

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There’s no doubt that I’ll be wearing REDVANLY in the very near future. While one reason is because the brand originates from nearby in Jersey City, NJ, it’s even more due to the fact that REDVANLY makes some beautiful and athletically-focused apparel. 

While lots of brands can say their clothing is moisture wicking, quick drying, and lightweight, very few come close the level of quality that REDVANLY delivers.  In fact, REDVANLY easily had some of the lightest and softest shirts I’ve ever seen and, as a result, I could see being a great option when you want to look good and stay cool while playing golf and, ideally, head to beach after to cool off.

 

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And while I’m very excited for summer to return and give REDVANLY’s polos a true test, perhaps what I’m most excited for is their button-less golf pants. These things look like they’re easily be the most comfortable golf shorts you own because they are basically gym shorts that look like golf shorts, with pockets and a zipper. 

Just like REDVANLY’s polo, these shorts are super light and soft, so I anticipate these will be my go-to shorts when I want to be comfortable and cool, but also need to be athletic (whether that means walking the course or running after the cart girl for a cold beer).

And, as hinted at in the title, make sure to follow me on Instagram (@hozel_rocket) for the latest news and reviews.


About Eric Benzenberg

Ever since golf became a competitive outlet, nothing brings Eric more joy than a well struck 4 iron. And despite living in NYC, Eric makes it a priority to work on his game and fitness during the week, along with a round or two over the weekend. Fortunately, he’s got a very understanding fiancé who (for the time being) accepts him and his obsession. Follow Eric on IG @hozel_rocket.

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