My Favorites from the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show

My Favorites from the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show

Kris McEwen Equipment Leave a Comment

As a first-timer to the PGA Show in Orlando, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

I was told there was a lot to see. I was told it could be slightly overwhelming. I was told  I would be doing a whole lot of walking.

All of those things were true.

The convention is huge. Some sort of golf product is tucked into seemingly every crevice of the space. On Thursday of the show, my fitbit told me I walked a total of 26, 275 steps, or over eleven and half miles. On Friday I did another seven and a half miles.

And yes, when you first walk through the main entrance and get a look at the sheer volume of people and booths with their spinning displays or lighting effects, you can be a bit overwhelmed.

But what I didn’t expect was the enjoyment I got out of meeting new people and finally shaking hands with some of the names I have been working with over the years.

For example, I’ve been writing for Golficity now for about five years and had yet to meet Mike and Frank, the two guys that host the golf podcast, vlog, and run the entire platform, in real life.

Turns out, those two are as awesome as they appear to be on video and on the podcast.

And there were a host of others that I made sure to visit on my first day at the show. Some going back to my very early days with the site, when I didn’t have much of a portfolio of work and they easily could have dismissed me. They didn’t and for that I am grateful.

I also was able to spend some time with an old friend that is currently the PGA Pro at a golf course just outside of Chicago. He opened my eyes to a completely new world and view of the golf business. Things that I imagine many of us never give a second though about, while golf courses spend countless hours on. It was fascinating.

So to those of you I met for the first time after already kind of knowing you for a couple of years, it was great meeting you. And for those I met for the first time in any way, shape, or form, it was also great meeting you.

But that’s not what you really care about, is it! Kris made some friends, good for him. *eye roll*

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Okay okay! Let’s get to the cool, the new, and the different golf products that were on the floor!

Hole More Putts

Hole More Putts is a board filled with technology and is all about getting you to get your putt started on the correct line. Five putts at a time, it measures the five most important aspects of impact of a putt: face angle, impact point, path, speed at impact, and angle of attack.

With the data collected, it provides immediate feedback via a display on the board, further breakdown within an iOS app, and even more information in an online dashboard.

The app and website not only give you the data in easily digestible formats, but also provides quick and easy drills to work on based on your diagnosed weaknesses.

Birds of Condor

I can not tell you how many times I went to over to the Birds of Condor booth to chat with Frankie, the founder of the company, to find it filled with other PGA Show patrons. Everyone wanted a look at what he had on the shelves.

Based out of Byron Bay, Australia, Birds of Condor is a golf apparel company influenced by the beach and street. Their hats and t-shirts are full of style and are destined to jump the confines of the golf world and into lifestyle territory this year. Their stuff is just super-cool.

BIG MAX

BIG MAX has been around for a while. In fact, I wrote a review on one of their super-slim push carts a few years ago. Despite the fact that they’ve won awards year after year, the cart company out of Europe continues to push their own envelope. Not only have they improved on their own fold-able push cart, they will also be introducing several new golf bags.

Their new Blade IP push cart, which will hit the market in the Spring, will be less than 5″ (yes, five inches) in depth when broken down. The new model will basically be slim enough to practically slide under some seats in a vehicle let alone fit easily into a trunk.

Meanwhile, the bags they are introducing will be fully water-proof, including 100% sealed seams and specifically designed water-proof zippers. Available in either cart or stand bags, they have every bell and whistle imaginable for a golf bag, including full length dividers, an over-sized putter well, and an easy carrying weight weight.

FLUX

Every so often while walking the PGA Show floor I would come across something that stopped me in my tracks. The FLUX line of putters was one of those things. While wandering around waiting for my next appointment, I came across John Bergquist and his gorgeous flat sticks.

I only had a few minutes to talk to John, who is the Lead Design Engineer for FLUX, about his putters, but I have a feeling he could talk putter technology all day. The guy is just an absolute wealth of knowledge.

Later this year, FLUX will be introducing their UNITY putting line. Built with what is called DARtech (directional angular rotation), the company believes they have discovered the technology to ensure a topspin on putts regardless of technique.

Along with a state-of-the-art putter face, John has also designed an “anti-twist” feature by replacing 10 grams of 303 stainless steel with 30 grams of tungsten in the toe of the putter.

Yeah, he had my head spinning, too. Needless to say, I can’t wait to really test this thing out and see how it performs in the real world.

Uther

Uther, pronounced “other”, this Canadian company is set to make itself a household name throughout the golf world in 2018. Uther is already known by some due to the high-quality and highly stylized tour and cart towels it manufactures.

Personally, and if you’ve read some of my stuff you may have already realized, I tend to favor the “different”. Anyone can go buy a run of the mill golf towel at some big box store. But it’s the unique that I really enjoy. The fact that these towels are above and beyond what’s available in said big box, is icing on the cake.

That being said, Uther is determined to be more than just a one-trick pony. Keep an eye out for more different, more unique, and more quality from them this year.

ShotScope V2

I first came across ShotScope a little over a year ago and was thoroughly impressed. Shot tracking technology that didn’t require “tagging”? Sign me up.

Fast forward to late 2017 with the launch of ShotScope V2 and the fellas from Scotland have gotten my attention all over again.

ShotScope works with a watch-like device that you wear on your wrist while you play. The “watch” connects to the clubs and tracks your shots. That data is then uploaded via your smartphone or computer to produce a suite of charts and graphs.

For V2, ShotScope has integrated more technology into the “watch” and will now include front, middle, and back pin positions right on its face. It makes so much sense I’m slightly annoyed I didn’t think of it myself. Probably why I write about these things and don’t invent them.

Lamkin

The only “major” on my list this year. While I tend to prefer the “different”, a great product is a great product and Lamkin has some good stuff coming in 2018.

Three new grips will hit the market just as the ground begins to thaw (at least in the Midwest), with all three introducing new materials and textures.

The TS1 line is designed with the 100-milers (those with high swing speeds) in mind, while Comfort PLUS will be for those that prefer a softer feel. And in between the two will be SONAR, a grip designed to promote stability in your top hand and a lighter grip in the lower hand.

While it’s a bit difficult to write about grips without getting bogged down in tech-speak, I can tell you I simply like the way each of these grips feel. And while Lamkin has been around for 90-some-odd years, these grips immediately jump out as something “different”.

In the coming months, I will be following up with full reviews of many of these products and we’ll see if it was just the atmosphere of the show that made them seem great or if they are the real deal.

There are also some things I left off this list with lots of potential that I’ll be testing and writing about as well. So definitely stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you went to the show yourself, what aspects or products jumped out at you?


Cover Image via Instagram

About Kris McEwen

Kris became obsessed with the game of golf after deciding to finally hang up his baseball cleats about four years ago. Still learning the game, he’s leaned on much of the on-line golf community for help and loves to return the favor whenever possible.

A contributor to several golf sites in the past, Kris writes from the perspective of your average golfer. One who has a passion for the game, but also has the typical restrictions of life and budget.

He can be reached on Twitter at @krismcewen.

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