One of the coolest perks of being a golf media member is having access to incredible, and oftentimes exclusive, golf courses, destinations, products and events. One of those heralded industry events is the annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.
For the first time in three years, this year’s Show was held in-person at its regular home, the Orange County Convention Center.
While much of the buzz going into last week centered around the lack of vendors and participants (major OEM providers, including Titleist, TaylorMade, Ping, Cobra and Callaway held out due to uncertainties around COVID), I can’t say enough how pleasantly surprised I was at how well attended it was.
While the number of exhibitors was certainly down from previous years, there were still over 600 companies presenting. Trying to visit and talk with as many as possible, combined with all the set meetings, press conferences, symposiums, presentations, educational opportunities, happy hours and sponsored parties can make these long and really exhausting days at one of the world’s largest convention centers, but well worth it.
The Show opened Tuesday, January 25 with the annual demo day. It was a dismal morning and afternoon at Orange County National Golf Course: Cold with temperatures in the low 50’s and a persistent, soft rain that never let up. Still, it was great to be back in-person checking out a lot of the latest and greatest products the golf industry has to offer.
A few of my favorite things from demo day included the PowerGolf club (Instagram post shown below), Bridgestone’s new OTTO autonomous ball fitting cart and Tour B line of golf balls, and one I did not expect because of my affinity for ClubProGuy: Sqairz shoes.
Day one of the actual convention was Wednesday, and it started for me with a press conference held by KemperSports, Streamsong Resort and The Mosaic Company. You can read much more about that announcement here:
From there, WiscoGolfAddict.com Contributing Writer Troy Giljohann and I set out to see as much of the show floor as we possibly could, and if it was a video game I’d say we just about completed it.
Of the more than 600 exhibiting companies on-site looking to impress the world, we talked with hundreds, and of those here are a handful of my personal favorites:
An updated version of the Bat-Caddy X4R that I love so much, the X8R has a sharp dual-wheel “Mountain Slayer” anti-tip wheel system, more intuitive folding functionality (less manual lock-downs), true Freewheel mode (in case you run the battery to empty or want to use it as a true push cart), cruise control with speed recall and one of the most unique, self-identifying features in electric carts: Complete color selection.
With 2,000 colors available for the frame and the wheels, buyers can literally choose from 4,000,000 color combinations, making their X8R uniquely theirs’.
A local Wisconsin company, I love Iron Joc. Their athletic wear is unbelievably comfortable and high quality at a great price point. Infused with silver ion technology, Iron Joc clothing will never smell and has a great, athletic look and feel. I also picked up a pair of socks, and they’re phenomenal (even to someone who usually only wears Bombas).
I know, I don’t fill the shirt out as well as Braelon Allen. I’ll blame it on being old.
A truly innovative golf brand, Zero Friction’s newest product line is the WheelPro Carry Bag & Push Cart. With push cart functionality literally built into the base of the bag, this is a very inventive product that converts easily in seconds to a functioning push cart. It can also be used as a stand bag as the wheels literally snap out (this takes a couple seconds, max).
Holderness & Bourne
One of my absolute favorite golf apparel brands, Holderness & Bourne’s premium-level polos and outerwear feature timeless designs and top-of-the-line materials. To me, this is the most comfortable golf polo money can buy.
ECCO makes some of the industry’s most comfortable, durable golf shoes, and they look great, too. With Teflon enveloping the entire shoe, their new Biom Hybrid 4 line is a 100% water-proof kick with a great look and luxurious feel.
Lyle & Scott
Makers of fine European clothing for over a century, Lyle & Scott is expanding into the US market and seems to have the right product line to succeed. Their new High Summer ’22 collection has some very classic styles with great feel.
Lyle & Scott has a long and storied past in golf, as you can see from the posters hanging in their display center:
GolfZon’s new TwoVision simulator marries dual cameras to provide unparalleled accuracy with industry-leading functionality like moving plates (to replicate uneven lies) and multiple hitting surfaces. They ain’t cheap, but they’re very cool.
Maker of fine Italian golf footwear, Duca Del Cosma is a fashion-forward shoe company that, like Lyle & Scott, got their start in Europe but have been expanding into the US market. I cannot wait to actually try these shoes out on the course this season!
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