I have just returned from the annual PGA Show in Orlando, Florida and I am pleased to share that the economic side of the game appears to be in fine shape. In previous years I have left the show feeling somewhat dejected, yet after this year's experience I am really excited for what 2012 holds.
Every year I look around for ideas that might be game changers - something fresh, new and different. I also keep an eye out for what I call "headscratchers" - something so far out it makes me wonder how it could ever help a golfer get better. Here are a few things that piqued my interest:
This tiny, lightweight device attaches to the shaft of your club from where it captures your swing and transmits it to your smartphone (Apple or Android) or tablet. It offers relatively accurate data on swing path, speed and launch angle amongst others, but the developer did stress to me that once swing speeds exceeded 90mph the accuracy got a little "sloppy". It also allows you to share the information with your coach or golf buddies. This product comes highly recommended for the vast majority of golfers out there ($149; swingbyte.com).
Face it - kids absolutely love to hit balls at a moving target and they love it even more if that moving target happens to be you. If you're looking to give your kids or grandkids a reason to play golf and have a ball while doing it - all you have to do is suit up in the sticky suit and let the fun begin. It's a velcro suit that, when used with Snag's sticky balls and plastic golf clubs, turns you into a moving target thats far more appealing than even the guy in the range picker. Big time fun factor ($230, snaggolf.com).
These leather headcovers have been around for a while, but there is nothing that makes a statement quite like a customized set of these protecting your big sticks. I have some (that I paid for!) and every round I play somebody asks about them. I love old school and these have old school written all over them. For the golfer who has almost everything (from $58 ea; iliacgolf.com)
How about these two items? I have a hard enough time making putts with a flat face - how does anybody suppose I'm going to make more putts with a putter that has a curved face?
This second "headscratcher" I simply called the Putting Guillotine! Is this device really going to help me on a downhill left to right slider on the final green for the win....? I rest my case. While I selected these two items to show you, there were many more instances where ideas, products and teaching aids caused me to simply turn and walk away.
The best booth at the show had to go to TaylorMade - again. Here's an interesting stat for you: TaylorMade currently controls a 55% share of the metalwood market. If you compare to when Titleist golf balls where at their peak - they only controlled a 48% share of the ball market! And remember - golf clubs cost a lot more than golf balls.
Best Clothing Booth - Travis Mathew - the old convertible was a great touch.
Best Hosiery (socks!) - Kentwool - they claim to be the world's best golf sock and I have no reason to dispute that. These socks rock!
Best Teaching Technology - Swing Catalyst - I may be biased here, as I own one, but this technology is ahead of it's time.
As per usual there were many golf personalities there and I happened to see Scotty Cameron, Michael Breed, Lee Trevino, Paula Creamer, Wally Uihlein, Gary Gilchrist and Erik Barzeski amongst others, but I'm still trying to figure out what Flava Flav was doing there? If that's not a "headscratcher" then I don't know what is?
If you have not had an opportunity to visit the PGA Show then this video might give you an idea of what the experience is like. Thanks for reading and enjoy!