Sure, the PGA Merchandise Show in January put a spotlight on clubs, balls and other hard goods. But there was plenty more to see at the annual industry gathering in Orlando.
To take a look at the new clubs and balls that were introduced in the run-up to the show, check out Callaway, Cleveland/Srixon, Cobra, Mizuno, Ping, PXG, TaylorMade, Titleist and more.
But for players looking beyond the hard goods, here are several items that gained attention at the show:
Tough Lie 360/Tough Lie 360 Short Game ($2,995/$995)
From the “Why didn’t I think of that?” department is the Tough Lie 360. Usually when a player goes to the range, they hit from flat lies. Not so with the Tough Lie 360, which better simulates on-course experiences. The astroturf teeing area rotates 360 degrees to re-create various lies on the course with a gradient of 8 degrees. There’s a roller on the bottom for easy portability. The short game version is especially helpful for trajectory control, and it weighs only 30 pounds and fits easily in most car trunks. It would be nice to see this at more ranges ASAP.
Polos made of recycled bottles (Starting at $89.50)
Polo Ralph Lauren is making a push for sustainability in its fabrics, launching three Golf Polos this spring made of recycled polyester. The company says each shirt is made of an average of seven recycled plastic bottles. Three types of sustainable fabrics are available, and they vary by weight and texture: lightweight airflow, featherweight airflow and airtech pique. You can have a small part in helping protect the environment and still look good.
Links & Kings premium golf bag ($1,200)
These bags — and their price tags — aren’t for everyone, but anybody can appreciate the craftsmanship. Made from hand-selected leather and resembling classic bags from decades long gone, these bags offer a minimalist feel for players looking to make a statement about their love of the game. The newest bags have carbon-fiber legs, offering a functional combination of the old and the new. Links & Kings was purchased by Titleist two years ago and has seen dramatic growth since, including sales of classic shoes and hand-crafted head covers.
Stitch Ultimate Garment Bag ($298)
This bag is all about utility and style. Completely opened, it has individual compartments for shoes and a zip-up area for a sport jacket. After zipping up the panels, it turns into a side-opening duffle bag that can hold anything needed for a weekend getaway or a quick golf trip. After it is fully zipped, it’s comfortable to carry, stylish, water-resistant and looks cool.
Puttout Pressure Trainer putting aid ($29.99)
The Puttout is a devilishly simple training aid that allows a player to see if a putt would have gone in and to practice speed control because balls roll back toward the player the same distance they would have rolled past the cup. The perfect roll lands in the cutout piece on the ramp, and while it might seem impossible at first, it can be done. Puttout also designed excellent roll-out practice putting mats ($89.99) and putting gate systems ($74.99) that can be used on the mat or a real practice green.
Garmin Approach S62 GPS watch ($499.99)
The new S62 GPS is the same size as last season’s S60 model, but the screen has been enlarged 17 percent to make the full-color display easier to read. The S62 GPS comes preloaded with information on more than 41,000 courses and shows not only the distances to the front, middle and back of the green but also “plays-like” distances and hazards. There is even a new Virtual Caddie that analyzes a player’s game and, after about five rounds, can start to make club recommendations.
Bushnell Wingman ($149.99)
There are plenty of portable stereo speakers out there that can link to a smartphone via Bluetooth and play music on the course. The Wingman is water-resistant, has a 10-hour battery and a magnet that allows it to be positioned on any metal area for better sound. Its sweetest feature: When a button is pressed on the tiny remote control, the Wingman reduces the music, uses the GPS in the smartphone and calls out the distance to the front, middle and back of the green on the hole being played.
Original Jones Golf Bag ($150)
If you’re over 40 and took up golf young, you saw Jones golf bags in the ’70s and ’80s. The iconic brand has made a resurgence in recent years, offering classic carry bags with minimalist styling. The Original Jones weighs in at 3.15 pounds and has a single shoulder strap, three pockets and a three-way divider top, and they are available in a wide range of colors. Jones also offers stand bags.
Kjus Gemini Jacket ($549)
A phone doesn’t have to be a player’s only smart device; now a jacket can be smart, too. The Gemini is a reversible jacket that completes Kjus’ rain series. When worn with the dark side facing out (either black or navy), the waterproof, breathable and windproof fabric absorbs 99 percent of all external ambient heat and pushes it inside the jacket. The light side (gray) facing inwards traps in the heat, reflecting it against the body. This technology increases the jacket’s internal temperature by up to 10.2 degrees Fahrenheit more than when the product is reversed with the light side out. It also is available as a vest.
FlightScope Mevo+ ($2,000)
Mevo+ is a launch monitor that uses 3D-Doppler tracking radar technology to provide 16 valuable data parameters for game improvement and entertainment. It is an indoor/outdoor device that automatically records and clips videos of every shot on a smartphone and overlays selected data parameters. Mevo+ includes ownership of five golf courses, 17 practice ranges and a darts game with no additional license fee.