The annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando was interesting, informative, and COLD! Record low temps on Tuesday and Wednesday made Demo Day tough but we made it through! Even though they said there were 43,000 attending the show, I think this was a bit smaller than years past, primarily because TaylorMade was not exhibiting.
So here is our takeaway on what was new:
Black Finish is Still Strong
Irons (Ping i710) and shafts (Aerotech SteelFiber i95, LZ Steel Black) in black continue to be popular. The new powder coat finishes on the shafts make them a lot more durable than in the past!
Eco-Friendly Shafts from ACCRA
With all of the difficulty in cleaning up manufacturing processes, ACCRA and True-Sport have made a series of shafts that do not us Nickel or Chromium. The new Eco Steel shafts will be shipping to us for testing this week. Profile should be similar to Rifle in the lighter weights and Project X in the heavier weights.
Emphasis on Putting
And why not? Putting accounts for as many as 40% of your strokes! TrackMan is releasing its new Putting Analysis software in March. Stay tuned as we will be an early evaluation partner. Their take on putting is very interesting…not JUST alignment.
New putting greens that allow practice with variable contours from WellPutt and PuttView were on display. Not sure we have room but it would be very valuable to putt on something other than a flat lie. And of course, a lot of new putters from Callaway, Bettinardi, and others. The Callaway Triple Track putters have proven to give the majority of golfers better alignment to their intended line.
Artificial Intelligence and More…
There are more companies embracing the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Neural Networks (NN), Deep Learning (DL) and Data Engineering in the design of their equipment and ball flight systems. Why? The ability to quickly determine trends and corrective action allows companies to develop better products in less time. Callaway has been a pioneer in using AI to design their club faces for all of their clubs. They literally have 8 different driver faces approved by the USGA. What this means is if you have a particular swing tendency and contact on the face, the club head can help correct for that. Of course, my view is that the proper shaft (length, weight, flex, trajectory and spin) can fix a lot of those issues.
It’s All About Speed
For the nth time, the focus is on ball speed and how to improve it. Once again, every manufacturer, fitness trainer, instructor and coach has some take on how you can increase your speed. More distance, especially off the tee, means shorter shots into the green and lower scores. See my related blog here…
And Interesting New Heads and Shafts
Every year I run across a couple of innovative new head designs and shaft designs. As I learn more I will let you know but there is a company that has patents on modular heads, i.e. hosel, sole and face plate assemble together in a variety of combinations. Great concept as it allows some very interesting combinations. And another company has a shaft design that creates faster clubhead speed than any competitor in the same weight and flex. Will check them out in a couple weeks.
Till next year! Hit em long, straight and sink every putt!