2017 PGA Merchandise Show Recap – 14 Products You Should Know About
This past week I attended the 2017 PGA Merchandise show in Orlando. It was my first time attending the show, and it was an interesting look into the golf industry as a whole.
With more than 1,000 exhibitors present in almost every single category, there were plenty of products to take in. While I was just one guy, and I couldn’t visit every single booth, I got a good feel for what was new and interesting.
Since Practical Golf doesn’t necessarily cover the big brands that get most of the attention from the golfing media, my goal was to uncover interesting products that you might not know about. There were the usual big names – Callaway, Under Armour or Ping, to name a few – but there were also plenty of exhibitors that many golfers have probably never heard of. Some of them had really great stuff to offer, and many of them had products that were a bit…interesting (I’m trying to be kind).
Here are 14 brands you should keep an eye out for in the upcoming year.
The show floor was absolutely packed with apparel companies. Many of them like Travis Matthew, Ralph Lauren, and Puma had large and elaborate booths.
One of the companies that I was most impressed with was from a smaller booth. They are an upstart apparel company called State Apparel. I was particularly impressed with the style, quality, and usefulness of many of their offerings. Their pants had a unique design that offers an extra layer around your ankles to clean dirt off your club, and their pockets were lined with a similar material to clean your ball or even wipe off your sweaty hands before a putt.
I tried on some of their shirts and jackets and found them to be some of the most comfortable I’ve ever worn. For golfers looking for a more casual look on the course you should definitely check them out.
One of the biggest themes at the PGA Merchandise Show was technology. There were tons of companies showing their latest sensors, launch monitors, and various other devices.
While I am familiar with most of the swing analyzers available for golfers, Blast Motion was one company that caught my attention because they are primarily focused on putting. Their sensor is used to measure the timing and tempo of your stroke (amongst some other key metrics), which has been an extremely important topic on this site with the full swing.
I plan on using their sensor in the upcoming season to work on my putting stroke, and I think their approach will sit well with many recreational golfers who don’t want a complicated set of data to work on their golf game at home or on the range.
Walking the golf course is extremely important to me, and I was on the lookout for any new bags that were lightweight and had a quality build.
A newcomer called OUUL had an interesting-looking booth with an array of designs that really caught my eye. While the more “loud” designs weren’t for me, when I got a chance to speak with their team I realized that not only were these bags fashionable, but they had a ton of useful features built into them.
Their Python collection stand bag weighs in at only 2.7 pounds, which is extremely light. Additionally, the bag itself was impressive in its build. They will come to the market for the first time this year.
The custom putter space has absolutely exploded. There were tons of boutique manufacturers at the show with beautifully-crafted putters on display. I was impressed by MLA’s line of putters. They had a great feel at impact, and their weighting system felt quite nice.
Not to mention their putters were absolutely beautiful.
I have long admired Seamus Golf’s unique, hand-crafted accessories from afar. For the first time I actually got to see them in person, and they are absolutely fantastic. Their line of accessories are all made by artisans, and they were truly one of the coolest things I saw at the show. From head covers to ball markers, every product they offer is really unique.
You might be seeing some of their stuff featuring my logo soon!
I’m a huge fan of spike-less golf shoes, and Ecco was mostly responsible for the major shift that has taken place in this category when Fred Couples debuted their sneaker-styled golf shoes many years ago.
Ecco debuted a new spike-less shoe technology at the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show that offers superior grip for golfers who don’t want to wear spikes. It’s called SPYDR-GRIP and was designed to provide grip for all of the foot’s natural pivot points. There aren’t a ton of great options in this category (I’ve been looking for a while), and I think these are going to be a major step ahead for spike-less shoes this year.
Protecting your skin from the sun should be every single golfer’s priority. One of the things that I have found in the industry is the lack of apparel companies that are offering clothing with built in UV protection.
Collo is a new brand debuting this year offering a full line of products that have built-in UV protection. Most shirts that I have seen in this area aren’t particularly comfortable, but I think these guys have done a great job at producing lightweight, fashionable, and comfortable shirts. They also have a patented collar system that makes sure your neck is protected from the sun.
I first saw PuttOut on social media a few months ago. I got a chance to try out their newly-released putting training aid at the PGA Merchandise Show. It’s a neat little device that gives you true feedback on the speed and direction of your putt.
Priced at $30, I think this is a wonderful tool for all golfers to use in the comfort of their own home or on the course to work on their stroke.
P2 Putter Grips
When SuperStroke debuted a few years ago, it completely revolutionized the putter-grip category. Almost every single grip company at the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show had variations in size and design of putter grips.
One in particular that caught my attention was a company called P2 Grips. They have a bit of science behind their design, and when I tried out several of their grips, I immediately felt that the putter was more stable in my hands. I’m very interested in giving their grips a shot.
Electric was the first manufacturer I met with, and I loved what they were about. They are a bunch of guys from California who like to surf, snowboard, hike, play golf, and pretty much anything else outdoors.
They have made a pretty impressive line of sunglasses that don’t fit the typical mold of the golf industry. Their glasses are lightweight, but have a ton of design features built into them that make them durable and comfortable. If you don’t want to wear the traditional looking golf sunglasses, I would definitely check them out.
Hole More Putts
There were endless companies in the putting space at the PGA Merchandise Show. I was more interested in any brands that could help golfers and teaching pros improve a golfer’s stroke more effectively.
Hole More Putts is a new company that has designed an integrated board that measures some of the most important parts of a putting stroke – path, impact location, angle of attack, speed, and face angle.
They give feedback on what parts of your stroke need work, and specific drills you can do to improve. A lot of the information provided was only available before in much more expensive products, but this allows golfers of any level to gain a strong diagnosis of their stroke in their home or on the course.
In my opinion Callaway had the largest imprint at the PGA Merchandise Show. Their booth was absolutely massive, and their new Epic Driver was on full display. The most interesting thing in their booth to me was a small putter company that they recently acquired called Toulon Design.
Their putters have only been around for a couple of years, and this was the first time I got a chance to try them out. I’ve tried a lot of putters throughout my golfing life, and I have to say, they had the softest feel at impact I’ve ever experienced. Patrick Rodgers recently debuted their Indianapolis design at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, and I think you’re going to see a lot more of Toulon in the coming years.
I love socks, and am always on the lookout for any quality new brands that can make my walk more comfortable on the course. I met briefly with a newer company called Lift 23 that is crafting golf and athletic socks from merino wool. They gave me a pair to try out, and I wore them during one of my rounds after the PGA Merchandise show in Orlando.
They were extremely comfortable and are a great choice for golfers looking for comfort and moisture control on the course.
AG Green Label
You may know AG Jeans as one of the largest denim manufacturers in the world, but they have crafted an extremely nice line of golf clothes. Their founder is an avid golfer, and managed to create a full line of clothes that I absolutely loved.
There was a mix of loud and toned down shirts and pants that had some nice fabrics. Overall, the feel was more casual and inviting, which is what I personally am looking for to wear on the course. One in particular that I liked was a long sleeve UV protectant shirt that had sleeves designed to accommodate your swing.
Final Thoughts from the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show
I had an absolute blast at the PGA Merchandise show. It was a great opportunity to meet a lot of the teachers and companies in person that I have been speaking with since I started Practical Golf two years ago.
There was a feeling from many people at the show that the foot traffic and the scope of vendors has decreased from the peak of the golf business back in the early to mid 2000s.
While that might be true, as a newcomer to the show I can tell you that it was massive. In 2 ½ days my iPhone said I walked 16 miles and took 39,986 steps. The attention to detail in many of the booths was impressive, and as someone who has attended other industry trade shows, I simply had never seen anything like it.
While golf might not be as big of an industry as it used to be, it’s important not to lose sight that it still is a global game that has plenty of loyal followers. Walking the floor of the show made that abundantly clear.
I look forward to bringing some of the companies to your attention that might not get coverage from the mainstream media. There really are a ton of great products that golfers should know about!