We hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage from the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show so far.
- On Tuesday, we brought you hundreds of photos from Demo Day as well as the first batch of Show Stoppers. Our coverage highlighted premium clubs and shafts.
- On Wednesday, we followed with our second batch of Show Stoppers that included Zombie Golf, a performance-tracking golf ball and several new equipment launches.
Now we’re serving up our third and final batch of Show Stoppers from the 2017 PGA Show; 10 of our favorite items from Day 2 at the Orange County Convention Center.
Before we depart, we want to acknowledge all the GolfWRX Members we’ve met at this year’s PGA Show. Your influence in the golf industry is paramount and your passion for this great game is inspiring. For those of you not in attendance, thank you so much for following our coverage. The views, comments and interaction on our social media channels has been incredible.
We take great pride in the access we’re able to provide to one of golf’s greatest events, and if you haven’t already, we hope that all of you get to one day experience a PGA Merchandise Show.
You may know Areso as a company that provides fully customized putters, but it’s breaking into the custom wedge business in the near future, as well.
The yet-to-be released wedges — named RW after company owner and engineer Rock Wu — have heads that are fully milled from either forged carbon steel or blocks of stainless steel. They are able to be personalized for bounce, sole grinds, leading edge grinds and profile shaping. The grooves are also milled, and can be adjusted for spacing depending on swing characteristics and preference.
The wedges are designed with a deep undercut behind the face to raise CG, which is desirable for more boring-trajectory wedge shots. The wedges also have a bulkier toe portion to push the CG toward the center of the club face. The bronze-colored weight seen on the cavity can be made from aluminum, tungsten, titanium or stainless steel to dial in swing weight.
The company says it will work with a launch monitor system to assist in the fitting process. Wu estimates the wedges will be available to the public in 3-6 months.
Edel Single-Length SLS-1 Irons
When Bryson DeChambeau broke onto the golf scene, he was using a set of custom single-length Edel irons and opened the eyes of golfers everywhere to the one-length philosophy.
David Edel, who worked with DeChambeau on the irons he used, is now releasing a retail set of single-length irons, called SLS-01. Who will most benefit from single-length irons? “Everyone,” Edel says.
The irons are made with variable thickness throughout the set. They has about 12 degrees of bounce, and are made with welded-face technology on their carbon steel bodies. To optimize the performance of the clubs, Edel is implementing a fitting system based on a golfer’s swing, accounting for length, lie angle, swing weight and swing style.
Shaft company Paderson has made progressive, wound-composite shafts for the irons that are optimized for single-length performance. Edel says that traditional steel shaft are not as effective for the single-length system.
SLS-01 irons (3-PW, SW) will be available for $240 per head. Fittings are necessary for purchase.
Ernest Sports ES16 Tour
As one of the leaders in data tracking for shots throughout the bag, Ernest Sports has a new ES16 Tour doppler radar system that sells for $5,900.
The ES16 Tour, which has both indoor and outdoor modes, uses quad doppler radar and two photometric cameras — all packed into the portable system — to provide golfers with a total of 21 data points, including both club and ball information.
The ES16 Tour is possibly the most affordable option for accurate ball and club readings in a space that’s packed with competitors.
G/Fore, Peter Millar Collaborate on Luxury Golf Shoe
Certainly you know G/Fore as a risk-taking apparel company that makes boldly colored golf accessories, and you know Peter Millar for its classic golf apparel and conservative colors. What happens when companies from different ends of the golf spectrum team up to make a golf shoe? You get a Show Stopper.
Founder and fashion entrepreneur Mossimo Giannulli designed the line, which features three shoe models — Bogue Gallivanter (2 colors), Disrupter (2 colors) and Pintuck Gallivanter (3 colors) — that are built for luxury, comfort and performance.
Each of the shoes have a lightweight EVA midsole, an insole built with ridges for mind-blowing comfort that you need to feel to believe and waterproof leather uppers. They also have TPU (thermoplastic urethane) outsoles with cleats for traction.
In its standard line, G/Fore also offers numerous fashionable options. Our favorite is the Yohji-influenced Crusader high top shoe (pictured above) that has caught Bubba Watson’s eye, according to Giannulli. Watson, the two-time major champion who wears G/Fore shoes and gloves, is apparently interested in wearing them at The Masters.
Golf Pride MCC Align
Love ribbed grips? Golf Pride has something for you with its new MCC Align, which the company believes will please not only be loved by ribbed-grip players but by a much larger percentage of the golfing population.
According to Bruce Miller, Golf Pride’s Retail Product Manager, ribbed grips are used by about 33 percent of PGA Tour players. Their presence in North America retailers is almost non-existent, however, and a very small percentage of golfers ask for them.
Miller called traditional ribbed grips “old technology,” at least in part because of the difficulty of putting them on straight. MCC Align grips are constructed differently. They use a dedicated piece of material that runs along the back side of the grip. It’s 50 percent firmer than the rest of the grip, and its straight line and firmness makes the grips much easier to install properly. It’s also a much better reference point for golfers because of its increased rib size and added traction.
The Align strip sits between a white “gutter,” which presses up the rib up to the USGA’s maximum allowable thickness when it is installed. “Everything we do in our grips is about improving performance during the swing,” Miller says. “This is going to help golfers before they even swing.”
The grips will sell for $10.99 ($11.49 in Golf Pride’s MCC Plus4 Model) and will be available in the spring.
The concept of the Iceblock putter came not from a golf research and design facility, or a longtime golf club designer, but rather from a surgeon’s office in Basel, Switzerland. Daniel Wengen, an ear, nose and throat surgeon and self-proclaimed 17-handicap who owns 23 patents in the medical field, was sitting at his desk one day, bouncing a golf ball off a block of acrylic that held medical implants.
“I’m just a doctor,” says company founder Wengen. Yes, a doctor with a Show-Stopping putter.
The block of acrylic, which weighs nearly 500 grams, turned into the Iceblock putter of the same size and material. A few additions were made to make it into a useable and legal putter; alignment lines scratched into the top and sole of the putter, a shaft drilled into the center of the head and drilled holes on its ends (the R&A prohibits objects that can be struck on all four sides of the head). The putter works for both righties and lefties and stands on its own on flat surfaces.
Wengen says the putter benefits golfers because of its incredibly soft feel and high MOI (moment of inertia). The putters sell for $249 and come with SuperStroke putter grips.
MG Itobori Grind
MG’s golf equipment is custom-ground by Mayuki Takai in Japan… and wow, is it gorgeous stuff. He takes each club to a grinding wheel to create its unique appearance, which is also said to improve performance.
As you might have guessed, the clubs are very expensive. For example, the driver pictured sells for $1250 (head only).
Customization options are near limitless, and hopefully your club budget is, too. See more photos.
OUUL Super Light Stand Bag
Golfers who carry their clubs want a stand bag that’s light, functional, good looking… and of course durable. OUUL’s Super Light Stand Bags from its Python Collection check all those boxes and more. They weigh just 2.7 pounds and use a patented flex foot base system that is made to be highly durable.
The top of the bag was designed with serious golfers in mind. It has several different “handles” that makes it easy for golfers to grab the bag from several different angles, and its 3-pocket system, insulated beverage sleeve and 8.5-inch 5-way top will provide all the storage and access golfers need.
The bags have a hand-crafted “python” print that’s available in several different colors. They sell for $209.99 each.
Tour Edge Exotics CBX Forged Irons
Tour Edge Exotics is known for its premium fairway woods, but it’s a new iron that’s generating buzz for the company at the PGA Show. Its new CBX Forged irons are triple forged from soft S25c carbon steel to deliver a pure feel that matches their blade-like appearance at address.
There’s a bit of new tech in the irons, as well. A dual-level flange and a TPE alloy insert enhance the feel of the irons, the company says.
The CBX Forged irons have modern lofts (20-degree 3 iron, 29-degree 6 iron, 46-degree PW). A price is yet to be determined, but it’s going to be reasonable. Expect to pay around $125-$150 per club depending on what shaft you choose.
Based out of Huntington Beach, Calif., golf and lifestyle brand Travis Mathew is about more than only golf clothes and accessories… and its arcade-style booth proves that.
In the Orange County Convention Center that’s filled with golf equipment, apparel, gadgets and anything golf-related as far as the eye can see and feet can walk, Travis Mathew’s booth offers a refreshing break from the sport with a fully loaded bar, pop-a-shot basketball and skeeball. The booth also had leather couches to kick back and relax after logging 10,000+ steps while circumventing the PGA Show floor.
The company was also showing off its Fall 2017 line of golf clothes, which include everything from performance polos to stretch-fit button downs that work great for off-course wear, as well. A bathroom-style display for its new line of shoes was… well, interesting to say the least.
That’s all folks
Jimmy Walker WITB 2020
- Equipment accurate as of the Farmers Insurance Open
Driver: Titleist TS3 (8.5 degrees @ 7.75, C1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 6 X
Fairway wood: Titleist TS3 (18 degrees @ 17.25, C1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Blue 90 TX
Irons: Titleist 620 CB (3), Titleist 620 MB (4-PW)
Shafts: True Temper AMT Tour White X100
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 WedgeWorks (54-M, 60-04L), Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (64 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100
Putter: L.A.B. Directed Force 2.1T
Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
What It’s Like: TaylorMade Golf’s “The Kingdom”
One of the best parts of this job, beyond the people we get to meet, is the facilities. All of the core OEMs have a “place” that is exclusive, away from anything normal, and you gotta know someone to get a ticket in.
That’s what the “What It’s Like” series is about. Those certain OEM places with no doors open to the public. Those places that if you happened to sneak in, there is no way you can Fletch your way around into two steak sandwiches and a bloody mary.
I never admit this, but I used to manage a night club in Los Angeles called Les Deux (it was cool for a minute). It was a fun although soul-sucking endeavor but the thing that made the experience stick out was the exclusivity of it. If you got in by knowing someone, greased the door guy (me), or got invited, it was four hours of awesome. Yes, it’s a lame example, but there is, unfortunately, something about getting to the other side of a closed door that is just awesome.
TaylorMade Golf’s Kingdom is location No. 1, and as you would expect, it’s nothing short of pure golf ecstasy.
I have been to TaylorMade HQ quite a number of times, and typically those visits involve time at what I call the gear junkie mecca (short of Tiger Woods’ garage or the Nike Oven graveyard now called Artisan) AKA The Kingdom.
The coolest thing about it is how subtle the location is. Located just steps away from the front door of TM HQ (and a very random corporate basketball hoop) sits a small-yet-elegant building that if you didn’t know was there, you would fly past it. Once you pull into the side parking lot, unload your sticks, and head to the door, there is still that feeling of “will they actually let me in?”
Here’s the thing. The best (all of them) have been in here. To test, practice, hang out, get fit, get wowed to potentially be on staff and everything in-between. A schmuck like me should get nervous, but then it happens, the door opens and you are not only let in but you are greeted by the master of ceremonies and a man I truly adore Tom “TK” Kroll.
With the passion to match not only yours but anyone else who walks in, he makes sure every nuance is seen and experienced. From the lobby with current TM athletes on the wall to the locker room with your custom locker that sits next to an exact replica of Tiger’s bag. There are snacks, extras shoes, gloves, swag, coffee, beer, and all your wildest dreams…and we are barely in the facility.
From a 35,000 foot view, The Kingdom has everything a golfer would ever want, need, or wish for. Starting with Duane Anderson’s putter studio that has tested thousands of strokes from players ranging from a 20 handicap to Rory McIlroy. The data compiled in this room is staggering. We did a video (link below) that gives you the full rundown.
There are three (one with an Iron Byron for testing) main inside hitting bays with all the bells and whistles you would assume. TrackMans, cameras, big screens, fresh gloves hanging on the wall, and a club fitting matrix with every TM combination you could think of.
The outside hitting area is heaven on earth. There is no other way to describe. Huge hitting area with multiple styles of grass, lies, pins, etc. Any shot you would need to hit can be recreated here on grass with a ball flying into the air and not into a screen. My favorite area is the Flick Tee. In honor of the great teacher and longtime TM staffer Jim Flick. Its tucked up high and privately in the corner of the range under a tree and this may sound ridiculous but you can almost feel Mr. Flick standing there with you as you look out onto the facility. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
As mentioned, the man who manages your experience is Tom Kroll. He’s about as respected and beloved as anyone in the industry and for good reason. You combine passion with service you get an awesome human to hang out with. Everyone that has been through these doors has a TK story, which includes a chuckle and a smile.
I chatted with him recently about The Kingdom, and this is what he had to say.
JW: Walk me through how The Kingdom came to be what it is now? Basically origin to current day…
TK: Back in 1994, I was in R&D, running player testing, and we needed to find our own testing range. We built our headquarters in Carlsbad in the 1990s and added the range in 1998. Only robot, cannon and player testing were done at the start. Once in a while, a tour or staff pro would come out and test, but it was all operated from one building. At the time, what’s currently the clubhouse at The Kingdom was actually a maintenance building. But in 2010, The Kingdom was reimagined to the layout we have now.
Over the last three years I’ve been at The Kingdom, we’ve added GEARS, Quintic high-speed cameras, and a Foresight simulator bay. We transformed the putting lab with a Perfection Platforms articulating floor and SAM technology. Last year we resurfaced the main tee, redesigned and dedicated the Flick Tee, underwent a complete renovation of the short game area with new bunker complexes, redesigned the targeting downrange, and developed a par-3 routing. We partnered with Kurt Bowman Design, a longtime designer under Jack Nicklaus.
Our superintendent Mark Warren and his crew have done incredible work with our current maintenance equipment, and I can’t wait to see the conditions after we deliver a brand new fleet of brand new Toro equipment. We structured a long-term partnership with Toro and Turf Star Western.
JW: What is the simple function of The Kingdom?
TK: We still have the robot bay and R&D does development work almost every day. We are mostly a resource for the entire company: Global Sports Marketing (Tour), developmental pros and ams, AJGA standouts, our Crusaders (club professionals), and commercial teams. We host pre-lines to introduce new product to our at-large teams and training events. We’re even a PR resource, hosting media, social influencers, celebrities, and professional athletes.
We also act as a hub for our Crusaders. They send their members to us, and we wholesale back to the staff account. I’ll do a significant amount of corporate events, charity events and have had “Flicks at The Kingdom” where we set up a giant projector and our employees bring their kids, beach chairs and blankets to watch a movie out on the range. Really a fun and cool event.
JW: Give me three awesome stories or experiences from your time there that you are cool sharing.
TK: It’s tough to only pick three! From Reggie Jackson stopping by to Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, President Bush. Those may be the most haughty name drops of all time! What can I say, it is beyond the coolest job I have ever had! It’s truly tough to pick, but here are my three…
Story 1: Tiger was preparing to make his first PGA Tour start after fusion surgery and he just spends the day grinding out here. He was testing an early proto of the TW irons and to see how much speed he still had. There’s a sound that only he and maybe two or three others make when they center it up. That sound is something that goes through your body, I can still hear it. It sticks with you.
He’s playing old school lofts, which are three degrees weaker than any other tour pro, but the carry distances were still there, the windows he hits it through, holding it against the wind, flighting a 6-iron even ripping a 5-wood 275 yards. His feedback and ability to discern the most minute details working with the advanced teams developing the irons was fantastic to witness.
To come full circle, I played with him in the Southern Cal Amateur when he was 16-years-old and had a front-row to his 62 at Hacienda, I was keeping his scorecard so he has my autograph. To again be standing three feet from him while he goes through the process is just special.
Story 2: I’m going to put two guys in the same bucket (because The Kingdom is so magical, I hope the golf gods are okay with it). Rory now spends a day out here the week of Farmers–he has for the last two years, and with the U.S. Open there 2021, I think he’s a lock for the next few. He went through two sets of irons in a wind quartering off the right at 20-25 mph. The consistency of launch, speed and spin were shockingly close! It was one of the greatest ball-striking exhibitions I’ve ever witnessed. We handpicked the range after his day, it took us 10 minutes He’s also the most gracious, down to earth person.
Jon Rahm stops by five or six times a year. To watch his sessions in the putting lab, to see Duane show him what’s changing and getting Jon back to baseline and see his confidence, to the 4-iron flop shots after we tell our Seve stories. Jon is part of the family. His brother and dad came out before Jon and Kelly’s wedding. He’s one of the two or three others where the sound goes through you.
Story 3: Has to be Operation Game On (OGO). We have partnered with Tony Perez for over 15 years, we are the cherry on top of a 6-10 week program where wounded veterans take lessons and the graduation is a fitting at The Kingdom. I had a dear friend, Joe Horowitz, who’s a golfer and a musician, here late one day and I mentioned the OGO guys were coming the next day. It’s Veteran’s Day and the Marine Corps Birthday. Not to mention Jon Rahm would be here for a last tweak before he left for Dubai. Joe shows me a video of him singing the national anthem at the Jaguars game a few weeks before, and we both say let’s do that for the OGO guys. I get in early and send an email to all employees to be on the tee at 9 a.m. sharp. We have the OGO guys arrive and Jon is hanging in the locker room. I’m stalling to get all the employees onto the tee through the side gate, I walk the boys into the bay and hit the roll up door. Outside are 250 employees cheering these guys on! Joe sings the anthem (goose bumps every time), then happy birthday to Jon and the marine corps. There’s fittings, a pizza truck, Jon Rahm signed U.S. Open staff bags for the OGO boys. Then, get this, Jon goes on and wins that week in Dubai!
JW: If you could change anything about the property or the experience what would it be?
TK: At TaylorMade, the relentless pursuit of improving is in our DNA. The Kingdom is no different. We’re constantly innovating and reimagining the downrange experience. From targeting, to conditions and turf types, we’re always nuancing and squeaking out ways to be better. One example, we’re designing each of our targets with a specific purpose. When players are testing at The Kingdom, we want them to feel that every shot has a consequence. So, we want to deliver a real-world experience in every testing situation. We went through a massive redesign last fall and are currently still working with the advanced research team on new ways to enhance our testing and fitting experiences to meet the way that players perform in competition.
When it comes to the overall experience, The Kingdom has transformed from a predominantly R&D and fitting facility to the most capable environment to test, measure and understand how equipment performs and how golfers interact with their equipment. I call it the ultimate truth machine. We help golfers at every level uncover the insights they need to improve. After each session, we’re going to know everything about the club, the player and the ball flight.
So we came from a place where we were mainly focused on research, fitting, and selling. Our goals have changed. Now we obsess over how to help golfers get better.
What would I change? If you’re curious and passionate about making change, the answers are out there. The first thing we do is listen. We’re going to change everything that needs to be changed in order to meet our goals. I have an incredible focus group to bounce ideas off of. To ask our tour pros, club professionals, and teachers for feedback on the design ideas and what they like and prefer is fortunate. We’re constantly learning, we’re constantly improving, and if there’s a better way do something, then we’re going to figure it out and do it.
JW: What does the kingdom look like in 10 years?
TK: We have a lot of incredible plans for new targeting, bunker complexes, and refining the purposeful design of the range and short game area. Beyond that, we have designs for new teeing areas, a new short game complex, adding another GEARS system and Foresight Simulator, along with other new technologies. I can’t disclose all we do, since the R&D guys get a bit jumpy when I start going on about all the cool stuff and high science! I don’t know exactly what The Kingdom looks like in 10 years as technologies and our understanding continue to improve, but I do know give me six months, and we’ll have done something new. Always grinding to get better!
JW: Tell me a little bit about your career at TaylorMade.
TK: 31 years is hard to do in a “little bit” but I’ll try to give you the Clif Notes! Bob Vokey ran our Tour department and had me running his repair shop in Vista after George Willett took a job driving the Tour truck for TaylorMade. I was refinishing wooden clubs and repairing clubs for the local country clubs. I told Bob I was going broke making $4.50 an hour and driving all over San Diego. I asked if he could get me a job at TaylorMade and I started on the custom line with Wade Liles! Get to work at 2 p.m., off at 1 a.m. and golf in the morning. It was the life! Not to mention, I was lucky enough to meet my wife who worked for the company.
I started our player testing and worked for the great Dr. Benoit Vincent–the smartest man I know. I was a pretty good player, and I played a bunch of USGA and national amateur events. But when I did a TV commercial, I lost my amateur status and made the decision to turn pro. I quit my job and started that journey. Our CEO wanted me to take a leavem and I said: “I need to be all-in on this.” I had two children, a mortgage, car payments and had to buy health insurance while getting through all three stages of Q School. I realized I was a better amateur than a tour pro. We had our third child, and then I got the sales rep job in San Diego. After 10 years of sales, I moved inside the building and the ran innovations department before taking over our metalwoods category when we hit our highest market share in history. I spent a few years in product creation, ran global experiential for a few years and then got the best gig in all of golf here at The Kingdom. Been here for three years, and we’re just getting started!
Puma Golf teams up with Ernie Els in support of Autism Awareness Month
April is National Autism Awareness Month, and Puma Golf has teamed up with ambassador Ernie Els in support of the Els for Autism Foundation.
Throughout April, Puma will donate a portion of every individual sale of the brand’s Ignite Pwradapt Caged shoes with the proceeds going towards the Els for Autism Foundation.
Every pair of Caged shoes sold this month will include a blue Els for Autism shoe bag and puzzle piece ribbon lapel pin – with the color blue and the puzzle pieces representing Autism Awareness.
The Els for Autism Foundation helps deliver and facilitate programs designed to serve individuals with autism spectrum disorder. You can purchase the shoes here.
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