Every year, we head to the PGA Merchandise Show in search of the latest and greatest golf gear.
This year, we spent three days scouring Demo Day at Orange County National and the inside of the Orange County Convention Center to find products that were innovative, easy to use and will help golfers shoot lower scores. While there were tons of great products by countless manufacturers, certain companies stood out from the crowd this year with shafts, accessories, equipment and training aids that will be “must haves” for serious golfers in 2013
Enjoy our list of this year’s winners from the 2013 PGA Merchandise Show. We want to congratulate UST Mamiya, CamCaddy, FlightScope, Faldo by Edel, Nike Golf, Callaway, The Golf Swing Shirt and TaylorMade-Adidas Golf for pushing themselves to create gear that we can’t wait to put in our bags in 2013.
Best of PGA Merchandise Show Winners
UST Mamiya Recoil Graphite Iron Shafts
Graphite shafts get better every year. Through better construction and materials, companies find ways to create shafts that feel and perform better for a wider range of players. At this year’s Show, UST Mamiya didn’t just bring a better shaft — the company brought one that could revolutionize the shafts golfers use in their irons.
The company’s new Recoil iron shafts use fibers that allow the walls of the shafts to be constructed thinner than graphite iron shafts of the past. This makes the shafts oval more on the downswing, which increases energy transfer. Because the fibers are denser than previous materials, Recoil shafts can also be made in weights that mimic steel — 95 grams, 110 grams and 125 grams.
According to UST, the increased energy transfer makes the Recoils fly 5 to 10 yards further than steel for many players. They’re also higher torque than most steel shafts, which gives them a better feel. And because of graphite’s ability to dampen vibrations, the Recoils will have less ouch factor during range sessions.
The shafts cost around $110 each, which will keep most golfers playing steel, but we’re betting that UST’s big push with graphite is the beginning of a change for iron shafts. When they start to hit the Tour, they’ll start to find their place in the bags of dedicated golfers.
Getting better at golf is hard. It costs time and money to go see an instructor, and working on your game by yourself is clumsy, especially when you want to see what your swing looks like.
That’s where CamCaddy comes in. CamCaddy is a simple device that helps golfers easily shoot video of their swings without the need of someone to hold the camera.
The device works by attaching to an alignment stick. All that a golfer has to do from there is bury the alignment stick in the ground and attach a smart phone to the adjustable clip, which secures the device to make shooting solo video a breeze.
Because the CamCaddy is small and lightweight, it can go everywhere golfers go. And thanks to the power of today’s smart phones, the video it shoots can be texted or emailed to a golfer’s instructor, making on-the-range feedback possible. CamCaddy will also satisfy those who prefer to dig their swings out of the dirt, giving them an up-to-the-minute progress report on their swings.
The device is already being used on Tour by players like Charles Howell III, Kevin Na and Kyle Thompson. For $30, it’s just a matter of time before you get yours.
FlightScope has made its X2 launch monitor even more powerful with its new VX2 App, which will allow golfers to view video comparison of their swings within a mobile device and see the related 3D FlightScope results in real time with the use of an Apple iOS or Android device.
FlightScope Founder Henri Johnson says that his X2 Dopplar Radar System is the most accurate in golf, an impressive claim when one considers it’s about a third of the price of similar TrackMan unit. According to Johnson, FlightScope tracks the entire flight of the golf ball from launch to landing, giving golfers real data that can help them find the right equipment and improve their technique alone or with their instructor.
FlightScope’s new Skills App makes the X2 even more desirable, allowing users to create custom games, combinations of targets and challenges that give golfers the ability to analyze their consistency under pressure.
The VX2 and Skills apps work in conjunction with FlightScope’s website, myflightscope.com, which allows Skills app users to track their progress, compete with friends and compare their data with users across the globe.
Dave Edel knew what would happen when he partnered with six-time major champion Nick Faldo for a line of customizable irons and putters — golfers would flock to his booth to see the clubs that Faldo helped design.
That’s why he tried to get a bigger booth at the 2013 PGA Merchandise show, but it was too late — all the bigger ones were already reserved.
Looking back, it might not have been so bad to be in the smaller space. Golfers who walked by the Faldo by Edel booth had to wonder what was going on.
Those who wandered through the pack, which spilled over into neighboring booths, saw some of the most beautiful irons, wedges and putters in golf — clubs that were made by Edel himself to exacting standards, just like the fly fishing reels and fine watches the PGA Professional makes by hand.
Like Edel’s previous irons, the Faldo by Edel irons fit golfers for a particular grind, offset, shaft and grip that gives a golfer the best chance to hit it close. Golfers can also choose three toe shapes and leading edge styles, as well as two different top line thicknesses.
“Hogan used to talk about building a club from that ground up,” Edel said. “That’s exactly what we’re doing.”
With the putters, golfers are fit for one of three head shapes, which are available with different weights, neck styles, alignment aids, shafts and grips that will help them get the ball started on the right line with the right pace.
Nike has made it a habit of bringing famous Nike athletes to the PGA Show to showcase its new products. The problem was, the athletes were usually a bigger attraction than the new product. This year, Nike’s VR_S Covert driver was one of the stories of the show, bringing in huge crowds to Demo Day to hit the shiny red big sticks.
The fact that the VR_S Covert is being played by all five of Nike’s 2013 signings — Rory McIlroy, Kyle Stanley, Nick Watney, Thorbjorn Olesen and Seung Nul Yoh — gave the driver street cred. And the golf ball-sized chunk of mass missing from the sole of the club makes it different in a way that’s super cool.
Of all the major club manufacturers, Nike had the smallest booth at the Orange County Convention Center — a small, walled-in structure that actually functioned to keep the buzz out. But even with that hiccup, the company made a major step forward in 2013, getting golfers excited about hitting one of its clubs, which hasn’t happened in years.
Callaway is not the same company it was last year.
And it’s not just the products that are new and different — it’s the energy that surrounds the brand.
Callaway made a statement at the PGA Merchandise show with its Social Wall, a mammoth display that featured praise from various golf websites and Twitter about its new product. On the wall, Average Joes gushed about the company’s latest gear — products like the Razr Fit Extreme Driver, the X Hot and X Hot Pro fairway woods and the company’s new irons and Versa putters.
Under new CEO Chip Brewer’s leadership, Callaway is finally headed in the right direction, creating products that give golfers the total package — feel, performance, playability and good looks. The only new product where Callaway didn’t make a splash was with wedges, where it has yet to introduce a new model in 2013. We wonder what Brewer and the team have in store for us there.
If the PGA Merchandise Show was any indication, Callaway is listening closely to what golfers want. If the company can pair those lists with even better performance, expect Callaway to start gaining back some of the marketshare they lost in recent years.
The modern batch of swing trainers rely on smartphone-generated data to help golfers improve their technique.
These devices are a good thing, because numbers don’t lie. But the problem with numbers is that they don’t provide golfers with any feel, which is extremely important to a golfer who learning a new move.
At around $50, the swing shirt is much cheaper than the new high-tech swing trainings, and it provides instinctive feedback on what it feels like to stay connected during the golf swing.
At Demo Day, golfers jumped at the chance to try on The Golf Swing Shirt, which has a single sleeve hanging from slightly below chest level. To use it, all golfers had to do was insert both arms through the sleeve and start swinging. The shirt keeps a golfers hands, arms, shoulders and core moving in unison, giving golfers the connected feeling that is taught by many PGA Professionals such as endorser Jimmy Ballard.
TaylorMade-Adidas’ presence at the 2013 PGA Merchandise Show proved that the brand has no plans of leaving its current No. 1 spot. While the company’s claims of increased distance are getting old, TaylorMade continues to improve its products with more technology, more adjustability and more pizazz.
Just like in previous years, TaylorMade’s new metalwoods were one of the biggest hits of the Show. The R1 was a must hit for most golfers, as were the RocketBallz Stage 2 drivers, fairway woods and hybrids. And even though the company’s RocketBladez irons hit shelves in December, golfers were still buzzing about how high and far they could hit them.
Inside the Orange County Convention Center, TaylorMade brought the “wow” factor with its own private room — an open-concept display that showcased its other new products — the “Lethal” golf ball and Adizero golf shoe — in museum fashion.
For golfers who wanted to flex their golf muscles, TaylorMade provided an indoor range and putting green. And there were plenty of opportunities to relax with a complimentary beverage (some might say Kool Aid) on one of the room’s comfy modern-style couches and bar, where LPGA star Natalie Gulbis dropped by to chat with company executive Sean Toulon.
As much as gear heads like to hate TaylorMade for its extravagance, it had the best booth at the 2013 PGA Merchandise Show by a landslide. Even more importantly, the company brought along improved products in every category with one exceptions — wedges. Like Callaway’s wedge exclusion, we’re wondering what’s next.
See what GolfWRX Members are saying about Mizuno’s new ST-180 driver
Mizuno has recently released a new ST-180 driver that we spotted on Tour at the 2017 RSM Classic. The company’s “wave sole” technology makes an appearance for the first time in a Mizuno driver; the design is used to push weight low and forward to reduce spin rates, and the construction contracts and expands during impact to increase energy into the golf ball. The result is a lower-spinning driver, especially for those who hit down on the golf ball, and increased ball speeds across the face.
The ST-180 drivers have a new Forged SP700 Titanium face insert that allows the faces to be made thinner — saving weight from the face while increasing ball speeds — and they feature what the company calls a “Internal Waffle Crown” that saves weight to help shift CG (center of gravity) low and forward in the head.
There’s a slew of custom shafts available for no upcharge. The stock grip is Golf Pride’s M31 360, and the drivers are selling for $399.99, available in stores now.
Note: The posts below have been minimally edited for grammar and brevity.
GolfWRX Members comment on the new Mizuno ST-180 driver
TeeGolf: I’ve seen the ST180 driver [in person] and it looks like it sits perfectly square to me. And this is coming from someone who has been playing a Titleist driver set 1-degree open for the past 3 years. It doesn’t look closed at all.
trhode: I’ve been playing the M2 all year. In comparison at address, the ST is very closed. I had 3 customers look at it yesterday too and they all had the same reaction: closed. That being said, I did play 18 on the simulator and hit some monster drives. The head, with the Raijin shaft, seems to be just a little lower spin than my TaylorMade M2. The blue finish doesn’t bother me either.
akjell: Hit this yesterday at the Mizuno demo day yesterday at Eagle Ridge in Gilroy, CA. Far from a hook machine but definitely a bomber. The Mizuno’s reps put me in a Mitsubishi Tensei White 70X and I could hit this this driver on a string possibly a bit better than my M1. Of the Mizuno drivers of late, this has to be the best one.
odshot68: Ordering it today. Was fit and played a round with it. Optimal launch and spin. Tensei Blue 70x at 9.5 degrees. This is definitely not left bias; first Mizzy driver ever.
nmorton: Hit this today and it’s going in the bag. Just a classic head shape that suits my eye. Been messing around with a number of drivers over the past year and haven’t singled one out. Last long term driver I had was the 850. The ST checks all of the boxes for me…looks great down by the ball, sounds solid and performs as good as any other. What really sold me was how well slight mis-hits performed. I had the 12.5 dialed down so it definitely sat open a bit. Didn’t hit the fairway but it looks sharp as well.
evoviiiyou: Had a chance to test the driver with a couple shafts last night. The head is definitely deeper than the JPX900 and the footprint seems bigger from he set up position, very confidence inspiring like the JPX900 but a little improved. Finish and graphics are very similar to the 900 which is very nice if you like the satin Mizuno blue and I do love it just like the satin black I recently had done to my JPX driver and 3 metal.
regiwstruk: My current gamer is a Titleist 917D3, and this is definitely replacing that. I used a JPX 900 from November 2016 through June 2017 — biggest differences are the sound and that the distance is up there with at least one of the leaders in the market. Anxious to see how it does on the course!
Paul065: It is high launch, low spin yes but I wouldn’t say it was targeted at the average golfer. It’s basically their version of Callaway Epic Sub Zero. Rory used the Sub Zero.
Tommyj: I went down to Carls yesterday specifically to look at the ST180. I’ve read some comments that the face looks closed. When I picked it up it was in the 10.5D position and did look slightly closed but then looked perfectly square at 9.5D and also square at 10.5D which seemed sort of odd. The shape is not for me, I had a Cobra F6 and while the ST180 footprint isn’t that big its still substantial. I like blue on drivers and the ST180 has a real quality look to it with the matte finish, having said that I’m not sure I’d want to be looking at that shade of blue all the time. The sound was an absolute killer for me, it was completely unexpected because I always associate Mizuno with being traditional and understated… ST180 launch was lower than G400 in the neutral setting, about the same when I lofted the Ping down. ST180 was noticeably lower than D2. Longest driver of the three was G400, followed by ST180 then D2. For me the ST180 had the widest dispersion with G400 being the most accurate (by a wide margin).
Discussion: Read more comments about the ST-180 driver here
Spotted: Justin Rose is testing a new TaylorMade “Hi-Toe” wedge
On Twitter today, Justin Rose posted a photo of a never-before-seen TaylorMade “Hi-Toe” 60-degree wedge. As the name suggests, it appears the toe portion is raised; we’ve seen this high-toe design from other manufacturers, and the benefits of those designs included increasing face area on open-faced shots, and shifting CG (center of gravity) to where it’s more beneficial for wedge play (likely higher for more spin and a lower flight).
— Justin Rose (@JustinRose99) November 15, 2017
The wedge is also stamped with “MG” to suggest it’s a “milled grind” wedge, much like TaylorMade’s popular wedge line that’s in stores now. There also appears to be slots behind the face, likely to also shift CG to where it’s deemed more beneficial.
Talks of a TaylorMade wedge with a high-toe design were actually started by Dustin Johnson a few weeks ago in a press conference. His full comments on that wedge are above, and you can join the discussion about the wedge in our forums.
GolfWRX Exclusive: Patton Kizzire speaks on first PGA Tour win, WITB, new 718 irons
Patton Kizzire nabbed his maiden PGA Tour win at last week’s OHL Classic, outlasting a late charge from Rickie Fowler. He raised his first Trophy with a bag full of Titleist equipment and a Titleist ProV1x.
Following the event, our Andrew Tursky had a revealing chat with Patton about the win and the clubs he used to do it.
GolfWRX: When you’re leading down the stretch, are you leaderboard watching? Does a big name like Rickie Fowler chasing you have any effect on your mentality/gameplan?
Patton Kizzire: For most of the tournament, I try not to look at the leaderboard. I took a long look on 15…and I just wanted to make sure nobody was ahead of Rickie and closer to me, and I just went from there.
GolfWRX: Do you get defensive or less aggressive down the stretch? Are you aiming away from pins, or are you ‘head down, keep it going’?
PK: It’s all situational. On difficult holes, maybe [I] play a bit more conservatively. I certainly wasn’t willing to take any chances with a three-stroke lead. I was playing the percentages. I maybe didn’t hit the best shots of the tournament there toward the end. The beginning of the back nine — 12, 13, 14 — were not my best tee shots. But I certainly wasn’t trying to play defensive. I was trying to play aggressively to conservative targets.
GolfWRX: Were there a lot of nerves coming home down the stretch?
PK: It was a little nerve wracking, but it wasn’t my first time in contention. I was able to draw on some of my near-misses, especially the Safeway Open last year. I was in a very similar spot on the weekend on Sunday, and I didn’t get it done, but I was able to look back at that and learn a little bit.
GolfWRX: It looks like you don’t do a whole lot of switching. You’ve still got a 913 Hybrid in the bag and a putter that’s been in the bag for years, too. What does your testing process look like when Titleist comes out with new equipment?
PK: Titleist has been really consistent for me since I was 15…I’ve played Titleist equipment almost exclusively since I was 15 or so. Every year it seems they come out with something new, and I have so much trust in it. It’s a pretty seamless transition. I don’t switch much. I try to put the new irons in play, the new driver, the new woods.
But something like a hybrid, you kind of have a club you fall in love with over the years, and I’ve been a little bit hesitant to switch that. The new balls, the new woods, the new irons are pretty easy for me to get into. And the Vokey team…have done such a great job with wedges”
And I have to mention the putter. The Scotty Cameron GoLo putter has been in my bag for about five years. And I owe a lot of my success to putting.
GolfWRX: Do you ever look to switch out your putter, or do you just kind of love that one and it works for you?
PK: I’ve toyed around with other putters here and there, but I always go right back to the GoLo. For whatever reason, maybe because I’ve used it so long, it just seems like what a putter should be. I feel really comfortable with it. I always gravitate back to the GoLo.
GolfWRX: What makes the wedges a good fit for you?
PK: The way they go through the turf. I like to have a strong leading edge to go through the turf. And the lob wedge needs to perform well around the greens and in the bunker. I’ve really been hitting my bunker shots well with my new 60 degree. I have different versions of the same wedges. Aaron [Dill] does great work in the truck. He kind of tweaks it here and there for me, and they perform like expect them to.
GolfWRX: How often do you switch out wedges?
PK: I get a new 60 degree the most…every four or five tournaments. New 56 and 52 every six to eight tournaments. I try to keep that 60 degree sharp. If we get to a course with firm greens and my wedge doesn’t have the bite that I want it to have, I’ll definitely give the Titleist guys a call.
GolfWRX: What kind of grind do you have on that 60?
PK: We call it the “Dufner grind.” I saw Jason Dufner had one like that about a year ago, and I told Aaron, “I want one like that.” I don’t know what the grind is, but it’s really good for me. [Note: The grind is a modified K grind.]
GolfWRX: One last question… How do the 718 irons look and feel different than the 716 irons?
PK: They don’t look a whole lot different. They’ve been holding their flight better in the wind. I’m able to get the long irons up in the air a little bit. That’s something I look for, being able to control the trajectory. I kind of imagine the shots that I want to hit, and the 718s are coming out on the flight that I want them to.
The good folks in New Bedford, Massachusetts, were kind enough to furnish us with some details about Kizzire’s setup.
Titleist tells us Kizzire switched to from the 915D4 driver to the 917D3 the first week it was available at the Quicken Loans National last year. He switched to the 718 irons to start the 2017-18 season at the Safeway. After missing the cut at in Napa, he has finished T10 (Sanderson Farms), 4th (Shriners Hospitals Open for Children) and then won the OHL Classic.
Titleist Tour Rep J.J. Van Wezenbeeck had this to say about working with Kizzire.
“Patton likes traditional look throughout his bag but needs vertical help with his angle of attack. A 10.5 degree 917D3 helps him with launch but still controls his swing. The shaft is based on a platform he had success with us early in his career and he really loves the feel.”
“The 917 F2 was a perfect fit for Patton early on. He loved the ball speed and having a 16.5 allows him get great launch out of a club he has had trouble with in the past. Titleist Tour Rep Jim Curran worked extensively on finding him a shaft that felt good, was the proper weight, and yet still launched the way Patton wanted. Tour Blue 95 fit the bill – and Patton has been in it for a year.”
“Patton loves the look of traditional irons and the 718 MB fit the bill for his look and his desire to control flight. Now, as he moves up through his bag, he has multiple options in 718 which really helps his game. He moves to 718 CB at his 5 and 6 irons, and then carries the 718 T-MB at 4-iron which helps gapping and ball flight at the top of his set.”
Vokey Design Wedge rep Aaron Dill regarding Patton’s wedges:
“Patton has a old school approach to wedge selection. When he finds a wedge he likes he will rarely make a switch. He doesn’t blame the wedge for poor or mishit shots. His technique is smooth and accurate with mid to high ball flight. His 52 and 56-degree wedges have been in the bag for a while now, and his 60 has changed a little keeping the width but changing the bounce angle for conditions. He likes an old school look which is why we add offset to his 60.”
Kelley Moser on Kizzire’s Cameron GoLo:
“Patton has been using a Scotty Cameron GoLo model since his mini tour days. The one he is currently using was a backup that was made for him when he first earned his PGA TOUR card. He had a stock shaft and silver head version that he used for a long time, but he wanted to shake it up a little so we made him one with a black shaft and a dark finish. He loved it and after his victory said he’s pretty sure this one is in the bag permanently.”
Many thanks to Patton for the talk and the folks at Titleist for sharing some insights on the newly minted PGA Tour winner’s WITB.
You can see Kizzire’s full WITB here.
TaylorMade and Sergio Garcia part ways after 15 years… where to next?
Check out Tiger’s new golf swing and prototype “TGR” blade irons
Return of the K Sig: Costco’s Kirkland Signature golf ball is back
Spotted: A TaylorMade “M4” driver (via Instagram)
Costco “K Sig” golf ball buyers, don’t forget who you’re hurting
Match of the Ages: 30 Years of Tech Goes Head to Head
Callaway (finally) launches new Apex MB and X Forged irons
Former employee at “The Oven” confirms Nike made Tiger’s TGR blade irons
GolfWRX Members Vote: “Which manufacturer made Tiger’s TGR prototype irons?”
See what GolfWRX members are saying about Titleist’s new AVX golf balls
Billy Horschel, Brandel Chamblee battle on Twitter re: Tiger’s swing
Yes, friends, Billy Horschel and Brandel Chamblee traded barbs on Twitter. And while the specific issue, Tiger Woods’ swing, gets...
Who’s the best golfer without a major right now?
In this week’s episode of “Yo, GolfWRX?!” equipment expert Brian Knudson and Editor Andrew Tursky cover a wide variety of...
Sergio Garcia is playing Callaway equipment, but he’s not a staffer (yet)
As we reported last month, Sergio Garcia and TaylorMade ended their 15-year relationship. And as the GolfWRX forums have been...
Tiger Woods is hitting it past Rickie Fowler in practice, people are predictably going nuts
Golf.com’s Dylan Dethier tossed this Tiger Woods-related birdseed into the Twitterverse, and boy are the tweeters feeding. Rickie Fowler, who...
Equipment1 week ago
Spotted: A TaylorMade “M4” driver (via Instagram)
Opinion & Analysis2 weeks ago
Match of the Ages: 30 Years of Tech Goes Head to Head
Opinion & Analysis2 weeks ago
See what GolfWRX members are saying about Titleist’s new AVX golf balls
Opinion & Analysis1 week ago
Hybrids or Long Irons? A Teacher’s Perspective
Equipment3 weeks ago
Spotted: Titleist’s new Vokey SM7 wedges
pga tour3 weeks ago
Justin Rose’s Winning WITB: 2017 WGC-HSBC Champions
19th Hole1 week ago
Tiger Woods: I can’t go back to my 2000 swing, so stop asking me to
News3 weeks ago
Carl’s Golfland opens new TrackMan Range, entire range equipped with TrackMan