By Zak Kozuchowski
GolfWRX Managing Editor
The 2012 PGA Merchandise Show produced enough story lines to last the rest of the year, but there were a few companies that stepped up their game this year. Here’s the GolfWRX list of the big winners from this year’s event.
TaylorMade was by far the most talked about company at this year’s PGA Merchandise Show. Products like the RocketBallz line (click here for the review) certainly helped make TaylorMade the most crowded exhibit at the show, but it was the company’s impressive show strategies that made it this year’s biggest winner.
TaylorMade’s decision to use FlightScope monitors for all of its hitting bays at demo days was a genius move. When you promise double-digit gains from a new product line, you better be able to prove it. By providing each product tested with a custom fitter, TaylorMade insured that every golfer was seeing the biggest possible distance gains. This testing process produced longer lines that other setups at demo day, but most golfers didn’t seem to mind all that much. TaylorMade offered free hotdogs and beer that made the wait easier to swallow. While golfers refueled, they could sit back on TaylorMade’s stadium bleachers and watch golf teaching legend Jim Flick explain the finer points of the golf swing.
TaylorMade continued its dominance at the Orange County Convention Center, where it had the largest presence of any company. Not only did TaylorMade have its own room at the show, it also had a VIP concert area that treated fans to a surprise Thursday night concert by George Throrogood and the Destroyers. The concert offered free food and drinks in a space that was larger than nearly every other other company’s display. Click here for pictures and discussion.
What impressed me most about TaylorMade at this year’s show, however, had nothing to do with the money the company spent on its exhibits. After a lot of negative feedback on the dull finish of the ATV wedge, TaylorMade decided to replace it with a new satin and chrome finish that is as good looking as the company’s booth babes. Click here for TaylorMade pictures and discussion. Click here for the booth babes contest.
As dominant of a force as TaylorMade is in the industry, the company proved that it’s not too big to admit a mistake, and its quick fix of the ATV wedge is a great example of why TaylorMade is on top of the industry.
Armed with 20-year-old superstar Ryo Ishikawa, the Japanese giant proved at this year’s show that they’re ready to become a major player in the U.S. The company’s large display located in the center of the show and its beautiful forged iron offerings created serious buzz from consumers. Click here for video, pictures and discussion.
Yonex’s muscle back irons are the same model played by Ishikawa, and are made of S25 Carbon Steel from the Kyoei forging house in Japan, making it one of the best looking and best feeling blades in the world. The EZONE woods lineup also offers great looks, and Yonex’s in-house designed shafts might be one of the most interesting products this year. While U.S. consumers will likely gravitate to more established shaft companies, it’s a novel idea for Yonex to have control of the entire shaft production process.
Footjoy has dominated golf footwear for decades, and this year hopes to make a big splash with a full line golf apparel. It’s performance apparel collection doesn’t include a stitch of cotton, a surprising decision from a company with such conservative roots. The company did a wonderful job of maintaining a classic look throughout the line with modern materials.
Footjoy’s XPS-1 was the most talked about golf shoe at the show, and it’s sure to be a hit in 2012.
Gary Woodland wears the shoe, which has a wide TPU designed outsole that delivers extreme stability during the golf swing. It’s offered in a variety of styles and colors, and is available in a traditional lace-up mdel, as well as in Footjoy’s BOA lacing system.
The Speedline XTD Super Fairways and Super Hybrids are going to be huge hits for Adams. I didn’t test them on a launch monitor, but I didn’t need to. They’re cannons.
My only concern is the slot on the crown, which I found to be distracting. While I would probably learn to live with the look after a while, I wonder why Adams didn’t choose a matte black finish that could better conceal the slot. On the other hand, the Mercedes silver paint does offer a terrific contrast. And I believe the slot on the crown adds an extra bit of performance and forgiveness that will give the RBZ fairways and hybrids formidable competition. Click here for video and more pictures.
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