Just as many golfers have turned to fitness as a way of improving their games in recent years, many fitness products have started popping up at the annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. We hoofed it up and down the 2.1 million square feet of the Orlando Convention Center--well, maybe not all of it--looking for the coolest new products that fitness-oriented golfer should have. There was a lot to look at, but we narrowed it down to six of our favorites.
These products will either make you a better player, or help you feel better when you play:
Nuun Hydration Tablets ($24 for four packs of 12 tablets)
Whether you're playing 18 holes on a hot, humid day or on a freezing, windy day, many golfers underestimate the importance of hydration for maintaining mental focus. As we've said many times before, sports drinks are a sham. (Related article: Fitness Friday: Are Sports Drinks a Sham?) But if you find it difficult to drink enough water, Nuun tablets will solve your hydration deficiencies. Each tablet has zero grams of sugar (they're sweetened with Stevia), less than eight calories, and essential electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and calcium. If you're not crazy about drinking electrolytes, try Nuun's new All Day tablets, which instead offer a blend of A, B, C, D and E vitamins. For the past couple of years, I've kept a pack of Nuun tablets in my gym bag. And now I'll keep a pack of All Day Nuun in my golf bag. --Ashley
SpeedFlex Pro Sticks ($90)
As a junior golfer, I took about a dozen lessons with Bob Toski. Today, the 86-year-old consistently shoots lower than age. One reason? For decades, he's made it a daily habit to grab a couple of light dumbbells and swing them back and forth. He told me this is his quick and easy way to build his golf muscles. SpeedFlex Pro sticks achieve a similar result, but offer the added benefit of being shaped like a golf shaft. They're available in three lengths (43.5, 44.5 and 45.5 inches) and weigh three to four pounds. Once you swing them back and forth 15 or 20 times, you'll feel the activation of those "golf muscles" (ie, the muscles in your back and core) and you'll increase flexibility in much-needed areas. --Ashley
Getting a massage every time you endure an ache or pain would be much too costly, both money-wise and time-wise. That's why self-massage is important. We've written about foam rollers before (Read article: Self-Massage: Roll Away Your Pain), but if you need something more intense, the Rumble Roller might be exactly what you need. Made in firm and extra-firm versions, the roller, which comes in two sizes, features a plethora of asymmetrical spikes that really penetrate muscles to break up tension. Use it every day to prevent injury. --Ashley
Trigger Point's Cold Roller ($100)
Speaking of tight muscles, another way to cure them is with massage AND ice. For those of you who have chronic and painful aches (IT band syndrome, sore calves, plantar fasciitis, etc.), Trigger Point's Cold Roller ($110) could be even better than a standard foam roller. The steel cylinder is filled with gel and, after you leave it in the freezer for a few hours, combines the benefits of ice with self-massage, numbing then relieving muscles. --Ashley
Gladiator Balm ($12.95)
Golfers suffering from aches and pains often carry around a tub of Icy Hot or Bengay for immediate relief. The problem? It's often a one-and-done use if you keep them in your golf bag. They melt too easily. Gladiator Balm, debuting its product nationally this week at the PGA Show, guarantees it won't melt at high temperatures. And it offers the relief of an all-natural Nettle plant, used by ancient Roman Gladiators to recover after battles. "Nettles are a super herb," explained David Gin, one of the developers of Gladiator Balm. "We used the plant used back in the day by the gladiators, and put it into an extract that's our secret ingredient that's organic and is the regulated size to carry on an airplane." Coming in a chap stick-looking tube, Gladiator Balm doesn't give off a smell like other products either. Simply apply it to the area you're aching, and the anti-inflammatory will increase blood flow, reduce swelling in muscles and help in joint pain relief. --Steve
Smart Body Golf Performance Pack ($199)
This super portable kit offers a great way to improve balance and the proper sequencing of the swing on the go. First made popular in 2005 with the Golf Swing Ball endorsed by Ernie Els, Smart Body Golf's Performance pack includes a pair of leverage discs for better balance and tempo as you swing, a cross-handle group of bands to improve shoulder turn and body rotation, and their Swing Ball Pro, which targets the core muscles to help rotational strength in the swing. Lightweight and easy to transport, it's great for a quick five-minute warm up before your round, or to take with you on a business trip. --Steve
Ashley Mayo is an associate editor at Golf Digest.
Steve Hennessey is an assistant editor at Golf Digest.