ORLANDO — The 2019 PGA Merchandise Show, golf's yearly feast of golf products of all shapes and sizes, is upon us, showcasing the latest innovations in our industry—from clubs, to swing aids, to apparel, to gadgets, to … well just about anything. After combing the range at Orange County National on Tuesday, Golf Digest editors are on the floor of the Orange County Convention Center Wednesday through Friday for the freshest and most intriguing new products that golfers should know about. We'll update as the week rolls on, so check back to see what we've surfaced.
Mobile massages made possible by Lenny Dykstra's son
The Theragun G3Pro looks like a cordless drill but behaves like a jack hammer. "Percussive therapy" is another name for the type of massage it delivers with various attachments. Cutter Dykstra, son the famous baseball player, leads the company and was running the booth at the PGA Show floor.
The ultimate indulgence is when he directs one of his helpers to hold two against your back simultaneously, but at $599 per unit, more likely is you'll buy one and self-administer. Cutter says the product is gaining popularity among athletes across other sports, but he's taking orders this week from golf pro shops. The battery lasts 75 minutes per charge and the motor delivers 60 lbs. of pressure. Which is more than enough if you've been walking the halls of the Orlando County Convention Center in wingtips, and probably enough if you've just played 36 holes in soft spikes. —Max Adler
Global Golf's "U-try" program offers golfers an opportunity to try clubs before they buy
You desperately want to try a new driver or fairway wood or perhaps even a full set of irons, but you know your local golf shop isn’t going to give you a driver without putting impact tape on it and they probably want it back before the shop closes. They’re also sure as heck not giving you a full set of irons fit to your specs to try. Enter Global Golf with its Try Before You Buy program.
The program was still in the planning stages at last year’s PGA Merchandise Show but has since been rolled out. Here’s how it works. Go to the “Try” area of Global Golf’s website and select whether you want to try a driver, fairway wood, driver or iron set. Up will come the available models and options for shaft, etc. A single club is $25 and an iron set is $100 and you get to try it for a full two weeks. After two weeks you can either purchase or return the clubs (the company picks up the shipping and sends a label along with the box it came in to make it easy). If you elect to purchase the club, your trial amount is deducted from the price—plus you’re keeping the actual club and not having to wait for an order to be filled.
“We’re trying to establish 'U-try' as a true brand,” said Ed Byman, founder and CEO of Global Golf. “We send new clubs out every time and there is a good menu of loft, shaft and lie angle options to choose from. Plus you get to try these clubs at your convenience on your home course and compare it to your current clubs.”
Byman noted that about 40 percent of those trying clubs end up purchasing them and the rate is slightly higher for iron sets than single woods. Clubs hit that are returned go into the company’s used-club inventory. Global Golf is an industry leader in the sales of used clubs as well as in the area of taking in trade-ins from golfers, something every golfer who has clubs gathering dust in their garage or downstairs should be keenly aware of. --E. Michael Johnson
These shoes come in something way better than a cardboard box
The golf shoe company True Linkswear, whose creative director is Jason Moore -- PGA Tour pro Ryan Moore’s brother -- won’t be delivering their shoes in boxes anymore. Instead, shoes will arrive in this reusable bag:
Once you take your shoes out, you can use the bag as a shoe bag, a shag bag for all of your practice balls, or put it in your cart and use it to hold your beers. No judgement.
True Linkswear shoes range in price from $130-$180. -- K.L.
Putter Upgrade: U.S. Kids reveals new putter line
The team at U.S. Kids has added a new club line to their offerings: putters made in a collaboration with former PGA Tour player Kenny Knox. With 93 putts, Knox’s record for fewest putts in a 72-hole PGA Tour event still stands. He’s taken his putting expertise and put it into the mallet and blade putter offerings sized for young players.
The heads are carbon steel, there are three different hosel designs, and the putters are custom fit for top junior players. The putters feature U.S. Kids Golf’s variable loft technology, which is designed to help putts come off the face consistently -- even ones that aren’t struck dead-center. The putters will be available at retail for $200. -- K.L.
New smartphone, GPS devices from GolfBuddy part of complete relaunch with GolfZon acquisition
A recent acquisition of GolfBuddy by GolfZon has led to a complete rebranding and relaunching of GolfBuddy’s GPS and accessory offerings. Perhaps most impressive is the company’s partnership with Samsung, leading to an impressive smartwatch offering to be released toward the end of 2019. The Samsung Watch by GolfBuddy ($400-450 retail) comes with an extensive green-mapping display, showcasing range of undulation—features also available in GolfBuddy’s new products, the V10 (a refined version of its existing basic product); the W10; and the H10, a handheld, five-inch tablet-like device that allows casting to a smartwatch, tablet or phone). All of which would be impressive on its own, but the company hopes its smartwatch becomes the industry standard for what’s available on watches. For those who own a Samsung smartwatch, a GolfBuddy app can be downloaded for $100 (flat, one-time fee). —Stephen Hennessey
A highly mobile hitting net for training on the go
The Quick-up Range is a highly mobile training net that folds up in less than a minute, allowing golfers to bring their practice with them anywhere. It’s one of the more innovative products we’ve seen at the PGA Show. The Atlanta-based company has developed the product over the past four years, refining its design to make it more resilient before showing it to customers for the first time here in Orlando. Here’s a quick video of how it works.
Samples brought by the company to Orlando sold out in two hours, but the company will sell its two products—a smaller size with a chipping net included, or its "deluxe" version, which folds out to about 40 feet wide—to the general market this year. Suggested retail is $200-300. —SH
Learning in motion: the Guided Knowledge smart suit
Contact with your golf coach at your convenience. That's the pitch of Guided Knowledge's smart suit, which is a base-layer garment embedded with sensors that measure swing speed, angle and direction at a range of 1,000 samples per second.
The motion system also allows analyzes a player's biomechanical movement patterns, all of which is transmitted to an algorithm to breakdown a golfer's performance. The information can be sent to your coach, as well as stored in the Cloud for reference at any future point. On Thursday it was awarded the United Investor's Association's Pinnacle Award for best in show. —Joel Beall
Stop wrestling with your push cart
While push carts continue to make inroads both technologically and socially as a better way to experience a walking round of golf, unpacking your push cart can be as cumbersome and unwieldy as packing up your baby stroller on a jet bridge just as the boarding door is about to close.
Bag Boy’s new Nitron push cart is taking the erector set approach of most push cart assembly mechanisms and juicing it up through the use of a nitrogen-powered opening system that automatically allows the cart to spring open from a folded position in two nearly instantaneous steps. The three-wheeled design’s front wheel instantly pops out, allowing the user to easily unfold the handle. The cart folds back to barely the size of its back wheels in just as simple a two-step process. The idea for the spring-loaded system grew from Bag Boy’s parent company Dynamic Brands, which once owned the Baby Jogger brand and its easy-folding baby strollers.
The full-featured cart includes a beverage holder, umbrella holder, storage bag and handle-mounted parking brake. The Nitron push cart ($250) will be available starting April 25.—Mike Stachura
Reducing Single Use Plastic: Lynx Golf
New golf clubs come covered in plastic. Plastic shrink around the grip and head, the plastic bubble wrap around heads, and even plastic tape. The British golf club company Lynx took note of the amount of plastic waste they were generating and decided to come up with a different solution. They’ve started using greener methods of keeping clubs safe during travel: biodegradable paper. -K.L.
The mobile simulator: PhiGolf
Owning a simulator is a dream for golfers. It’s also a pricy dream, with most costing in the $40,000 range. But those on a budget don’t have to be denied the pleasures of such an experience thanks to PhiGolf.
PhiGolf is a smart stick that serves as the golf club, capable of connecting to a smartphone or TV. Golfers can not just use this for entertainment (there are several game modes, including 18 holes, match play, driving range or closest-to-the-pin), but the stick also provides data and analysis of your swing and stroke. All which can be yours for $249. —JB
Smart Shoes: Salted Shoe Company
Balance plate technology has become popular amongst teaching pros -- the mats that you stand on when you hit balls that measure how your weight moves during your swing. The team at Korean-based Salted Shoes Company has taken that idea and shrunk it to fit in your golf shoes. Pair the shoes with the app on your phone, and you’ll see a readout of how your weight moved during the swing, allowing you to see what changes you need to make in how you shift your weight. The shoes retail for $360. —Keely Levins
The “Tinder” of Golf: FourballApp
Tired of playing golf solo, or perhaps you need one more to round out your foursome? Fourball is a network created to help get local golfers connected.
Using the same interface seen on dating apps like Tinder, players can swipe left to play through or right to connect with people in your area! Once you swipe they will be notified immediately and respond. You can refine your search based on gender, age, handicap and distance to find the ideal partner for your round. And if you have a work or vacation on the horizon, you are able to search in advance. The Fourball app launches at the PGA Show on Thursday. -- Joel Beall
The sunglasses that capture your swing: Live View Sports
There are countless products that help a golfer film their swing. Few, however, have the ability to capture and diagnose the swing through sunglasses.
Using motion anchor points, SwingMap's Live View Sports glasses capture a golfer's swing and send the analysis to an app on your phone. The package also comes with additional cameras and sensors you can position behind or on the side during practice to get a full view of what you're doing right—or wrong. The LVS is patent pending. —JB
Bushnell introduces its first rangefinder to 'predict the elements'
Accurately—better yet, precisely measuring temperature and altitude in calculating yardages to is a useful tool for any serious golfer. Being exact with how current conditions will influence your shots is what every PGA Tour-level player seeks. Bushnell’s Pro XE, the company’s latest laser rangefinder, uses internal sensors to gauge temperature and adjusted altitude, along with a refined ‘Slope’ algorithm.
Of course, these features are non-conforming for competitions, so the device offers a switch to turn off slope capabilities. The Pro XE also includes the company’s new PinSeeker with Jolt technology, enhancing a user’s confidence they have locked in on the flag with a red ring that flashes upon accurate measurement. All of this, plus enhanced magnification (up to 7 times) makes the Bushnell Pro XE, being introduced to golfers for the first time this week, the company's most complete laser rangefinder. It will be available at retail in mid-March ($550). —SH
A new, fun way to get kids into golf: The Stadium Concept
For parents searching for a conduit to get their kids into the game, the Stadium Concept training program could be the answer to their prayers. The Stadium is part golf course, part obstacle course:
The golf portion involves a complete short game practice area and a net/bull’s eye to allow participants to take full swings, all set on synthetic turf. Where the Stadium differs itself from other training aids is that the program incorporates non-golf exercises—imagine a layout seen in “American Gladiators"—to not only keep kids entertained but that are scientifically designed to improve hand/eye coordination, spatial awareness and cognitive function. Your young ones will get a memorable introduction into golf, all while receiving the proper challenges for a healthier lifestyle of mind and body. —Joel Beall
A new electric motorbike from one of golf's most well-respected bag companies: Sun Mountain's FinnCycle
You’ve seen motorized push carts, and the golf surfboard, and probably even a golf bike, but now Sun Mountain is introducing the FinnCycle: an electric motorbike.
It tops out at 15 miles per hour, the same speed that a golf cart travels. Your clubs are held in place in the middle of the bike with supports and straps. It will fit pretty much any bag other than a staff bag; Sun Mountain’s biggest cart bag fits. Rest your feet on the footbeds, and control your speed with a small thumb lever on the right handlebar. Both the right and left handlebars have breaks, and there’s kickstand to keep the bike upright while you’re hitting.
Besides being fun to ride around on, FinnCycle’s benefits extend to pace of play. In testing, the team at Sun Mountain found it easy to play 18 holes in under two hours. Obviously, that’s reliant on not having to wait on play in front of you. Right now, it’s not available for individual consumers to buy. They’re selling to golf courses as rental fleets. -- Keely Levins
A simple training aid that makes a lot of sense: Pendulum Pro
The PGA Merchandise Show is riddled with new training aids, alignment tools and gadgets that claim to be the end-all-be-all for golfers looking for improvement. A new product launching Tuesday at Demo Day seems so simple it could be the fix for many golfers. The Pendulum Pro is a device aiming to train the proper takeaway and path for putting, chipping and full-swing motions.
The padded, adjustable strap is designed to wrap around your upper back and shoulders, setting up the reverse-triangle setup. By design, the device will give you feedback if you hinge your wrists too early on the full swing or chipping, and it’ll let you know if you’re taking your putter too much on the inside or outside in your stroke. Simple yes—and that seems to be the idea. The product, which golfers are seeing for the first time Tuesday, can be pre-ordered for $197 on the company’s website. —SH
A simple way to recognize our swing faults: Strike Spray
Face impact is imperative to understanding your iron game, and where you want your iron game to go. Though launch monitors and simulators can help in this pursuit, the truth is not all golfers have the resources to tap into such technologies. But most can afford $30 for three cans of Strike Spray.
This product spritzes a substance on the face of your golf club, allowing you to see precisely where you make contact on every shot, and won't leave a permanent mark on your club or ball. As off-center strikes are the No. 1 cause for amateurs losing distance, by illustrating the pattern of your misses, you can get to the root of your swing problems and begin to get your game back on track. -- JB
Finally, providing video of our hole-in-ones
Ever make a hole-in-one, or know someone who has? Do they have footage of that moment? Probably not. Photos of the aftermath, sure, but not the swing or the ball rolling in. As part of the SKYiGOLF system, which was just launched in October, the company offers a designated hole to have video captured on the tee and the green of every group that plays through—meaning that if a golfer on that hole aces the hole, they have the footage to last a lifetime.
The feature is just one component of the company’s services and solutions offering up to facilities and their PGA pros. Essentially, SKYiGOLF is meant to provide advisory services, technology and events to run a more efficient operation. Partnering with On-Pin for GPS technology and foreUP for cloud-based management allows facilities to make operations as efficient as can be. For golfers, the hole-in-one component is especially intriguing, as are the company’s rewards program to incentivize golfers to return to earn points for discounted greens fees and merchandise. The company is also offering events, such as a global scramble championship, and monthly regional sweepstakes, to encourage repeat business. At a time when every industry is attempting to become as efficient as possible, SKYiGOLF seems like it will attract the type of golf facility that has some modernizing to do. Perhaps the cherry on top? If a golfer makes a hole-in-one on the designated hole where the company's software is, the golfer will receive $10,000. As if making an ace couldn't get any better. ... The company also signed Paula Creamer as an ambassador, who will wear the company’s logo on her hat this year. Click here for more. --SH
Ferdinand Rivera/courtesy of SkyiGolf
The latest in counterbalancing—with a twist: Switch Grips
Counterbalancing putters has been a hot topic in putting over the past several seasons, especially with the enactment of the anchor ban. The idea is to shift the balance point higher in the putter by putting more weight into your hands when you putt. The goal being to improve control. Switch Grips sells putter grips that have a weight port at the end of the grip. You can screw in any of three weights: 8 grams, 14 grams, or 20 grams to find the weight that’s right for you. The Player putter grip with the full set of weights is $40.
Switch Grips also makes grips for your whole set. Counterbalancing through the bag isn’t unheard of, tour players have done it, including Jack Nicklaus and Sergio Garcia. If you’re curious to see if counterbalancing could help your game, the full-set grips have the same weight port as the putter grips. There’s also a 2-gram placeholder weight, to give you the option of not counterbalancing if you end up not liking the feel. --KL
One of the best ways we can imagine practicing your short game
When you’re practicing your short game, how often are you giving yourself good, flat lies? Probably pretty close to all the time. The problem with that is when you get out on the course, you’re going to face plenty of uneven lies. It’s that issue that Tough Lie 360 is combating with their short game practice tool.
The turf is at an 8-degree angle, and can be spun around to give you uphill, downhill, and sidehill lies to practice off of. (Pricing depending on retail location, Weight: 30 pounds) --KL