No matter what problem plagues your game, there is something at the PGA Show to help you shoot lower scores. That is why for a golf nerd, the show can be sensory overload. With aisles and aisles at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando filled with new equipment, technology and training aids, it can be tricky to sift through all the products to find the best for the avid player.
Fortunately, Golf Digest resident swing nerds Drew Powell and Luke Kerr-Dineen did the tough, tough work of trying a variety of innovative new game-improvement products. Here are their favorites from the show. Though this is far from an exhaustive list of all the gadgets and tech that will improve your game, these were some of our favorites.
1. Train for more width
Many of the best ball-strikers in the world have a lot of width throughout the swing, where their left arm (for right-handers) stays very straight on the backswing and downswing. In fact, it's something that LPGA phenom Rose Zhang, who has one of the best swings in the game, works diligently on.
Creating this wide arc is a power move, to be sure, but it’s also very important for syncing up the arms with the body turn.
That’s something that I often struggle with, especially in the backswing. My tendency is to get lazy and not finish my shoulder turn, as exaggerated in the left image below. Maybe you know the feeling. When I do that, I lift my arms and get too narrow at the top of the swing.
If you tend to lose width at the top of your swing (left), the Tour-Feel will help you keep your lead arm straight throughout the swing (right).
Sure-Golf’s Tour-Feel provides a fantastic sensation of creating and maintaining width throughout the swing. As Zhang says, "Start wide and stay wide." The product, created by tour coach Dan Frost, is easy to use indoors and out. Loop the strap around your lead shoulder and place the thumb of your lead hand through one of the three loops (designed for different arm lengths and resistance levels), then grip the club.
Immediately at setup you’ll feel the width you need to create in your lead arm to resist the band. Continue to feel that resistance throughout the swing, and you’ll learn how to keep your lead arm straight, creating that wide, tour pro look at the top of the backswing.
2. A clever recentering aid
Recentering, or shifting your pressure from your trail leg to your front, is a hot topic in instruction, as force plate data is revealing how the best ball-strikers move their weight. (Luke and Drew recently discussed this on an episode of the Golf IQ podcast, and Luke wrote about it in this week's Golf IQ newsletter, delivered weekly to Golf Digest+ members.)
What is amazing is how quickly the best players shift their weight to the trail leg in the backswing and also how quickly they recenter and put pressure into their lead leg. Elite players start moving their pressure to the their front legs before the backswing is over.
For many amateurs, this pressure shift happens too slowly. We take too long to load up and we don’t get to our lead sides early enough.
The Power Shift board helps you train this pressure shift. There are a variety of awesome boards out there that work in similar ways—you set up with your weight roughly 50-50 and then load your trail leg, “tipping” the board to one side, before shifting your pressure to your lead leg and tipping the board to the other side.
The Power Shift takes this a step further by giving you audio feedback when you’ve moved enough weight to your lead leg. There are springs on one side of the board, so when you put pressure into your lead leg, the board will make a clicking sound. Testing it out, it requires a significant amount of force to trigger that click—which is by design and exactly what you want to feel to start using the ground properly.
3. Groove a precise putting setup
Among the most popular putting practice tools are mirrors to check your eyeline, mats to train your stroke path and gates to dial in your start line. The PUR Truth Trainer combines all of these.
Courtesy of PUR Golf
Though the system is helpful to work on practically anything in your stroke, I found it most helpful for dialing in my eyeline—an often-overlooked aspect of putting setup. To properly see the line and set up for a slightly arcing stroke, most players want their eyes either directly over or just inside the ball.
The Truth Trainer has two strings that run directly through the middle of where the ball is placed. The benefit of having two strings, one white and one blue, is that you can clearly see that when they are not lined up, your eyeline is off. Notice how when they are lined up, below, the strings appear as one and directly in the center of the ball—that's where my eyes are.
When the lines are directly over one another, your eyes are over the ball.
If you get your eyes too far to the outside of the ball, you will have a tendency to take the putterhead too far to the outside and cut across the ball. Notice below how the strings are not lined up, and they are over the far edge of the ball. My eyes are too far over the ball here.
If the strings are not lined up and are over the far edge of the ball, your eyes are too far over the ball.
Many great putters prefer to have their eyes just inside the ball, as it promotes a gentle arc of stroke to the inside. If the strings aren't lined up and are over the inside of the ball (below), your eyes are just inside the ball.
When the strings aren't lined up and they are over the inside of the ball, that's where your eyes are.
Another cool feature is a built-in leveler, which shows when the device is perfectly level, helping you identify a straight putt, which are best for working on fundamentals.
4. Swing in the right direction
Let's start with a training aid that has been around for a few years, but one that has some new momentum thanks to Tommy Fleetwood's ball-striking drill. The Swing Plate is a heavy duty plate which sits on the ground, and can hold multiple alignment sticks at whatever angle you want. If you're coming down over the top, angle the stick so you're forced to swing underneath it; if you swing too in-to-out, do the opposite.
It's low tech, but a simple solution for your swing path issues.
5. Measure the greens
An ongoing theme in recent years involves tech designed to integrate with you while you're playing golf. Either on the course, or on the range. Usually this comes in the form of an app, and one of the most interesting was BRK70, a new product which will launch later this year.
BRK70 uses specialized soles which you can swap into any shoe you want, each designed to hold a small chip. That chip communicates via an app on your phone, which will then measure everything underneath your feet. It will measure the exact slope of the green—and read the greens for you if you let it—and allow you to walk off distances with exact precision. Illegal to use in competition, but great for practice rounds or everything in-between.
6. A more efficient workout
Tour players have become increasingly obsessed with tech-based health and fitness solutions in recent years. Katalyst is a fascinating new addition to this innovative and growing space. Don't be surprised to see golfers everywhere flock to it soon.
The company uses Electro Muscle Stimulation (or EMS) via a small suit that golfers wear as they work out. The EMS tech stimulates each muscles evenly as you work out, which prevents imbalances and potential injuries. And because you're hitting all your muscles are being worked in a more targeted fashion, the workouts are more efficent—and quicker. Katalyst says its new golf-specific line of workouts have shown an increase in accuracy by four percent and speed by a minimum of five mph.
7. Swing analyzers Uneekor
Some of the most impressive technology from the show came via the marriage of launch monitor technology, and AI-fueled swing analyzer tech.
Uneekor boasted an interesting new function to its simulator line by using AI to instantly pinpoint flaws in your golf swing, then grade your golf swing out of 100. It gave my golf swing an 80/100
XViewGolf showcased a really fascinating product, too, that strives for more personalization. Rather than using AI to suggest one swing for all, the app allows users to use AI to build specific golf swing models of players whose move you want to emulate, then uses side-by-side data to help you get there.
8. Seamless stat tracking
A quick shoutout to our friends over at Arccos, who announced at the show its new product: Arccos Link Pro. Whereas previously most Arccos users could choose to track their stats by either keeping their iPhone in their pocket, attaching the tracker to their belt, or wearing an Apple Watch, the Link Pro is a lightweight device about the size of a matchbox which golfers can slip into their pocket. That's where it'll begin tracking your staats, without you even noticing.
9. A more convenient launch monitor
Get ready to start seeing a lot of these on tour and lesson tees around the country in the coming months and years: Foresight's new QuadMAX, which the company showcased at the show. The launch monitor features upgrades to its user experience, mainly allowing golfers to customize which numbers they see as they're using the new QuadMAX, a more lightweight design, and offsite storage of all the data it collects from range sessions.
10. Stay warm and cool
Most of the things we've highlighted here are products, but one clothing brand that's doing some really cool things in the space is KJUS. At the PGA Show the company showcased the tech behind its clothing. Specifically, how the use of microfibers and the use of graphene distributes hold and cold spots around the fabric. Hot spots never get too warm and sweaty; cold spots never leave you feeling chilly.