The 14 coolest things we saw at the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show
ORLANDO — Our editors met with new companies and heard about innovations from brands across the industry all week at the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show and Tuesday’s Demo Day. Here are the coolest products we saw, which you’ll likely continue to hear more and more about as the year progresses.
TrackMan launches A.I. technology
TrackMan’s launch-monitor technology is well-known and the foundation for the company’s expansion into the simulator business. But the newest iteration on that technology, Tracy, which the company unveiled at the PGA Show, looks even more impressive. Tracy, adapted from tracer, is a mode you can turn on and off that will recommend what you should work on based on a minimum of six shots on a TrackMan device. It can audibly communicate with you, with voice commands that ask game-analysis questions, and it will make recommendations based on the (estimated) 500-million-plus shots the company has collected around the world. As the company says, it pinpoints what you need to work, not how to work on it—encouraging you to seek the advice of an instructor. A company is targeting a June 11 soft launch on the product. —Stephen Hennessey
DragonFly’s motion-capturing smart suit
DragonFly is a smart suit that features 18 electronic devices to acquire a 3D picture of a player’s swing. That information is sent to a digital coaching application, which stores hundreds of data points from each motion. The info can also be sent to a teacher who can be halfway across the globe and see readings instantly from a player’s movements, with the ability to send feedback and instruction just as quickly. —Joel Beall
A new push cart from a former Apple designer
Brad Payne was working for Apple when he had an idea for his next project: Design a sleek golf push cart that’s actually easy to fold and lug around. The result, Walker Trolleys, made its debut at this week’s PGA Show. The company reports that has already had conversations with some of the elite walking-only resorts in the country. —SH
Bushnell’s all-in-one Bluetooth speaker and GPS device
A cart speaker might not be your thing, but when you decide to make one and you’re Bushnell, the premier company for providing golfers with on-course yardage information, it becomes a whole lot more than a music machine. The Bushnell Wingman is a speaker that doubles as a GPS yardage device, providing front, middle and back distances when paired with the Bushnell Golf app on your phone. You can also play music through the Bluetooth, and by using the remote—which conveniently doubles as a ball marker—the music pauses for the audible readout of the distances to the green. The Wingman ($150, retailing in April), features a battery life of at least 10 hours, automatic hole advance and an input to charge other devices. It also comes with the company’s Bite magnetic clip that allows the speaker to be mounted on your cart. —Mike Stachura
KJUS Gemini raingear does double duty
KJUS developed a reversible jacket that doubles as a durable rain jacket on one side and fashion-forward statement piece on the other. The rain jacket is built with a fully waterproof membrane, seam-sealed taping and is coated with DWR for additional water repellency. The dark exterior (available in black or navy) absorbs UV light while the silver interior reflects that heat back to your body to add warmth. When that silver interior is reversed, an ultra-modern metallic wind jacket is revealed. The jacket ($549, available mid-April) will be offered in men’s and women’s sizing. —Brittany Romano
A.I. comes to Arccos
Arccos’ new feature might make it the smartest app in golf GPS. The company announced an artificial-intelligence-powered GPS that calculates every factor for you—elevation, temperature, etc.—to calculate a pinpoint accurate yardage. As the company continues to expand its offerings to include partnerships with club manufacturers (Cobra and now Ping), it’s another impressive feature from what was once simply a smart-sensor company. —SH
Flightscope Mevo+ 'games' the system
The Mevo+ by FlightScope stood out because it fills a void in the market at the moment. We love that there are affordable products out there that give golfers data, but the Mevo+ ($1,999) separates itself by giving more data than the average personal shot tracker, and adds gamification. Set it up behind you and download the app on your phone or iPad to see your carry distance, club head speed, ball speed, smash factor, angle of attack, shot shape, launch angle, and more. We’d suggest using an iPad if you have one so that you can play the five courses that come pre-loaded in the app, or the games. It’s a way for golfers to make dull range sessions more interesting—and, more useful because focused practice is always more valuable than mindless ball striking. —Keely Levins
Volvik’s new Magma nonconforming ball
The folks at Volvik—the golf-ball manufacturer most known for its colorful array offerings—have introduced a nonconforming golf ball for those seeking a little distance boost outside the rule of the game. The Volvik Magma is a slightly smaller, slightly heavier golf ball that comes with the promise of more yards for those who are OK with playing recreational golf is a less formal manner. “Obviously this ball is not for those who play competitively,” says Joe Jung, sales manager for Volvik. “But there are some golfers out there that just want the excitement that comes from hitting the ball farther and this is a way for them to do that. It’s not within the rules, but it is a lot of fun for them.”
The ball is a three-piece design where the smaller size reduces drag force. While that assists flight, according to Jung, the primary distance boost comes in the form of extra roll. “With its smaller size and heavier weight, the ball is designed to produce a little bit lower trajectory,” he says. “Then, once it lands at a shallower landing angle, the heavier weight also helps contribute to extra momentum that gives it extra roll.” How many yards is obviously dependent on shot quality and the golfer’s ability, but Jung says seven- to 10-yard gains are not uncommon with some going as much as 20 yards farther.
“Hot” golf balls are not new to the game. Some might remember the direct-to-consumer Robinhood balls of some 40 years ago that were also smaller in size. But for a legitimate ball maker such as Volvik to enter into the category is interesting. The Volvik Magma is available now at a price of $30 per dozen in white and yellow. —E. Michael Johnson
The most unique bunker rake we’ve seen
Who needs a rake when there’s the Bunker Wizard. This device was designed to create the smoothest surface as possible in a bunker. The Bunker Wizard is extremely easy to use—it looks like a paint roller without the brush attached—and eliminates footprints or other marks in the sand with one swipe. Not only will it make the course more fair to players, but the slick, clean aesthetic finish keeps a course looking its finest. —JB
Dormie Workshop X Foray Golf ‘Tiger in the Woods’ Sweater
Leather-goods company Dormie Workshop and women’s golf apparel brand Foray Golf have partnered to develop a unique collection of unisex golf sweaters that are sure to turn heads. Dormie’s team is made up of talented artists, one of whom specializes in graffiti art and created the “Tiger in the Woods” motif. The sweater ($110) and will be available at dormieworkshop.com. The duo has also partnered with Asher Golf to collaborate on several yet-to-be-announced limited edition pieces expected to drop throughout the year. —BR
Interchangeable counterbalance grips from SwitchGrips
Jack Nicklaus did it. Sergio Garcia does it. So does Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen, among others. The “it” is using full swing clubs that are counterbalanced. For years players wishing to do this (such as Nicklaus) would place lead tape near the grip end of the club. Now there’s an easier way by simply putting a new grip on your club. One company providing such grips is SwitchGrips, which offers a variety of grips with the counterbalance weight built in.
SwitchGrips offer a variety of grips (cord, half-cord or full rubber) with a variety of weights screwed into the butt end of the grip. Golfers can choose their weights (8, 14 or 20 grams), but if later on they wish to purchase a different weight, it can be interchanged using the same wrench used for an adjustable driver.
The SwitchGrips cost $11 each and come in a variety of color options—and they’re a lot easier and more exact than lead tape. —EMJ
A new way to regulate sangbagging?
Cap Patrol is a computer program that polices the scores of a golf club’s membership, monitoring those who may be, possibly sandbagging. Playing around with algorithms and past GHIN data, and with consultation from the USGA, Cap Patrol was able to identify five key areas that sandbaggers use to manipulate their handicaps. The result: A program that generates a report allowing clubs to easily follow every player to determine if their handicap reflects their true performance and potential. —JB
A fun golf app for juniors (and their parents, too)
The team at GolPhin realized kids are always on their phones—so why not give them something to do on their phones that’s golf-related? Coaches of junior programs have the app, and invite their students and students’ parents to download it. There are quizzes on the app that help teach kids about golf’s rules and etiquette, as well as the ability for kids to review their own performance and behavior. The coach is then able to see how the child sees themselves, which can only improve their ability to help their students. The app also contains golf challenges that increase in difficulty as you complete them—things like short-game drills. It’s an easy progression for the kids to follow, and their coach is updated via the app to see which level each of his or her students are on. To put it simply, this app, recently released in the states in partnership with the PGA of America, benefits junior golf because it helps keep teachers organized and helps students learn. It’d be hard to not support that. —KL
A new canvas print company
Golf Drawn specializes in minimalist course-routing canvas prints from satellite imagery. Each work is hand drawn, with color-way, logos and text customizable. Along with adding framing for the prints and the ability to create routings on apparel, Golf Drawn also has golf-themed candles, aptly named “Out of Bounds.” —JB