It is a rite of spring in the dead of winter, a titanium party to distract much of the country from steely cold. And after all these years ' 52, to be exact ' it never gets old.
The 53rd PGA Merchandise Show opens this Thursday, January 26th (and theres a pre-Show demo day on Wednesday the 25th), just in time to whet the appetites of golf-starved gearheads overfed on a diet of staying indoors. As usual, there will be plenty to see and swing. Theres already much to anticipate. Herewith, the tip of the proverbial Titanic-sinker:
In the center of it all will be The Golf Channels set, the base for our live coverage starting Thursday the 26th at 1 p.m. Well do two hours live on each of Thursday, Friday and Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. each day, from the show. Kraig Kann will host, with a solid bullpen: Matt Adams, Frank Thomas, fashion expert Marty Hackel, and fitness pro Katherine Roberts will be along. Out on the show floor, buzzing like caffeinated electrons around this atomic nucleus, will be Casey Bierer, Jerry Foltz, PGA professional Michael Breed, and yours truly.
But on to a sampling of what well see:
MacGregor Golf promises a number of new product announcements, leading off with its latest MacTec driver. The NVG2 model features a cup face all the way around the framework of the head ' that is, no weighty welds in the face. That increases the effective hitting area immensely, say MacGregor engineers. The club also comes with a new shaft by graphite power Fujikura. The Quadra Action shaft has three distinct bend points, which Fuji designers worked in to allow for greater clubhead speed without extra-hard swinging. If the average speed increase is three to five mph, and an extra two to three yards comes with each mile ' well, you do the math. But youll have to wait until February to complete the equation; thats when MacGregor will bring the club to market.
MacG also plans a big business announcement, says the industry buzz: perhaps an acquisition. Endorser Greg Norman will be on hand, so likely something big is up.
In footwear, look for a Shox golf model from Nike, as well as some stylish choices in the high-performance SP line. Outsole technology never ceases to intrigue. An example will be Etonics new G>SOK G.T., whose complex outsole leads to its claim to be golfs first high-performance, non-cleated shoe.
We expect to see plenty of space-age technology in golf bags, too. Club Glove, best known for its super-tough travel bags, plans a very light carry bag made of parachute-like material: light but hardy. This is an area of special interest for me, so Ill be looking at a lot of bags throughout the show and letting you know whats what in the carry and cart segments.
One of golf equipments worst-kept secrets in recent months has been the advent of a successor to Odysseys hot-selling 2-Ball models. The Tri-Ball, with (you guessed it) three circular alignment aids, will have its formal coming out at the show. And no, its not longer back-to-front than heel-to-toe. I measured. Odyssey parent Callaway wont be outdone: the new all-titanium X Driver will be at the show, along with the latest version of the popular Fusion FT-3 model driver.
Also bringing a new driver ' a big one ' will be Bridgestone. Its J33r 460 is as prodigious as the name implies. Also from Bridgestone, well see the new e5 and e6 golf balls, which have been supported by the provocative Tobu advertising campaign (you know, where the technicians, surprised by the performance of the balls, resort to an amazed ejaculation of English cursing ' well, almost).
And celebs? Sure. Norman, Jim Furyk, Paula Creamer, Annika Sorenstam, Donna Andrews and others are scheduled to appear.
You wont want to miss it. We never do. See you there.
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