PGA Merchandise Show Blog

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The PGA Merchandise Show is being held this week at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. GolfChannel.com will be blogging on site each day.
 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' The customization of drivers has been a hot topic at this years PGA Merchandise Show, but its not limited to the bigger clubs. Even the putter manufacturers are getting into the mix. One such company is YES! Golf, which introduced two putters this week with an interchangeable screw-in hosel system ' the Tracy III Plus and the Lizzy Plus. Each putter can accommodate up to four different hosel positions, depending on what fits your eye and stroke. With a few turns of a wrench, youll be able to change the look (at address) and the amount of offset and toe-down in the putter.
 
A putter with a high degree of toe-hang, or droop, is balanced more in the toe of the putterhead. This will appeal to a rounded-arc putter, who needs help returning the putterface back to square at impact. Those golfers who prefer more of a straight-back, straight-through stroke will want a more face-balanced putter. (To differentiate the two, stretch out your left index finger and place the lower end of your putters shaft on your finger, with the face pointing toward the sky. Balance the putter on your finger with little assistance from your right hand: if the face angles or drops toward the ground, the putter has toe-hang; if it remains parallel to the ceiling, its face-balanced.)
 
The plumber neck hosel, which has a high degree of toe-hang, comes standard in the Tracy III Plus (a blade putter) and Lizzy Plus (a mallet). The three other hosel options ' slant neck, z-bend and pronounced toe-hang ' are sold separately at $100 each. Each hosel option comes with a shaft (32 to 37 inches in length), grip, hosel and torque wrench. To change the hosel and the amount of toe-hang your putter has, simply loosen the screw on the sole of the putter to remove the current hosel and fasten the new hosel to the head. Youll hear a click sound when the new hosel is in place.
 
Both putters come with YES! Golfs smooth rolling C-Groove technology and will be available come Feb. 15 in right hand only. The suggested retail of each is $360.
 
' David Allen
Posted Jan. 31

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' Most golfers purchase a wedge just like they do a driver ' right off the rack. Other than the standard pitching wedge that comes with a full set of irons, theyve never been fitted for a wedge, or given any thought to getting fit for one. That doesnt make much sense considering that more than 60 percent of all shots occur within 100 yards of the hole.
 
Cleveland Golf hopes to change all of that with a new online wedge fitting system theyll be introducing in mid-February at clevelandgolf.com. The system asks you a series of questions: What wedges do you currently play? How far do you hit them? Do you prefer a wide or narrow sole? What do your divots look like? How many chip shots out of five can you land within 10 feet of the hole? How many greenside bunker shots out of five can you put on the green? Forty-yard wedge shots? Full wedge shots? Etcetera. Then, based on your skill level, it will fit you for the right loft and model (Cleveland wedges only) for your game.
 
Perhaps more important, it explains many of the features that wedges have, such as bounce, and how these can help your game. For example: a wider sole will give you more forgiveness, while a narrower sole will provide more versatility around the greens.
 
I carry four wedges in my bag: pitching wedge (48 degrees), gap (52 degrees), sand wedge (56 degrees) and lob wedge (60 degrees). I have a sizeable gap in yardage between my gap wedge (80-85 yards) and my pitching wedge (100-105 yardage), so I was hoping to close that gap. But after being fit by Clevelands online sytem, it was recommended I shelve the lob wedge for, of all things, a Niblick? Thats what you get for answering the questions honestly!
 
' David Allen
Posted Jan. 31

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' Bridgestone Golf has been touting their new line of golf balls at the PGA Merchandise Show, promising tour caliber performance for amateur swings. So we decided to take a journey over to the Bridgestone Golf booth to see if the buzz was true. We watched several golfers take the Ball Fitting Challenge, and found two with very different swing speeds and skill levels, both who played a Titleist Pro V1 golf ball. Heres the tale of the tape.
 
Golfer 1, a low handicapper with an average clubhead speed of 117 mph, averaged 220 yards (which seemed a bit low from what we saw) on three drives with the Pro V1. His initial ball velocity was 141.4 mph, and the launch angle 18.3 degrees. The most telling statistic was the measure of side spin, which was +1003 rpm; positive numbers indicate a ball that is curving to the right.
 
Playing Bridgestones TOUR B330 ball, designed for swing speeds of 112-plus mph, Golfer 1 improved his ball velocity by 7.4 mph and his distance by 24 yards. He reduced the amount of sidespin to +178 RPM, creating a straighter, more penetrating ball flight.
 
The cover feels very comparable to the Pro V1 in that its very soft, which I like, Golfer 1 said. It felt like it jumped off the face.
 
Golfer 2, a higher handicapper with an average clubhead speed of 88 mph, improved his intial ball speed by 7.3 mph, his overall distance by 13 yards and the amount of side spin by more than 1,300 rpm (from +1193 to -117), switching from the Pro V1 to Bridgestones e 6+, part of the companys Distance Performing Series which promises to reduce hook and slice spin. A Bridgestone rep conducting the challenge said that this is the ball that most high handicappers are prescribed; it is the softest multilayer ball in the market, according to Bridgestone.

Im going to have to try this on the course, said Golfer 2. It has a similar soft feel to the Pro V1 and I like the numbers that the computer spit out.

Other balls in the Distance Performance Series include the e 5+ (promotes a higher trajectory) and the e 7+ (promotes a more penetrating ball flight). In the Tour Performance Series, there is the TOUR B330, TOUR B330-S (for 103-115 mph swing speeds) and the TOUR B330-RX (less than 105 mph swing speed).

According to the Bridgestone scoreboard on the Orange County Convention Center floor, 274 attendees had taken the Ball Fitting Challenge since the start of the PGA Show on Thursday (through 3 p.m. on Friday), and 81 percent had seen an increase in distance with the Bridgestone ball chosen for them. The average distance gained with the Bridgestone balls was 12.7 yards over other brands.
 
' David Allen and Erik Peterson
Posted Jan. 31

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' Bridgestone Golf has been touting their new line of golf balls at the PGA Merchandise Show, promising tour caliber performance for amateur swings. So we decided to take a journey over to the Bridgestone Golf booth to see if the buzz was true. We watched several golfers take the Ball Fitting Challenge, and found two with very different swing speeds and skill levels, both who played a Titleist Pro V1 golf ball. Heres the tale of the tape.
 
Golfer 1, a low handicapper with an average clubhead speed of 117 mph, averaged 220 yards (which seemed a bit low from what we saw) on three drives with the Pro V1. His initial ball velocity was 141.4 mph, and the launch angle 18.3 degrees. The most telling statistic was the measure of side spin, which was +1003 rpm; positive numbers indicate a ball that is curving to the right.
 
Playing Bridgestones TOUR B330 ball, designed for swing speeds of 112-plus mph, Golfer 1 improved his ball velocity by 7.4 mph and his distance by 24 yards. He reduced the amount of sidespin to +178 RPM, creating a straighter, more penetrating ball flight.
 
The cover feels very comparable to the Pro V1 in that its very soft, which I like, Golfer 1 said. It felt like it jumped off the face.
 
Golfer 2, a higher handicapper with an average clubhead speed of 88 mph, improved his intial ball speed by 7.3 mph, his overall distance by 13 yards and the amount of side spin by more than 1,300 rpm (from +1193 to -117), switching from the Pro V1 to Bridgestones e 6+, part of the companys Distance Performing Series which promises to reduce hook and slice spin. A Bridgestone rep conducting the challenge said that this is the ball that most high handicappers are prescribed; it is the softest multilayer ball in the market, according to Bridgestone.

Im going to have to try this on the course, said Golfer 2. It has a similar soft feel to the Pro V1 and I like the numbers that the computer spit out.

Other balls in the Distance Performance Series include the e 5+ (promotes a higher trajectory) and the e 7+ (promotes a more penetrating ball flight). In the Tour Performance Series, there is the TOUR B330, TOUR B330-S (for 103-115 mph swing speeds) and the TOUR B330-RX (less than 105 mph swing speed).

According to the Bridgestone scoreboard on the Orange County Convention Center floor, 274 attendees had taken the Ball Fitting Challenge since the start of the PGA Show on Thursday (through 3 p.m. on Friday), and 81 percent had seen an increase in distance with the Bridgestone ball chosen for them. The average distance gained with the Bridgestone balls was 12.7 yards over other brands.
 
' David Allen and Erik Peterson
Posted Jan. 30

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' Midday Friday, 4.71 miles. Able to actually take a break from production and look around. Bad economy? Huh? Can't tell from the dizzying array of new products here. Look up, and all you see is branding and signage, all competing for space and mindshare.
 
Under the signs, innovation abounds. In apparel, UnderArmour features 'body-mapped' shirts that have different kind of tiny perforations to cool different 'hot zones' on your torso. There's wicking technology everywhere, such as at Antigua, whose Desert Dry technology promises even wicking of moisture with no wet spots. No doubt about it ' golf shirts are equipment now.
 
Oh, and sight of the morning: Boo Weekley signing autographs at the Cleveland/Srixon booth ... naturally, wearing a combination hunter orange/camo Cleveland golf cap. Everyone who came up to the table went away with an autograph and a smile.
 
Tom Watson, one of my golf heroes, gave a gracious interview at the Polo booth. We discussed why he stays with endorsement partners for decades. Also, like all of us, he never wants to stop improving. At the moment, the short game is most on his mind and his practice schedule.
 
' Adam Barr
Posted Jan. 30

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' Walked 8.76 miles at the Show Thursday. What a slouch. Thought for sure I'd bust 10.
 
Maybe it was because I stopped to look at so much interesting product. Case in point: GPS systems; little handheld TVs full of golf info; Skycaddies SG5 (retail $400), which have in-color aerial hole views plus interactive green-depth measurements from any angle. 6-iron? Yeah, 6-iron. Cool.

' Adam Barr
Posted Jan. 30

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' With the USGA capping head size at 460cc and the economy being just as restricting on our wallets, golf club manufacturers have taken a radical new approach to building drivers. Gone are the days of bigger and more expensive, in are the days of custom-fit and practical. Refreshing, isnt it?
 
Callaway has roared out of the gates in 2009 with an industry-leading three new drivers from which to choose. Each is different than the other in look and price. I jotted down a few notes on each model:
 
Callaway FT9 driverFT-9
Slightly more elongated than the FT-5, it maintains a traditional look at address. I also like that its sound at impact is toned down. The low center of gravity and forgiveness on off-center hits makes it easier to get airborne 'especially off the fairway. $400
 
FT-iQ
The sleeker square design compared to the last model looks less like something that fell off a car and more like a car itself 'its design was inspired by Lamborghini. I like how straight it is. Even off-target shots miss straight, which is a nice reprieve from the banana ball we know so well. $500
 
Big Bertha Diablo
While not part of Callaways OptiFit program, it offers two head types: neutral and draw. For players hoping to cure their slice, this is one of the best drivers on the market 'though I still suggest the conventional route: LESSONS. Neutral head looks very nice at address. Best of all, El Diablo is a great solution for the golfer looking to spend less money. $300.

' Erik Peterson
Posted Jan. 29

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' Cleveland Golf, the No. 1 seller of wedges, has a wedge on the market in such high demand that its being sold in Bass Pro Shops. Yes, the outdoor retail store known best for its hunting and fishing gear. Its also very popular with golfers on U.S. military bases.
 
Cleveland Golf CG14 Camo WedgeThe reason is the new Camo CG14, which features a camouflaged painted sole, inspired by Cleveland Golf staffer and Ryder Cup hero Boo Weekley. The Camo, introduced two months ago, is essentially the Black Pearl CG14, with a few color modifications. It features Clevelands zip groove technology, which utilizes bigger grooves to channel out debris (sand, grass, dirt), improve ball-clubface contact and optimize spin. Each groove is milled and protected with a proprietary coating, creating a shine you can see when you hold the wedge up closely.
 
Grooves is the buzzword with wedges today, with the USGA recently placing new restrictions on the sharp-edged U grooves which create more spin on shots out of the rough. The rule applies to clubs manufactured after January 1, 2010.
 
Clevelands Zip Grooves technology conforms with todays USGA guidelines but will have to be altered in 2010 to fit under the new rules. Will this mean increased wedge sales in 2009, with people stocking up on wedges for the future embargo? Clevelands vice president of marketing, Randy Romberg, doesnt think so.
 
Im not sure people think that far ahead, said Romberg. There may be a small surge in sales later in the year, but were just focusing on putting out the most efficient wedges possible.

' David Allen
Posted Jan. 29

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' I button-holed Scott Tolley, a former golf writer and now Jack Nicklaus' director of communications, in the Show's lobby Thursday morning and learned a little about the Golden Bear's design company strategies in these difficult times.
 
Nicklaus' design company currently has 40 courses under construction and close to 100 golf course projects under contract. Those contracts are spread across 46 different countries, so that equates to more than 80 per cent of their work being overseas. Tolley said the most active market for the firm is Asia, particularly China and Korea. The company has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Seoul. And, he said, 'we hope to increase our presence and on-the-ground personnel there.' Several projects in other markets are on hold because of the economic downturn. But, Tolley said, 'those developers will wait it out and we'll wait it out with them.'
 
Also interesting to hear was that many of Nicklaus' current competitors in the design field overseas are the same ones he has vied against in the United States. Nicklaus, of course, has a big advantage. His name almost always gets him in the door for a first meet when developers are looking for golf course architects. But, Tolley said, beyond the impact of the Nicklaus brand on a project, the company prides itself on the ability to deliver courses up to Nicklaus' and the developers' standards.

' Brian Hewitt
Posted Jan. 29

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' Titleist marked its return to the PGA Merchandise Show on Thursday with a movie-like premiere showcase at the Orange County Convention Center. Speaking in front of about 1,000 golf pros, manufacturers and members of the media, representatives from Titleist appeared on stage in white blazers, paying homage to the old days when their ball reps would don a white jacket so players could easily identify them on the driving range at professional tour events.

The last time Titleist appeared at the PGA Show was in January 2002, just 10 months after the debut of the popular Pro V1 golf ball. On Thursday, Titleist introduced their 2009 versions of the Pro V1 and Pro V1x, which accounted for 40 percent of all on-course golf ball revenue in 2008.
 
The new Pro V1 has a larger, faster core than previous models, improved cover durability and a high coverage dimple design to provide a more consistent ball flight. It generates more spin and produces a lower ball flight than the Pro V1x, which features a new Ionomeric casing layer to control driver spin and give you more distance off the tee.
 
Titleist sells more than 15 million dozen balls in the U.S. each year, and owns an impressive 68 percent market share of all balls sold. The company boasted 172 wins across all professional tours in 2008.

' David Allen
Posted Jan. 29

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' TaylorMade Golfs Burner irons took front and center stage at Wednesday nights new product launch party at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando.
 
TaylorMade Burner ironsSean Toulon, TaylorMades executive vice president of product and brand creation, went as far to say that the 2009 Burner irons are the most significant irons ever made in golf. Added Toulon: We ended up with the longest, most predictable and most playable iron ever.
 
TaylorMade claims their Burner 4-iron is 11 yards longer than the leading competitors 4-iron. And that, they said, was a conservative measurement. To get the extra distance in their mid- and long irons, TM thinned the clubface to as little as 1.9 mm ' half the thickness of its predecessor ' thereby generating greater flexibility in the face and more ball velocity. By taking more weight off the face and moving it to the perimeter of the club, they created a very powerful club with a higher moment of inertia (resistance to twisting) than any previous TaylorMade iron.
 
What makes this set of irons even more unique is that the long, middle and short irons were all engineered separately. The new Burner irons will be available March 20 and will be priced at $699 (steel) and $899 (graphite).

When golfers hit this, theres no chance theyre going to play another iron, said Toulon.

' David Allen
Posted Jan. 29

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' This is my 15th straight PGA Merchandise Show. I always knew I walked a lot of miles at these things. This year, I wanted to know how right I was.
 
So I'm wearing a pedometer for all the Show days. I promise not to put it on until I head for the car every morning. After all, you don't care how many steps it is from my bedroom to the bathroom to the kitchen. At least I hope you don't.
 
But the Show, with its ten miles of aisles? The fun started today, with Demo Day at the huge range at Orange County National Golf Club.
 
The verdict: all today's walking around and seeing and swinging and schmoozing has added up to 7.48 miles. And it's just before 7 p.m. And I'm not done.
 
Stay tuned and stay steppin'. Tomorrow, over to the Orange County Convention Center.
 
' Adam Barr
Posted Jan. 28

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' In the very near future, you might overhear players on the driving ranges of PGA Tour events asking one another, Do you have a wrench? A light moment during Wednesdays Demo Day at Orange County National came when Suzann Pettersen asked fellow Nike Golf pro Trevor Immelman if he could change the clubface settings on her SQ Dymo2 STR8-Fit driver, using the wrench Nike supplies with the club. Immelman, who won the 2008 Masters with a prototype of the model ' set 1 degree open from neutral ' can unscrew the clubhead from the shaft and reattach it to the desired face position in a mere 30 seconds.
 
Call it a quick oil change for your game.
 
Last year, you set the clubhead to the position you want, and then you had to glue it in, Immelman said. It took about an hour. Now, it takes less than a minute with the wrench.
 
A red light and small beep indicates when the clubhead is locked into position to the face angle you want. The wrench system allows you to customize your driver to eight different face positions.

For the average golfer, if your tendency is to slice the ball, youre going go be able to buy this driver, change the setting on it, and see your slice straighten out, Immelman said. It gives you a whole new driver.

' David Allen
Posted Jan. 28

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' Demo Day ' the seventh annual ' is in the books, and it was a good one. The wind blew hard from the south over the massive, circular range at Orange County National Golf Club near Orlando, bringing warm weather and good spirits. (Some of these events, subject to the caprices of January weather in central Florida, have been held in 25-degree wind chills ' warm compared to up north, but hardly lets-go-hit-balls weather.)
 
As usual, we were left wondering why the PGA Show isnt flip-flopped ' one day indoors, three days outside. Everyone had fun hitting bags and bags of new clubs. Most of the fascination went to drivers, as usual. Too many to list them all here, of coursebut notables included the Speedline driver from Adams Golf, the MX-700 from Mizuno, and the SQ Dymo from Nike. The Nike club is the culmination of the companys five-year campaign to develop a club that offers face angle adjustability. STR8-FIT, Nikes adjustable technology, offers eight positions for the driver head, which can be changed by using a specially made wrench. The butt end of the grip features a guide ' L for left, R for right, etc. ' to help with the adjustment.
 
Wrench-assisted changeable clubheads are nothing new (anymore). But moving the head to fine-tune face angle is the latest frontier in adjustment. By carefully changing the drilling angle of the hole into which the shaft is inserted and precisely setting the connection hardware on the shaft, Nike can adjust the look ' and actual face angle ' of the club. The result is a four-degree range of adjustment ' two either way ' to straighten out chronically crooked ball flights. It all depends on your miss, and how you want to eliminate it.
 
Funny, we used to drive ourselves crazy when I worked with Mr. Hogan, trying to drill the bore hole straight, which was impossible to get perfect, said Tom Stites, Nikes director of product creation, who worked with Ben Hogan at the great mans golf club company. Now we want to drill it off-line a little.
 
The difference, of course: Engineering and design have come a long way, and so has precision drilling and clubhead making.
 
' Adam Barr
Posted Jan. 28

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' Since 2006, driving distance has decreased on the PGA Tour by two yards, from 289.3 to 287.3 yards. One explanation for the sudden drop-off is that manufacturers today are designing boxier clubheads with more clubface volume than ever in an attempt to raise the MOI, or Moment of Inertia.
 
Unfortunately, this has produced a less aerodynamic driver.
 
Enter the Adams Speedline. The first driver to be engineered using wind tunnel technology, the Speedline ($300) creates less drag ' the measurement of force on an object ' than high-MOI drivers do, producing a more aerodynamic club for those golfers looking for more clubhead speed. The Speedline features a curved up crown and a round, streamlined clubface that allows air to flow over the crown; the more separation there is between this air flow and the crown, the more drag there is. Adams claims the Speedline will give the average golfer a three percent increase in clubhead speed.

Its a really good driver for the player who has a 90 mph clubhead speed, said Tim Reed, VP of research and development for Adams Golf. The higher launch angle and increased clubhead speed generates more backspin to keep the ball in the air longer. Its also very comfortable to look at, and it sounds great, which is very appealing.'
 
' David Allen
Posted Jan. 28

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' We just crept in the back door of the Orange County Convention Center and got a pre-screening of Boo Weekleys new line of Firethorn golfwear.
 
The big man was on site helping to prepare for the unveiling and the early reviews are interesting. As expected, the souths favorite son has a healthy amount of camo items, including hats and golf shirts, but the Ryder Cup stars line also includes a mix of bright and contemporary colors.
 
Boo, it seems, knows fashion.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Jan. 28

 
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