2008 PGA Merchandise Show


Last week the focus of the golf world was set square on Orlando, Florida for the 2008 PGA Merchandise show.
With over 1,200 companies in attendance and thousands of new products to cover, it's almost impossible to condense it into one place. However, GolfWRX has managed to cover just about every product in attendance. On the heels of the USGA's recent rule amendment opening golf clubs to new forms of adjustability, many OEM's were showcasing new interchangeable fitting systems which may now be used in play. Throw in recent club introductions for 2008 along with a few new surprises and you begin to understand why last week was so exciting for golfers everywhere.
As mentioned, adjustable clubs were the big story at the PGA Show. Included in the program was a special Adjustable Club Symposium which featured panelists from the USGA, manufacturers, club fitters, and retailers who discussed the effect the new rule will have on the golf retail landscape. But the discussion didn't stop there. In addition to the new Callaway I-Mix line which we recently covered, Nike, Nickent, and Ping also had new adjustable systems to introduce. Exactly how this adjustability rule will be accepted by the public is still very much in the air. As a result, companies seem to be embracing it in different ways. Ping and Nike seem to be using this system for now as a practical fitting tool which allows golfers to quickly change head and shaft combinations as well as provide more demo opportunities among retailers. Both have fitting carts loaded with metal wood heads, iron heads, and shaft options for golfers to try. Callaway, which has had a similar Opti-Fit system in place for a year is banking on the fact that golfers are ready to take this technology to the course full time with their I-Mix line. Nickent also has their Evolver 4DX series ready to play.

There were a few noticeable introductions among the driver and fairway wood category. Among the most impressive were the new Nike SQ Sumo drivers which has already been widely adopted by Nike's tour staff. The new Sumos will come in a traditionally shaped Tour model and a super-forgiving Square. The new models both offer even greater MOI than before, but with more traditional feel and sound. Many people at the demo day were especially amazed at just how much Nike improved the sound of the SQ Sumo Square model.

Although not the largest OEM, Tour Edge has earned major buzz with their Exotics fairway woods which boast ridiculously high ball speeds thanks to their inventive chemically bonded cup face technology. Tour Edge has finally incorporated this technology into a line of drivers with two models - the XCG which is a traditional round shape, and the high MOI XLG which has a hexagonal shape. There is also a newly updated XCG fairway wood which will provide a more forgiving option for golfers looking for Exotics performance with a bit more forgiveness than the Exotics CB2.
One of the big surprises of the PGA Show was the announcement of Cleveland's CG Tour blade iron. Form forged from 8620 carbon steel with fully milled faces, the CG Tour promises to be a very exciting entry into the player's club market. With its low muscle, slightly thicker top line and sole compared to most other blades on the market, this looks to be a great model for golfers looking to transition to a more playable blade or more confidence inspiring blade.

Also the long awaited MacGregor MT series has finally launched. The new line has been completely reworked and has an iron design to fit every golfer out there. The Pro M and Pro C are true tour inspired clubs that will give accomplished golfers all the control they need. The MT is a slightly larger iron with a full cavity and undercut channel that still retains a look, even better players will easily love.

Wilson's Pi7 irons helped Padraig Harrington win the Open Championship last year, and now they're available to everyone. The compact head and thin sole give it the traditional player's cavity look. However, the perimeter weighting and elastomer insert combine to give it forgiveness while still maintaining a very soft feel.

The PGA Show is a mecca for putter enthusiasts. Several of the boutique brands were there in force along with some of the larger ones. Although Titleist was not at the show, Scotty Cameron was there to support his friends at Table Rock who were showcasing some of his collectible models.
One very interesting introduction was Kevin Burns and his new Kustomized fitting stations. The kiosks allow a golfer to take a few putting strokes on a computer based putter and then calculates the best putter to fit their stroke. The kiosk then sends the information to Burns who mills the putter and in a week your custom putter is in your hands ready to use.
Without a doubt, the PGA Show is dominated by accessories. Some are incredibly useful, others may never again see a golfer's hands. However, one thing the PGA is not short of are accesories intended to make a golfer's life a little easier. From teaching aides to apparel, to head covers, just about every brand was at the PGA Show.
The following was just a small sample of all there was to see at the PGA Show. This description could literally continue for hundreds of pages and still not capture the depth of equipment available at the show. If the show made one thing abundantly clear, it is that the number of quality products in the golf industry has never been higher.