Sure it’s my job, but I look forward to attending the annual PGA Merchandise show in Orlando, Fla., as much as I do watching the Super Bowl. Every January as many as 1,500 golf vendors, from market leaders to startup companies gather at the massive Orange County Convention Center to display their wares.
As Southland Golf Magazine’s resident Golf Gadget Guru, I willingly schlepped five miles of aisles for three days checking out all that is new. These items caught my eye.
BEST NEW SHORT IRONS
The SCOR™ Golf design team made a bold move throwing away 70 years of conventional scoring-club wisdom to start over. Their innovative technology created SCOR4161, a 5-club series of short irons ranging from 41-degrees for full swing approach shots through a 61-degree lob wedge. What sets SCOR apart is their V-Sole design that combines both a high and low bounce, which means their clubs adapt to any lie from fluffy to tight. It doesn’t hurt that SCOR wedges ($149) are drop-dead gorgeous because let’s face it, a club has to look good in your hands, and these beauties do. Ben Hogan said, “If you want to improve your scores, improve your short game.” SCOR4161clubs will help you do that. Check them out online at scorgolf.com
MOST INTERESTING DRIVER
PowerBilt Air Force One DF Driver
I have to admit, I consistently hit the nitrogen-injected PowerBilt Air Force One driver ($249) longer than the other drivers I tried. Is a club head injected with nitrogen a gimmick? Folks, at my age I don’t care if it’s injected with laughing gas: Longer makes me happy. PowerBilt claims that by pairing an ultra-thin face with a head full of nitrogen they maximize the trampoline effect producing drives 10- 20 yards longer. The third generation of the Air Force One adds DF to its name to acknowledge its “deeper face.” Also new is its white club head color, and right now white clubs are white-hot. Visit powerbilt.com to learn more about the club and nitrogen injection.
BEST NEW TOWEL
Spotless Swing™ – A Golf Towel That Works.
Keeping part of your golf towel clean for wiping your face and hands is one of the benefits of the Spotless Swing golf towel ($25). Easy on your skin, the outside of this tube-shaped towel is a soft microfiber, and the other distinctive advantage is the Microbrush fabric on the inside. This is where you can wipe away dirt and mud. The fabric is coarse enough to really clean the grooves of your club much more efficiently than a regular towel. Visit spotlessswing.com
BEST GOLF SHOE DESIGNS
Lady Chameleon and the Icon
When you attend the PGA Merchandise Show you can’t help but find products that make you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?” A-Game Global Golf featured two different golf shoes that had me thinking exactly that.
The Icon ($99) for men is a wonderfully stylish, easy-on shoe without laces. What’s unique are the club-cleaning bristles built into the shoe’s outer sole, which they cleverly call “Brisole technology.”
The Chameleon ($99) for women features a zippered color pouch, giving women unlimited possibilities to color-match golf outfits. The shoes come with five colored swatches, but the customizing doesn’t stop there. Users can insert a panel with their name on it, or fabric swatches, even photos of the kids, just by cutting whatever they want to the shape of the inserts. If you like stylish “kicks” visit agamepro.com and feast your eyes on anything-but-typical golf shoes.
BEST NEW IDEA
Belly Putt™ – Covert Any Putter
During the past decade, hybrid golf clubs burst on the scene. In no time golfers everywhere were swapping long irons for these mini-woods. Now it’s the belly putter. Before you shell out a fistful of dead presidents for a putter you might not really like, check out the Belly Putt conversion kit ($40). In less than 10 minutes, even this all-thumbs reporter easily converted my 33-inch off-set mallet into a 41-inch belly putter. The Belly Putt kit comes complete with everything you’ll need to do the job. It’s also adjustable so you can change the length of the putter until you find its most comfortable length. And get this; If, like Phil Mickelson, you find a putter shaft jammed into your navel isn’t for you, no problem, just convert the putter back to its original length. Visit bellyputt.com for all the details.
BEST NEW GOLF GIZMO
SimStix™ – A True Feel Club for Golf Gaming
At last, an accessory for your game console that provides a real golf feel. The SKLZ SimStix ($40) allows you to put the Nintendo Wii controller into a molded plastic holder attached to a steel shaft with a regulation golf grip. Now when you take on Tiger Woods in his game or practice with other Wii simulators, you’ll be swinging a club with both hands. When I took the game controller out of my 8-year-old’s hand and put it in the Sim-Stix, it didn’t take him long to quit “wristing” short shots and start making a true chipping motion. Currently the SimStix is only available for the Wii; the Sony PlayStation version comes out in March. Visit sklz.com/golf/simulation for more information.