A Review of Our Trip to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando
During the week of January 23rd, Dylan Kinyon and I had the pleasure of attending the PGA Show in Orlando, Florida. It was nice for us to escape the cold winter and enjoy the warm climate of central Florida. I want to give a big thanks to Mr. Ron and Mrs. Milagros Peterson for opening their home to us during the week. We can’t thank you enough for your generous hospitality.
We had many appointments with current and potentially new vendors, whose products range from apparel to clubs, and, of course, gadgets. Below are some key items that we saw.
Callaway Epic with Jailbreak Technology easily generated the most buzz leading up to the show and it did not disappoint. Callaway spared no expense to showcase this new technology which has over 100 patents. They had virtual reality booths set up that took the attendees thru the entire club’s makeup. My understanding of the technology is modest at best, but I will offer my best synopsis of the club and the history behind it. Callaway introduced the Alpha Driver a few years ago with gravity weight that went thru the center of the club. When Callaway tested the Alpha, they started to see data that they never saw before from the limited expansion of the face vertically that stabalized the energy in the club face. This led to the two green “Jailbreak” posts near the face in order to stabilize the energy transfer in the face and hence impart more energy into the ball. Therefore, you will hear that Callaway’s Epic Driver will increase a player’s ball speed by an average of 5 mph, which means more distance. Cue the engineers to correct me using terminology that leaves me confused and searching for ibuprofen.
Anyway, I have always been skeptical of new technology as it seems to state the same sales pitch, and I am fully aware that clubs need to conform to the governing bodies. Fortunately, I had the pleasure of dining with our sales rep and an executive from Callaway, who explained my concerns in detail. The governing bodies of golf used to use a COR test. During a COR test, a golf ball is launched at the face of a driver. They calculate the ball before and after it has contacted the clubface. In essence, new technology needed to conform to the COR Test by not exceeding a specified reaction off the clubface. The COR test creates a lot of complications as they are not able to test on the tour because it is not portable. The complexity forced the governing bodies to adopt a new Characteristic Time (CT). A CT test is a portable pendulum test that measures the number of microseconds a metal ball is in contact with the clubface. If I haven’t lost you yet, then the end result is a conforming driver by Callaway that has been tested to increase ball speed, which we have not heard of. When asked if the Epic Driver would have or would not have been conforming by the complex COR test, we were told, “maybe.” After testing the new line of metal woods, I am a believer.
Odyssey also showcased their premier milled putter line with Toulon Design Putters. I spent a half hour rolling these putters and talked to one of the engineers behind it. After our conversation, it was clear he is “more smarter than I” (or is it me). Anyway, they anticipate more and more players on Tour playing their milled putters, so keep an eye out for Toulon Design on Tour (Patrick Rogers was using one of them at Torrey Pines). I grew up playing the milled putters of Scotty Cameron, and it was easy for me to fall in love with what Toulon Design has built.
TaylorMade will be continuing with their M series for this year. We didn’t get the opportunity to try out their new equipment at the show as the minimum wait time all four days of the show was over an hour. With a full schedule of appointments, it was more difficult for us, but continues to show that TaylorMade is one of the hottest brands in golf. What we can tell you about the new line is that it will be comprised of over 40% more carbon then last year’s model. The carbon allows for a lighter head which leads to more clubhead speed. The adjustable weights have been improved as well. The middle weight can now be adjusted 64% more from front to back. This will help improve the center of gravity in the club to give you more workability and better ball flight. The M2 will also have more carbon in the head compared to last year’s model and will include a new more active speed pocket. This pocket helps improve clubhead speed as well as give you better forgiveness and distances. The M2 will also come in draw layout which will move the weight that is at the back center of the club and place it towards the heel.
The big news that came from TaylorMade during the PGA Show was the signing of former number 1 in the world Tiger Woods. Tiger will be using TaylorMade woods thru wedges, while keeping his trusty Scotty Cameron in the bag and using Bridgestone golf balls, which I am surprised by.
TaylorMade has taken great steps to improve their golf ball this season. The new TaylorMade TP5 and TP5x look to compete with Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x. Every manufacturer wants to compete with the ProV1 ball, but I am very excited to test these ones out. During testing of the golf ball, they noticed that the ball would carry longer and with a higher trajectory with irons then the Pro V1 or Pro V1x. Once we get some greenish grass out here, we will be using our Flightscope X2 Elite to test the TaylorMade TP5 series against the ProV1.
New to Huntsman Springs, is the addition of PING to our fitting capabilities. Dylan and I were able to hit the product line from PING at the Demo Day fortunately, and we were very impressed. PING has been the market leader in woods the last few years and has been the preferred choice by our own Jimmy Burnett and Alec Johnson. I won’t bore you with the details of the “Dragonfly” technology that reduces the weight by 8 grams because I may have done so already, but it has been ranked as the most forgiving driver on the market. That makes sense because Jimmy and Alec continue to outdrive me all the time (obviously, their youth and athleticism can’t be the reason). PING offers three driver heads, the standard G, the SF Tec, and the LS Tec. The SF Tec helps promote a right to left shot shape. The LS Tec is their lowest spinning driver.
With the addition of PING to our arsenal, we are able to take the industry’s leading manufacturers and offer a wide variety to fit you to the best. With the help of our Flightscope X2 Elite, we can do a full fitting with one or every line we offer. Don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about a future fitting. I have spent the majority of time focusing on the woods from these companies, but I don’t want to completely ignore that all three brands offer the best in irons, wedges, and putters as well.
If you are wondering how a PGA Professional spends most of his time at the enormous PGA Show, well, we primarily look at clothes. I saw enough tech poly blends and natural hand cotton blends for a lifetime. Needless to say, we do get excited about the apparel lines, and are excited about the lines we will be bringing in this year. Apparel lines that we will be bringing back this year for men are: Peter Millar, Footjoy, Adidas, Fairway & Greene, Zero Restriction, QED, and Straight Down. New additions: Dunning, Sunice, Adipure, and Under Armour.
Ladies lines that will be back: Adidas, Fairway & Greene, Peter Millar, Straight Down, EP Pro, Zero Restriction, QED, and Cutter & Buck. New lines: Footjoy Golfleisure, Levelwear Verve, and Sunice. Both men’s and women’s lines will offer an array of items that will range from active wear, golf apparel, and lifestyle. As always, we can look to special order anything you want from these lines as well as others that you like.
It is always nice to be home, but we appreciate our time spent in Central Florida and with our fellow PGA Professionals. Thank you for humoring me during my review of the PGA Merchandise Show 2017!
Paul-David Milton, PGA
Director of Golf