The 60th Anniversarry of the PGA Merchandise show came to a close this past weekend. Although grand in size, this year paled in comparison to previous years. The golf industry as a whole is experiencing uncertain times. What was once a thriving industry during the days of Tiger Woods' dominance has lost many fans and is struggling to appeal to the younger generations. Major brands in the industry such as Titleist and Nike dominate the product landscape while smaller companies desperately fight for remaining market share. With few innovative ideas brought to the table the product offering at this years show was abismal but with a few exceptions.
The golf world must be suffering from a lack of inspiration. It seemed like there were few new ideas and their was duplicates of almost every product. Many products accomplish the same thing but were branded or packaged slightly different from each other. How many ways can you make an alignment training aid, putting device or divot repair tool? The answer, a lot. As far as golf equipment goes, it was to be expected. Incremental changes to drivers and clubs to give the golfer an nth degree of improvement of their swing...maybe, who really knows? It is all tricks and gimmicks, as company after company attempted to make golfers believe that they absolutely NEED their product to improve their game, when in reality, a golfers money is better spent on lessons and good old fashion practice.
It seemed as if they PGA itself had lost hope when they awarded the Cam Caddy the coveted product of the year award. Now dont be mistaken, the Cam Caddy is a useful little device. A simple product that holds your Smartphone steady and clips to an alignment rod, making it easy to record your swing. Practical, simple and actually quite useful but in the end, there is nothing incredibly innovative about a camera stand that is remotely related to the golf industry. But we can't blame the PGA for this decision, after all when we consider what they were working with they did not have much to choose from.
But not ALL was lost at the show. After walking what felt like hundreds of miles, visiting every booth in the place, a few good ideas did in fact break through the shade of despair. Here are the top 3 (in our opinion):
If the way you put is making you sick, take the Pill. The Pill is the only practice device designed to be played all the way to the hole. The Pill is a putting aid that will only roll when struck with a square face. This modified golf ball is designed to give you immediate feedback on the quality of your putting stroke. If hit improperly the ball will either lean to one side and roll off line, or tumble wildly. The Pill will make you a better, more consistent putter.
MiniZoo Animals may very well be the next golf sensation. For those with huge personalities the MiniZoo Animal golf bag covers are the perfect way to show some flair. These unique covers go over any golf bag and magically turn your bag into your favorite zoo animal. Made from high quality material and machine wahsable the Minizoo Bags look great and are functional. With zippers for easy access to your bag the MiniZoo bag covers are a great way to showcase your personality on the course.
We have all played golf with dirty balls before. Ahem! The BallBrite helps golfers clean them up on the course so your shots fly straight and true. A unique twist to a golf towel, the BallBrite is a microfiber sac that holds a small amount of water and removes dirt quickly and easy just from rubbing it around a few times. Made from high quality microfiber and compact the BallBrite is a convenient alternative to towels or those ball cleaners at the tee.
Emotions at the show run high. Companies are desperately seeking to make deals in order to recoup the high exhibitor cost. While some products are a hit and see sales sore, others become stagnant and fizzle out, grasping desperately at straws. The golf industry is cutthroat and the stakes are high, as business compete for a piece of a multibillion dollar pie. The PGA show is a seemingly endless gauntlet of gimmicky golf products. However, beyond the heaps of garbage there are some winners. Products that are innovative and offer great value (like the Rope It). If you love anything and everything golf then the PGA show is sure to deliver. Be prepared to sift through a LOT of nonsense before finding the good stuff. It's out there. With a little persistence and a keen eye, golf enthusiasts are sure to find something special at the PGA Merchandise Show.