Tuesday, February 21, 2017

2017 PGA Merchandise Show

January 25-26, 2017
Orange County Convention Center
Orlando, Florida

Welcome to The 2017 PGA Merchandise Show, "The MAJOR of Golf Business"

     With more than 10 miles of showcase aisles, a million square feet of interactive exhibits and 40,000 attendees aiming to elevate and celebrate the business of golf, the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida is home each January to The PGA Merchandise Show

     The 2017 PGA Show coincided with several landmark events in our lives - retirement, which has thankfully given us more time for golf, and the start of cataracts, which pointed us in the direction of eyewear.  According to the American Optometric Association, the chances of long-term eye damage like cataracts and macular degeneration increase dramatically with exposure to UV-A and UV-B radiation, particularly prevalent in outdoor activities like golf.  Good quality sunglasses will block out the 99-100% that is recommended but there is much more to the science of eye protection than that.
     The shape of sport lenses and frames has developed to wrap side to side and top to bottom, blocking pollens and irritants, drying wind and side glare.  New coatings reduce fog on the inside as well as water and smudges on the outside while frames merge strength and flexibility with the safety needed in sporting conditions.

Photo Courtesy of Henrik Stenson Eyewear - Iceman

     Henrik Stenson, an exceptional golfer with a lifetime of allergies and eye sensitivity, has developed 3 lines of eyewear that are stylishly Scandenavian in design - HS Performance for golfers, a classic Street collection and an Optical range of prescriptive frames.  Henrik Stenson Eyewear feature a trademarked Powereye lens that reduces reflection and fatigue while maintaining color balance and the attention to detail is obvious.  His signature "Iceman" frames also come in a Junior line that encourages an early start to protecting those young, transparent eyes when retinas are even more at risk.
     Tifosi Optics was created in 2003 by cyclists and runners from the University of Georgia focusing on providing value-oriented, sturdy eyewear.  Sports enthusiasts from golfers to baseball players to surfers have discovered them and Tifosi has developed sport-specific lenses to satisfy their demand.  All-Sport Interchangeable models come with three sets of high-quality shatterproof polycarbonate lenses such as a full-sun protection, a high contrast and a golf-specific greens-reading lens.  They also offer an interesting variety of prescription and aided-vision solutions as well as tactical eyewear and Fototec photochromatic glasses that can adapt to rapidly changing shadows and environments.
     Under Armour is a proud partner this year with the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, providing more than 26 caddies with an assortment of styles featuring their Game Day lens that enhances color contrast of a white ball against green backgrounds.
 Their adult and "Rookie" youth glasses have multi-positioning nose pads that are extremely comfortable, extended Armour Sight lenses that include storm coating and flexible frames that are almost weightless, providing a custom, secure fit through any golf swing.

     Bolle boasts a Trivex lens which offers clarity closest to glass while still rating very high in impact-resistance.  Their origin in the French Alps and then post-WWII growth into the nylon industry gave them early entrée into the sunglass business with first finely-worked frames for ski goggles, then après ski wear and now sport and eye protection for customers the world-over.  Bolle uses an anti-reflective coating that keeps side-glare from building between the face and lens and they offer a large variety of lens and frame colors as well as a prescriptive program and their Modulator lenses with photochromatic technology.

     Lens color has a science all to itself.  For years Dad field-trained his labs with yellow-tinted lenses- good for long-distance depth perception, he says; they used grey or brown to reduce glare when he flew for the Navy.  And it works for golf, too.  Browns and ambers enhance terrain contrast and grey is comfortable in extremely bright conditions.  Recently support has been building for violet when it comes to reading greens by filtering out a higher percentage of blue light that blurs grass definition in high light.  And by the way, leave those polarized glasses in the boat - they'll take the sheen right off the grass and you'll miss an important break component!

     Enjoying the opportunities to report every bit of news we could included several social events that celebrated success and new ventures.  Folds of Honor annually throws a party during The PGA Show to thank its supporters for their generous commitment to their cause.  This year that included a fantastic 2-hour Dierks Bentley show, a Wing Man and enthusiastic participant in the Memorial Weekend Patriot Cup. Thank YOU, Folds and Dierks!

Photo courtesy of LACOSTE

     And the new partnership of Lacoste with The President's Cup was revealed this week, displaying their team uniforms, outerwear and casual lines that will for the first time outfit both the U. S. and International teams, drawing on their global apparel experience.


     Tournament promoters were stopping to see the Tee Trees.  Such a simple concept for corporate and tournament promotions!  Why didn't anyone think of this before?  Mini-billboard rentals that have changeable vinyl "slap-ons" and hold up to 1,000 tees - perfect, portable promotions!


     Caddysnax, a division of Fitful, offers healthy snacks to fuel a player through 18 holes as well as marketing and tournament sponsorship opportunities in and on every clever box!

     Another interesting idea in golf promotions is offered by
Tee 2 Green Visuals. They call it Virtual Real Estate - basically a digital version of the yardage book which has commercial partner advertising and tournament applications.

     But in our hearts we are quite old-school and collectors of memorabilia.  We really enjoyed our chat with Tom Goellner, Art Director for Shot Selector which for 30 years has produced a line of accessories that began with yardage books.  They have grown to include just about any logo product imaginable while maintaining their small corporate structure.  Longevity in golf - something we all strive for.

     Johnny Miller was a nice surprise at Zero Friction Golf Gloves. He was sporting their Distance Pro GPS Glove on his left hand and signing autographs with it, too - a natural leftie who played right-handed and he smiled when we were surprised by that.  It could not have been easy for him to adapt when he was young but those struggles to find a way to play create our finest players.

     TaylorMade was showing off not only its M1 and M2 drivers, revamped and reamped with 43% more carbon in the crown than last year, allowing maximum weight to the sole and rear that optimizes loft and launch, but also a hall full of their players' trophies from 2016.

Olympic Gold - Justin Rose

BMW Championship - Jason Day

The Players Championship - Jason Day
The AT&T Byron Nelson - Sergio Garcia


The US Open Championship - Dustin Johnson
PGA Senior Professional Championship - Steve Schneiter
PGA Professional Championship - Rich Berberian


Ping's Oslo Mallet combines an aerospace-grade aluminum head that is fully machined at Ping with a stainless steel sole plate for a noticeable increase in MOI - moment of inertia.  The higher the MOI, the more likely the ball is to roll straight off the face. 


Higher MOI's can be attained by redistributing mass as far away from the center of the face as possible, allowing for some very interesting shapes.  The Odyssey Toulon Design Indianapolis is their first Super High MOI mallet - a sleek shape combined with their deep diamond milling creates accurate
                                        roll and distance across a wide range of the face.

 Areso's putters are eye-catching.  Boasting 60,000 combinations of shapes and weights, they also offered a Kine-Fit session and followed up on our fitting with a digital report for a best match.  It was our first professional putter fitting and we're looking forward to testing their findings.

     We found more FootJoys tucked in between the club testing stations and tried on the women's waterproof Breath Easy empower with their new Boa Closure System for Dialed In Fit.  FootJoy comfort and instant fit borrowed from medical, orthotic and snowboard boot technology - it's a brand new world!


     The beauty of Ouul Bags is in every detail.  The tactile feel of the fabric, especially their quilted Ribbed Collection, is elegant and the waterproof zippers and finger toggles are the finest quality available.  Sets go beyond the standard shoe bag and include a vast array of luggage options. 

     Our last few hours at the show were spent visiting with friends old and new.  Alan Maloney at Golf Ireland felt like both - so warm and welcoming, assuring us that we're all Irish, especially if we come to Ireland!  Definitely on our bucket list, his Mount Falcon Estate sits in the heart of the western counties within an easy drive of courses like Enniscrone and Rosses Point.  But we may never want to leave this restored manor with its salmon and fly-fishing, clay shooting and tale-telling to enchant us at this 100 acre estate on the banks of the River Moy.

     The Fuchshumer Family of Easy Pitch travelled to their first PGA show with an excitement and enthusiasm that comes from having a new patent and strong family bond.  The best ideas are born of necessity and as Roland Fuchshumer was recuperating from back problems his divot repair tool migrated to the end of his putter.  A sleek design that is well-engineered and well-made, our lower back complaints appreciate this new product!

     Shinama Golf also creates finely-detailed tools.  Even the insides of their match-book style corporate tee packages are printed in full color and their rep explained the thought behind their elevated tee stands - Japanese courses are often frozen!

     We stopped to say hello to the guys at Salute Military Golf Association.  Their ambassadors Brian Lowen and his service buddy Kairo were taking a break after putting in many miles and we took a few minutes to say how much their organization has meant to us.  Their focused foundation brings rehabilitative golf clinics and opportunities to post-9/11 U. S. service members who are recovering from severe injury and PTSD.  SMGA was started by Jim Estes, former PGA tour pro whose teaching career centers around Olny Golf Park near Walter Reed Medical Center.  He saw the need and knew the life-changing potential that golf could have in rehabilitative programs at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital.  They have since served over 2,000 Veterans across the country through their Warrior Golf Clinics and American Golfer Program.

     Clearly, sports can be an integral part of a team commitment that can be missing in an individual's rehabilitation, particularly for our military.  We report back to Dad on the groups we support and see at the show because while his naval career officially ended 30 years ago, he always likes to know who's out there fighting for his guys and gals.

     And having lived in Pittsburgh for the last 55 years, he has a fondness for Dick's Sporting Goods
who moved their headquarters there when many industries had moved away, leaving a void in the city's tax base that created shock waves in school budgets, particularly affecting allocations for arts and sports.  Dick's national Sports Matter Campaign had its roots in their charitable involvement in the Pittsburgh community where sports have historically played a significant role in our City of Champions.  This week CEOs Ed Stack of Dick's Sporting Goods and Pete Bevacqua of the PGA of America announced a 3-year commitment with The First Tee and Boys & Girls Clubs of America through PGA Junior League Golf to further establish the firm footing that we as golfers know our children need.  Click here for their video interview with Gary Williams on Golf Channel.

     And with one last stop at an unassuming booth toward the back of the textile pavilion in the giant convention hall, we gave our regards to the folks at Arnold Palmer Apparel whose logo,
"LOOK GREAT.  DO GOOD.", finishes with these words:
"To Benefit Arnie's Army Charitable Foundation."

     We're looking forward to Bay Hill.

For a look at our full report of the 2017 PGA Outdoor Demo Day from Orange County National Golf Center go to

2017 PGA Merchandise Show Outdoor Demo Day

PGA Merchandise Show and Outdoor Demo Day
January 24, 2017
Orange County National Golf Center
Winter Garden, Florida

     The PGA Merchandise Show's 15th Outdoor Demo Day began at Orange County National's 42-acre practice facility with perfect sunny skies and 75 degrees.  So after a stop at SKIN, whose sunscreen is designed by golfers for golfers and is the favorite among tour players and Demo Day attendees, we aimed toward the waving flags of Folds Of Honor to say hello and pay respects to one of golf's rising stars in the world of charitable foundations.  Formed just 10 years ago by Major Dan Rooney, USAF, a former PGA Pro and fighter pilot, Folds has taken off like the F16s that he has flown.  With its purpose to provide scholarships for the children and spouses of fallen and disabled U. S. service members, Folds Of Honor started with a simple golf tournament and has grown to be embraced by the PGA of America, Nascar, and major corporations like Anhueser-Busch and Cobra/Puma.  Its logo, a folded flag, made surprise appearances on several products that we saw this week from companies like FootJoy, Tee Tree, Bushnell and Bolle but Folds Of Honor is just one of many charitable foundations to benefit from the heart of golf.

        The driving theme behind this year's PGA Show was the far-reaching charitable impact of golf.  Annually in the U. S. players, sponsors and fans raise more money than football, baseball, hockey and basketball combined, and they raise it with a generosity that comes from participation.  In 2016, 84% of golf facilities in the United States hosted events for a charitable cause but perhaps the more important stat is that 50% of golfers in America participated in a charitable event.  The magic of golf is that it is played by an individual but through it we can do such bigger things.

     The media coach had let us off at the Golf Range Association of America-sponsored 2nd tee pavilion, where the GRAA hosts a huge village of merchandisers that support golfers and courses with everything from teaching tools to range finders to aerification equipment.

     Game Golf' 's hands-free device has moved shot-tracking up another notch with a teacher portal that can record each shot, collect stats from every hole and even send them to your teaching pro.  It's also Smart Watch enabled and oh, it's got a huge community of skills challenges for those who don't get enough pressure in their own foursome!

     The 500-yard distance across the circular range at Orange County National is the perfect opportunity to test the features that elevate Bushnell and Nikon in yardage-seeking.  Bushnell's Jolt system locks in and lets the player know when the element is targeted and provides a slope feature that can be disengaged for USGA-sanctioned play.  And Nikon's new Photographic Stabilization takes precision to the half yard even against wind, adrenaline or shaky hands.

     A piece of ground-breaking grounds-keeping equipment that drew quite a crowd was the Air2g2, a mobile pneumatic aerator that injects greens with air, improving compacted root zones, drainage and turf health while eliminating the need for punching and sanding, hole closures and unhappy players.

     Offering varied terrain options to the often flat landscape of many practice ranges, the ToughLie 360 platform is durable, stable underfoot and easily rotates to re-create real course conditions on the range. 

       At every hitting station around the range, the talk was about sound.  Gone is the tininess of yesterday and some of our favorite sounds came out of drivers like Callaway's new Epic, Epon (celebrating 40 years of custom-fitted clubs forged by Endo) and XXiO (long an Asian best-seller that Dunlop Sports is bringing into the U. S. market), all with a feel of heavier heads and lighter shafts.

     Shots with the women's Ping Gle with 11.5 degree loft and 193 gr lightweight head were reliably long and straight.  And the Cobra King F7 ladies' driver and 5-6 wood fired the balls off like rockets.

     We stopped at FootJoy where we complimented their shoe life (one of our favorite pairs is pushing 15 years old) and were rewarded with a step challenge and pedometer to wear for the rest of our 3 days at the show.  Attendees' badges declare name, affiliation and home town and the three young men behind us listening to our story were from the Jekyll Island Golf Club in Georgia.  We let them know of our fondness for Jekyll that goes back to our golfing roots.  Their historic 9-hole Great Dunes Course (then called Oceanside) was our very first round of golf almost 30 years ago.  When we finally made our way after at least 100 strokes to the top of the 5th green and looked out at the Atlantic Ocean and both one-putted, we knew we were hooked for life!

     Clubs continue to show technologic advances as face thinness is drawn even thinner, allowing for the movement of weight to interesting counterpoints, increasing ball jump and maximizing the sweet spot.  Cleveland may have perfected this, redistributing 9 grams of mass inside the RTX-3 wedge and shortening the hosel, small but large adjustments that make a noticeable difference.

     As we finished the circle at the end of the afternoon we slowed down to watch what looked like a lesson at KBS ShaftsMichael Breed had tossed his backpack down and stepped in to give some pointers to an older gentleman.  No script.  No cameras.  No hurry.  He spent 15 minutes helping someone find his comfort zone that straightened his swing, got him some extra yards and made a friend for life.  That's a PGA Pro for you.

For a look at our full report on the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show from Orlando, Florida go to
The Garden Variety Golfer Reports From The 2017 PGA Merchandise Show

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

2017 PGA Show Report Coming Soon

2017 PGA Merchandise Show and Demo Day
January 24-27, 2017
Orlando, Florida

Thank you to FootJoy for the pedometer and challenge during the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show and Demo Day.  The Garden Variety Golfers logged 26,361 steps, the equivalent of 14.9 miles during 4 great days at the 2017 PGA Show!  Please check back soon for our full report on what is new in the world of golf!