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Category: PGA Show

January 28, 2009

Quest for a driver at the PGA Merchandise Show

Posted at 5:24 PM by

By Gary Van Sickle

ORLANDO, Fla. -- I once wrote that Demo Day at the PGA Merchandise Show was the greatest day of the year. Maybe I exaggerated, but it's definitely in the top five and well ahead of Groundhog Day, Bring Your Dog to Work Day and Arbor Day.

Demoday At Demo Day, nearly all the major golf manufacturers set up stations around a gigantic 360-degree range at Orange County National. I was here to check out what's new in golf equipment for SI's Golf Plus, but I was also on a more selfish mission. My Cobra driver, which I've had for the last five or six years, passed away recently. The cause of death was a cracked face, and now I'm looking to make a new hire.

Over the years, I've developed a few rules for Demo Day. First, only three swings per club: I don't want my swing to adjust to a new club, and I need to pace my aging body so I can get around the whole circle. Second, don't make snap judgments. I've fallen in love with clubs at Demo Day only to be disappointed when I bought them. My search for a new driver is not over, but thanks to Demo Day, the field is narrowing.

Callaway was my first stop, where I picked up the new Big Bertha Diablo 9.5-degree neutral model and bashed three straight beauties without so much as a warmup, a pleasant surprise. The club has kind of an odd-looking back end, but that's OK. I also tried the FTiQ, which has a squarish, carved-out look, but no luck there.

Cobra_s91 Cobra and Titleist returned to the Show for the first time in several years. They were sorely missed. I thought maybe I could find a great-great-grandson of my late Cobra SZ440, which I liked because it felt like the ball jumped off the face. The Cobra S9-1 fit the bill. It had a nice look, not unlike the muscled top ridge of my old club. It's big, but the head's thickness tapers off at the back and looks less like a flying saucer than some previous models.

At the Titleist bays, I wore out the turf trying various versions of the 909 D2, 909 D3 and DComp. The D2 is a mid-launch club, the D3 is a low-launcher for high-ball hitters, and the DComp the highest launching version of the three. I liked the extra hang time on the DComp. I think that could be a winner.

PowerbiltThe Mizuno MX 700 made me think of John Daly. I mean, heads are limited to 460 cc, but this thing just looks like it's been on a bacon-burger-and-beer diet. I clouted it pretty well, however, and I noticed it has a quieter sound than some previous Mizunos I've hit.

Powerbilt isn't a big player in golf, and I probably wouldn't have stopped there if it hadn't introduced a new Air Force driver, right, that features a chamber filled with nitrogen gas. The pressurized gas adds strength, allowing thinner walls and less weight. I tried two models. The rounder one, the PV (as in Player Version), wasn't bad. You can work the ball a little better if you're one of those few players who knows what direction the driver is headed.

Adams_speedline But no three shots felt any better than the sleeve I pounded with the Adams Speedline. It's got a more traditional head shape and some interesting grid lines around its edges. This one definitely advances to the playoff round.

My last stop was Nike. The buzz at this year's show will likely revolve around Nike's new SQ Dymo S2 STR8-Fit driver, which can be adjusted to eight different loft-and-lie positions. This idea is the next innovation after last year's interchangeable-shaft clubs. I hit it reasonably well, and the adjustability makes a lot of sense. TaylorMade started this trend with its successful movable weights. Now we've evolved to adjustable loft and lie.

It's like buying the characteristics of eight different drivers. TaylorMade has a similar new driver but didn't attend Demo Day, so I didn't get a chance to try it out.

What's going to end up in my bag? I don't know yet, but I'm encouraged. In the past few years, I haven't been all that excited about the trend toward bigger and squarer heads. Nothing had proven itself superior to my old Cobra. But I could easily put any of these clubs in my bag and be happy. Thanks to Demo Day, I was able to check them all out in one afternoon.

(Photos: David Walberg/SI)

January 27, 2009

Who Will Have a Good Show?

Posted at 6:03 PM by David Dusek

2009_pga_show ORLANDO, Fla. — The PGA Merchandise Show is usually the only trade show I attend each year. It brings together an assortment of manufacturers, PGA professionals, golf shop retailers, apparel buyers, industry insiders and members of the golf media.

This is my eighth show, and I still chuckle every time I hear someone in a hallway or a hotel lobby say, with complete sincerity, "Hey ... Have a good show!"

I sat next to Tom Stites, Nike Golf's director of product innovation, on my shuttle ride from the airport to the Hertz Rental Car site. Swooshes on his shoes, eyewear and luggage were a dead giveaway. He told me this is his 23rd PGA Show.

Stites, a Ft. Worth resident, laughed as he told me a story about a former co-worker who had way too many  drinks one night during a PGA Show many years ago. The guy lost his rental car, and instead of trying to find it the next day, he simply got on his plane and left town.

"I think it topped out about 10 years ago," Stites said with just a hint of Texas drawl. Since then, he said, the PGA Show's importance has waned because the timing is just not great for many manufacturers.

In the old days, pros and shop owners from around the country would come to Orlando in January and buy the things that would line the walls of pro shops in the spring. But these days, most companies have already released their 2009 products, and they sell them through regional representatives.

With the struggling economy and the changing landscape for the golf industry,  I wonder how many people will be able to match Stites's run of 23 PGA Shows in their careers?

January 21, 2008

PGA Show: Wrap-up

Posted at 1:17 PM by

The big story this week has been the interchangeable shafts, but in Gary Van Sickle's final report he takes a look at what was the second-biggest innovation at the show -- and his choice may surprise you. He also reveals the best bags, putters, drivers and more that he came across during the 2008 PGA Merchandise show.

Read his column here.

PGA Show: First Look at Interchangeable-Shaft Drivers

Posted at 1:01 PM by

Gary Van Sickle has an up-close look at the new adjustable and interchangeable shafts. The good news is you don't have to be Bob the Builder, a member of Jeff Gordon's pit crew or a golf professional to swap shafts in your new adjustable driver.

Check out Nickent's Evolver 4DX and Callaway's i-Mix in this gallery.

January 18, 2008

PGA Show: Damon helps out at the PUMA booth

Posted at 3:54 PM by Anne Szeker

Puma_600x485 Yankees centerfielder Johnny Damon, below right, was on hand Thursday in the PUMA booth to greet fans and help support the launch of the company's newest golf shoe, the Swing GTXDamon

Instead of spikes, the Swing GTX has 38 molded "quills" that are strategically placed to provide traction. According to the company, the shoes are easier on greens but still provide a very solid grip during full swings.

Damon did not model the shoes, but he played his role as spokesman perfectly, sipping a beer and chatting up visitors while decked out in PUMA gear.

PGA Show: 'X' marks the spot on Callaway driver

Posted at 3:22 PM by Ryan Reiterman

Callaway There's nothing flashy about the look of the new Callaway Hyper X driver, and that's the point. It's what's inside that makes this driver stand out. Behind the face of the club is an internal weight shaped like an "X."

The purpose of the weight is to create a high moment of inertia and help generate "higher ball speeds across the entire face" of the club. The club also features a special clubface, which the company has given the  hyperbolic name of Hyperbolic Face Technology. So if you miss it off the toe or heel, the ball should still travel nearly as far as a solid shot. Callaway says it is the largest hitting area on any titanium driver the company has ever made.

PGA Show: Norman unveils new clubs from MacGregor

Posted at 3:19 PM by Ryan Reiterman

MacdriverGreg Norman wears many hats: golf legend, course designer, apparel and wine entrepreneur, future husband to a former tennis legend. He added another title to his resume in October when he was named chairman of MacGregor Golf. On Thursday, Norman held a press conference to announce a new line of clubs from MacGregor.

The "MT" line replaces the MACTEC brand that was launched in 2005, and it covers all product lines, including new putters from Bobby Grace.

"(MacGregor) is an iconic brand that has been around a long time," Norman said. "We love where we can take this company." For more photos and information, go to

PGA Show: Headcovers turned upside down

Posted at 1:07 PM by Anne Szeker


It seems like everyone has the head of a tiger, lion or university mascot poking out of the bag these days. But you can stand out in your foursome by featuring the other end of the acritter in question with a  Butthead Cover.  From horses to sharks (who knew they had butts?) to mermaids, the company has a full line of creatures with rears in the air.

PGA Show: K.J. Choi's magic grip

Posted at 11:18 AM by

Choigross2_450x600 Super Stroke Putter Grip

K.J. Choi won the Memorial and the AT&T in 2007 using a super-oversized putter grip. After winning the 2008 Sony Open in Hawaii last week, Choi has climbed to No. 7 in the world, and he's still using that massive grip.

It's the SuperStroke Classic, and the company's booth at the PGA Show has been very busy. The grip's designers claim that it requires 32% less hand pressure than traditional grips, which is supposed to enhance your sense of touch. The size also helps you lock your wrists in place during your stroke, which increases your chances of squaring the face properly.

The grip has certainly help Choi--he went from averaging 29.51 putts per round in 2006 (ranking 151st on Tour) to 28.84 (39th). -- David Dusek

PGA Show: A whopper of a bag

Posted at 10:18 AM by

Ogiomammoth_120x300 $330

Flying with your clubs usually involves praying for two things. First, that they reach your destination. Second, that they aren't dinged, bent or broken in half after bouncing around at 35,000 feet. At the PGA Show, Ogio is showcasing one of the sturdiest, most well-thought-out travel bags you'll ever see, the Mammoth.

Large enough to easily handle a Tour player's bag, or even two stand bags, the Mammoth is surprisingly maneuverable. Four extra wheels on the bottom of the bag make it easy to push and spin the Mammoth, even when it’s upright.

The entire bag is fully padded, but the lower third features a reinforced plastic guard to protect your clubs as they roll over curbs or rough terrain. The zip-off shoe compartment is washable and features an antimicrobial treatment to help reduce odor, and there is even a crush-resistant pocket that holds several baseball caps.

The bag weighs 18 pounds, is made from a tough nylon and comes with a lifetime warranty. -- David Dusek

January 17, 2008

PGA Show: Four new putters

Posted at 10:19 PM by


Demo Day is held each year on the Wednesday before the official start of festivities.'s Dave Dusek was there, and instead of focusing on the manufacturers set up around the enormous circular range at Orange County National, he hit the short game area to bring you this gallery of four innovative new putters -- the SeeMore m2w, the Zen RDE Mallet Putter (right), the Mizuno Black Carbon 2 and the Nike IC 20-15 Mid Mallet. Go to gallery

PGA Show: Pretty and tacky

Posted at 7:35 PM by Anne Szeker


Iomic Grips come in a wide array of colors to match any player's style or outfit. But the company says they aren't just fashion statements: they're waterproof, shock-absorbent and have a soft feel.

PGA Show: Golf glitz from Belding

Posted at 4:59 PM by Anne Szeker

Of all the bags here in Orlando, this one from the Belding Golf Bag Company certainly stood out. If Liberace were still alive, this might motivate him to take up the game.


PGA Show: It's a Perfect Day for Golf!

Posted at 4:55 PM by Anne Szeker


Alan Kaufman, inventor of The Nubrella, demonstrated his updated take on the umbrella today. His  product wraps around the upper body and sits on the golfer's shoulders. Since it's hands-free, you can swing away. But would you be able to see the ball as the water poured over the plastic in front of your eyes? No word yet on whether future models will feature windshield wipers.

PGA Show: Hot rides for the course

Posted at 4:43 PM by Anne Szeker

Sure, The Show is chockablock with "practical" items that "golfers" might actually "buy" and "use," but one of the great things about this event is the over-the-top merchandise. Like the diamond putter, you have to ask yourself: Who would really want or need carts like these?

M&M Vehicle Corporation's Harley-themed cart


American Custom Golf Cars' 2007 Cadillac Escalade



American Custom Golf Cars' California Roadster


American Custom Golf Cars' Hummer H3


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