It is hard to believe that the 2013 PGA Merchandise came to a close last week in Orlando, FL and its always interesting to see what is in store for golfers over the coming year. While, there wasn’t anything groundbreaking that I saw at the PGA Merchandise Show this year, there are three trends that emerged that are worth talking about.
Trend One: Adjustable Drivers
Adjustable drivers have been around for several years now and not new by any stretch of the imagination, but now all golf club manufacturers have an adjustable driver on the market. The key is they no longer just adjustable by face position (open, closed, neutral), but now you can independently control the loft, which wasn’t something you could do before, and was considered a limitation. In this segment TaylorMade launched the R1 and Nike Golf with the Covert driver, which both feature face adjustments, but also loft.
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Ping also released their adjustable models that allow you to modify loft in Ping ANSER and Ping G25, and Cobra Golf introduced the AMP Cell line of drivers with MyFly Technology-One driver, six loft setting, in four fresh colors. The idea behind these is to adjust loft based on playing conditions. No more need to specify the loft you need, it’s like the Swiss Army of drivers. Other notables also include Callaway XHOT and RAZR FIT Xtreme drivers, which are adjustable as well.
Trend Two: Smartphone Based Swing Training Aids
There are now more than 1 billion smartphones in use worldwide: 1.038 billion in total. (source) So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we are at the tipping point of seeing more and more products leveraging smartphones for more than just GPS and scorecard apps. At the 2013 PGA Merchandise Show, I got a chance to look at four swing training analyzer products on the market. These include: SwingSmart, SwingTip, SwingByte, and SkyPro by SkyGolf.
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SwingSmart is a golf analyzer that attaches to any club in your bag with two-piece adapter plate, just below the grip and communicates to your iOS device via BLUETOOTH (iPhone, iPad, or iPod), as of this writing Android version is in the works. The app collects four stats: tempo, swing speed, angle of attack, and face angles. In addition it also displays a 3D Swing view-showing a 360-degree representation of your golf swing. This app collects the data and saves it to the cloud for free, plus you can email your swing to an instructor or friend who has the app, plus access videos from CBS Golf Analyst and Instructor Peter Kostis.
SwingTip like SwingSmart, also attaches to your club in the same fashion and communicates via BLUETOOTH, and displays your swing. But the biggest difference is that it is more consumer focused, and puts less emphasis on the technical data. SwingTip records the following metrics: Tempo, Club Head Speed, Swing Path, Face Angle and Impact Zone. Plus it includes swing tip notes and videos, and free storage of your swing data and performance data.
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SwingByte which launched last year at the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show, introduced SwingByte 2.0 which features a more streamlined device, plus they added a split view to display a video of your actual swing next to the 3D representation of your golf swing. This is launching later this Spring.
The latest entry in this category is SkyPro by SkyGolf, the makers of SkyCaddie GPS. SkyGolf built their graphic engine from the ground up to make practicing payoff and more enjoyable. What’s cool about SkyPro is that the 3D inertial motion sensors capture your swing and swing data automatically. No need to hit a start button, etc. It also auto-transfers the swing data to your smartphone, which includes: clubhead speed, swing path, club rotation, dace angle, swing plane, impact position, tempo, and more. Plus get swing tips and drills from Hank Haney and Michael Breed to make your practice time more productive.
Trend Three: Crossover Golf Shoes
Crossover golf shoes have been around for several years now, but only a handful of options existed from various manufacturers. Realizing that many of today’s golfers are looking for a multi-functional golf shoe that can be worn not only on the golf course, but out to lunch or even the office, without having to change shoes.
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FootJoy M:Project Golf Shoes
The biggest surprise in my opinion is FootJoy’s entrance into this space with the M:Project line of golf shoes. FootJoy which is know for classic golf shoes, really stepped outside of the box with the cycling shoe inspired M:Project golf shoes. The M:Project shoes come in both spiked and spikeless styles and made from either thin leather or mesh uppers, for a second skin feel.The last on the shoe is designed wider to allow for your toes to spread and not feel constrained, and its low profile allow your feet to be close to the ground.
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Ecco Golf launched its new Biom Zero Golf Shoes at the 2013 PGA Merchandise Show, which is there lightest and lowest profile golf shoe to date.The minimalist rock climbing inspired design is made with Caldera leather uppers from Ecco’s owned tannery. Plus the soles have zero seams, since they are injected molded, so you don’t have to worry about water being an issue. But the standout in my opinion is the Ecco Tour Hybrid Wingtip. The Tour Hybrid Wingtip feature brogue detailing with uppers made from rich leather, that any style conscious golfer would appreciate.
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Puma Golf known for its sports performance line of shoes in the AMP Cell line introduced its running shoe inspired Fass Lite shoes in both lightweight leather uppers and Faas Lite Mesh. Both the mesh and leather versions are super lightweight, flexible, and feature spikeless SmartQuill traction. The Fass Lite Mesh are perfect shoe for playing golf in hot and humid climates, and look amazing!
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In the category of its own is the G/Fore Gallivanter golf shoe which debuted at the 2013 PGA Merchandise Show. G/Fore which was big hit at the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show with its colorful line of golf gloves made from grade-AA cabretta leather, that allow golfers to express themselves on the course. The Gallivanter Golf Shoe is a classic Derby shoe made from water-resistant suede, with tonal and contrast waxed laces, and feature a spikeless EVA foam sole with G/FORE logo as the spikes. The Gallivanter are brain child of G/Fore designer and founder Mossimo Giannulli, who wanted to bring to market golf shoe that strikes the balance between fashion and comfort. This is a homerun in my opinion and will be available later this year.
What are you most excited about for golf in 2013?