PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day Foreshadows 2014 Innovations and Equipment

Posted in Golf Equipment, PGA Show 2014 by on January 21st, 2014

On Tuesday, approximately 100 golf companies flaunted their 2014 wares before approximately 7,000 active participants—PGA professionals, golf shop buyers, media, and just plain golf aficionados—at the PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day. The largest such event in the world, Demo Day is conducted annually on the immense 42-acre, circular practice facilities at Orange County National Golf Center in Winter Garden, Florida.

Golf company tents are spread throughout the Demo Day grounds, and the participants never lacked for a new club idea or technological innovation.

Golf company tents are spread throughout the Demo Day grounds, and the participants never lacked for a new club idea or technological innovation. (Photo by Vicky MacKay.)

“Who’s Who” on Demo Day

Demo Day is the popular precursor to the three-day PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando and is about 30 minutes from the Show’s home in the Orange County Convention Center. The lineup of golf’s “who’s who” around the eight teeing grounds of the practice range and the three separate putting greens includes manufacturers of drivers, fairway metals, hybrids, irons, wedges, and putters. Accessory tents with their shafts, gloves, grips, tees, spikes, launch monitors, footwear, sunglasses, and training aids intermingle with the big boys and garner their own share of the foot traffic.

Dave Pelz and Peter Jacobsen gave two short-game clinics at the Cleveland/Srixon venue.

Dave Pelz and Peter Jacobsen gave two short-game clinics at the Cleveland/Srixon venue. (Photo by Vicky MacKay.)

In its twelfth year, Demo Day has lured Callaway, Golf Pride, Mizuno, Nike, Tour Edge, True Temper, Wilson, and Winn Grips from the beginning. The rest of the “A” teams—Bridgestone, Cleveland/Srixon, Cobra Puma Golf, PING, TaylorMade/Adams, andTitleist have followed suit. Each year, more than 100,000 golf shots are propelled around the driving range as pros, ams, and media try the newest product innovations of the companies.

Today, the PGA professionals not only tested the new equipment but also interacted with sales reps and fellow pros, as they prepare for the 2014 golf season. In addition, a series of instructional workshops from such well-known teachers as David Leadbetter, Stan Utley, Mike Malaska, Suzy Whalley, and Dana Rader ran throughout the day. The Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” was shot live on location, and Peter Jacobsen and Dave Pelz conducted several short-game clinics at the Cleveland location on Tee Box #1.

So, my job was to cozy up to an eclectic mix of vendors and ask, “What’s new?” I always received a very quick response, and I am now passing on five of the better answers.

The Putter Wheel training aid allows the player to see if his stroke is square to the line or not.

The Putter Wheel training aid allows the player to see if his stroke is square to the line or not. (Photo by Vicky MacKay.)

The Putter Wheel” Helps Keeps the Putting Wheels On

First of all,”The Putter Wheel,” (www.putterwheel.com) an intriguing but simple training aid, is new. Imagine a golf ball without sides, looking sort of like a tire, with redwalls on both sides instead of white on one. Align the tire to the hole and then stand over the ball until the redwalls disappear. Now your eyes are over the ball. Take your stroke. A pure stroke will cause the wheel to roll smoothly; a mis-stroke will cause the wheel to wobble and curve off line. Instant feedback on the putting stroke. What could be better!

The new Adams XTD driver is the company's newest and best driver ever.

The new Adams XTD driver is the company’s newest and best driver ever.

Adams Golf Goes the Distance

Now, for what equipment is Adams Golf (www.adamsgolf.com) famous? Sure, its award winning fairway metals and hybrids that are played at every level of the game. So, what’s new with Adams? Their brand new XTD driver! Keep in mind that Adams is part of the TaylorMade empire, and what has made TM famous? Thus, the XTD, adjustable to 12 settings, is a natural evolution for Adams and a piece of technology that is admirable in its own right. Justin Honea, the senior director of R&D, has said as modestly as he could, ““We’re touting that it’s the hottest face in golf by using the strictest manufacturing tolerances. Every feature we’ve built into the XTD family is distinctive, and we’ve merged them all together into the ultimate driver.”

Mizuno's forged JPX irons are technologically advanced are very forgiving.

Mizuno’s forged JPX EZ irons are technologically advanced are very forgiving.

MPX EZ Irons by Mizuno Forgive and Move Forward

Mizuno (www.mizunousa.com/golf) in introducing a new line of irons they are calling “groundbreaking,” and the JPX EZ mirror the XTD in their use of technology. Called “the most forgiving grain flow forged iron ever,” these irons provide game improvement length with that unmistakable forged feel. An enhanced COR face design for increased distance combined with mild carbon steel gives golfers of all abilities “a superior soft, solid and consistent feel.” Chuck Couch, VP of Production Management said, “The distance and forgiveness screams game-improvement, but we’ve been able to channel those characteristics in a Grain Flow Forged iron that’ll change the way golfers look, think and feel over the golf ball.”

Steve Boccieri is proud of his new line of "heavy" putter grips that will promote a smooth, pendulum stroke.

Steve Boccieri is proud of his new line of “heavy” putter grips that will promote a smooth, pendulum stroke. (Photo by Vicky MacKay.)

The “Secret Grip” Now for Putters

Steve Boccieri’s “Secret Grip” (www.boccierigolf.com/secret-grip/putter)  is no longer a secret. His 2013 promotion of the “secret” to Jack Nicklaus’s success, utilizing back-weighted, heavier grips, led to Boccieri making this technology available to all. Nicklaus has gone on record as saying, “I utilized back-weighting throughout my career. It helped my timing, tempo, and reduced dispersion.” Boccieri’s grip is 40% heavier than standard because of the tungsten weight in the butt-end. Boccieri has now transferred his “secret” to oversized, heavier putter grips in response to the USGA’s outlawing of the anchored stroke. Boccieri said, “The increased weight of the Secret Grip engages your larger muscles, providing more stability and control, without anchoring. It quiets the hands, gives better distance control on longer putts, and promotes a smooth, pendulum stroke.”

Bushnell's new JOLT laser rangefinder vibrates when the flag is targeted.

Bushnell’s new JOLT laser rangefinder vibrates when the flag is targeted.

Bushnell’s JOLT Shakes Up Laser Rangefinders

You know, all of the best equipment in the world is ineffectual if the player does not know his distances. Bushnell laser rangefinders have always been on everybody’s short list of dependable weapons. The brand new and surprisingly compact Tour Z6 JOLT (www.bushnellgolf.com/laser/tourz6.cfm) may just distance Bushnell from the rest of the yardage pack. First, its turbo processor makes it five times faster so that it instantaneously acquires flags up to 450 yards away with extreme speed. Second, it is accurate to ½ yard up to 200 yards and makes objects appear six times closer. Third, once the flag is acquired the JOLT technology provides the golfer with short, vibrating bursts to reinforce the laser has locked on the flag and not a tree, a stone wall, or a high-lipped bunker. Fourth, the Vivid Display Technology (VDT) contains four brightness settings for clarity in any lighting situation. Fifth, it is waterproof and has a rubber-armored metal housing for durability. Yardage has never been easier or more accurate.

OK, that’s the deal with Demo Day from a purely subjective point of view. The object, of course, is to think about what equipment to research and try once the winter doldrums allow New Englanders to head out into those wide open green spaces.

From all the way across the driving range, the orange hat of Cobra Puma stands out like a lighthouse.

From all the way across the driving range, the orange hat of Cobra Puma stands out like a lighthouse. (Photo by Vicky MacKay.)

A much-larger-than-life Rickie Fowler hat let everyone know how to fine the Cobra Puma venue!

A much-larger-than-life Rickie Fowler hat let everyone know how to fine the Cobra Puma venue! (Photo by Vicky MacKay.)

 

Leigh MacKay (69 Posts)

Leigh MacKay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. Leigh lives in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where he enjoys the balmy winters and his membership at The Evergreen Club. He summers in Plymouth, Mass, where he enjoys the exquisite seafood and his membership at Southers Marsh GC. After 36 years of teaching English and coaching varsity golf, mostly at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia, writing about golf is the perfect second career.


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