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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Top 5 from the PGA Merchandise Show

Another year comes and goes in Orlando at "the show". There were several positive innovations at the show, notably free wi-fi for all and an excellent App from Reed Exhibitions that made finding a booth easier than ever. The familiar inch thick Directory is not long for this world and a few more trees will be spared!

It's become a tradition for me to seek out my favorites from the show. I wander the massive Orange County Convention Center, so you don't have to. Here's what my 10,000 step days uncovered.

1. Arccos

I have written about Arccos before and it's so good, it deserves another mention. The first iteration had a couple strange software glitches, especially with the putting, but these seem to have been resolved now. Arccos comprises 14 screw in devices that pair with your iPhone and record each and every shot you play on the golf course. The App then compiles all of this data into cool charts that allow you to study your stats and see how good (or bad!) you really are. They weigh a couple grams each, so don't impact your swing weight or golf swing. After a couple rounds you will actually forget you have them on your clubs. The only downside is the need to have your phone in your pocket and of course to make sure the phone is charged - which for me is always a challenge! But the stats and ability to compare rounds far outweigh the shortcomings of smart phone batteries - and that's not really Arccos fault is it! The website is www.arccos.com.
2. Royal Albartross Shoes

Made from English leather and handcrafted in Italy, these beautiful golf shoes are a throwback to another age. They come in several styles for men and women and fall in the category of "if you have to ask the price you can't afford them". Retailing around $500, these are shoes built to last and ideally meant for use in good weather. They are statement shoes and will no doubt be seen at the best private clubs in the country once the season kicks off. The website is www.albartross.com.
3. Ben Hogan Irons

The iconic Ben Hogan name is back on a set of golf clubs. And they are gorgeous as one would hope, forged from premium 1025 carbon steel. These clubs are definitely for the more accomplished player. I particularly liked the degrees of loft shown on each "Fort Worth" iron varying from 20 degrees to 47 degrees. It's possible to buy irons in every loft, which will be great for the player, but could play havoc with inventory! To buy the clubs you simply choose the lofts that hit the ball a certain distance during their recommended fitting process. So for example, the 43 degree iron is (was) a 9 iron. Once you know that you just hit your 43! It's a little bit of a gimmick yes, but good fun and will confuse the hell out of your opponent! TK 15 Wedges compliment the set and come in lofts from 48 to 60. The website is www.benhogangolf.com
4. DST Golf

This is a cool one. A charming Englishman called Bertie Cordle came up with the idea, having studied the very best professional golfers and observing a move they put on the ball that is obvious when pointed out. His training club with a unique, curved shaft puts the players hands in the right position to create the perfect feeling at impact. DST stands for "delayed strike technology" and the curved club trains the golfer to locate, train and perfect the optimal impact position. I'm not generally one for training clubs, but instantly understood Bertie's observation and believe this would be a major help to most golfers. The website is www.dstgolf.com.
5. 2 UNDR

Well, I wasn't expecting to write about underwear as one of my Top 5 (actually, I don't think I have ever written about this subject!). Truth be told, these Canadian guys created a huge buzz amongst exhibitors and visitors to the show. Brilliantly engineered and using state of the art fabrics, the mens underwear is comfortable in all the right places, if you know what I mean. The owners have an exceptional design pedigree and clearly their marketing skills are equally good. I love this expression in their brochure "Sewn inside each pair of 2 UNDR is a soft and comfortable penthouse condo for your most valuable assets - we call it the Joey Pouch" - Genius!
2 UNDR is a great name that actually serves several masters - from the expression in motocross world where "two under" refers to the two wheels under the rider, that was the early adopting sport for the brand. The cross over reference into golf was unintentional (but perfect!) and I think you'll be able to work out the other one, er two! The website is www.2undr.com.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Top 10 Dos and Don'ts at the PGA Merchandise Show

I have been going to "the Show", as everyone calls it, since 1989 and yes, it is golf's Groundhog Day but I wouldn't miss it for the world. It's an opportunity to meet old friends, make new ones and see the latest and greatest equipment from the big manufacturers and from those one-man bands that just might strike gold with their latest product. Here are my Top 10 Do and Don'ts for the PGA Merchandise Show.

1. Don't try and sell on other people's booths. They have spent thousands on the space and months preparing for the show. You would be amazed how many people try and do this - it is just not cool. There are plenty of other spaces and occasions to sell your wares.

2. Don't make meetings just for the sake of it. Everyone is busy and aren't impressed that you have appointments every 15 minutes! Take your time and everyone will benefit.

3. Drink plenty of water. The free Pepsi isn't going to help your hydration! There are water fountains and it may well be the only free thing in the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC)!

4. Wear comfortable shoes...this is no time to break in your FootJoy teaching shoes.

5. If you want to do business, dress appropriately. Smart casual is perfect and don't dress like you are on Tour...you're not, or you would be in California or Abu Dhabi and not schlepping around the OCCC like the rest of us.

6. Eat a good breakfast at your hotel because the food in the OCCC is like a hot dog in a movie theater...overcooked and overpriced. It still beggars belief that there is no recognizable food brand represented in the hall.

7. Be very specific about where to meet your appointment. Pick a booth, preferably a small one so you can't miss the person you are meeting. Confirming your 1030 at the TaylorMade booth will almost certainly guarantee you'll still be looking for one another 20 minutes later. And remember there is nowhere to sit down in the Hall, so be prepared to stand and talk. (See no. 4!)

8. Give yourself time to move about the floor. It's a long way from the 1000 aisle to the 6000 aisle so don't make three appointments in 60 minutes in three locations. It's like trying to get from uptown to downtown in Manhattan at 4 p.m. with no cabs - all the stars need to be aligned and it still takes twice as long as you think.

9. Be patient. Everyone is busy and often running a few minutes behind. Whether you are buying or selling they will come.

10. Take some time to wander the floor. Go see the New Products section and marvel at the craziness of this business of ours. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

5 Things NOT To Ask At The PGA Merchandise Show

The PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando is just around the corner and we are in final planning for clients and meeting schedules. Last year I wrote about "What not to ask at the Show" and it's worth revisiting with a couple of updates. Some have remained the same - Numbers 1-4 - please, please avoid asking these!,  No. 5 is still in play after Tiger's injury prone 2014 season. I wouldn't bet against it, but the young guns have no fear factor with Tiger the way that the previous generation did.

1. Are you having a good show? The answer is always, yes

2. When did you get here? The floor show starts on Wednesday, so as always everyone gets into town on Tuesday!

3. When are you leaving? Always a strange one that one - didn't I just get here!?

4. Where are you staying? Your chance for oneupmanship...just say The Hyatt (though everyone still calls it the Peabody) and move on. Please don't say the Comfort Inn on I Drive at $59!

5. Will Tiger ever regain his Number One spot in the World Rankings?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"Sun is bad for you!" Two great new brands to help protect golfers from the sun

"Sun is bad for you. everything our parents said was good is bad, sun, milk, red meat...college" Woody Allen in Annie Hall.

As a golfer for many, (many) years my consciousness about the dangers of the sun have increased dramatically over the years. Our friends down under have know about the perils of being out too long in the sun for decades. It's common to see Aussie golfers and others playing sport outside to be covered in sunscreen, wearing a hat and sunglasses. This awareness is increasing in the US and not before time.

The are a couple of new sun related brands I wanted to highlight that are serious about their intentions, are cool and have a great story to tell.
The first is Golfersskin, a sunscreen brand specifically aimed at golfers. Tour players have caught on to the brand developed in New Zealand and the green packaging has become familiar on the first and tenth tees at PGA Tour stops. The product is non greasy and is ideal to use just prior to teeing off. Don't even think about playing golf in the sun or seemingly overcast days without sunscreen. One trip to the dermatologist and their little freeze gun will have you reaching for this product! Learn more here.

The other readily protectable area is your eyes. Good sunglasses protect the wearer from UVA and UVB rays which help prevent wrinkles around the eyes and many more serious potential eye issues.
I recently discovered a great new brand called Waveborn. They are an interesting company with great sunglasses and a worthy social mission. Rather like the Tom's Shoes social responsibility model, Waveborn works with non-profit partners, Unite for Sight and Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International to donate prescription eyeglasses and fund sight-restoring cataract surgeries around the globe. So, how are the sunglasses?  Having just returned from a golf and beach trip I can attest to the quality and performance. They have top quality Carl Zeiss lenses, the frames are made in Italy and come in a plethora of styles and colors. With a hard or soft case they are available online here or at an increasing number of retailers.

My frame of choice for golf was the Zuma - it's a great wraparound frame which I found ideal for hitting golf shots and reading greens without light leaking in (and great for the beach!). Go take a look at their site www.waveborn.com. It will help your eyes and also support an amazing cause.