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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.

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