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Sunday, January 29, 2017

MacDuff's Top Eight Picks from the PGA Merchandise Show

My annual tradition continued as I walked (and walked) around the unforgiving, cavernous Orange County Convention Center at the PGA Merchandise Show, so you didn't have to! Drum roll, here's our Top Five from The PGA Merchandise Show. Oh, and there's a bonus company or three well worth looking into.

1. Callaway Golf - New Drivers. It was an epic Callaway launch for sure, but was the club epic? Well yes, but at the same time the marketing folks are going to confuse the heck out of people. There are actually two GBB EPIC drivers and both have green trim and from the top look very similar. One has a slightly deeper face and the other is slightly broader looking from the top. The deeper face driver has a movable sliding weight and the other one has two weights on the bottom that can be changed. Okay, so what's the problem? Well, literally the only branding that differentiates the drivers is the word "sub zero" in a tiny font on the hosel that I defy anyone under the age of 40 to be able to read! Why not just add the words Sub Zero to the sole and be done? It's just trying to be too cool and it doesn't work. So, despite this minor criticism, the "sliding weight" GBB EPIC, i.e. not the Sub Zero is gorgeous and feels fantastic. Read More Here.

2. Dormie Workshop - Leather Head Covers. I know, I know, more leather head covers! Aren't there already a ton of companies making leather covers? Yes, there are, but none like these. Have a look below at just a few of the funky options made by the likable Canadian company started by the Bishop brothers in Nova Scotia. Read More Here.

3. Fifty Fifty - Insulated bottles. You have seen insulated hot/cold bottles before, but I thought these would be great for golf. They are rugged, come in great colors, have a large mouth, so you can fit in ice and have a terrific carrying handle. We all need to drink more water when playing golf and they look like they will survive the rigors of numerous kid soccer and basketball practices too! Read More Here.

4. Signs by the Sea - Signage and Accessories. I'm a little biased, because our Links Candles Company already works with SBTS. They created our point of sale material and did an amazing job. Their team creates unique, handmade pieces for member guest events, pro shops and they are coming up with cool and unique items on a regular basis. And they are the nicest people! Read More Here.

5. Volvik - Golf Balls -  I know what you are thinking - Bubba and pink golf balls. I was thinking the same, but I must say the new VIVID golf balls in high intensity colors look terrific. They are three piece balls and perhaps better suited to lower swing speeds, but I'm still read to try them and hopefully love them. Read More Here.

PLUS 3 Bonus Picks - EvnRoll, H & B and Itobori
6. EvnRoll - Putters - This is Guerin Rife's new company and his putters feature a new groove system that creates an amazing roll and actually helps keep the ball on line. Trust me, I was skeptical too, but the technology really works and there was a real buzz on the booth. Read More Here.

7. Holderness & Bourne - Apparel - The two gents who are the H and B, Alex Holderness and John Bourne continue their well-planned progress in the golf business. They have created "modern classics" in apparel and luggage and I can attest to the high quality having worn and washed their clothing for over a year. Read More Here.

8. Itobori - Clubs This one is way out in left field, but I loved the look of these ultra-premium Japanese forgings. I couldn't really figure out if they were art or clubs as they were displayed as you see below. The heads alone will set you back $380 each. Oh, and then you'll need a shaft and a grip, so figure on $500 + per iron. But, you will have the coolest clubs bar none! Read More Here.

Friday, January 20, 2017

10 Top Tips to Survive (and Thrive) at the PGA Merchandise Show

The PGA Merchandise Show is imminent and everyone in the golf business is frantically printing, packing and making meetings for O Town. It is the time to meet old friends, make new ones and take a look at the 2017 lines of the major hard and soft goods manufacturers as well as the up and comers. This year there will be no Nike Golf hard goods, no PXG and we'll observe a changing golf media landscape. So here we go with my Top 10 Tips to Survive (and Thrive) at the PGA Merchandise Show.
1. Wear comfortable shoes...this is no time to break in your FootJoy teaching shoes
2. Don't sell on other people's booths. They have spent thousands on the space and months preparing for the show - it's just not cool. 
3. Drink plenty of water. Monster Energy drinks are not going to help your hydration! There are water fountains and it may well be the only free thing in the cavernous Orange County Convention Center (OCCC).
4. If you want to do business, dress appropriately. Smart casual is perfect and don't pretend you are Ricky Fowler.
5. 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. I did find Chick-fil-A last year, so that's a step up from previous years. The queues were monstrous, so eat early or late!
6. Be very specific about where to meet your appointment. Pick a booth (and a specific location on the big booths) so you maximize the chance to actually find the person you are meeting.
7. Be prepared to stand and talk. There is nowhere to sit down in the OCCC. My annual note to the organizers; people are here to meet, so you may want to invest in some chairs.
8. 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 4:00 p.m.
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 entrepreneurial spirit in our business.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Custom Club Candles - Perfect for Your Club

We have been having fun with Links Candles, the project my 12 year old daughter, Lily and I started. Our latest iteration, Custom Club Candles is specifically for clubs looking for gift items or for their member guest tournaments. Here's all you need to know - you can download the PDF here.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The 2017 Majors Venues

As the snow descends on the ground here in DC, it's time to think about the golf season ahead and in particular the four major championships. There are a couple of new venues in the mix with Erin Hills in Wisconsin and Quail Hollow in North Carolina.

April 6-9
The Masters, Augusta National, GA
There really is nothing left to say about ANGC that hasn't been said, although the press will try hard as they do each year - it's their job after all! The traditional golf season opener is always magical on one of the greatest venues on the world's stage.
June 15-18
U.S. Open, Erin Hills, WI
I played Erin Hills when it was new a few years ago and at the time if you had told me it was going to host a U.S. Open in future, I would have asked you for a drug test! In the ensuing years, it has undergone a renovation and looks ready for its big test. 
July 20-23
The Open Championship, Royal Birkdale, Southport, England
One of the great links golf courses in the world and the site of Padraig Harrington's 2008 victory. Birkdale is in an area of outstanding golf in the north west of the UK. It's neighbors include Southport and Ainsdale, Hoylake, Formby, Royal Lytham, Wallesey and more.
August 17-20
USPGA, Quail Hollow Club, NC
Built in 1961 by George Cobb, but somehow it looks more modern, due to modifications by Arnold Palmer and then Tom Fazio's redesign in 1997. You'll be familiar with the club from the Wells Fargo Championship on the PGA Tour.