PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day Foreshadows 2015 Innovations and Equipment

Posted in What's News by on January 20th, 2015

On Tuesday, approximately 100 golf companies flaunted their 2015 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.

This legend displays the huge circular area that makes up the Demo Day arena.

This legend displays the huge circular area that makes up the Demo Day arena.

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.

In its thirteenth 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, and Titleist have followed suit. Each year, more than 100,000 golf shots are propelled around the driving range as pros, amateurs, and media try the newest product innovations of the companies.

In front of the National tour bus, Mark Bradley and I had a good time talking about Keegan's childhood and accomplishments.

In front of the National tour bus, Mark Bradley and I had a good time talking about Keegan’s childhood and accomplishments.

I had a chance to chat with Mark Bradley, Keegan’s dad, at the National Car Rental tour bus. National is the Official Rental Car of the PGA of America. Both Bradleys serve as ambassadors for National’s “Go Like A Pro” golf promotions. Mark, a New England native, is currently the director of instruction at Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis Club in Wyoming. We shared several moments about his watching Keegan growing up as a skier and golfer and about how proud he is of Keegan’s accomplishments. We also discussed his growing up with sister Pat and how he used to caddy for her in her pre-pro tournaments.

Another highlight of the morning’s activities was watching 2014 Masters champ Bubba Watson give a clinic at the Golf Channel/Ping tee box area. Bubba’s popularity is incredible, and Tee #6 was overflowing with his fans. The immense driving range just barely kept Bubba’s towering controlled fades from rocketing into Rickie Fowler’s Cobra/Puma station across the way!

The curved DST Compressor training iron keeps the golfer ahead of the curve.

The curved DST Compressor training iron keeps the golfer “ahead of the curve.”

Also on Demo Day, the PGA professionals not only tested the new equipment but also interacted with sales reps and fellow pros, as they prepare for the 2015 golf season. In addition, a series of instructional workshops from such well-known teachers as Mike Malaska, Nancy Quarcelino, Dr. Jim Suttie, and Stan Utley ran throughout the day. The Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” was shot live on location, and Dave Pelz met with the pros at the Cleveland/Srixon 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 six of the better answers.

First of all, the DST Compressor (www.dstgolf.com) is an intriguing but simple training aid, a “must have warm-up club” as the slogan goes, that allows the golfer to strike the ball with his hands ahead of the line of tension. The scientifically curved shaft replicates the shape of a normal shaft in the optimal impact position. The curved shaft and the alignment marker on the hosel and the amended sole angle enable the golfer to locate, train, and perfect that optimal impact position. It forces the player to feel how to control the clubface through impact.

Dean Knuth's High Heat driver has a much deeper and lower center of gravity (CG) than any of the major brands, producing more total distance and forgiveness.

Dean Knuth’s High Heat driver has a much deeper and lower center of gravity (CG), producing more total distance and forgiveness.

Dean Knuth, Senior Director at the USGA for 16 years and primary inventor of the USGA’s Curse Rating and Slope Rating Systems, is still looking out for the amateur golfer with his most recent creation, the High Heat driver. (www.knuthgolf.com) Knowing that tee shots hit below the center of the face can lose up to 20 yards, Knuth has given High Heat a much deeper and lower center of gravity (CG) than any of the major brands, producing more total distance and forgiveness. The driver has a unique face—Knuth’s Fire Zone Face Technology—with a combination of seven different zones of variable thickness, including patented “parabolic” lobes at the top of the toe and heel of the face. This increases spring-like effect across the entire face while still conforming to USGA Rules and increasing the accuracy of High Heat.

Golfersskin is an ultra-performance, sweat-resistant, golf-specific sunscreen.

Golfersskin is an ultra-performance, sweat-resistant, golf-specific sunscreen.

Still looking for that sunscreen made exclusively for golfers? Look no further than your own pro shop or Edwin Watts or Golf Galaxy, where you should find Golfersskin, trusted by more than 78% of PGA Tour players. It’s an ultra-performance, sweat-resistant, golf-specific sunscreen that is non-greasy, dries clear, won’t run into your eyes (or burn), and won’t interfere with your grip or slime your glove. It’s 30+ SPF also has Aloe Vera and Manuka Honey inside to moisturize your skin. www.golfersskin.net

Lucky enough to be able to walk your golf course? Lucky enough to know about Europe’s #1 trolley—or push cart, as we Americans say—that has just rolled across the pond? Big Max Golf (www.bigmaxusa.com), that pioneered the three-wheeled cart in 1994, has earned 38% of the European market, and the Blade + push cart is the reason why. The ultra-slim Blade + features proprietary One-Fold technology that allows the cart to quickly and easily collapse into a five-inch profile for a minimal storage footprint. Weighing less than 15 pounds, the Blade + conveniently slips into a travel cover, making it ideal for golfers seeking to eliminate turf mess and dirt. Quick Lok and Quick Fix snap-ons and snap-ins allow for easy off and on of all the necessary accoutrements you care to carry.

The ultra-slim Blade + features proprietary One-Fold technology that allows the cart to quickly and easily collapse into a five-inch profile for easy storage.

The ultra-slim Blade + features proprietary One-Fold technology that allows the cart to quickly and easily collapse into a five-inch profile for easy storage.

The company is not called Champ (www.champspikes.com) because it rests on its laurels! No, the world leader in sport cleat technology continues to be on the cutting edge both with its spikes and its grips and its accessories. New for 2015, the new SLIM-Lok retention system is the thinnest cleat receptacle on the market, designed to help players get lower and closer to the ground, improving stability during the swing. The new Zarma Tour cleat features five flexible anti-clogging legs for superior traction and durability. The CHAMP C Grips line, consisting of five models, emphasizes its technical innovation and game-improving performance. Finally, the aluminum CHAMP Flix Pro divot repair tool and Tour-proven designed CHAMP Zarma FLYteePRO are perfect course companions.

Cure RX Putter Series (www.cureputters.com) under realistic conditions. With the highest MOI (moment of inertia) in the industry and a higher CG combined with a wide range of adjustability, the Cure is engineered to deliver greater stability, more forgiveness, and a better roll.

The Cure RX Putter Series is engineered to deliver greater stability, more forgiveness, and a better roll.

My last stop was at Putting Green #1, where I tested the Cure RX Putter Series (www.cureputters.com) under realistic conditions. With the highest MOI (moment of inertia) in the industry and a higher CG combined with a wide range of adjustability, the Cure is engineered to deliver greater stability, more forgiveness, and a better roll. The higher MOI, achieved by utilizing a larger, lightweight head with extreme heel/toe weighting, assures tighter putt dispersion and distance control. The adjustable weight and the adjustable lie angle systems allow the golfer to customize the head to his own preferences. Finally, former PGA Tour Commish Deane Beman invented Cure’s Triangulation Alignment, which engages both eyes in aiming the putt and reduces the negative effects of eye dominance.

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

Go, Pats!

(All photographs taken by Victoria MacKay.)

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Leigh MacKay

Leigh MacKay

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.
Leigh MacKay

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