2018 PGA Merchandise Show Day One

The first day of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show is in the books. It proved to be a very fruitful day and I’ll attempt to quickly summarize what I saw. By the way, there will be more in-depth articles on each product mentioned down the road.

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The day started by visiting with IOFIT which is a company headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. Their product is a smart shoe that features sensors that inform golfers what’s happening with weight distribution throughout all aspects of the golf swing. The shoes in my brief time wearing them are comfortable and stylish (the suede wingtips in particular). Surprisingly light and they also feature a really great spikeless pattern. The technology works and I am going to be more than happy to further elaborate on this product.

Upon leaving the first appointment of the day I went down to the Vertical Groove Golf booth to further learn about what and who they are. I had the pleasure of interviewing Co-Founder Rubin Hannan and gained some valuable insight on the brand, their 2017 which was very successful, their new fairway wood and other things that the brand has in the hopper. There is a hybrid and a putter in the works.

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Photo Credit: EVNROLL

Speaking of putters I met with the folks at the EVNROLL Putters booth and the booth was busy and for a good reason. EVNROLL just launched a new putter here at the show called the EVNROLL ER9 10 K. This putter is futuristic in appearance but it also just happens to roll the golf ball really well, is super stable through impact and feels great. Perhaps a longer look is in order.

As the day wore on I visited the TaylorMade Golf booth where I learned about some new innovation from the brand as far as putters and wedges go. Bill Price is the VP at TaylorMade Golf and the wealth of knowledge that he possesses is second to none. We talked about the new putters coming out from TaylorMade Golf that features Blast Motion and the new Milled Grind Hi-Toe wedge. These wedges feature high spin numbers, versatility and forgiveness. The finish darkens over time. Sticking with TaylorMade Golf the brand has re-introduced an updated version of the Project(A) golf and a new Project(S) which is a 3-piece golf ball that offers a softer feel and longer distance.

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Photo Credit: TRUE Linkswear

I caught up briefly with two of my favorite brands in the world. CHASE 54 and TRUE Linkswear. I’ll be doing more in-depth coverage of both companies but I  will say that CHASE 54 has upped their fabric game again as they’ve released a lighter, airier fabric that features great hand. TRUE Linkswear is back doing what they do best. Make comfortable shoes that perform, look great and offer versatility not seen in other brands. Not only is TRUE back to their roots in shoe design but the brand has also returned home to the Pacific Northwest. The ownership group has changed and TRUE is back and staying TRUE to who they are.

Other brands that I checked out included IBKUL which features men’s and ladies apparel (on and off course) with vivid, stunning and playful prints. AfterShokz was a product that I was really curious about. AfterShokz offers premium headphones and premium sound through “Bone Conduction Technology”. I was mostly curious about their open construction and the sound because I love hearing music how the chords were intended. As it turns out they made a great first impression and I can see them being a great all-around product whether for golf or everyday life. Bolle Eyewear has some new golf-specific sunglasses on the market and their lenses are not made the standard polycarbonate often seen through the eyewear industry. However, what they use is much clearer and provides far greater optics than polycarbonate.

In conclusion Day One was amazing. It was a day that was hectic, informative and educational.

Until The Next Tee!!

 

Ernie Els Signs With XXIO

This is huge news to break out of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show. Cleveland Golf/Srixon Golf/XXIO announces that “The Big Easy” (Ernie Els) has joined the XXIO brand. The former multiple Major champion will join XXIO as a Global Ambassador.

Please see the press release as released by Cleveland Golf/Srixon GolfXXIO Marketing and Communications Specialist Noelle Zavaleta.

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HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA – Jan. 24, 2018 – Srixon / Cleveland Golf / XXIO, sports brands of Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI), are pleased to announce the addition of Ernie Els as Global Ambassador for XXIO. Nicknamed “The Big Easy,” Els’ smooth, easy swing perfectly represents the easier distance, accuracy and golf that XXIO delivers to its customers.

“I’m proud to be on board as XXIO’s new Global Ambassador,” said Els. “Srixon and Cleveland are successful brands in golf, with a proven track record, and I’m familiar with the company’s products so that’s an easy fit for me. In fact, I won both my US Opens using Cleveland wedges and I’ve always loved those clubs.

“XXIO is perhaps a less familiar name in certain parts of the world…but trust me, this company is really going places! They’ve been the No.1 equipment company in Japan over the past 17 years, now the market leader in Korea and New Zealand, and the growth has been dramatic. I’ve been talking to the guys there a lot over the past few months. They have a range of high-end, high quality products and some innovative technologies that help the average golfer get more out of their game. I’m all for that. And they have big ambitions, too.

“Actually one of the things I’m looking forward to is being able to assist in their product development and obviously, with me playing an international schedule, help create an uplift in brand awareness as the company expands around the world. These are the kind of multi-dimensional, professional partnerships that really interest me. Honestly, it’s exciting to be part of the team.”

Els, 48, from Johannesburg, South Africa, has been a major player in the world of golf for nearly 30 years. Amassing 70 career professional victories since turning professional, Els captured the first of his four career Major victories by winning the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club in 1994 while also securing PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Els would go on to win his second-career U.S. Open in 1997 at Congressional Country Club as he entered the prime of his career.

He continued winning tournaments across the globe, including two additional Major victories at The Open Championship in 2002 at Muirfield Golf Club and 2012 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club. Throughout his illustrious career, Els has recorded 19 PGA Tour victories, represented his country on 22 different occasions (including 8 Presidents Cup teams) and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

“As one of golf’s most respected and influential athletes, we’re thrilled to welcome Ernie as our Global Ambassador for XXIO,” said Scott Carlyle, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing. “It is a rare and special opportunity to work alongside someone of Ernie’s caliber, whose efforts on and off the course have been simply astounding. We are looking forward to many years of great work together.”

 Els is also globally recognized for his humanitarian efforts. In 1999 he created the Ernie Els Foundation, assisting talented young South African golfers—predominantly from families of limited resources—with education and life-skill assistance. The Foundation joined forces with Fancourt Hotel and Golf Estate to establish the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation in 2006.

Furthermore, Els and his wife Liezl established the Els for Autism Foundation in 2009. In 2015, they opened the Els Center for Excellence, a 26-acre campus providing education, research, global outreach and adult services to those with autism spectrum disorder. Els received the 2017 Heisman Humanitarian award for his tremendous work in the field of autism awareness and research.

During his full 2018 tournament schedule on the PGA Tour and European Tour, Els will play with Srixon/Cleveland Golf/XXIO equipment as well as carry a XXIO bag.

For additional information on Srixon / Cleveland Golf / XXIO products and staff players, please visit the following sites: www.srixon.com, www.clevelandgolf.com, and www.xxiousa.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 PGA Show Demo Day

The weather forecast the night before Demo Day for Winter Garden, Florida wasn’t exactly ideal. For me, there was a sense of disappointment because not only was there rain in the forecast but there were thunderstorms expected at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.. Fortunately, the rains never came and instead came blue skies and temperatures in the high 70’s. Sure there were a few clouds in the sky and there was plenty of wind for attendees and manufacturers alike but not once was there a threat of ill weather.

My day started at around 8 a.m. after a drive from the Plant City area that was mired in traffic. Upon arriving at Orange County National Golf Resort and Lodge and driving through the fescue to park I made my way into the grounds with my media badge proudly on display. I stopped at a couple of booths that were setting up (Wilson Golf and Cleveland Golf) just to say hello to a contact or two there. I took advantage of watching Cleveland Golf Staffer Jamie Sadlowski make some swings before attendees came in. Sadlowski is a recent signing and I received an amazing tip of a new staffer tat’s going to be announced. Later in the morning while I was at morning meetings Wilson Golf announced that the sequel to Driver vs Driver was currently undergoing filming. At this time Wilson Golf also introduced the judging panel who includes Wilson Golf President Tim Clarke, ex-NHL superstar Jeremy Roenick and internet sensation Rick Shiels.

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As I moved on from there I met with a representative of Buffalo Agency (Bill Fiedler) who introduced me to a few of their clients. The first was a brand of high-end golf shafts from a Japanese-based brand called Seven Dreamers. The brand sees its root in the aerospace and medical industry’s respectively. Their golf shafts offer a wide variety to players of all types which totals 27 different SKU’s in a wide variety of weight and shaft flex options. A review will be coming but once we found the right shaft for me putting the ball in play was easy. Predictable shot patterns and trajectory. Afterwards, I was introduced to the team at the JPGA. The Junior Players Golf Academy attracts junior golfers (and their parents) from all over the world. Having two locations (Orlando-area and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina) the academy teaches junior golfers not only how to play the game of golf but also gives them an education with the goal of the golfers earning scholarships into university golf programs. Moreover the academy also teaches their prospects very important life skills.

I had an appointment at 10:30 a.m. with the VP of Cobra-Puma Golf Tom Olsavsky  . Mr. Olsavsky talked me through the 2018 product range from Cobra Golf and the range is setting up what could be another juggernaut of a year for the brand. The brand features two color stories for their metal woods (F8 and F8+). This year the finishes come in black (stealthy) and a color called Nardo. The Nardo is mean and is accented by having metallic flakes infused into it. The face features CNC Milling as opposed to forged types and the reason for this will be explained in a later article. The brand also released the new F8 ONE Length irons building of a very successful F7 model in 2017. Added to the ONE Length range in 2018 is a matching hybrid. I will be receiving a set of the F8 ONE Length irons for review and the one feature that the irons have is the integration of  Cobra Connect. Launched in 2017  in only their driver Cobra Golf has added the Arccos Golf system to their sets. Arccos has so many features that I can’t list them right now but this might be the ultimate golf metrics data collection in the business. It’s powered by Mircosoft and this thing is amazing.

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I had an appointment with TaylorMade Golf where I made swings with the new M3 irons and the M3 and M4 drivers that feature “Twist Face Technology”. I really enjoyed the M3 irons (preferred the pairing of the Tensei graphite) and between the M3 and M4 I had to lean towards the M3. Both clubs were easy to hit but my time was rather limited. I would go back to Wilson Staff and swing the new C300 range. Their irons come in two different models (C300 Forged and a Cast version). As much as I liked the C300 Forged the C300 (cast) “went like stink”. The exit speed was great and the 8 iron was carrying 165 yards. I really did like the hybrid, fairway wood and driver as well.

So as one might expect you always have the givens. The can’t misses that are the giants of the golf industry. You know them… TaylorMade Golf, Callaway Golf, Titleist and PING. What people don’t realize there are so many terrific independent or lesser known brands in the industry… especially on this side of the pond. I have to start by mentioning New Level Golf Equipment. Their CEO Eric Burch brings 20 years of design and clubmaking knowledge with him. New Level launched new irons and wedges and I fell in love with with the 1031 Forged irons. KBS Shafts is a partner of his and paired with the C-Taper 125 the 1031 Forged proved to be a hidden gem (btw his 902 irons are no slouch either). All of their irons are forged. I made swings with Vertical Groove Golf who launched their driver last year and a fairway wood this year. Drives into the wind with an 8* head and X-Stiff shaft hit bombs into the wind. Back in North America is Lynx Golf. After their purchase by Dick’s Sporting Goods the brand was all but extinct in North America. With the launch of their new Prowler VT irons and their Forged CB irons they are clearly no longer “that Lynx”. Performance and irons that are simply good looking. I had high expectations and those were met. But their #BB driver was the biggest shock of the day because that driver is one sneaky, long, and consistent performer.

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Finally, this year I got to swing some of the lesser known (to North America) JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) manufacturers. Starting with Epon the brand offers the cleanest wedge on the market because it is essentially void of markings. Forged by premier foundry (Endo) these irons are of the highest quality and their AF-705 irons were a powerful combination of beauty, forgiveness and distance. Honma Golf might be a brand that as far as I’m concerned has a huge stigma attached to them. That stigma is that they are for the wealthy and feature a gold driver worth $2000 USD (4 Star). They are that but… they also feature 3 other models including the BeZeal. The driver and irons were disgustingly good and I’ll save that write-up for another time. Also in the brands that I’ve never made swings with until now category is Onoff Golf. Their Onoff Kuro Black range is sleek, sneaky and powerful and again they were well worth the wait.

Stay tuned for more PGA Show coverage in the upcoming days.

Until The Next Tee!!

 

 

Product Announcement – AfterShokz

Not all of the products that I talk about here at Until The Next Tee are strictly golf-related although predominantly that is the case. One of the products that I’m looking forward to seeing this week at the 2018 PGA Show is a product called AfterShokz.

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AfterShokz are headphones that are geared for the active individual. They are wireless, have Bluetooth capabilities and have an open-ear design. They promise premium sound and that’s where I become very curious about them. I love music and I appreciate clear, crisp sound. How good could the sound be with that open-ear deign? Time will tell soon enough. AfterShokz sounds like the perfect product for golfers looking to listen to music on the driving range or for anyone that’s active and on the go.

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Below is a press release shared by Jayme Schwartz from the public relations firm Social4Media.

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AfterShokz brings patented bone conduction technology, initially developed for military special operations and law enforcement by Voxtech in 2001, to sport and Bluetooth® headphones designed and priced for everyday use. Through a suite of proprietary audio technologies and a completely open ear design, AfterShokz headphones deliver premium stereo sound and a promise of safety and comfort that is second to none. Since its inception in 2011, the company has been committed to innovating unconventionally and making situational awareness a priority.

Learn more about how the brand inspires users to #beopen at aftershokz.com

Until The Next Tee!!

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TPT Golf Lowers Price of All Shaft Models

I think this news coming out of Switzerland is huge for the newcomer to the golf shaft business. Through thorough testing of my own of the 15 Series MKP-MT-SW shaft (15 Series Shaft Review)  and swinging the rest of the line-up at the 2017 PGA Show TPT Golf has recognized the one thing that might have been holding them back. The cost per shaft!!

When I talked to people about how terrific these shafts from TPT Golf were there was always one hang-up. It didn’t matter if it was my coach, a club-fitter or any avid golfer. The reality was that when I mentioned that they were $700 USD per shaft it always raised an eyebrow accompanied by a wince of pain.

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Kudos to the TPT Golf for dropping the price on these golf shafts. Personally, I don’t think the lower price per shaft is going to be detrimental. If anything it’s a wise move and it could translate in individuals and OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) into looking more seriously and entrusting TPT Golf to help them with their game. Also, it just makes sense from a business model standpoint.

Below is the press release as shared by Mary Beth Lacy of golf public relations firm Mary Beth Lacy Inc.

TPT Golf Lowers Price of All Shaft Models to $499

 

RENENS, SWITZERLAND – TPT Golf has reduced the price of each of its 11 golf shaft models to $499. The strategic, long-term decision underscores TPT Golf’s commitment to helping as many golfers as possible play their best, as well as the company’s confidence that its revolutionary golf shafts will deliver measurable and meaningful performance improvements over conventional golf shafts.

 

“We know that we’ve created a much better way of making a golf shaft,” says TPT Golf Director Sebastian Sebayang. “Reducing the price $200 is a risk, but with our customers in mind it was an easy one to take. We feel it’s our duty at TPT Golf to make our technology available to as many golfers as possible.”

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In the last year, TPT Golf has invested heavily in its cutting-edge manufacturing equipment and shifted to bulk purchasing of the highest-quality shaft materials. The decisions were made to allow TPT Golf to produce its shafts in larger quantities, and as a result, make its products more accessible to golfers around the world.

“By making the price of our shafts competitive with other premium shafts on the market, we’re confident that we’ll enable more golfers to play their best,” Sebayang added.

How consistent is your golf shaft?  See the TPT Golf demonstration in the video below.

 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZuo8Y5eOCY&feature=youtu.be

 

Previously, TPT Golf shafts sold for $700 each. The price point was established while TPT Golf was scaling its revolutionary Thin-Ply Winding Method, the company’s automated shaft manufacturing process. The patent-pending, robot-driven technology unlocks increased distance, improved accuracy and unrivaled precision from a golf shaft. The Thin-Ply Winding Method also eliminates the inconsistencies found in conventional golf shafts, creating perfectly concentric, spineless and identical shaft models time after time.

For 2018, TPT Golf has refined each of its original 10 shaft models. The subtle changes further improve the overall stability of its shafts, enhancing their bend profiles for increased energy transfer and consistency.

TPT Golf is also launching a new shaft at the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, the 15-LKP-LT-LW. The low-torque, lightweight shaft is designed for high-speed golfers. The 15-LKP-LT-LW was used to win three tour events in 2017: the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, the Turkish Airlines Open (European Tour) and the Indonesian Masters (Asian Tour).

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About TPT Golf

TPT Golf is the golf division of North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT), a Swiss-based technology and composites company with a track record of delivering innovative solutions for high-performance industries.

The company’s portfolio of advancements includes developing a process for producing America’s Cup yacht sails, as well as lightweight bodywork of F1 race cars, skis and snowboards. It has also created the materials technology found in satellites and luxury composite watches (Richard Mille). The record-breaking, solar-powered aircraft “Solar Impulse” also relied on NTPT-produced materials for its epic journey.

For more information on TPT Golf™, visit tptgolf.com or contact Mary Beth Lacy at mb@mblacy.com or (760) 346-6942