There are certain days in our lives that we look forward to. Perhaps, it’s the first day of spring or summer. Maybe, its the day that you retire, freeing up more time for golf or fishing. It could be a golf trip – I hear that these exist – or it could be an event, like a concert or The Masters.
For me, Demo Day at the PGA Show is one of these days. Demo and Fitting Day gives me the opportunity to make as many swings as possible in one place or just to try products that I may not otherwise experience. Sometimes there are surprises and it’s for this reason that I refer to Demo and Fitting Day as “Golfmas”.
Demo and Fitting Day happens on the grounds of Orange County National Golf resort and Lodge which is home to 36-holes of “Championship Golf” and a beauty of a driving range and short game area that is second to nobody, or at least as far as I’m concerned.
Where Demo Day was a “who’s who” of golf’s leading manufacturers, Demo Day has lost it’s lustre thanks in large part to the global pandemic. Yes, lots of companies were missing at the 2023 version Wilson, Honma, and Tour Edge to name a quick few. TaylorMade Golf has been missing in action since 2019 or so.
I never attended the first in-person show in 2022 that followed on the heels of the pandemic. But, from what I saw through photographic evidence it looked every bit the adjective that I was given this year as it pertained to 2022. Depressing. Leading up to the show I actually flip-flopped a lot about whether to attend this year’s show in any capacity.
Like every year, I look forward to Demo and Fitting Day. I actually have a hard time sleeping the night before because of the anticipation and quite honestly if I ever lose that excitement I will know that the time has come to no longer attend the golf show. My excitement comes from expectations that I put into my head about testing as much as I can and part of it is anxiety because I’m afraid to miss something or not get enough coverage. The latter I’ve dreamed about on more than occasion.
As I got onto the shuttle bus that transports the attendees to OCN there was the steady murmur of attendees sharing stories and handing each other business cards. Demo Day is really the first true day of networking for the week and this year was no exception. As the bus approached our destination I was more curious than anything. I thought to myself,
“Is this place going to be so barren and sparse that we see tumbleweeds blowing across the facility”.
My immediate impression was that the organizers did a good job to space everything in such a way that it didn’t have that appearance. Yes, the larger booths used by Tour Edge and Wilson were noticeably missing, but, the massive 360* range complex was pretty full.
So, while I have talked about who was missing I really think that it’s more appropriate to mention some of those that were there. Callaway Golf, PING, Titleist, Dunlop Sports Americas (XXIO/Srixon/Cleveland Golf), Cobra Golf, Haraken, Mizuno Golf, Bridgestone Golf, and Snake Eyes were there. Yes, I said Snake Eyes and their irons were surprising.
Plenty of other manufacturers were there from golf shoe manufacturer SQAIRZ, Aero-Swing (Training Aid), Links Drinks (alcohol beverages), golf grip companies like Star Grips and JumboMax, shaft companies, and more were all very well-represented. Other notable attendees were Folds of Honor and Adaptive Golfers.
Swinging clubs really presented a problem for me as I tore my right hand apart the 19th of January while doing my brakes to get to the airport for my flight. So prior to leaving for Demo Day I failed to wrap my hand up in gauze and bandages. An issue I took care of while visiting a couple members of Orange County Fire Rescue.
I will be doing more post-show coverage of Demo Day but there were some real standouts. Mizuno’s full product range showed very well as did Cobra Golf with a huge nod going to the AeroJet metalwoods. Snake Eyes irons impressed but the metalwoods felt “cheap”. Makefield Putters and Zebra (yes that Zebra) were terrific. While I never got to swing PING again… I can’t say the same for Titleist. The new TSR metalwoods were amazing. Usually I really enjoy XXIO but this year I was, indifferent. Callaway Golf Paradym was a unique situation because they didn’t seem to be what I thought they would be.
I’m undecided about resurrecting my Demo Day “Teezy Awards” because I think I did the products a disservice by swinging them. If for no other reason my inability to swing golf clubs the way that I typically do, or can. Factor in a total loss of clubhead speed, an inability to grip a club, and a body that couldn’t ingest enough “Triple A” (Acetaminophen, Aleve and Alcohol) to numb the pain in the slightest amount, it had all of the ingredients to look at things in very unrepresentative way. Or maybe it’s an opportunity to look at all of them in a different ray of light.
At the end of the day I ended up making the best out of a bad situation and I had fun doing it. Demo Day as far as this writer is concerned wasn’t as desolate as I first envisioned. Moreover, I walked away from Demo Day feeling very optimistic about the prospects of 2024. The weather was the best I’ve experienced. There was a buzz and it was great to experience it again.
Until The Next Tee!!