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!!

 

 

Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company Signs J.J. Henry

The Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company. What can I say about them? It was roughly three years ago when one of the most iconic names in golf returned to the game where it belongs. That first year of re-emerging saw it’s launch right before the PGA Merchandise Show. It was an exciting year as the brand unveiled their Ft. Worth 15 irons and TK wedges (named after then Owner and CEO Terry Koehler). The excitement that surrounded their booth at Demo Day was impossible not to notice and for good reason. The irons were exquisite and they performed nearly as well as they looked.

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Photo Credit: Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company

The following year Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company brought out new irons called the PTx irons. They were an easier set to hit that allowed for easy blending of a set. More forgiveness, a wider sole and my favorite feature the cameo of Ben Hogan himself on the backside of the head. The same year they also released the VKTR hybrids and these clubs I really enjoyed swinging. It’s important to note that because at the time I hated hybrids. But the following year things got very quiet. Honestly, if I would have had the means I would have been carrying a set of VKTR hybrids, Ft. Worth 15 and PTx  combo set and TK wedges. I liked them that much.

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For the longest time I’ve been confused as to whether the brand was alive or dead. I’ve seen some presence of social media channels which includes but not limited to offering reduced prices on their iron sets. But then I received this press release and they have me guessing again.

The brand has announced that they’ve signed PGA Tour veteran J.J. Henry to an endorsement deal. Henry is starting his 500th event on Tour this weekend in Maui at the Sony Open. Congratulations J.J.! Below is the press release.

Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company Enters into Endorsement Agreement with PGA TOUR Professional J.J.Henry

 

This newly reached arrangement is in alignment with

J.J. Henry’s 500th PGA TOUR event

FORT WORTH, Texas, January 9, 2018Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company, LLC, manufacturer of premium golf clubs and golf bags, announced today that PGA TOUR Professional J.J. Henry has signed an endorsement deal with the Company. Henry had played with Ben Hogan Golf Equipment earlier in his career, and will now play an integral part in the re-establishment of the iconic brand.

This partnership with Henry is a likely alliance. He embraces many of the same characteristics Mr. Hogan embodied including: honesty, integrity, preparation and hard work. Thus illustrated with his 500th PGA TOUR event. In addition, Henry resides in Fort Worth, Texas and will help the ‘new’ Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company with product development as well as provide strategic counsel.

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Photo Credit: golf.com

Henry will play a variety of Ben Hogan Golf Equipment. At the onset of the 2018 PGA TOUR season he will playing PTx mid and short irons …“The most technically advanced Hogan irons ever.” He will also use a variety of extremely playable, easy-to-hit, Ft. Worth Hi-Utility Irons. Henry will also carry a Ben Hogan Golf Equipment staff bag.

Ben Hogan staffer, Henry, has enjoyed a long and successful PGA TOUR career which will be celebrated this week at The Sony Open in Hawaii. He will be playing in his 500th PGA Tour event which is a historical milestone for Henry and the PGA TOUR. This will be an incredible feat.

“We congratulate Henry on his outstanding accomplishment,” said Scott White, President and CEO, Ben Hogan Golf. “He has always been a solid ball-striker and appreciates the craftsmanship and performance benefits of our award-winning clubs, which he has won tournaments with in the past. We are thrilled to partner with Henry again and look forward to having him as a brand ambassador on our team.”

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Photo Credit: pgatour.com

About J.J. Henry:

J.J. Henry is one of the most personable, captivating players on the PGA TOUR. A Connecticut native with a ‘Texas Gentleman’ attitude, J.J. is one of only 3 American-born PGA TOUR players to finish inside the Top-125 (earning Tour status) since 2001. As a three-time PGA TOUR Champion (2015 Barracuda Championship, 2012 Reno Tahoe Open, 2006 Buick Championship) and 2006 US Ryder Cup team member, J.J.’s consistent performance and personality make him one of the most sought after personalities in professional golf.

In addition to his superb performance on the course, J.J. is extremely proud of what he has accomplished off the course and in the community. Over the past 7 years his mission to support the healthcare and well-being of kids through tangible projects has raised over $1,000,000 for local charities.

About Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company:

Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company manufactures premium golf clubs and golf bags, and is committed to continue Ben Hogan’s reputation of innovation, performance and classical designs. The company is based in Fort Worth, Texas, Ben Hogan’s longtime home and the site of the original Company which opened in 1953. The Company offers their premium products online at http://www.benhogangolf.com exclusively. By eliminating the retail “middleman”, the Company’s cost structure is minimized and consumers are able to purchase high-quality golf equipment at factory-direct prices. To learn more about Ben Hogan Golf, please visit www.benhogangolf.com.

 

 

REVIEW – Loudmouth Golf (Fancy Shirt)

Golf fashion. For the longest time they were actually two words in the English language that didn’t belong together. Eventually, that started to change when Arnold Palmer  started to be seen clad in trendy apparel. I remember his original clothing line in Sears and wearing some of it even though the apparel belonged to my father. Then for a while the fashion got ugly again.  A world of double pleats, short sleeves past the elbows and bland colours emerged. Then an epiphany happened. Raise your hands if you remember the “Tabasco” golf polos or any of the tropical prints worn by Duffy Waldorf. They were polarizing. While some hated them there was a smattering of golf fans that liked them. They were fun! Speaking of fun.

Is there a brand of apparel that has awakened golf fashion more than Loudmouth Golf? Love them or hate them the brand has brought fun to the course one garment at a time. In fact, it’s my opinion that the fun that Loudmouth Golf has brought to the game is only rivalled by “Al Czervik” at “Bushwood Country Club”. Loudmouth Golf is everything that traditional golf apparel isn’t. It’s loud, brash, flamboyant and fun. Loudmouth Golf has a vast array of prints that’s nearly endless.

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In the past, I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Brooke Windatt who takes care of Public Relations and Social Media for Loudmouth Golf. Of course, I went by the Loudmouth Golf booth during the PGA Merchandise in January and Brooke spent some time with me showing off some of the new prints in the Loudmouth stable. Crazy stuff! As time passed I received an email from Ms. Windatt where she informed me of some new creations. From the mind of Scott “Woody” Woodworth comes a new range of shirt called… “The Fancies”.

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“The Fancies” range  embodies everything that is Loudmouth Golf. Of course, you can wear them on the course (always go solid bottoms please) but The Fancies look just as good with a pair of jeans. Whether you’re  at the barbecue down the street or at a Toronto Blue Jays game on Canada Day the Fancy polo works. In fact, the polo that was sent to me was the “Oh Canada! Fancy Shirt” which was perfect for the aforementioned scenario. The point that I’m trying to make is that The Fancy wears well any time at any place. But this is a golf review. How do “The Fancies” perform on the course?

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The Fancies are more than just a “pretty face” as there is a bit of “apparel tech” involved. The fabric is great with good hand. Whether it’s come right out of your suitcase or out from doing laundry. This fabric is wrinkle-free. Also, the fabric features a 4-way stretch material constructed from 100% polyester, From a fit perspective they have a slim, athletic profile. This 6’0″, 215 pound guy wore a large and the fit was perfect. The sleeves end around mid-bicep while the shoulder seam was perfectly placed on the shoulder. If you find yourself in between sizes err on the side of caution and go a size up. Aesthetically speaking these Fancy shirts are well-appointed. They feature a three-button placket, a self-collar and on the back of the shirt between the shoulders is a yellow Loudmouth golf logo. It’s a small feature that sticks out in a good way truly revealing the Loudmouth branding. I love the material of these Fancy shirts. The material stretches throughout all phases of the golf swing and you never feel constricted. As slinky as the material it never clings to the body. On their website there is no mention of moisture-wicking qualities but the fabric does wick away any moisture from the body. I really liked the fact that I stayed “cool” in the heat of summer and never felt uncomfortable.

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When it comes to golf  polos that exemplify fashion these “Fancy” shirts do not come up short. They garner attention (I received a ton of compliments) and look very sharp. These are golf shirts that perform and never leave you having the feeling of being restricted during the golf swing. The saying in golf is “look good… play good” and these shirts certainly go a long way in living up to the quote. Head over to Loudmouth’s website  for more information and styles. Go ahead and unleash your inner Loudmouth.

Until The Next Tee!!