For the fifth year in a row I attended the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. I usually do not show summaries, because I prefer to write more in-depth articles about products that I believe are relevant to Practical Golf readers. But for whatever reason, I felt compelled to write this year.
There are thousands of products on the show floor every year; it's a bit overwhelming and I can't reach them all. However, I thought there were a few important releases and trends that you should know.
As usual, there are some great products and others that scratch my mind.
Personal launch monitors continue to inflate
Personal launch monitors have been a category that I have devoted much attention to in recent years. There are now tons of options available for around $ 200 to $ 2000. Every day I receive emails and messages on social media about these products. I will summarize some of my most important takeaways:
FlightScope Mevo + introduced
FlightScope introduced the Mevo +, which is an important upgrade compared to the first Mevo (which I discussed here). Priced at $ 1999, it is now a direct competitor to SkyTrak because it offers premium simulation options. I think they've done their job for them, since SkyTrak has had a stranglehold in this category for years.
The FlightScope Mevo + is considerably larger than its predecessor
I hope to get hold of a unit soon to give it a thorough test. One thing to watch out for is that it requires about eight feet in front and behind the ball when used indoors, according to their team, because it uses radar technology. For golfers who have little space at home and want to build an improvised simulator (similar to my setup), this can be a bottleneck. I reserve my final judgment until I can test.
A peek into the simulation software with E6 (by the way I am not)
If your primary use will be outdoors, there are a few things to be excited about. The FlightScope team told me that the larger sensor will measure the entire flight of the ball and that metal stickers are no longer needed. Moreover, the app demo that I saw was very impressive.
Swing Caddy SC200 Replaced by SC200 Plus
Swing Caddy has stopped the SC200 and replaced it with the SC200 Plus. The SC200 has been the best-selling personal launch monitor in the entire industry for years. So I was a little sad to see it go because it offered great value. The SC200 Plus does not change much except that it now offers a swing speed mode that allows you to follow your swing speed without hitting a ball. This can be a nice addition for golfers who train Overspeed with SuperSpeed Golf or another fitness regime. Before the show I got the chance to test the SC200 Plus at home, and you can read my review here.
Rapsodo MLM gets a lot of buzz
At the end of last year, people at Rapsodo (who make the hardware for SkyTrak) introduced their MLM launch monitor. When you read my review, I liked the accuracy and the app, but I wanted to see a little more functionality and I didn't like being unable to use it indoors.
Their stand was packed throughout the show and the team told me about some important updates that would soon appear in the app. Stay tuned; my lips are unfortunately sealed!
The Little Launch Monitor That Could
The PRGR Launch monitor was another late release in 2019. Technically, it is not a new entity because it has been available on the Japanese market for several years. Although it doesn't look particularly impressive, in the first review I was overwhelmed by the accuracy. At a price tag of less than $ 200, I have heard that they have sold thousands of units since late fall. Moreover, after a number of own tests I discovered that it is fairly accurate to measure the swing speed without hitting a ball.
For the price-conscious golfer who wants an entry-level monitor and does not mind the basic functionality, I think this could be a sleepy product for 2020.
Some other gadgets
I know that many of you are interested in some of the new gadgets that are out there, and I have noticed some interesting releases that may or may not attract your attention.
Garmin Approach S62
The Garmin S60 has run quite well in recent years as the best premium GPS golf watch. It was inevitable that Garmin would release an upgrade, and they did so on the PGA Show with the S62. The new watch has shot-tracking capabilities, a larger display, a virtual caddy (I'm a little suspicious of this feature) and a few other smartwatch features such as heart rate and fitness tracking.
As you can expect, it will get a large price tag of $ 499. I will test this on the job to see if the added features are worth the extra money. The Approach S60 will still be available for a lower price, but I still believe that the Voice Caddy G1 is an excellent value in the premium GPS watch category.
SkyCaddie also announced a major upgrade of its waiting line with the LX5 GPS. It offers many of the functions of the handheld GPS of the SX500 (which I loved) but in a smaller form.
SkyCaddie is known for providing more in-depth data on courses, but that has costs. They are one of the few GPS providers that require a subscription. I'm also going to test this soon to give you my thoughts.
Bushnell is usually known for his distance meters, but another product that caught my attention is their Wingman speaker. Music on the golf course is becoming a big thing and there are currently many Bluetooth speakers on the market. I don't play songs on the track, but I know many of you do it.
The Wingman seems to have a collection of functions that make it unique. It offers Bluetooth premium sound, a battery life of 10 hours and a magnetic holder for carts. Another interesting feature is that it also has GPS capabilities that can be integrated with the Bushnell app. So you can also determine your distances to the front, the middle and the back of the green (you can press the button on the remote control and this will call you).
Anyway, this looks like a product that uses the fun category of golf and at the same time offers golfers a few other unique benefits – and it will be competitively priced at $ 149.
Shot-tracking system gets hardware upgrade
One of the major bullet tracking companies showed me a major hardware upgrade. I believe it will remove the only major objection to using their system, and they have been able to offer the upgraded version for a similar price. Unfortunately that is all I can say! Watch out for an announcement and my test sometime in June.
SuperSpeed Golf introduces SuperSpeed C
In recent years, SuperSpeed Golf has quickly become one of the best-selling training aids in the entire golf industry. Readers of the site know that I have previously trained with their Overspeed system. For golfers who want to add speed to their swing in the right way, this is one of the few training tools that delivers on its promise.
SuperSpeed Golf announced the SuperSpeed C at the show, which is a counterweight trainer. They have a new set of training protocols aimed at creating more hand and arm speed. Priced at $ 99, it can be an entry-point product in their system or an add-on for golfers who are currently training with their traditional set.
I started my training protocol last night with the SuperSpeed C, so I'll give you all my thoughts if I had the chance to see the results.
Boutique companies make an impact
One of my favorite parts of being in the golf industry is the interaction with all the young brands that are successful. Whether it is tailor-made headwear, training aids, clothing or shoes – there are so many great stories about entrepreneurship. Although the colossi of the industry can spend them on marketing, I have found that many of these smaller to medium-sized companies offer superior products.
WHERE Linkswear has a lot of new designs coming out – this shoe is made from recycled plastic bottles!
I have had the opportunity to see what's new at some of the companies I've dealt with in the past, such as TRUE Linkswear, Swannies, Redvanly, Linksoul, PuttOut and many others.
A great product that I saw was the perfect exercise mat. A younger man who had just finished his studies had had enough of all the cheap sets on Amazon, so he spent nearly two years perfecting his own design. He challenged touring professionals from around the world on social media to try it out, and now he has testimonials from some big names and his company is exploding.
There are plenty of other stories like this on the show floor and it is great to see.
Health and well-being
One of my big takeaways from the show is that health and well-being are given more priority at golf companies. Usually this is something great. Fitness and health are very important to me and it is never too late for someone to exercise and take care of their bodies. At the age of 36 I have given more priority to keeping my golf game (hopefully) pain-free and improving my overall health.
Orange Whip, whose swing trainer is one of my favorite products in the entire industry, focused primarily on their Golf Fitness X platform at their booth.
On the other hand, CBD was EVERYWHERE. In 2019 I only had two companies on the show – and I think there were 20-30 brands this year. They quickly took over the show floor with some of the most prominent stands. If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably seen a barrage of sarcastic tweets about them.
The most intercepted line at the PGA Show …
"Let me explain how our own mix of CBD is different" pic.twitter.com/r4ZSv7zGFg cialis19459002]
– Jon Sherman (@ practicalgolf) January 24, 2020
To be completely transparent, it felt like a grab. I could hear every company talk about what made their mix different from the competition. Some booths had doctors on hand to give the impression of more legitimacy. There was CBD for pets, even CBD from a putter grip company. My bullshit detector flashed red. You won't see me reviewing CBD products soon. I would look for legitimate clinical trials for guidance. Most of the people I tried with had a similar reaction: "I think it did something, but I don't know for sure."
Harvard Health warned: "We cannot establish effective doses without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies, and since CBD is currently mostly available as an unregulated supplement, it is difficult to know exactly what you are getting." Nature Magazine also challenged the lack of sufficient research, "unfortunately, if studies like this one are not or not properly conducted – then consumers will be left to take care of themselves in a poorly monitored market. In that scenario, the signal of real clinical benefit would be almost certainly be drowned out by the noise of personal anecdotes and the placebo effect, which could endanger the future of a potentially valuable drug. ”
Finally, there were massage guns and similar products on the floor. It seemed that everyone was trying to turn off Theragun. Although this is not my wheelhouse, I tried a vibrating massage ball for a stiff neck last month and it seemed to provide relief. Maybe a little more tangible benefit than CBD.
Large equipment does its thing
Not surprisingly were the largest and most prominent stands of companies such as Callaway, Titleist and Ping (as usual). TaylorMade was absent again because she is probably tired of paying millions of dollars for the sake of appearances.
I spent a lot of time getting to know club fitness and what sets golf clubs apart. Don't get me wrong, all these companies make fantastic products because they employ some of the best technical talents in the world. If anything, there is more opportunity than ever to call in equipment for your swing.
My advice is always to look beyond the marketing hype and test it yourself. Work with a qualified club fitter if possible. Companies such as Club Champion see real growth because there is more demand for customization. They told me they have doubled to more than 70 locations, with many more openings in 2020.
You do not need a new driver every 1-2 years. The technology does not change much. However, if you wait 5-6 years, you may see some very tangible benefits. In the past 15 years I only had two sets of irons. They don't wear out, and if you do it right the first time, there's no need to keep upgrading. However, your wedges are the only clubs that wear out, so keep an eye on them.
The golf industry is like any other. There are many great people who really want to offer their customers value. There are also people who try legitimately, but unfortunately fail (think of poor training aids). Unfortunately, there are also people who don't care about you or your golf game – they just want your money.
Does anyone want to learn from this swing robot?
The primary focus of Practical Golf is to help you become better at golf and have more fun through my & # 39; philosophy & # 39 ;. In recent years, however, I have played the role of a filter for you when it comes to certain product categories. I try to browse through the trash and tell you about the good things. You can make your decisions from there.
Although there is not much new under the sun in the golf industry, there appears to be a mild advance in product features every year and fortunately some technologies make some products more affordable (except for those $ 499 drivers & # 39; s). I'm not sure when I'm going to write a summary of the show, but hopefully you enjoyed it.
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