ORLANDO — The 2019 PGA Merchandise Show, golf’s yearly feast of golf products of all shapes and sizes, is upon us, showcasing the latest innovations in our industry—from clubs, to swing aids, to apparel, to gadgets, to … well just about anything. Golf Digest editors are combing the range at Orange County National and the floor of the Orange County Convention Center for the freshest and most intriguing new products that golfers should know about. We’ll update as we go, so check back to see what we’ve surfaced.
A new, fun way to get kids into golf: The Stadium Concept
For parents searching for a conduit to get their kids into the game, the Stadium Concept training program could be the answer to their prayers. The Stadium is part golf course, part obstacle course:
The golf portion involves a complete short game practice area and a net/bull’s eye to allow participants to take full swings, all set on synthetic turf. Where the Stadium differs itself from other training aids is that the program incorporates non-golf exercises—imagine a layout seen in “American Gladiators”—to not only keep kids entertained but that are scientifically designed to improve hand/eye coordination, spatial awareness and cognitive function. Your young ones will get a memorable introduction into golf, all while receiving the proper challenges for a healthier lifestyle of mind and body. —Joel Beall
A new electric motorbike from one of golf’s most well-respected bag companies: The Sun Mountain FinnCycle
You’ve seen motorized push carts, and the golf surfboard, and probably even a golf bike, but now Sun Mountain is introducing the FinnCycle: an electric motorbike.
It tops out at 15 miles per hour, the same speed that a golf cart travels. Your clubs are held in place in the middle of the bike with supports and straps. It will fit pretty much any bag other than a staff bag; Sun Mountain’s biggest cart bag fits. Rest your feet on the footbeds, and control your speed with a small thumb lever on the right handlebar. Both the right and left handlebars have breaks, and there’s kickstand to keep the bike upright while you’re hitting.
Besides being fun to ride around on, FinnCycle’s benefits extend to pace of play. In testing, the team at Sun Mountain found it easy to play 18 holes in under two hours. Obviously, that’s reliant on not having to wait on play in front of you. Right now, it’s not available for individual consumers to buy. They’re selling to golf courses as rental fleets. — Keely Levins
A simple training aid that makes a lot of sense: Pendulum Pro
The PGA Merchandise Show is riddled with new training aids, alignment tools and gadgets that claim to be the end-all-be-all for golfers looking for improvement. A new product launching Tuesday at Demo Day seems so simple it could be the fix for many golfers. The Pendulum Pro is a device aiming to train the proper takeaway and path for putting, chipping and full-swing motions.
The padded, adjustable strap is designed to wrap around your upper back and shoulders, setting up the reverse-triangle setup. By design, the device will give you feedback if you hinge your wrists too early on the full swing or chipping, and it’ll let you know if you’re taking your putter too much on the inside or outside in your stroke. Simple yes—and that seems to be the idea. The product, which golfers are seeing for the first time Tuesday, can be pre-ordered for $197 on the company’s website. —Stephen Hennessey
A simple way to recognize our swing faults: Strike Spray
Face impact is imperative to understanding your iron game, and where you want your iron game to go. Though launch monitors and simulators can help in this pursuit, the truth is not all golfers have the resources to tap into such technologies. But most can afford $30 for three cans of Strike Spray.
This product spritzes a substance on the face of your golf club, allowing you to see precisely where you make contact on every shot, and won’t leave a permanent mark on your club or ball. As off-center strikes are the No. 1 cause for amateurs losing distance, by illustrating the pattern of your misses, you can get to the root of your swing problems and begin to get your game back on track. — JB
Finally, providing video of our hole-in-ones
Ever make a hole-in-one, or know someone who has? Do they have footage of that moment? Probably not. Photos of the aftermath, sure, but not the swing or the ball rolling in. As part of the SKYiGOLF system, which was just launched in October, the company offers a designated hole to have video captured on the tee and the green of every group that plays through—meaning that if a golfer on that hole aces the hole, they have the footage to last a lifetime.
The feature is just one component of the company’s services and solutions offering up to facilities and their PGA pros. Essentially, SKYiGOLF is meant to provide advisory services, technology and events to run a more efficient operation. Partnering with On-Pin for GPS technology and foreUP for cloud-based management allows facilities to make operations as efficient as can be. For golfers, the hole-in-one component is especially intriguing, as are the company’s rewards program to incentivize golfers to return to earn points for discounted greens fees and merchandise. The company is also offering events, such as a global scramble championship, and monthly regional sweepstakes, to encourage repeat business. At a time when every industry is attempting to become as efficient as possible, SKYiGOLF seems like it will attract the type of golf facility that has some modernizing to do. Perhaps the cherry on top? If a golfer makes a hole-in-one on the designated hole where the company’s software is, the golfer will receive $10,000. As if making an ace couldn’t get any better… The company also signed Paula Creamer as an ambassador, who will wear the company’s logo on her hat this year. Click here for more. –SH
The latest in counterbalancing—with a twist: Switch Grips
Counterbalancing putters has been a hot topic in putting over the past several seasons, especially with the enactment of the anchor ban. The idea is to shift the balance point higher in the putter by putting more weight into your hands when you putt. The goal being to improve control. Switch Grips sells putter grips that have a weight port at the end of the grip. You can screw in any of three weights: 8 grams, 14 grams, or 20 grams to find the weight that’s right for you. The Player putter grip with the full set of weights is $40.
Switch Grips also makes grips for your whole set. Counterbalancing through the bag isn’t unheard of, tour players have done it, including Jack Nicklaus and Sergio Garcia. If you’re curious to see if counterbalancing could help your game, the full-set grips have the same weight port as the putter grips. There’s also a 2-gram placeholder weight, to give you the option of not counterbalancing if you end up not liking the feel. –KL
One of the best ways we can imagine practicing your short game
When you’re practicing your short game, how often are you giving yourself good, flat lies? Probably pretty close to all the time. The problem with that is when you get out on the course, you’re going to face plenty of uneven lies. It’s that issue that Tough Lie 360 is combating with their short game practice tool.
The turf is at an 8-degree angle, and can be spun around to give you uphill, downhill, and sidehill lies to practice off of. (Pricing: $745, retail. Weight: 30 pounds) –KL