The PGA Merchandise Show is golf’s version of Groundhog Day. Wandering the massive floor of Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center, there is a kind of déjà vu in seeing the same faces, the same company booths, the same products dressed up in slightly new ways year after year.
There are always trends, though—some obvious, others less so—and this year’s show (held in January) was no exception. Squarely in the former category is the fact that golf is in the middle of a major tech boom when it comes to swing analysis. Dozens of companies are taking almost as many approaches to measuring (and improving) our golf swings, and they’re competing ferociously to put their wireless devices on golf clubs and golfers’ gloves and into living-room and driving-range simulators. It should be fascinating to see which products golfers will actually adopt. A few of them are highlighted here, along with a couple of other gee-whiz devices—one designed to attract a younger crowd to the course and another to improve workouts for players of all ages.
The USGA regulates innovations in equipment (e.g., clubs and balls) in order to protect the integrity of the game, something that the Titleists and TaylorMades of the world have been bumping up against for several years now. It’s made the soft-goods side of the show more interesting. On the fashion front, we took note of a few companies that are quietly bucking the dominant mode of polyester and loud colors (one must sadly admit that polyester and loud are more or less perpetual conditions in golf) with natural fabrics and classic styles. They’re essentially attempting to erase the line between the golfer’s on-course and off-course attire, a welcome development for avid players wishing to streamline their closets.