THE SWEET SPOT:
Highlights from the 2015 PGA Merchandise Show
by Rett Haigler
Every year, the multi-billion dollar golf industry shows its wares at a larger-than-life trade show. I ventured to Orlando to see how WilsonMcGuire Creative might be able to help emerging golf brands navigate the industry’s sometimes tricky marketing landscape.
There were dozens of brands and products worth mentioning, but here is a list of my favorites.
This was quite possibly the most innovative new product I saw at the 2015 PGA Show. Like many avid golfers, I’m quite fickle about my putter grips, and can’t say that I’ve really found one that I absolutely prefer over all others. Enter SwitchGrips. This smart invention from the mind of soon-to-be well-known company founder Eddie Rogacki allows golfers to switch out their putter grips without the wasteful, messy and difficult process of the past. With dozens of texture, design and size options, SwitchGrips offers a grip for just about every golfer out there, and makes it easy to switch it up whenever you want. I’m not the only one who noticed how special this product is – SwitchGrips was named one of the top three products at the entire show by attendees. Follow them on Twitter: @switchgrips
Not for the faint of heart, this one year-old four-wheel surfboard-turned-golf cart will make a serious splash in the golf world this year. The Golfboard business model is pure genius – invite a new, adventurous audience to the golf course to experience a fun juxtaposition of golf and board sports. From a pure marketing perspective, the brand should speak more directly to the traditional golf audience in order to achieve its true growth potential – but, wow, this thing is just tons of fun! And from what they say, they’re close to announcing a strategic partnership with a bucket list golf resort which would legitimize years of R&D and prospecting. I for one am thrilled about the direction companies like Golfboard are leading the industry. Follow them on Twitter: @golfboards
Ever found yourself running on empty with the beverage cart nowhere to be seen? Scan4Beer is an app that will make drinking golfers’ dreams come true. Download the app and submit your order – the beverage cart attendant will bring your drinks to you! No excessive waiting or whining from your beverage-less buddies. Golf Channel found this product so innovative they featured it on their “Grille Room” segment from the show. Follow them on Twitter: @scan4beer
“Don’t mess with the dimple” – a simple take on what this innovative sustainable golf tee manufacturer deems one of the most critical flaws in golf accessories of the past. In a 2010 third party test using a robot and launch monitor with 95 mph swing speeds, their Epoch tee outperformed all competitors. In fact, it was almost six yards longer and three yards more accurate than the traditional wooden tee. These tees are used by top Tour players and at more than 300 private clubs nationwide. I think there’s a great story to be told, and golfers need to hear it. Targeting the avid golfer audience and educating them on the true distance and accuracy benefits of the Epoch tee would be a big undertaking, but the potential payoff could forever separate Evolve Golf from the pack. Follow them on Twitter: @evolvegolf
A personal favorite of mine, Mizuno continues to bring innovation to its iron-making. One of their latest forged iron sets, the MP-15s, is the weapon of choice of perennial GIR-leader Luke Donald. I was fortunate enough to learn more about these magnificent beauties from Mizuno’s own Golf Club R&D Testing Engineer, Cooper Yang. Cooper also introduced me to the new “Shaft Optimizer”, which helped me confirm the shafts I’m currently using (True Temper DG S300) are exactly what I need. I look forward to adding this set to my growing collection of Mizunos at home. Follow them on Twitter: @golf_mizuno
The inventor of this modern putting aid, Ramon Bescansa, told me if it wasn’t for a broken hand that put his professional golf career on hold, he never would have spent the time to bring his homemade (by his engineer father) product to market. He’s glad he did – Golf Digest listed his product as one of their top 15 products at the PGA Show (http://golfdig.st/15x5VTY). The contemporary design of the product lends itself to a modern approach to marketing and advertising. With a growing list of followers on every social media outlet, The Perfect Putter could soon be the talk of PGA Professionals worldwide. Follow them on Twitter: @theperfectputte
Instead of stopping up wine bottles, Portugal-based Corqe turned one of its native country’s greatest exports into a stylish putter grip and accessory product line. Cork has a great feel to it, as its been used for decades on fishing rod grips, but it also provides a distinct look, which is what company co-founder Joachim Delfortrie is hoping will catch on in the fashion-forward segment of the golf industry. They’ve also put cork on belts, golf bags, umbrellas and even golf skirts – a move that will surely catch the eye of the intended target audience. Follow them on Twitter: @CorqeSports