The PGA Merchandise Show is the one time each year where everyone in the golf industry gathers in Orlando to show off all of the new clubs, gadgets and gear for the upcoming season. We're on the ground all week doing the legwork for you – here's a round-up of some items that have caught our eye so far. Keep checking this page, as we'll be updating it continually throughout the week.
Bradley Putter Company, bradleyputters.com
Three months ago, Bradley Converse was Black Friday shopping at The Real Mother Goose craft shop in Portland, Oregon and became inspired to create a putter. Fast forward 61 days and he’s now here in his own booth at the PGA Show in Orlando, selling people on his product.
That product is (and will be known) as a Bradley Putter, a putter with a highly-furnished wooden head that comes hand-designed from Oregon burl wood. The wood comes from a longtime family friend who owns Oregon Burls.
Converse, who last worked as a military engineer, takes tiny blocks of the wood, glues in metal weight inserts for legitimate putter feel, and hand-constructs the face and sides, all from his garage in Grants Pass, Oregon. It’s something he doesn’t think could be accomplished by a standard milling machine, considering the delicate nature of deformed grain known to burls.
Endless species of wood in southern Oregon means endless types of burls and all kinds of options for Bradley Putter Co. Add in some dye and you’ve got even more customization via ROYGBIV (nine colors to be exact). “If I want a red, white and blue putter, [Oregon Burls] can dye it red, white and blue. All that crazy stuff.” Converse says.
The process ends with Converse himself buffing the putter head until he feels it is ready to be yanked from your bag and used on the green. This level of intimacy in production of a Bradley Putter will cost buyers anywhere from $500 on the basic end to $25,000. “There’s a spectrum,” Converse says. From order to completion, securing a Bradley putter takes less than one week. Pretty efficient for a two-month-old company.
In that time, Bradley worked via the scientific method to improve his product every day. Check out their Instagram feed for a timeline from the first iteration to the fourth to the seventh and even more. According to Converse, each was made to improve on singular aspects where past versions failed, like weighting distribution, durability, etc.
After brainstorming the idea on Black Friday, Converse “had two putters by the following Wednesday. Took ‘em to the course. The first putter sucked…Not gonna lie, it was a bad putter.”
“Right now, my employee back home, he’s making putters and trying to break them right now, just so we know the whole spectrum,” Converse says. “I’ve already broken several by hitting them like 5-irons, just to know what is happening with it.”
Note how he used the singular form of employee. Bradley Putter Co is currently a four person enterprise. Their next big step is to conform to USGA standards.
“It’s not conforming yet, but it will be conforming,” Converse says, detailing exactly what he needs to do when he gets back to his garage. In that way, Bradley Putter Co. is not quite out of the woods yet, but it holds plenty of promise. “As of an hour ago,” he continued, “we are the official putter company of the Swing Thought Tour.”
As mainstream a move as that may seem, Converse promises Bradley Putter Co. will forever be intimate. He wants customers to visit Grants Pass and see their eventual shop (they are about to sign a lease). He believes word of mouth has been his biggest marketing asset and wants owners to share a story about their putter every time they play a round of golf.
“You’re never going to see these on Amazon. That’s not what it’s about,” Converse says. “You buy these for yourself. You buy these because you love golf, you appreciate craftsmanship, you appreciate ‘Made in America,’ you appreciate small town economies, you appreciate stories and experiences. That’s why you buy a Bradley Putter.”
- Sean Zak
Indianapolis Putter from Toulon Design, odysseygolf.com
The new Indianapolis ($399-$460) putter from Toulon Design is the company’s first attempt at a high-MOI mallet, and it’s pretty impressive. Inspired by the technology used in the automotive industry, the Indianapolis features a multi-material design that produces an astounding MOI that exceeds 5400, providing outstanding stability and forgiveness on off-center hits.
Of the total overall weight of 360g, the milled aluminum face makes up only about 25%, which helps move the CG away from the face and toward the rear of the clubhead, and also contributes to a soft but responsive feel at impact. The milled steel sole takes up about 50% of the total weight, ensuring the CG is extremely low, while a lightweight carbon composite crown section saves enough discretionary weight to allow for about 65g to be repositioned in the rear wings of the clubhead.
“We wanted it to punch way above it’s weight for high MOI but not make it so big like many other high MOI mallets. In order to do that we knew we had to have multi-material construction and look at it from a totally clean sheet of paper.” - Sean Toulon
The carbon composite crown not only saves weight to produce a lower, deeper CG and exceptionally high MOI but also dampens vibration for enhanced feel while also providing an array of both subtle and more obvious alignment features. In fact, the unique shape and contrasting aluminum face and carbon composite crown section provide up to ten different alignment aids, both parallel and perpendicular to the target line, for more accurate aim at address.
The Indianapolis will be available at retail on March 31.
- Mike Chwasky
Setup Eye, setupeye.com
Golfers of all abilities can struggle with alignment. Even tour pros occasionally lean on caddies to point them the right direction. Enter the SetupEye.
Les and Sandra Egan, a chipper couple from County Clare, Ireland, created the new gadget to help golfers line up at their target. The inspiration was simple:
“I invented it because I’m a lousy golfer,” Les said with a laugh.
Four years after sketching out the concept, the small devices are here at the PGA Show, and soon could find their way to your golf bag.
They work in a two-step process. First, peer through the scope to lock in your target. (The flag, a tree, etc.) Then, place the unit on the ground, at the center of your stance. Next comes what Sandra describes as the “secret sauce.” The device will rotate and shoot a narrow beam of light vertically through the ball to help line up your clubface. After a few seconds, it spins and fires another laser to align your stance.
The SetupEye checks in at a pricey $395, but it’s certainly innovative. It’s also cheaper than bringing a caddie to line up each shot you take this season. They are assembled and shipped from Ireland, and will available in about eight weeks.
- Jeff Ritter
Hudson Sutler Cooler Bags, hudsonsutler.com
Hudson Sutler set out in 2012 with the goal to make a better duffel bag. Consider it done, and then some. Five years later the company is making its debut at the PGA Show with a booth chock full of duffels, backpacks, totes, dopp kitts and cooler bags in a wide variety of color combinations. They're all made in the United States and at least 10 pairs of hands touch each item before it lands on your front step. The most eye-catching item? The 18-pack and 30-pack cooler bags. It's got a waterproof liner that's used for life rafts, a hardy canvas exterior and a reinforced bottom. This thing is not leaking. It can be carried to the golf course, the beach, the lake – anywhere where 18 beers are wanted.
While setting up their booth on Tuesday, the crew at Hudson Sutler had one of the sample bags filled to the brim with drinks and ice. They accidentally left it there overnight with all the ice still in it, but when Wednesday morning came around, the ice hadn't melted and the drinks were still cold.
The 30-pack is $130, and the 18-pack is $99.
- Coleman McDowell
GoGolf GPS, gogolfgps.com
This PGA Show has some creative products for GPS. Yesterday I found a golf glove with a GPS bug attached to the flap. Today? It’s on your glasses.
The product is called GoGolf GPS, and it features a miniscule unit that weights less than one third of an ounce and clips snugly onto your specs – or, by substituting a larger clip, onto your cap or visor.
It does look a tad goofy.
“I had a guy yesterday tell me he thought I was taping videotaping him,” John Leighton, the company’s general sales manager, said with a laugh. “We had to explain it to him.”
GoGolf users download a free app, which has maps on more than 30,000 courses, and links up to the device via Bluetooth. Unlike every other GPS I’ve seen, which requires golfers to read yardage info from a phone or rangefinder, this one transmits information via audio. During the round, golfers simply press a small button on the GPS, and a voice will read you the yardage to the middle of the green. (Volume is adjustable.)
If you’re a player who likes to listen to tunes, you can also run Pandora while simultaneously using the GPS, at a volume that won’t distract your playing partners.
The rechargeable battery is good for nine rounds. Maybe the coolest thing of all is a price -- $69 – that is less than half the cost of a rangefinder and most other GPS-related gizmos. They expect to begin filling orders in March.
- Jeff Ritter
Bushnell Excel GPS Watch, bushnellgolf.com
Pre-loaded with 35,000 courses worldwide, this sleek GPS features built-in Bluetooth technology so that you can quickly download the most up-to-date and accurate information from the company’s Golf App on your smartphone. (Other Bushnell models have to be hooked up to a computer to update). You can also sync the Excel to receive alerts for incoming texts, e-mails and calls. Plus, the color display has auto-brightness adjustment for easy readability in all conditions, while yielding yardages to hazards and the front, middle and back of any green. Additional highlights include a shot-distance calculator, pedometer, and automatic course-recognition and hole-advancement functions. Available in white, black, and charcoal, you get fourteen hours of play in GPS mode. In stores this April; $250.
- Alana Johnson
Highland Pants by Bonobos Golf, bonobos.com
The Highland pant is already one of the best golf pants you can buy – and now it’s designed for even more players. Bonobos previously offered tailored, slim and straight styles, and now it’s added an “athletic” cut for golfers who want the clean lines of a tapered leg but need extra room in the seat and thighs.
Bonobos was started with the aim of creating high-quality pants that fit perfectly. The Bonobos Golf line (formerly under the Maide Golf umbrella) takes that mantra to the course. What makes these pants stand out from the competition? The details: a curved waistband that’s flattering and comfortable, no extra material where it’s not needed and a performance polyester blend that allows for enough stretch during a round while avoiding the shiny look that says "I just came from the golf course."
The pants come in 14 color choices and start at $108. In addition to the Highland, Bonobos also offers a Tour Highland, a Lightweight Highland, Heathland and Palmetto styles. Options for everyone.
- Coleman McDowell
Precision Pro NX7 Rangefinders, precisionprogolf.com
Precision Pro has two new rangefinders, the NX7 and NX7 Pro, to help you save strokes, and time, while making your way around the links. The powerful, ergonomic designs are 25% smaller and 30% faster than the Nexus, delivering distances up to 400 yards in less than half of a second. Both waterproof models are accurate by plus or minus one yard, have 6x magnification, a user-friendly target lock function, and no-slip grip for a comfortable and secure fit in hand. Aside from that, the NX7 Pro features slope technology to compensate for elevation changes and provides a short vibrating pulse when it locks onto the target. (The slope mode can be turned off to make it legal for tournament play).
The NX7 ($200) and NX7 Pro ($250) will be available March 1. Plus, the company will be offering rebates valued at $30 for the NX7 and $50 for the NX7 Pro until June 30. The not-too-pricey packages will also include a two-year warranty and free CR2 battery replacements.
- Alana Johnson
Bubba's Jetpack, oakleygolf.com
It was just six months ago that Oakley partnered up with Bubba Watson to announce “Bubba’s Jet Pack,” a new and aptly named means of transportation on the golf course.
Finally, the public was able to feast its eyes on the product up close and personal Wednesday at the PGA Show in Orlando. Watson himself was on hand at the event to take pictures with the jet pack (named “BW-Air) as well as conduct interviews with the media and hit balls in a simulator. (Fans were able to compete for prizes all day on the simulator to get closer than Watson’s approach to 6 feet.)
The jet pack, which took three years of collaboration to create and is produced in New Zealand, is able to fly up to 3,000 feet in the air via a 210 horsepower engine powering two ducted fans. The rear side of the “flying golf cart” boasts likely the most significant part: a spot for the golf bag.
In sheer size, the jet pack is a behemoth, stretching more than seven feet tall, stretching just as wide and weighing about 400 pounds. All of that is to say that it currently is illegal to fly in the United States without a pilot’s license. There are only two that have been produced and there’s just one pilot in the world who can take the jet pack for a cruise. Sorry, Bubba; time for pilot’s school!
- Sean Zak
Zero Friction Distance Pro GPS Gloves, zerofriction.com
This year, on-course GPS in available in the palm of your hand.
Or more specifically, on the back of it.
Meet the Distance Pro GPS glove by Zero Friction, the first navigation system that attaches directly to the back of your golf glove.
Zero Friction has been around for more than a decade, and two years ago got into the glove business. I couldn’t take their new, high-tech glove to a course, but from what I saw in the convention center, using it seems like a breeze. Just power it up on your way to the first tee, and then open the corresponding (free) app on your phone. The GPS is compatible with both iPhone and Android, and the devices communicate via Bluetooth.
Yardages will display on full-color hole maps on your phone screen, while distance to the front and back of the green, and the flagstick, also appear on the flap of your glove. The GPS is outfitted for more than 35,000 courses, so odds are good your local muni is online.
The GPS device weighs less than a half an ounce, and after wearing it for a few minutes, I forgot it was there. A pack of two gloves and the GPS hits shelves this week, starting at $139. Johnny Miller has signed on as a pitchman, but I didn’t see him at the show today.
Maybe I could’ve found him with GPS.
- Jeff Ritter
Virtual Green Putting Simulator, fullswinggolf.com
Golf simulators have become mainstream, and with good reason. But for all they offer in hooking you up to Pebble Beach from your Brooklyn basement, putting has always been the most difficult aspect to replicate. That’s where Virtual Green comes in.
Virtual Green is owned by the popular simulator company FullSwing and promises to “replicate any putt in golf.” That means – quite literally – any putt, even memorable ones from the past.
The platform simulator uses pinpoint technology located beneath the surface to raise and lower specific sections of the synthetic green to build a new, specific putting surface from scratch. Players can use the accompanying software to select how much break, and just how intense the break on their corresponding putt.
For instance, on Wednesday at the PGA Show, Jordan Spieth’s coach Cameron McCormick helped event attendees read and (try to) make the same putt Spieth hit on the 16th green in the final round of the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. If you need a refresher on that putt, see below. As we found out Wednesday, it’s very difficult.
McCormick was able to adjust the intensity of the left-to-right breaking putt on 20% intervals, 100% being as close as possible to the original putt Spieth made 18 months ago.
Unlike mainstream simulators that measure only the physics of a putt and project it onto a simulator screen, Virtual Green actually allows you to watch the ball either lip out of the physical cup, or drop in for birdie. Thankfully, there’s plenty of room for celebratory fist pumps.
- Sean Zak
IceBlock Putter, iceblockputter.com
Often at the PGA Show – among the thousands of products that can make the event quite dizzying – products must stand out visually to grab your eye. One new product stands out on its own, literally. It is the IceBlock Putter.
The name makes sense, as the putter head is oblong and transparent, like a block of ice. In this scenario, however, your block of ice holds up a putter shaft on its own. It's eye catching.
The novel concept of a “stand alone” putter came to creator Daniel F. à Wengen (a Swiss surgeon who owns a slew of patents, 23 in all from hearing aids to nose implants) as he wanted to improve how players stroke their putts. His theory is that too many players strike with an open face at impact, so he placed multiple alignment marks atop the putter to help reel in attention to face angle.
The block holds the shaft upright, allowing the player to back away on the green and read their putt with the putter in clear view. From that, Wengen believes he has solved an address issue, relative to the specific read of the green.
“You put it on the putting green, you leave it there, you take a step back, you look through [the putter head],” Wengen says. “You adjust the face angle until it is perfectly right where you want the ball to go.”
Then, of course, you make the putt. One glaring fault is that the putter stands on its own mainly on flat green locations, but not where there is significant undulation. Good news, though! The putter has already been ruled to conform by the R&A.
All that remains is making the stroke, which requires little effort (the head is nearly 500 grams). The putter is available at IceBlockPutter.com, but will hit you with a driver-esque price of $249.99.
- Sean Zak
Golf Board, golfboard.com
Golf, we all know, has its share of problems. When explaining lackluster participation numbers, one term often cited is the dreaded F-word. Fun, of course.
Is golf too stuffy? At times, perhaps. Enter GolfBoard, a company now in its fourth year producing motorized, skateboard-style carts. I bumped into the GolfBoard display at Demo Day, and at first glance, operating one seemed tricky.
“Lots of people think it’s tough, but it’s a breeze!” said Jeff Dowell, Golf Board’s high-energy President.
Accepting the challenge, I hopped on. Driving the board really was simple. You stand in place, one foot in front of the other, like a skateboard. Your clubs ride in front. At the center of the handlebars lies the throttle. Just press it down to move forward. Release it, and the engine cuts out for a quick stop. Turning takes some self-trust: lean one direction or the other, and the board responds. It requires some effort to toss your body weight into the corners, but it’s also a blast. I never fell off, or even felt close to biting it.
Dowell said that when he started producing boards, which start at $6,500, he expected sporty millennials to drive his business. Surprisingly, many retirees have also gravitated to it.
“It’s all about lifestyle,” Dowell said. “If you’re athletic, you can do it.”
Dowell says boarders rip through 18 holes 30% faster than twosomes in a golf cart, because you don’t have to track two golf balls, and 15% faster than walkers. GolfBoard has currently outfitted more than 250 courses around the world, including tracks in the U.S., UK, Spain, Portugal, Indonesia and Australia. And not all courses are flat resorts. The boards can handle uneven terrain.
“They’re even more fun, and easier, on hills,” Dowell said. “They chew ‘em up and spit ‘em out.”
Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
- Jeff Ritter
EPON AF-105 Driver, epongolf.com
The EPON AF-105 driver ($1,000) features a traditional pear shaped, super deep face aimed at better players with faster clubhead speeds. The first Epon driver with a multi material clubface (both KS-120 and Ti-9 titanium), the AF-105 produces extra forgiveness on off-center hits without sacrificing ballspeed or distance. In addition, an extremely thin and light beta titanium crown creates a CG location that’s approximately 7% lower than that of the previous AF-103 for higher launch angles and more carry distance.
“Endo’s EPON products are the epitome of what a forging manufacturer is capable of producing without any limitations,” says Jeff Sheets, Technical Director for EPON Golf USA. “The EPON products are the cream of the crop.”
For those not, “in the know,” EPON products are manufactured by ENDO Manufacturing Co Ltd., one of the most respecting forging facilities in the world. ENDO continues to make products for many of the industry’s biggest OEM brands but has also been making it’s own products under the EPON name since it’s inception as a subsidiary in 1977.
- Mike Chwasky
The Putting Stroke Teacher, tpsteacher.com
For my money, the Putting Stroke Teacher is by far one of the easiest, most effective putting aids out there.
The idea is simple, grip your putter like you normally do and then position the yellow rod across your forearms. This will create that perfect “V” with your arms and shoulders. From there all you have to do is make a stroke. The Putting Stroke Teacher takes your hands completely out of the stroke and allows you to feel what a perfect stroke is supposed to be like.
The best part? It takes only five minutes to set up and folds down to a manageable size that conveniently fits in any golf bag. So whether it’s before your round, a putting practice session or even if you just have 10 free minutes at home, you can turn your very own putter into an aid will help you groove a solid, repeatable putting stroke. Something every golfer can benefit from.
- Sean Steinemann
Cure Putter RX Series, cureputters.com
Walk around the PGA Show, or even just peruse a golf retail store, and you’ll find all kinds of adjustability in drivers. Everyone wants their driver to be THEIR driver. But what about putters?
Adjustability in putters isn’t exactly innovative, but poll your local country club and you’ll likely find a large majority of non-adjustable putters. These things, as we know, feel great one day and not so great the next.
Enter: the Cure Putters RX series.
This unique brand of putters has been around for years, allowing folks to determine how heavy (and therefore how comfortable) their putter head will be.
Extra weighting, which is added to the rear of the heel and toe of the club, can adjust the weight of the three putters by upwards of 65%. Of course, if you want something in the middle, that’s also offered by Cure. The brand sells an extended weight kit for $40 that can even include colored weighting for the artsy players out there.
The adjustability is not relegated to weight alone. The putter shaft connects with the putter head on a rotating block that can change the angle at which it connects. Sound confusing? That just means your putter can feel much more upright or drop the grip toward a flatter angle.
The price of these putters ($290) is serious business, but when the adjustability offers more than a single setting, to some it may be well worth it.
- Sean Zak
Swing Shirt, golfswingshirt.com
Chances are, if you watch the Golf Channel, you have seen the Swing Shirt commercial. But it’s the story behind the training aid that is the best part.
Ray Rapcavage — a true golf addict in every sense of the word — was hitting balls in in the front yard of his New Jersey home in mid-January when he was hit with a mini case of the shanks. Determined to beat the dreaded “s-word,” Ray took an old sweater, turned it so the arm hole was positioned at his chest and then put both his arms through the one arm hole and began hitting balls. The improvement was so astonishing, that Ray made his wife come out in the brutal winter cold to watch him hit balls. Four years later, Ray has sold tens of thousands of the American-made Swing Shirts and PGA Tour player Padraig Harrington frequently practices with the shirt. Long story short, if you’re looking for a more connected, powerful golf swing — the Swing Shirt is for you.
(And, yes, it actually works, tried it myself.)
- Sean Steinemann
Honma TW737 460, honmagolf.com
The largest and most forgiving in the new Honma TW737 line (that also includes 445, 450, and 455 models), the TW737 460 ($500) features a thin, rolled Ti5N titanium face for increased ballspeeds and distance as well as a long, shallow back shape to encourage higher launch angles. Weight that’s saved through the use of a lightweight crown is redistributed to an 8-gram sole weight that’s located in a low, forward portion of the clubhead. The result is a CG that’s also low and forward, encouraging very low spin rates that would normally be associated with smaller volume clubheads. Some of the saved weight is also positioned in the low heel area of the clubhead, making the large clubhead easier to square at impact.
“This is a unique product,” says Adam Sheldon, GM of Honma USA. “Any average to better player who wants one of the lowest spinning 460cc drivers would do well to get fitted for the TW737 460.”
The TW737 460 driver is available at select retailers now.
- Mike Chwasky