Thursday, January 27, 2011
PGA Merchandise Show Day 1 Journal
Today was 'demo day' at Orange County National. The above pic is the range at Orange County National which is gigantic and goes around in a circle and also has small putting greens throughout the range. The *entire* range is filled with exhibitors and allowing people to demo their products.
I parked over at the Orange County Convention Center and took the shuttle from OCCC to OCN. The Convention Center is a good sized Convention Center. I'd say it's larger than Atlanta's World Congress Center, but it's probably not much bigger. As I walked ot register, I passed by the part where the actual Merchandise Show will be on Thursday thru Saturday. These people are working around the clock in order to get everything set up for tomorrow....not fun.
The shuttle to OCN takes about 20 minutes and there are some complimentary goods like water, bag, etc. provided by some of the main sponsors. They also had plenty of food, drink and booze available as well.
I wound up seeing George Hunt, John Dochety (aka Lake1926), Martin Chuck (inventor of the Tour Striker) and Brian Manzella as well and we talked for a bit.
I'll try to go over the good stuff because I'm not here to totally knock stuff and the good stuff is the stuff I kept notes on.
KBS - I've hit KBS shafts before, but have never hit their wedge shafts or their hybrid shafts. Very impressed with both the hybrid and the wedge shafts. I think if you're playing steel in your hybrids, it's definitely worth checking out.
Very impressed with the Oban shafts. Hit Titleist's new driver with them and just smashed it with perfect trajectory.
Graphite Design -
Graphite Design has a big winner with their new Tour AD shafts. Used them in a few drivers and hit them very hard and long. I also tried them in some hybrids and also hit them quite well. The MSRP is high (IIRC, $425), but the performance was excellent.
Some other shafts I liked were the Project X Graphite Driver, Dynamic Gold Tour Issue and the Miyazaki shafts. Of course, this is hard to quite tell without Trackman measuring the data.
Pure Grips have an installation method were it does not use tape and thus does not require solvent. One of the big advantages of this is that anybody can install these and install them anywhere.
They felt nice and were tacky. They do not have a cord version, but they feel that if you use a towel and dry off the grip they will remain tacky.
Lamkin - Lamkin has usually been my grip of choice. I got to try out their new 3GEN Perma-Wraps and they didn't disappoint. Lamkin claims that if they get wet and are dried, they actually get tackier.
Titleist - I'd like to get a little more info on these drivers, but they felt great and I crushed every shot I hit with them. Can't complain there.
Taylor Made -
Obviously, this was a major hit with the crowd. I struggled a bit with hitting it accurately, although the winds were blowing about 25-30 mph (it was funny going around in the circle because on one spot everybody would be hitting hooks and then on the opposite side everybody was hitting slices.
I liked the feel of this club and if you put one of those Graphite Design or Oban shafts in there I'd be happy with it. But god would it look ugly. The thing with drivers is that you need to get this on Trackman as well. I knew quite a few people who got the R9 and liked everything about it except for the fact that they lost about 10 yards with it.
Special thanks to Keith from Boccieri Golf (part of the Heavy Putter company) to take the time to explain things to me. I understand that Demo Day is a bit of a zoo, but you usually run into 3 types of reps at Demo Day:
1. the ones who are just there and you need to come to them with questions and they probably won't answer them or give you short, curt answers.
2. the ones that are there just to talk to the other reps
3. the ones that are nice, helpful, but probably don't know the technical aspects of the product
Keith was the best one of the bunch. Unfortunately, the KBS people fit into the first 2 types. The Wilson Staff people were very nice and helpful to talk to.
Anyway, the Heavy Driver isn't really a heavy driver. The weight is more balanced throughout the entire club. If you're a golfer that complains about the weight of today's titanium driver, you may want to give this a look.
Also, if your grips get worn on these clubs, you can replace them with any grip and it doesn't really effect the weight.
But the drivers I hit the best was the Adams 9032LS with the Graphite Design shaft and the Callaway Diablo Octane Tour driver with a Diamana shaft in it. Both had 8.5* lofts that I just murdered. Again, Trackman would be a better way to figure out what is performing the best, but very impressed with both drivers.
Scratch Golf - Scratch was not an exhibitor, but KBS had their EZ-1 and AR-1 irons there. I'm not a big fan of Cavity Back and the EZ-1 is practically a Game Improvement iron. Seemed like a solid set of irons. Couldn't really tell the difference in the 1018 carbon steel, but it didn't feel bad by any means. I would say that if you're looking to go with Scratch, you should do it because of their higher level of customization.
Miura - Again, not an exhibitor, but plenty of shaft companies had their demo clubs there. They had their regular blade there. I have hit Miura before, but it was indoors and you can't really distinguish the feel of hitting an iron indoors, with range balls, off a mat and into a net. With that, Miura irons do feel really soft. I was surprised because when I hit them indoors before they felt okay, but they felt very nice outdoors.
Ping - I just hit the Anser irons which are Ping's first ever forged set of irons. I wasn't in love with them, but they are much softer than any other Ping iron I've ever hit.
I'm gunshy with Callaway equipment, but they really impressed me at Demo Day. Not only was the Diablo Octane impressive, so were the Razr X irons. Unfortunately they only had 1 demo club of the X-Prototype irons, and that was a 3-iron. Funny enough, I can't hit a GI 3, 4 or 5 iron more than 12 feet off the ground, but can flush blade long irons most of the time. Anyway, both the Razr X and X-Proto's are made from 1020 carbon steel and felt great.
Wilson Staff - I hit the FG62's. Solid set of clubs, without question, but there were others I preferred.
Taylor Made -
I was quite impressed with Taylor Made's new line of MB irons. Very nice look to them throughout the set. Sometimes MB style irons get too small and thin with the longer irons and too bulky with the shorter irons (never understood that). Taylor Made and Mizuno have done a really good job with the shapes of their iron heads. But I was actually more impressed with the new Tour Preferred MB's than Mizuno's MP-68 and the new Nike Pro V blades.
Heavy Irons - These are some cavity back irons, but they had a nice feel to them as well. I think they may be onto something when it comes to the weighting of their clubs.
There were some clear winners here for me today. Fourteen being one of them. They are made to what is the equivalent of 1025 carbon steel. Felt downright excellent. I liked their irons, although they were cavity backs and really dug their fairway woods as well.
Miura - Superb, just downright superb
Mizuno MP-11 - I thought these were very nice as well. They do come with a stock Dynamic Gold Spinner shaft now.
Wilson Staff -
I was very impressed with these wedges as well, but they are made from cast.
Not a lot going on here. Bettinardi had the best looking putters at Demo Day, but companies like Edel weren't there and I don't believe Scotty Cameron was there either. Bettinardi offers a lot of different options now, particularly offering a grooves on the faces and stuff like that. I'll post up some pics later this weekend and show what I mean.
Nickel Putter - I thought they had some good 'weird mallet' putter design company. They do have an interesting design that allows the golfer to pickup the ball and place their ball mark without having to bend over.
Check them out at www.nickelputter-USA.com
Interesting concept. May not work for a lot of golfers who would prefer to play with name golf balls. But for the golfer who plays every weekend and hates losing balls, it could be useful. Neat idea nonetheless.
Claims to have excellent ball measurement accuracy (www.foresightsports.com/products). Keith from Heavy Putter was quite impressed with my numbers...which actually made me skeptical
TourStriker - The TourStriker was probably the most popular item of any of the training aids I saw. The tee was constantly full and with people in line to try it out. George Hunt, John Dochety and myself all tried it out the Pro version. George and John hit it well. I flushed my first one and then struggled, but started flushing it again (I was using the 5-iron).
Not an easy club to hit. I have a problem where I backup out of it in the downswing. Part of that is caused by me not unfolding the right arm enough in the downswing, so I turn the shoulders very upright in order to get the club to the ball. Very difficult to do with the Tourstriker Pro. I then started to get that down and afterwards I was hitting the ball great with your regular clubs. Martin let me test drive a new training aid he has, so I'll give a review on that soon as well.
There was nothing really on mats except for outdoors mats. I'll look into those tomorrow.
Right now, I'm beat. Walked around quite a bit, hit a lot of balls, asked a lot of questions and it was about 30 mph wind, which just makes you dehyrdate more quickly and tire easier.