This week was the annual PGA Merchandise show at the Orange County National driving range (Demo Day) and the Orange County Convention Center. It was two days filled with exhibitors and industry professionals checking out the latest and greatest products and services in the golf world.
Tuesday was Demo Day at OCN. If you have never been there, OCN has the largest outdoor driving range in North America. It’s a circular design and almost every square foot of it is occupied by OEM’s and other companies.
If there is one complaint I have about OCN it’s that they continue to have the players hit up from the front part of the range and that part the range is not very well, so you get a lot of golfers hitting on downhill lies. And usually the lies are very tight to begin with. I would like to see them level out that front part of the range to make the experience more enjoyable for the attendees and give the exhibitors a better chance to display their equipment.
This was the first Demo Day where I drove to OCN instead of taking the shuttle over from the Convention Center. You can register at OCN and overall it’s a better deal to drive to OCN than to take the convention center shuttle. For starters, you don’t have to pay for parking and you don’t have to hear the Lee Trevino Yamaha commercial which could be used by terrorists to torture kidnapped civilians.
Anyway, the theme of the show was dictated at Demo Day. No Nike, no Mizuno and no PXG. And there really wasn’t much new in terms or driver, irons or wedge technology and designs. As far as equipment goes, it was more based around the putter. I can understand PXG not coming to the show since they are a new product. Furthermore, I would not doubt if they wanted some mystery and exclusiveness associated with their brand. But Nike and Mizuno not coming is puzzling, particularly since they do have some new product out. People ask me why they didn’t come. All I can say is that from my experience of working in the corporate world is sometimes you get a new big-wig exec that has a bug up their ass about sales being down 2% and then gets the bright idea that they need to shut down those ‘unnecessary expenses’ like the PGA Show. I don’t quite agree with that line of thought, particularly in the golf business where branding and getting the name out there is so critical. But, that’s how some execs think sometimes.
I did try out the new Hogan hybrid.
This is basically a take on the ole Adams Hybrid designs which is not a bad thing at all. Adams was arguably the best hybrid maker over the past 15 years and the Hogan hybrid performed like a great hybrid does.
Hogan also added a new line of cavity back irons:
These irons look better than I initially thought they would. I also hit their Ft Worth irons and I think they have the best feeling long irons out there. Their mid to short irons was nothing new or unique to me, but the long irons (3-iron to 5-iron) are downright superb.
I tried out the Srixon Z945’s and really liked them:
I really enjoyed Yonex’s new N1 MB irons:
This is just a different take on their Ti-Hybrid MB irons. The Ti-Hybrid MB model removed the carbon steel from inside the head and replaced it with titanium. Titanium is lighter than carbon steel, so it was creating a blade style head, but moving the CoG lower which makes it more forgiving and possibly longer as now you can lower the loft in order to offset that lower CoG.
The N1 MB has graphite inserted into the head. The Ti-Hybrid MB is a bigger and ‘fatter’ head while the N1 MB looks more like your traditional blade. In fact, it looks like the EZone MB blades which I currently game.
I did try out Ping’s new TR1966 model putter. This is basically taking the old Anser design and updating it a bit. Those old Anser’s had very light heads due to greens being much slower. This Anser head is now 340 grams. It also has a grooved faced for better roll.
Problem for me was their longest putter they had was only at 34” long. And I really didn’t care much for the feel. I preferred their new B65 model feel.
New putter company Toulon Designs was at the show. Toulon is founded by Sean Toulon, a former TaylorMade designer.
The main point being driven home by Toulon Designs is the feel of their putters. First, they have a unique milling pattern to their faces:
They also have a weighting system that allows them to change out the weights.
The concept is that between the face milling and then the weighting they can create the feel that a player prefers based on their putting stroke mechanics. I have to say that this did feel like the real deal. I tried some of their different weight makeups and did sense a different feel of the head and eventually found a beautiful feeling putter
Bettinardi had his usual gems out there. Just a great feeling and looking set of putters. However, I think many people may want to check out the Cure Putters line.
I had played with a golfer that was using their RX3 model and he really putted well with it. The RX3 is too ugly for my tastes and I think would be difficult for me to aim.
The CX3 is more of a classic model. I have fooled around with it at the PGA Tour Superstore and liked it. But, this was the first time that I got to use it on a real green. The concept is that it has a super high MOI compared to the rest of the putter heads out there. If there’s one thing that is a central theme to putters these days is the stability of the head.
Anyway, I ended up purchasing my own Perfect Putter at the show:
They usually retail for $300 and I got mine at a show price of $255. The Perfect Putter essentially rolls the ball for the golfer so they can get the true line of a putt. But, there’s plenty of drills that a golfer can use with the Perfect Putter as shown in this link:
There were two reasons why I wanted to get one:
1. It would make setting up drills much quicker and more accurately. If you do things like the string drill, it’s easy to mis-calculate the break and then you can practice the break incorrectly and start practicing poorly based on your poorly mis-calculated break. And if you calibrate the read correctly, it can take a lot of time to do so.
2. David Orr explains this on his Web site (FlatstickAcademy.com) and I think it has forever altered my putting for the better. Many golfers will have an illusion when they are putting that they are either pulling or pushing a putt based on their stroke mechanics. I started to notice this was a massive problem I had and I would unconsciously change my aim based on this illusion and therefore change my stroke to adapt to my changes in aim. I think the Perfect Putter is set up to help learn how to cope with that illusion. Again, I highly recommend checking out David’s site to better understand the ‘illusion’ and countless other facets of putting.
We had beautiful weather for it, particularly since it rained the next two days. And I had a really great lunch with Cheney Brothers BBQ. I have never tried Cheney Brothers and I will have to hit them up, again.
Part 2 tomorrow