Best of the 2024 PGA Show

Best of 2024 PGA Show

It’s Back!

I’ve always loved the PGA Show, but the last few years have been tough.  The show has been so bad that in 2021, rather than write a recap, I wrote a piece on how to save it [read that HERE, it’s all still true].

The 2024 PGA Show was the first true rebound year.  Most of the major players came back.  The floor felt crowded, in a good way.  There was energy in the building.  There were actually new, interesting products!  Here are my Best of Shows, some interesting stuff I saw, and some thoughts.

Matt & Matt discuss the show in more depth on the podcast HERE

Best of the 2024 PGA Show

I won’t make you wait (or scroll) – I’ll get you right to the good stuff.

Best New Product: PuttOUT AirBreak Putting Green

Picking one product is tough most years.  This year it was not.  PuttOUT has created a green with adjustable break that’s not only a usable size (six feet long, roughly two feet wide), it’s affordable.  The motorized, computerized greens are super cool, but unless you have an entire room and tens of thousands of dollars to dedicate to the cause, they’re out of reach.  Look for the AirBreak pre-sale some time in March.

Best Party: Swag

I say this with all possible respect and appreciation for everyone who has ever thrown (or especially hosted me at) a PGA Show party or dinner – this category was never a fair fight.  Swag is different.

Sushi hand rolled on site.  A fire eater.  Signature cocktails.  Freshly wrapped cigars – with Swag wrappers, of course.  And the highlight: a claw machine with covers.  For the four plus hours that we were there, the line was never less twenty people deep and was, on several occasions, out the door.

Oh, and there was this.  If you’re into that kind of thing.

Best New Footwear Line: TRUE Linkswear

There are a lot of cool new shoes coming in 2024, but no one laid out an entire new line like TRUE.  This year, we’re going to see the first TRUE with removable spikes, a return to the original zero drop, wide toe style, and much more.  I’ve been a fan of TRUE since day one, and they continue to impress me with the way that they evolve their line and find new ways to offer better golf footwear.

Best New Rangefinder: Shot Scope ZR

In a show with roughly 20,904 laser rangefinders, the new Shot Scope ZR stood out for its rugged construction.  While Plugged In Golf does not endorse such behavior, we were told by a credible source that the ZR was run over by a golf cart and did not show any ill effects.

Full review of the Shot Scope Pro ZR rangefinder HERE

Interesting New Products

There was a lot of cool, new stuff at the show.  Having not tested any of it, I’m holding off on calling any of it “Best” or even “Good,” but it definitely piqued my interested.

Break7eventy Green Reading Insoles

Through an app and a sensor in your insoles, you can walk from your ball to the cup and get a read on the speed and line of your putt.  Obviously this won’t be tournament-legal, but it’s one of the most novel things I’ve seen at the show in a long time.  And if it works (big “if”), I think it could be really helpful for people who want to improve their green reading.

Trolf Travel Bag + Golf Bag

Trolf is a bag that holds your clubs more securely than any travel bag, then transforms into a usable golf bag for the course.  This was only in prototype form at the show, but, for the frequent traveler, this could be a game changer.

Tour Aim

A simple-looking training aid that checks a lot of boxes for good practice.  I’m hoping to get one in for review this year, as it definitely merits a closer look.

Full review of the Tour Aim HERE

PUR Golf Trainers

Ditto everything I said above, but for putting.  This trainer claims to incorporate all the most popular putting aids into one, and, from what I saw in the short demo, it may have accomplished that goal.

Oakley’s Return to Golf Footwear

Talking with Oakley representatives, we learned that they want to get back to making things are distinctly, obviously Oakley.  On a show floor with a whole lot of copy-and-paste sameness, I give this move two thumbs up.

Puma Phantomcat Nitro

The new Puma Phantomcat Nitro has one of the most eye-catching soles I’ve seen – and not just because of the bright colors.  Each amoeba-shaped spike is thoughtfully placed to prevent slipping and sliding during the extreme forces of the golf swing.

Lemerle Connect Putter

We see plenty of companies claiming to have made better putters.  We’ve seen lots of devices that measure your putting.  Lemerle is doing both.  Their putters have a lot of high end appeal – including a proprietary, ultra-stiff shaft – and also house a tracking device to measure your practice.

Trends & Observations from the 2024 PGA Show

The Biggest Names are Back

Callaway, Cobra, PING, Mizuno, Titleist, Bridgestone, and Cleveland/Srixon were all present and accounted for this year.  The importance of having the major OEMs at the show can’t be overstated.  As much as I love the little guys, the garage inventors, and the upstarts, a show without its tentpole brands doesn’t feel the same.

Shafts In Short Supply

With the exceptions of Nippon and Graphite Design, the big shaft makers did not take booths or even rooms at the PGA Show.  This is a continuation of a trend where more companies are doing off-site events or simply walking the show and taking meetings with the people they want to see.  As a shaft nerd, I found this a little disappointing because there are big new release stories like Diamana WB [review HERE], Project X Denali [review HERE], and the upcoming refresh on Fujikura’s Ventus line.

Too Many Rangefinders.  Too Many Simulators?

As I mentioned earlier, there were roughly 20,904 laser rangefinders at the show this year.  While I’m all for competition, the vast majority of these are just white labeled products – a brand buys the rangefinder from the factory and slaps their name on it.  If we’re going to have a bunch of something, let’s see some diversity – different approaches, different features, different prices.

There were also a lot of simulator companies at the show.  In this arena, I think there is enough diversity for it to be healthy.  There are companies making affordable products and some that only target commercial use or very high end recreational use.  Across the span of companies, there are a lot of different features being offered.  I don’t expect that all these companies will exist in five years, but they can all contribute something to the continued growth of this category.

Better Booths

This was true on both ends of the size spectrum.  Smaller companies like Sandy Par made better use of their space with strong signage and engaging displays.  The bigger companies, too, made the most of what they had.  Cobra, most notably, did a smaller, more considered space rather than claiming a huge footprint and not making the most out of it.  Also, anecdotally, the presenters were more engaged with the crowd – fewer were content to stare at their phones while show goers walked past.

Pickleball

A huge amount of the show floor was consumed by pickleball booths and two full-sized courts.  I understand this from the PGA Show’s perspective, and I can’t knock the idea of making the floor feel more full and lively.  However, as someone who is not a pickleball fan, this felt like wasted space.

Sneaky PING

PING put several clubs on display that have not been officially announced, including the i530 irons and S159 wedges.  I don’t think this can be counted as a spy pic or skirting embargo since there were not only clubs on display but signs advertising said clubs.  If PING feels differently, you can count yourself lucky that you saw this before it got deleted.

Matt Saternus

11 Comments

  1. Randy Kaminsky

    What’s the new look in Polo shirts?
    Are patterns & fun graphics still happening?

    • Matt Saternus

      Randy,

      There were a couple companies doing that style, but the predominant trend was apparel that works on course and off.

      Best,

      Matt

  2. The Pings look great! Would have liked to try them during my evaluation and eventual purchase of new irons last year (have used Callaway for years, bought Mizunos for the first time, Ping was the other finalist).

    I have a question for the group. I’ve had a golf watch for a very long time. I’d honestly rather play without my driver than without the watch (although many rounds I’d like to play without my driver anyway…). Never got comfortable with rangefinders (hard to get a consistent distance due to jitters even though I drink decaf 😀). Also, I bounce between a 7 and an 11 and don’t believe an exact yardage, if you actually get one, is all that helpful when I get front-middle-back with my watch – and – we’re generally advised to play to the middle of the green anyway. Add in that the watch automatically has yardages to most hazards, and can tell you distances to greens you can’t see (over a ridge, for example) and I don’t get the rangefinder. Serious question: there are a billion of these on the course – what am I missing?

  3. Those new Ping irons and wedges are works of art!

    I went looking for a price on the Lemerle Connect Putter. Is $1,100 correct?! I love the concept, but not at the price of a set of irons.

  4. Who sells the wolf of Wall Street driver cover? Can’t find it online. Thanks

  5. 9handicapper

    It’s good to see Oakley “trying” to get back into golf shoe department… up to a few years ago they made some superb looking (and feeling) golf shoes — then they fell off into the zero world of no spikes and horrible looks (along with the rest of the shoe market) this coming from a guy who has 14 pair of golf shoes.
    Hey, I’m tired of buying Mizuno’s………

    For: GaGolfer
    Try playing with the Skycaddie 500/550 — keep in mind, somebody actually walked all of those yards.

  6. Great article Matt! Is there any chance I could purchase that headcover from you?

  7. Will you have a review of the Ping i530s after their release?

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