Best & Worst of the 2016 PGA Show

 2016 PGA Show_0447

Your PGA Show Cliff Notes

Still hungry for more info after looking through our photo gallery?  Today I deliver my unfiltered thoughts on what was great, what was terrible, and what you need to demo in 2016.

The Best

Big Boys Making Big Noise

Among the major OEMs, PING, Callaway, and Cobra all came out of the show with great momentum.

2016 PGA Show_0190

PING’s G Series was universally hailed as exceptional, and a worthy follow up to the now-legendary G30 line.  Their lines at Demo Day were among the longest, and no one walked away unimpressed.  Not that they needed additional hype, but they got it when they unveiled two 50th Anniversary Anser putters that pair classic Karsten designs with TR face technology.

2016 PGA Show_0434

Callaway, once again, ruled the show floor.  Their 13,000 square foot booth was packed to the gills with a scale model of a Boeing Dreamliner, four giant LED screens, over 1,000 golf clubs, and two simulators.  Additionally, Callaway snuck an easter egg into their booth: the new Odyssey Toe Up putter.  Kudos to them for actually unveiling new gear at the show.

2016 PGA Show_0385

Finally, there’s Cobra.  For years, Cobra has been the youth of the show – blaring music, bright colors, and having way more fun than everyone else.  This year, Cobra still had the music and the bright colors, but there was also a sense of seriousness.  The kid has grown up and is packing real game.  People were in Cobra’s booth not just for the party, but because they want to put their clubs in play, too.

2016 PGA Show_03922016 PGA Show_0393

FootJoy Fits Your Shoes to Your Swing

Every golf writer I talked to at the show shared my interest and positive impression of FootJoy’s new Performance Fitting System.  The industry’s shoe leader has partnered with BodiTrak, the maker of a pressure-sensing mat, to match golfers’ shoes to the swing.  Through extensive testing, FootJoy has found that players fit into one of three categories – mobile, stable, or dual responder – and it takes only a couple of swings to figure out what you are.  The benefit of wearing the right type of shoe?  More club head speed – as much as 3-4 MPH with the driver.  That’s a big deal!  FootJoy will be rolling out 200 fitting systems this year, so this should be available to many golfers in 2016.

2016 PGA Show_0399

The Best of the Independents

Edel Golf is the Golden State Warriors of the PGA Show – relentlessly dominant.  Every year we know roughly what to expect from their booth, but the quality, variety, and innovation in their handmade clubs is still amazing.  Talk to any real golf equipment aficionado and they’ll tell you that it was far and away the best booth of the year…again.

2016 PGA Show_04702016 PGA Show_0487

Other booths worth highlighting were Seamus, CRU Golf, and Kentwool.  Kentwool made a splash on Wednesday by having the Claret Jug in their booth.  They also called attention to their partnership with the Association of Professional Tour Caddies by dressing their booth staff in white coveralls.  Seamus displayed their diverse handmade offerings and also hosted a party Thursday night where they gave out hand-stamped ball markers.  They’re NSFW and they’re awesome (check out it here).  Finally, CRU Golf followed up their President’s Cup headcover by unveiling a shag bag designed to the specifications of the one Ben Hogan used to carry.  Pretty damn cool.

2016 PGA Show_23322016 PGA Show_2342

Exciting New Clubs

A handful of new clubs stood out as worthy of mention.

Wilson Staff’s C200 iron is amazing.  FLX Face is the real deal, and it’s going to have a lot of people hitting long, high iron shots this season.

Bridgestone’s JGR driver got Brandt Snedeker to switch, and it may do the same for you.  It’s not the flashiest new driver, but, after talking with their club designer, I’m convinced that it might be one of the elite in 2016.

Finally, Ben Hogan Golf had a stellar sophomore show with the debut of the VKTR hybrid and PTx irons.  Both clubs combine great performance with timeless looks, and will help the brand to reach a wider range of golfers.

2016 PGA Show_24082016 PGA Show_2402

Shot Tracking Explosion

Last year, there were numerous products looking to follow in the footsteps of GAME Golf and Arccos, but no one actually brought something significant to retail.  This year looks to be different.  With Shot Scope, Izzo’s Swami GT, and a Sky Golf product, there will be real competition in this arena.  This is a huge win for the consumer because there will be some novel approaches (Shot Scope looks particularly promising), and the competition should drive all the products to add new features and get better.  This impact can already be seen: both the established names are launching new products, GAME Golf Live and Arccos Driver, respectively.  You can expect reviews of these new entries, and a comprehensive comparison, this summer.

2016 PGA Show_23862016 PGA Show_2418

Golf Bag Innovation

Two companies are bringing great new designs to golf bags – Projekt and KLVN.   KLVN is an entirely new take on the golf bag with a plastic “core,” removable pockets, and a mini stand bag that separates from the larger bag.  It’s designed to be the perfect antidote to “Cart Path Only.”  Projekt is focused less on disrupting the golf bag and more on perfecting it.  Their lead designer, formerly with OGIO, has brought numerous improvements to Projekt, each one prompting a, “That’s amazing!  Why hasn’t anyone done that before?” from show-goers.

2016 PGA Show_04412016 PGA Show_0286

Shaft Makers Continue to Innovate

Virtually every shaft manufacturer that we spoke to had something new and interesting to show us.  Fujikura will be making the biggest waves in 2016 with a huge line-up of new shafts.  Their XLR8 platform will have three new models and there’s also a follow up to their fantastic Speeder Evolution.

From an aesthetic perspective, it’s hard to keep up with Veylix.  Their Wildeye finish (above, right) is breathtaking.  Expect to see some reviews from this relative newcomer in early 2016.

Mitsubishi Rayon kept things fresh with two new shafts: a limited edition Kuro Kage with full-length titanium nickel and a 29 gram shaft in their Bassara line (no, that’s not a typo.  29 grams!).  Their sister company Aldila also had an exciting announcement.  The company that was at the forefront of aftermarket shafts with the original NV will be bringing out a number of aftermarket-only shafts in 2016.

CC shaft wall

Club Champion Reaching More Golfers

Unless this is your first time on PluggedInGolf, you know that we’re all about fitting.  One common excuse among golfers is that there aren’t any fitters in their area.  Well, four major markets just lost that excuse.  Club Champion is poised to add locations in Los Angeles, Austin, Seattle, and St. Louis in 2016.  Getting more golfers to hit better shots and shoot lower scores?  Sounds like a big win for the game.

2016 PGA Show_0364

The Worst

The King Is Dead

Dead may be a slight overstatement, but the king certainly isn’t the king anymore.  For those who aren’t sure, I’m talking about TaylorMade.  When I went to my first PGA Show a number of years ago, TaylorMade was the show.  Their “booth” was one entire end of the convention center.  They threw a party on the first night of the show that everyone attended.  The line to demo their clubs used to dwarf the lines at Disney World.

But those were the days of RocketBallz and white drivers in every bag.  The last year and a half has seen their driver dominance at retail crash and burn – PING’s G30 was the top model and Callaway sold more drivers, too.  Their booth was uninspired and buried in the corner.  Worst of all, they launched a new line – M2 – the Monday of the show and generated zero buzz…or, more correctly, zero positive buzz.  Check the comments on Facebook and Twitter is you want to see how the average consumer felt about it.

Notable No Shows

Nike, Mizuno, and PXG were notably absent from the proceedings at Demo Day and the PGA Show.  While the show went on without them, it was disappointing to see one of the most innovative companies and the hot newcomer both stay home.

The “New” Product Zone

At my first couple PGA Shows, the “New Product Zone” lived up to its name.  It was a place where people with an idea and a dream could go to showcase their training aid, club, or groundbreaking accessory away from the giant booths of the established companies.  While there was certainly a lot of garbage, you could also find some really neat products, and the whole area had a nice, homegrown feel to it.

This year, there seemed to be no criteria for putting your product in the New Product Zone.  Established companies put their latest gear in this area.  Products that were in the NPZ last year (hence, no longer new) were back again.  The result was an area that was way too big and crowded to highlight the products that were actually new.

Lame Training Aids

This may just be the complaint of someone who has been to more than a couple of PGA Shows, but I was blown away by the lack of innovation in the training aid market.  While there have always been plenty of copycats – seriously, how many ways can you sell alignment sticks? – there are usually one or two brand new, interesting training aids as well.  There were plenty of good training aids at the show this year, but nothing that hadn’t been there before.

What Do You Think?

Did you see anything in our coverage on social media, in our photo gallery, or in this recap that really caught your eye?  Anything that we missed that you want to know more about?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Matt Saternus
Latest posts by Matt Saternus (see all)

7 Comments

  1. Could they not find a proper way to display the Claret Jug? What did that vendor booth set up meeting sound like? “Guys! We got the Claret Jug this year for the PGA Show. Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal but let’s downplay it by sticking it on that bistro table we rented and surround it with iteneraries and half full bottles of water.”

  2. Jeff McCarthy

    Hi,
    Has pure grips put out a newer version of the P2 Wrap or a newer range overall.
    Jeff

    • Matt Saternus

      Jeff,

      PURE has a new Jumbo wrap grip, and the wraps all have the same feel/texture now, regardless of size. Beyond that, there’s nothing new that they had at the show.

      Best,

      Matt

  3. Great job thanks

  4. Great coverage, Matt. Thank you for keeping us all up to speed.

  5. Matt

    Did you get a chance to hit the new Wilson C 200 irons? Initial thoughts?

    Will you be doing a more in depth review any time soon?

    Mark

    • Matt Saternus

      Mark,

      Yes, and my initial feelings are that it’s very impressive. We expect to have a set in for thorough testing soon.

      Best,

      Matt

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *