2020 PGA Merchandise Show: 10 Things I’m Most Excited For
After taking a year off, last week I decided on relatively short notice to head down to the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.
If you’re not familiar with it, it’s essentially the world’s biggest golf convention.
You’ll find a melting pot of everything related to the business of golf.
Nearly all of the major club manufacturers are there showing off the latest products for the season.
Smaller tech companies with simulators, training aids, rangefinders, and more are there.
Footwear and apparel companies dominate one half of the space.
And amidst it all, you have buyers from nearly every club in America wandering from booth to booth alongside global media, bloggers, PGA Pros, social media personalities – and pretty much anyone else who does even a little bit in the world of golf.
Why Go to the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show?
So what does that mean for me, why would I go down to the PGA Show?
Well, there are a few reasons.
First of all, and probably most importantly if I’m being honest, is simply to see friends.
Having been in the golf industry for going on 8 years now, I’ve met a lot of people over the years that I’ve both worked with in some capacity, or simply gotten to know through this blog, golf trips, or social media.
So to have one event a year where so many of those people are all in one place? It’s a great chance to catch up, maintain the relationships, and hear about what they’re excited about for the year.
During the three days I was there I also had meetings with over 20 different golf brands to learn more about their business, and see if there’s a fit to work together in one form or an other.
More often than not, this amounts to having them send me products to review.
We don’t accept sponsored posts here, but we will accept products for review – under the full understanding that we will give our honest opinion no matter what.
So the more relationships I have with PR teams and golf companies, the easier it is for me to have content to share with you!
The Products that Get Me Most Excited
You may have noticed on here, that we don’t do a lot of club reviews. I’ll do the occasional review of my experience with a new driver or a set of irons – but I’m not enough of a gear head to get really excited over that stuff.
There are far too many clubs coming out each year, and I’m far from a good enough golfer to tell you all of the nuances to them – so more often than not I leave those reviews to people more committed than I am.
However I do get excited about anything tech related, apparel and shoes, accessories, and any of the other ancillary products around golf.
And when I’m at the show? Those are the things I usually gravitate towards.
So, what was most interesting to me at the 2020 PGA Show? Let me show you.
Launch Monitor Technology
Like I said, I’m big into tech stuff. And this was the first year where I really felt like I saw a lot of pro(ish) level launch monitor technology filtering down to a price point where the average golfer can get excited about it.
But even more so, the Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor has some really cool features (video recording of each shot, phone docks in the device) is one I’m excited to do a review on.
FlightScope’s Mevo continues to get high praise, and the Mevo+ while more expensive than the others at around $2k really ups the ante in terms of pro level features and performance.
All of these are interesting to me, as anything you can do to make practice both more effective, and fun is a win in my book.
ExPutt Putting Simulator
The jury is still out on this one, as I think it might have some refining to do before it truly becomes a game changer, but I was pretty impressed by this putting simulator.
The putting mat connects to your TV via HDMI and then through a camera, it will give you every stat you could want about your putting stroke. The statistics were similar to the Blast Motion device, but the game changer is the fact you could then play “rounds” of golf (all putts) on the simulator.
It had putts of different lengths, you could change the green speed, and you could change your aim point simply by tapping on the mat.
It felt like a souped up version of playing Tiger Woods golf from back in the day, but using a real putter.
Jones Utility Rover Golf Bag
So, the Jones Utility Rover golf bag has been out for awhile now.
But they had a new leather-like bag that was on display that was hands down the coolest golf bag I’ve seen all year. All black, with hits of red accents on the zipper pulls – the bag just screams cool. It kind of felt like the golf version of their Weekender Bag, which I’m in love with.
The Rover series is smaller than the Utility Trouper, and doesn’t feature a stand. So it’s the perfect bag for when you want to grab a beer and hit that emergency 9 on a beautiful summer night.
Or at least that’s how I dream about using it. It’s very rainy here in Oregon right now, so that’s pretty tough to visualize…
True Linkswear Shoes
So far I’ve only played in one pair of Trues – their OG Premium. And they were super comfortable, and also look great.
I personally like the trend of golf shoes not necessarily looking like golf shoes.
But I have yet to find a pair of shoes that truly feel like they could be both on course as well as off course.
Some of my favorite shoes of all time the Ecco Biom Series always still feel a little too golf centric to wear off the course.
But the new True Eco Knit actually feel like they hit that “wear anywhere” balance. Not to mention the uppers on them are made entirely of recycled material which is a trend that’s nice to see.
They had a few other models that won’t be out for another couple of months, but they were more exciting than anything I’ve seen from the company yet – so I’m really excited to see where they take things this year and beyond.
Each year I talk to a handful of different push cart brands. Usually they’ve come up with some way to make the cart a little bit lighter, or fold up a little bit smaller.
But generally they all still look pretty much like push carts.
I stumbled onto Walker Trolleys which is a small startup out of Austin that is doing things a bit different. White walled wheels, canvas storage and drink pouches, and an aesthetic that looks more timeless than any other push cart I’ve seen.
I’m curious to see if they’re able to break into the market and really sell people on a slightly different approach to the standard “trolley”.
Bridgestone Tour B Golf Balls
It’s not all that often I get excited about golf balls.
2019 I got most excited about Vice Golf, as they were one of the first times I felt like you could truly get Tour caliber golf balls at a surprisingly low price.
In 2020 after 5 years of R&D, Bridgestone released their new line of tour balls, which features 4 different models depending on your swing speed and preferences.
The Tour B X and Tour B XS are for swing speeds over 105mph (the XS is the one developed in tandem with Tiger), and the Tour B RX and RXS are designed for players with swing speeds under 105mph.
While having 4 “tour balls” could get tricky from a marketing perspective, the tech inside them seems on the surface to be really intriguing.
Without going into tech details (which I’ll do in a proper review), the new REACTIV cover is built to help you get more distance and more spin without having to sacrifice one for the other.
Bushnell Wingman GPS Speaker
Ok, I know what you might be thinking….Bushnell? Speaker?
That was my thought too.
But after getting hands on for a few minutes with the Bushnell Wingman, I was actually pretty impressed.
They’ve partnered with an unnamed speaker company to develop one of the most unique golf centric speakers I’ve ever seen.
It sounds great, and has a super strong magnet for sticking it to a cart – but then it goes a step further.
There’s a removable button on the top of it that looks like a ball marker. When you hit the button, the speaker turns down the music, and tells you the distance you are away from the pin.
It’s bulky enough that those who carry will probably still want to go with the JBL Clip 3, but for those that ride? This might be the best new bluetooth speaker option out there.
Redvanly Buttonless Golf Shorts
This is one of those things that seemed kind of odd, until I saw them in person.
Redvanly has recently launched a line of buttonless golf shorts and joggers that are super soft and comfortable. They’re essentially gym shorts with pockets, but look like a typical pair of golf shorts.
Pull them on, and away you go.
I’ve always been a fan of their products, and they continue to get better as they go deeper into the marriage between golf and ath-leisure for lack of a better term.
Holderness and Bourne 2020 Lineup
I’ve followed Alex Holderness and John Bourne since the very early days of their clothing brand Holderness & Bourne.
Each year I’ve watched the products get better and more diverse.
So this year when I turned the corner, and found them in a booth 4 times the size of any that I’ve seen them in before, and found it to be packed with people? I couldn’t suppress a giant grin.
And the grin only got bigger as they proceeded to show me the new lineup, which has in the last couple years evolved beyond just polos, to bags, belts, quarter-zips and sweaters.
The Ward sweater may be the sexiest sweater in golf. Just saying.
Finally, how could I leave out another favorite – Seamus Golf. It feels like Seamus has single-handedly reinvented the golf accessory.
They started with headcovers, and that’s probably what they’re best known for, but to see the shifts they’ve made into wood and metal goods has been truly refreshing.
It was specifically some of the trophies that were most interesting to me. The metal boomerang with wood inlays for Royal Melbourne may have been the sleekest golf trophy I’ve ever seen.
And this clover for Erin Hills is very cool as well.
I’ve handed out wood bag tags at all of our Eighty Club events we’ve held, but we might need to up our game this year and move onto some of the hand crafted metal ones.
Let’s Get This Thing Going
So those are just a handful of the things that stood out most to me at the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show. Some are new brands I wasn’t familiar with, while others were the latest products from brands I’ve come to love.
But I will say that the show this year, for the first time since I started going, actually felt bigger and more energized than it had in recent years.
Each year I’d gone previously, it always felt like it was getting smaller and smaller.
This year? It felt like things had ramped up a bit. People seemed genuinely excited about golf and the direction it’s going.
So I’m excited to see if that early excitement on the business-side of things translates to excitement on the course and in our communities as well.