ORLANDO, Fla. -- Every golf grip, club and accessory one could imagine was on display once again recently at the PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, where more than 1,000 manufacturers ranging from giants like Nike, Cobra and Taylor Made to the solo gadget inventors were represented.
There was talk that one of these days the show might be extended and opened to the public. But until that happens, we'll take it upon ourselves to highlight five products that golfers might want to find out more about:
It'll take some time to know whether this high-tech system is a passing fad or the wave of the future, but PGA of America, Golf Channel and PGA Tour pro Graeme McDowell all have a financial stake, so there's a good bet it's here to stay.
Just as ShotLink tracks and compiles every shot Tour members play at a tournament, GAME Golf, which consists of a small gadget one attaches to a belt and small plastic plugs with an embedded computer chip that attach to clubs, tracks the club hit on each shot, the distance and other data during the course of a round.
Golfers can then use the data to play rounds against other players, even remotely, see where their game needs work and better calculate how far they hit each club. It retails for $249; for more information go to GAMEGolf.com.
Take a skateboard, give it a lithium battery, four-wheel drive and easy maneuverability and you've got the Golfboard, the winner of the Best New Product award at the show and one which technical director Mike Radebaugh believes may soon replace golf carts, particularly for the younger set that can combine the joys of boarding with a faster-paced game of golf.
The concept has intrigued surfing superstar Laird Hamilton and Bally's Total Fitness founder Don Wildman to the point where both have invested. Billy Casper is a celebrity endorser.
"Don had been riding one-wheel-drive skateboards on golf courses in Hawaii, but when he saw our four-wheel-drive model he jumped aboard," Radebaugh said. Features club pros will find attractive include that it's only 80 pounds, so it's less damaging to the environment than a cart, and it recharges in an hour, where most carts need overnight.
For information or to order a board (list price $3,595) go to www.golfboard.com.
A handful of area clubs have GPS systems in their carts, but the market is exploding, and at the forefront is Golf Buddy, which has a variety of products ranging from units one can clip on a belt or hat to watches to iPhone apps.
The unique feature is that the company has hired people to walk and map out 37,000 courses. That information is updated on a weekly basis and includes distances to the front, center and back of the green as well as hazards and bunkers. The units we saw are a bit pricey, ranging from $179 to $349, but once purchased there are no additional download or update fees.
Senior golfers may not take to Golfboards, but they may want to take a look at Greenbells, a system of two small 2.5-pound two-and-a-half-pound weights that fit in the hand. Invented by Don Gwaltney, the weights are designed to be used while stretching.
"At the same time I started working on it, the PGA of America started promoting Tee It Forward to get these 14 million seniors (who used to play) back on the golf course," Gwaltney said.
"Take any stretch you want, put these in your hands and you'll find you're hitting the ball 10-15 yards further because you're more flexible. It makes the game a lot more pleasant for a lot of people."
The price of $79 includes a how-to poster and a carrying bag, available at www.gripfreegreenbells.com.
Inventor William Coats said the idea behind his product resulted from his senior golfing friends taking going back and forth with reading glasses every time they went to a scorecard. Mounted on a cart, IScore amounts to a magnifier that can be moved closer or further away.
"It gets the job done and speeds the game up a little bit as well," Coats said of his product, which won the show's Pinnacle Award for best new invention and is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c)2014 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
Visit The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.) at www.palmbeachpost.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services