By Erik Matuszewski
More than 40,000 golf industry professionals — golf retailers, PGA pros, industry leaders and media members — have once again gathered in Orlando, Florida, for the annual PGA Merchandise Show. The Major of Golf Business, the PGA Show is where golf companies big and small showcase their wares and latest innovations in equipment, technology, training aids, fashion, accessories and golf-related services.
In total, upwards of 1,000 golf companies and brands occupy the one million square feet of exhibit, demonstration and meeting space at the Orange County Convention Center from Jan. 24-26. There are also over 100 golf businesses demonstrating their newest products at Demo Day, held at the 42-acre Orange County National Golf Center practice facility.
Following are sneak previews of six new technologies or innovations from the PGA Show that just might help your game or your golf experience in 2018:
Heard of Topgolf’s Toptracer system yet? The ball-tracking technology might soon be in a driving range near you, in effect bringing the social, interactive experience for which Topgolf is best known to smaller facilities. Toptracer is the presenting sponsor of the Demo Day event at the PGA Show, with its platform on display and available for testing at the driving range of the Orange County National Golf Center. Topgolf is already one of the most innovative brands in the golf business and the company is further expanding its reach with Toptracer, which is being rolled out to facility owners and operators worldwide and features in-bay television screens that display real-time data. The early feedback from test venues is that customers stay longer and buy more food and beverages. Win-win.
The V1 Golf app lets golfers keep working with their instructor long after the lessons are done. The new and improved instruction platform automatically uploads a user’s swing video (taken via smart phone or tablet) to the V1 Cloud. Instructors can then download the video and send online lessons back to the student using drawing tools, voice-over and drills. There is also an extensive model swing library that allows users to compare their swing side-by-side to professional golfers or overlay two swing videos for even deeper analysis.
Peyton Robertson might be the youngest presenter at this year’s PGA Show, as the 16-year-old high school entrepreneur introduces his invention called the DropStick. An alignment aid that’s meant to be used in practice sessions, the DropStick convertsto a legal in-round measurement device designed for one of the USGA’s newest rules – the 20-inch relief area for a dropped ball. If you have to take a drop, Robertson’s invention allows you to do it confidently — Drop it and Stick it. www.golfdropstick.com
eGull Pay App
One of golf’s biggest challenges in today’s fast-paced world? Finding the time to play. The eGull Pay App hopes to change that, allowing golfers to play and pay by the hole while driving incremental revenues for golf courses. eGull earlier this month announced a strategic partnership with the European Tour, seeking to develop short golf formats to help grow participation. Now eGull is coming to the U.S. and has already lined up a number of course affiliations that include Goat Hill Park in California. Unlike some other pay-by-the-hole programs, eGull tracks the number of holes via GPS – like Uber – and the user is billed in the app. No need to even go back to the clubhouse when finished. Time is priceless, and eGull is aiming to grow the game and revenues one hole at a time. www.egull.golf
Seat Comfort Systems
Looking for some Cool Ass Technology? Seat Comfort Systems has just the thing. No, seriously, that’s what the company’s proprietary technology is called for the world’s first heated and cooled golf car seat. SCS’s Cool Ass Technology features thermal conductive cooling and heating elements, which can cool or heat the bench seat and seat back in a golf car with the flick of a switch. SCS previously brought thermal conductive heating and cooling to motorcycles and now has done the same for golf since traditional heating and cooling systems (with perforated seating surfaces) don’t work in exposed environments. It’s seriously cool technology.
Garmin is using the PGA Show to introduce its newest GPS golf band to its wearable lineup: The Approach x10. Lightweight and comfortable, with an easy-to-read 1-inch touchscreen, the Approach x10 comes preloaded with data for over 41,000golf courses worldwide. A simple and intuitive device that’s all about golf, Garmin’s latest model is designed to help you play with confidence, providing precise distances to the front, back and middle of greens, as well as showing hazards on the display. It also can track stats, show the layout of greens and allow users to compete in weekly leaderboards on any golf course.