For golf junkies, nothing can top a visit to the annual PGA Merchandise Show


For more than 20 years at the end of January, I have made the annual pilgrimage south to the PGA Show in Orlando, Fla.  For someone who resides in the middle of the polar vortex, tired of shoveling snow and annually suffers from cabin fever, the PGA Show is the first sign that golf season is not too far away.

If you are an avid golfer or equipment junkie like me, this is a trip to the equipment Mecca, and it is clearly the “Super Bowl” for golf industry professionals, PGA professionals and owners. If you ever get the opportunity to attend, perhaps with your PGA professional, do your best to make it happen. Offer to drive, even.

The show takes place in the Orlando Convention Center, which is the Superdome of convention centers. It covers more than one million square feet, which also includes over 45 hitting bays and demo areas where clubs and balls can be tested, tried and dreamed about. This happens to be my favorite part of the show.

Whether its trying the new TaylorMade driver, PING irons, Nike putters or a new brand of golf ball, the demo area allows you to try any custom combination of clubs in the business. This is where I figure out “what new piece of equipment am I getting this season.”

Another exciting part of the show is walking the hundreds of aisles, which stretch 1.5 miles from one end to the other. You can check out the more than 1,000 companies showcasing everything from clubs, balls, shoes, gadgets and anything else you can imagine that is golf related. Below are some of my favorite things from this years show:

TaylorMade SLDR Driver – The latest driver by the top manufacturer is as good as advertised. For those looking for a few more yards, the SLDR has one of the lowest spin rates in its class, which equals longer drives.

Titleist and TaylorMade Irons – For you hard-core equipment geeks and good players, I am always excited to see what Titleist and TaylorMade introduces with new irons. The new Titleist AP2 irons and Tour Preferred CB irons by TaylorMade both feature great looks and feel.

Adams Idea Adams golf had the buzz at the show with its new game-improvement irons. This hybrid set of irons with its sole slots enhances the ball speed and launch angle on shots. Overall it is one of the easiest irons to hit on the market.

Sun Mountain Combo Cart – Walking is once again becoming very popular in the game, and one of the coolest pull-cart bag combinations is the Sun Mountain Combo Cart. This light-weight pull/push cart features slots for 14 clubs, big wheels for easy maneuvering, and my favorite, a seat built into the side.

The Golf Bike – This gets my “hot” list award for 2014. Designed by former cycling professionals, The Golf Bike combines fun, fitness, and speed of play into the game. A traditional looking bike with a golf cart built into it and wider tires makes it very simple to get around the course in just around one hour for nine holes.

SwingSmart – This was the coolest technology at the PGA Show. The SwingSmart golf analyzer allows you to connect a sensor to your golf club and then provides you with key stats and a 3D swing analysis through your iPhone/iPad and Android devises.