It has been just over a month since the 2019 PGA Show ended, and now that the dust has settled and we’ve had time to reflect on the week, here’s a list of what we felt were the best products or services we could find while walking the halls of the Orange County Convention Center.
Best in Show: Original Penguin – Founded in 1955, Original Penguin was a brand launched by Munsingwear with what is thought to be the world’s first golf shirt. When the likes of President Richard Nixon, Arnold Palmer, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope are wearing your stuff, you are obviously doing something right. Now owned by Perry Ellis International, Original Penguin is making a big comeback in golf with a line of classic designs using modern performance fabrics.
Honorable Mention: Loudmouth Golf – The mad clothing scientists at Loudmouth have been hard at work making all sorts of new stuff to help you stand out and turn heads, and not just on the golf course. If it seems like company founder Scott “Woody” Woodworth and his crew are having more fun than anyone else, it’s probably because they are. Loudmouth makes some of the flashiest
Best in Show: Jack Grace – The classic saddle golf shoe is back, and this small company from Arizona has given it a much-needed refresh with some innovative technology. The saddle on the Jack Grace Innovator 1.0 golf shoe is interchangeable! No longer will you be limited to the color of the shoe you bought. Now, you can buy several saddles in different colors and patterns to match your outfit as needed. It’s not only a brilliant idea, but it really works! With 3 shoe colors, more than 25 saddle colors and 25 lace colors available, you have over 1875 possible combinations. Even Imelda Marcos would approve!
Honorable Mention: Puma Golf IGNITE PROADAPT – Rickie Fowler’s new golf shoe is light, stable and loaded with technology. Cobra/Puma Golf is quickly re-establishing itself as a major player in golf and is cutting into Callaway and Taylor Made’s market share, and they are doing it with a solid lineup of damn good looking and performing clubs, apparel and accessories.
Drivers & Fairways
Best in Show: Cobra KING F9 Speedback – This driver is hot. Period. I think was probably the most talked about
Honorable Mention: PING G410 – The two biggest names in golf are missing from this list for good reason. While their newest offerings are good, I feel they missed the mark slightly compared to Cobra and PING. The massive success of the PING G400 (2018’s number one driver) carries over into the PING G410 driver, with more adjustability for fine tuning and some new shaft options for better fitting. We’ll be testing this one soon so stay tuned!
Honorable Mention: Lynx Golf Prowler VT – Adjustability in drivers isn’t new. Every major manufacturer now makes adjustable drivers, but Lynx is doing it differently with an interchangeable face! Now you can adjust the loft of your driver by simply changing out faceplates, and it won’t affect the lie or face angle. Brilliant! The Lynx Prowler VT driver will arrive in the US in June or July.
Irons & Wedges
Best in Show: New Level Golf – Only a small, privately owned company could put out irons that look this cool and perform as well as they do. Founder Eric Burch’s motto for New Level Golf is “Small company, big impact” and it fits, because his designs certainly made a big impact on me when I saw them in my buddy Tony’s bag at Bandon Dunes last July. I’ve been a fan of New Level ever since, and with the introduction of their new 623 irons, my lust for these awesome forged and CNC milled beauties is only growing.
Honorable Mention: Indi Golf Wedges – For years I’ve been begging golf club manufacturers to develop non-conforming clubs for recreational golfers. Indi Golf is one of the few that have actually done it. The Indi Golf Stingray wedges are available in both conforming and non-conforming models and in 2 finishes. Not only do they look and feel great, but they perform great too. If you want to add more spin to your short game, you’ll want to try the Indi Stingray wedge.
Best in Show: Odyssey Stroke Lab Putters – Odyssey Golf has been around for a long time, and they continue to innovate and make some of the best performing putters on the market. Odyssey Stoke Lab putters combine a lighter steel/graphite shaft with weights in the head and the grip and a new White Hot
Honorable Mention: Sacks Parente Putters – Steve Sacks has spent a lifetime in golf and pioneered the concept of an ultra-low balance point in putters. Using 35g graphite shafts and grips that weigh less than half what a normal grip does, he can place the balance point of his putters at 5 inches or less from the sole, making the putter more stable, easier to swing and helping transmit more feel. All this tech doesn’t come cheap, however. Sacks Parente putters match performance with price.
Co-Best in Show: Bushnell Pro XE – Bushnell Golf has taken last year’s excellent Pro X2 rangefinder and gave it a brain. The new Bushnell Pro XE rangefinder now automatically considers altitude and temperature as well as slope when measuring distance in a mode they call “Slope with Elements.” The feature can be turned off for tournament play. The Pro XE is also waterproof and accurate within +/- one yard at up to 500
Co-Best in Show: Nikon COOLSHOT PRO STABILIZED – In a nutshell, Nikon took the image stabilization technology from their professional camera lenses and stuffed it into a laser rangefinder, making it super easy to lock on to your target, even with one hand. Combine that with slope adjustment, a claimed accuracy to 3/4 of a yard inside of 700 yards, and super fast measurement speed and it make the Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized a co-best in show winner. MSRP – $449
Honorable Mention: SkyCaddie SX500 – Sporting a bright and large (for golf GPS) 5″ color screen, the SkyCaddie SX500 takes golf GPS to the next level. Pre-loaded with over 35,000 courses and wifi connectivity, you can always keep it up to date with the latest software updates and course maps. Available for $399 with a 1-year subscription.
Accessories & Misc
Best in Show: Big Max Golf Blade IP Push Cart – Austrian company Big Max Golf dominates the European market for “trolleys” or push carts as we call them in the USA. Weighing in at only 6.5 pounds and folding nearly flat, the flagship Big Max Blade IP push cart is simply the best push cart available in my opinion. It folds and unfolds in seconds and has a whole line of accessories to customize it to your specific needs. MSRP – $329 direct.
Honorable Mention: Click Caddie – Sometimes a product comes to market that makes you do a double take, scratch your head and say “Why didn’t I think of that??” Devices like this have probably been thought up by many people, but only the guys at Click Caddie were able to bring it to life. This simple little device fits in the golf ball holder of almost every golf cart out there and holds your phone or GPS securely with silicone straps or the built-in magnet. Simple, right? Sometimes we get lost in a sea of technology at the PGA Show and miss simple but brilliant ideas like this one. I’m glad I discovered these guys. Not everything has to cost $400 or more to be useful. The Click Caddie sells for $24.95 on Amazon.