E.A. Sports Today

The next best thing’s at The Show

Fake grass for real greens, gadgets and products — it’s all here

EDITORS NOTE: Kenny Szuch has been going to the PGA Merchandise Show for more than 35 years. East Alabama Sports Today is excited to bring you his insights from this year’s show in only a way that he can.

By Kenny Szuch
For East Alabama Sports Today

ORLANDO, Fla. – As Day 2 winds down at the 2015 PGA Merchandise Show, the crowd seemed a little lighter than opening day. That made it much easier to maneuver through the aisles – or is that isles? — of zillions of products available in the current golf industry.

The club and indoor range area continues to be a focal point as thousands of attendees get to hit every club on the planet and also test out the latest in technology with Track Man, Laser tools, and a mountain of new immediate-feedback products showing swing speed, clubhead speed, launch angles, ball spin rates and all the other things to confuse the 18 handicapper just trying to hit the fairway.

The indoor hitting facility they have constructed in the Convention Center is most impressive, along with putting greens rolling about 12-13 on the Stimp. Some of those look and roll better than actual grass surfaces and they never need to be cut or watered. I think before long you will see artificial greens on outdoor golf courses.

Titleist has about 90 percent of the premium ball market with the Pro V, but that’s not enough for them. A new Pro V 1 and Pro V 1X will be shipping soon. Something tells me the only difference will be the box it comes in, as the current ball has dominated the game’s low handicapper and Tour players for several years.

The threesome of Butch Harmon, David Ledbetter and Jim Hardy were seen sitting together and probably discussing how many thousands of dollars they were going to charge for their next lesson.

Butch was a player and so was Jim. These two are obviously qualified instructors and can actually execute the shot they are trying to teach. For those who have never seen him in action, David Ledbetter is about a 14 handicap and 99 percent of his success is marketing and hanging on the coat tails of Nick Price in his heyday. Golf instruction is all about being in the right place with the right student at the right time and then it is off to the races.

I have the new Trion Z bracelets coming, along with a whole new line of Super Stroke putter and – now — wood and iron grips. This grip company is the hottest thing I have seen in the grip market.

For those who do not know, the Super Stroke concept came out some 20 years ago when the company was called Tiger Shark. The same owners put this huge grip on a putter many years ago but nobody would use it. Move the clock forward and this struggling company had an employee make a few of the old grips and take them out to the Tour stops. K.J. Choi used it, won with it, and now they can’t make them fast enough. Only in America.

Star Status today ranged from Doug Sanders, who still wakes up at night thinking about the 18-incher that cost him a British Open, to teaching legend — and my former Golf Digest Instructional School buddy at Doral — Bob Toski. Finally, no Show would be complete without Natalie Gulbis doing her thing and thousands of men in line for a photo or autograph.

For those who did not hear or see, Pensacola’s own Bubba Watson played a little Disney Mini Golf Wednesday night. Rather than spoil the outcome of a putt during the round, I will only suggest you check for the You Tube video of the kid named Bubba and it will show you why he is fearless on the course and owns two Green Jackets at an early age. Priceless. (Spoiler alert! It has to do with a long putt, taking off his shirt and a lot of running.)

This day’s a wrap — time to hit my favorite Cuban restaurant in town.

(On the cover: An offering of Canada’s Biion Golf slip-on shoes.)

Kenny Szuch is the director of golf operations for the City of Anniston, the pro at Cane Creek Golf Course and a PGA Class A professional. His most recent claim to fame is scoring a double-eagle 2 on the par-5 ninth at famed Oakmont, stories of which captivated attendees at Thursday night’s social.



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