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Despite claims that golf is down in numbers, you couldn’t tell it by the activity at this week’s Carolinas Section PGA Merchandise Show in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
The exhibit hall was filled with booths that displayed clubs, balls, tees, clothing, shoes, gifts, furniture, paintings, golf carts, ball washers, scorecards, range finders and brand new teaching aids that will drop your handicap like a bowling ball out of a tree house.
All the major manufacturers were there: Club Car, Nike, Titleist, Cutter & Buck, Calloway, Aureus, Tail and Oakley.
Universities from near and far advertised their professional golf management programs.
Large equipment for picking up range balls, ball washing machines and displays of computerized management systems were scattered around the room.
In short, it was an old fashioned country fair, but all about golf.
The booths were crowded with golf pros and shop managers ordering their stock for next fall. Here in the Carolinas, we wear light clothing except for a few months of colder weather, so there were plenty of short sleeved and sleeveless shirts to be seen.
First of all, I walked around and looked at the clothing. Ladies, throw away all that lime green from last year. The new colors are aqua, burgundy and a beautiful soft moss green. There were lots of pastels and old-fashioned colors like navy, dark green, brown and white. Many shops displayed argyle shirts, sweaters and vests.
Gone were the incandescent pinks, greens and oranges of last year. It’s all planned obsolescence, but fun, and because golf clothes truly get beat up in a year, why not buy that fabulous new outfit at your local pro shop?
The one thing I noticed was bling, lots of bling on everything, including Nike men’s golf shoes.
(For the uninitiated, bling refers to shiny, glittery things like jewelry, sparkles on clothing, expensive, flashy things.)
Yes, men’s golf shoes now come in a variety of colors including orange and white, and a whole line of sneaker-looking guys shoes with (I swear) sparkles on the grommets. Don’t know if my husband Gene would wear them, but I thought they were cute.
Last year the women’s shoes were wild with crazy colors and patterns. This year the men took a giant step away from the traditional white, black, brown and saddle shoes. You go, guys!
There was bling on carry bags, shirts, belts and buckles, hats and visors. There was even a beautiful rhinestone rimmed plastic cooler cup that came in several colors.
I visited the booth for Lisa’s Unique Creations, billed as Golf Event and Tournament Gifts, and spoke with Lisa Moore, the owner. She had an assortment of fabulous, very different gifts, like monogrammed floor mats for your golf cart, pocketbooks, carry bags and a large washable cooler that can hold champagne or beer or soda, plus ice.
“One of our most exciting items is an ice bucket that comes in either clear plastic or aluminum, but here’s the difference. The ice bucket has an interchangeable neoprene cover that insulates, yet feels like suede and is completely washable. The cover simply slides up and over the handles to lock into place. It comes in a variety of colors, and club logos, names, sayings and almost anything can be printed or stitched on," Lisa said.
I overheard a pro ordering 60 of these items from Lisa’s sales manager for his upcoming guest day.
The second booth I visited was something called the Orange Whip, a new training tool for golfers from an outfit called Jimmy Hack Golf.
Jim Hackenberg, the owner, is a PGA golf professional and developed the Orange Whip after caddying on the PGA Tour and then teaching for 10 years.
“I watched so many perfect golf swings and they all had one thing in common—rhythm and balance. I wanted to invent a training tool that would help golfers achieve that and also build their core muscles,” Jimmy said.
The Orange Whip is a training club that has a regular grip, a long and very flexible shaft and a bright orange weighted ball on the end of it.
“The idea is to train your body to make a correct swing by repeated action. In addition, the weighted club gives the golfer a good core workout. You must stay balanced in order to swing this device. Too fast or too slow, swinging from the top, simply cannot be done without pitching forward, I mean almost falling down,” Jimmy said as he handed me the Orange Whip.
“Try it,” he smiled.
So I did, taking short baby swings at first, just back and forth like he told me to do. Then bigger swings, staying balanced, pulling the club through. Wow, I thought, I cannot swing from the top with this club, one of my chronic weaknesses.
“See? It corrects the outside-in swing,” Jimmy said.
Jimmy told me that getting the muscles trained into the correct swing helps the golfer replicate that swing with a real club on the course.
“I used go to the practice range every day and pound balls,” he said. “Now, I practice at home with this thing and get better results. It gives me relaxed hands and the correct swing plane through muscle memory.”
Strangely, I went to the practice range when I got home from the convention center and hit a bucket of balls straight and true.
My last stop was at a booth called Crospete Sports. Their draw was golf balls with bling. They had sparkly, glittery golf balls in six different colors and twelve finishes. Oh, yes, and they had the regular crystal finish golf balls, too, in an assortment of colors.
“There were two finishes in the bling balls,” said Ceasar David, sales executive for Crospete. “The M-1 is for distance. This ball has a brilliant sparkling finish and small, shallow dimples. The second ball is the M-2 and looks metallic (like a shiny new quarter in several colors). It has deeper dimples. This ball is for control.”
Ceasar claimed his golf balls fly as well, if not better, than standard golf balls. They sure were pretty, but would I be laughed off the course if I teed up gold golf ball that glowed and sparkled in the sun?
Nah. I could wear matching earrings. Bling, anyone?
Golf Gab Groaner
Sam was driven to play golf, talk about golf, practice golf, eat and sleep and dream golf. His wife got tired of listening to his incessant golf dialogue and finally, one evening at the dinner table, she finally snapped.
“Golf, golf, golf! That’s all you ever talk about. I’m sick and tired of it. Can we have a meal without talking about golf?”
Sam was shaken by her sudden vehement outburst. “Okay, honey. What should we talk about instead?”
“I really don’t care, honey,” answered his wife, pouting. Then, she leaned forward and smiled. “I know, let’s talk about romance,” she whispered.
“Alright,” said Sam. “How’s this? I wonder who my new caddy is dating?”
Elsa Bonstein is a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.