February 10, 2006
Both Cape Region golf shops attended this year’s PGA Merchandise Show and Convention in Orlando, Florida in late January, along with an estimated 4,000 close personal friends in the golf industry.
The travelers returned with brochures and other enticements for a wide variety of golf equipment and accessories, just in time for the start of the 2006 season.
John Ruddo made the trip for Ruddo’s Golf, on Route One near Midway, and made sure his partner Brett Marshall was up to speed by the time we talked about the latest offerings.
“Callaway Golf had a big presence,” Marshall said. “It looks like they’re going to do really well with their new X-460 Driver. It replaces last year’s model, the 454. They’ve moved some of the weight around in the head design, to make it even more forgiving on mishits. They are also coming out with the new X fairway woods to go with it.”
The 460 refers to 460 cubic centimeters, the outer limit of club head size permitted under the equipment rules adopted by the United States Golf Association. When standing in position to swing the club, the head appears to be about the same size as one of those giant grapefruit sold by the Cape Henlopen Band Boosters.
Marshall said that hybrid models have been a surprisingly big seller at Ruddo’s, now finishing up their first year in the Rehoboth area. “We’ve been very pleased at how well they’ve been doing. They’re a lot easier to hit than 2, 3, or 4 irons. I’ve been selling club sets that include a hybrid and then go from 4-iron through gap wedge, instead of the traditional full set-ups with 3-irons. And there are a lot of folks who come in and buy just the hybrid, of course.”
Ping Golf is the latest club manufacturer to jump on the hybrid bandwagon, with its G5 line, retailing for $189. It comes in four lofts ranging from 16 degrees to 25 degrees.
Ed Larkins of Clubhouse Golf on Rehoboth Avenue Extended was also very impressed by the new Callaway driver. He tried one out during the demo day, and said that after four or five swings, he told the sales rep, “I’m putting this down now, ‘cause I’m liking this too much.”
Larkins thinks that the Odyssey White Steel SRT™ putter line will be attractive to Cape Region golfers who don’t mind spending a lot of money for their flat sticks. The Tri-Ball™ putter adds another white disk to the company’s 2-Ball putter that many golfers already swear by (in a good way, that is). It also features two rounded bars leading from the clubface to the back of the club, which is why they call this arrangement their Saturn Ring Technology. The combination allegedly improves the club’s Moment of Inertia, reducing the twisting effect of off-center putts.
This problem can also be overcome with a bit more focused time on the practice green, but then again, I’m still using an old Golfsmith putter that cost maybe $24 at most.
Larkins also paid attention to some of the accessory lines. “The big emphasis for golf bag makers this year seemed to be color—a whole lot more of it than the more subdued tones we’ve seen for many years, like black and beige,” Larkins said.
He also pointed out the increased use of bright colors in the new models of grips offered by Winn, Incorporated. The G8 and Excel lines are especially colorful, including bright reds, pinks, champagne, purple, and mahogany among others. On several models the colors are segmented with blacks and other tones that match the different grip patterns on the material.
Some teaching devices are making a comeback after a lull in sales over the last few years. Larkins said that Momentus Golf is now offering a wider range of heavy-weight training clubs, including drivers, irons, and even putters. He expects to add some of these new items at his store very soon.
It sounds like it won’t be hard to pick out the golfers who bought the latest models when we see them out on the course later this spring.
I just wonder if some of them will try to match their new equipment colors with their pants.