By Scott Kramer

THE annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida is a golf equipment spectacle, with more than one million square feet of brand-new goods, apparel, accessories and other products on display. 

I have just returned from the 2023 rendition (it was the 31st year I’ve attended). 

As usual, the product introductions dropped plenty of jaws. 

Several items and trends caught my eye. Chances are you’ll also see them at golf facilities around Australia sometime soon.


Yes, every major brand’s debuted new clubs. And while many offered incremental improvements over last year’s models, there are some must-tries. Callaway’s Paradym driver, for instance, is arguably longer than anything on the market. Trust me, I think I’ve hit almost every new driver. In a nutshell, Callaway structured it to generate solid-feeling tee shots that catapult off the clubface for longer and straighter drives.

 If you’re considering new irons in 2023, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything that looks and performs better than Ping’s new G430. The company boldly claims you will get an extra 7-to-10 yards with these. Standing over the ball, they look fantastic. Once you see how well they perform, you’ll be sold.


Yes, you can buy Titleist’s new-for-2023 Pro V1 and Pro V1x that employ a new high-gradient core which essentially helps create distance with less spin on longer shots and better backspin around the green. 

Beyond that, though, Bridgestone’s offering a new “e9 Long Drive” ball which promises extreme distance and maximum power. Um, challenge accepted – who’s not going to want to try that? It was actually co-developed with the World Long Drive Association. 

There were also two smart balls on display – one from PuttLink, the other from OnCore – that are embedded with computer chips. Each works with an app that statistically analyses your putting and chipping. The balls aren’t designed for full swings, but rather just to help you improve your short game.


Speaking of balls, Bridgestone showed off its new OTTO GEN2 portable ball fitting machine. It’s an unmanned machine that sits behind a driving range tee. You can step up to its screen, enter your email address, and hit three shots. The machine then instantly recommends one of the brand’s golf balls, and emails you the selection along with your swing data and a swing video. It’s super simple and highly engaging, plus it’s free to use. And it’s just fun. 

I tried it and received my email within seconds. Bridgestone’s been seeking better and easier ways to fit golfers for its golf balls for 20 years now. I’ve tried every iteration and think this one is the best.


Technology’s infiltrated golf products in nearly every capacity. This year, I saw about 15 simulator systems. The sims, as they’re coined, sell for a wide range of budgets and come in many sizes, makeups, and sophistication levels. 

There are also companies willing to sell you individual components – screens, launch monitors, hitting mats, etc. – so that you can piece it all together for your home. Plus, they offer complete guidance. I hit on several of the sims in Orlando. 

What struck me most is how seamless the experience now is: The moment your shot hits the screen, a virtual version of it takes over as if the ball actually travelled through the screen. 

There’s no latency whatsoever, making the fluid experience even more immersive. If I had the budget for a sim, as well as the space for one, this would be a no-brainer purchase.


There were many portable launch monitors
on display. Essentially, you set these small devices up behind you at the range or on the course. 

Some you prop up your smartphone on, others just communicate with your phone wirelessly or display data directly on their own screen. As you take shots, the devices use various radar technologies to record all of your pertinent swing data – swing speed, descent angle, ball speed, smash factor, carry distance, total distance, swing path, etc. 

Some even show your ball flight through color-coded lines like on TV tournaments. Others offer a compelling augmented reality element, and show impact location on the clubface as well as an animated club path replay of your swing. 

I think my favourite unit that I saw was the new Rapsodo MLM2 Pro model, which also offers you the ability to play 30,000+ simulated courses.


There was one product on display that caught a lot of attention … and with good reason. I think it exemplifies where technology and golf are headed together. 

The product – PuttView X – is an augmented Reality system in which you put on special glasses that can instantly read greens.

It calculates distance, break, slope and speed on any green in the world, and then projects the putt information such as start line, ball path, speed animations and green contours in a holographic view on the glass lenses. You just follow its lead to sink your putts. 

The glasses are meant to be a training aid, but I can see the possibilities as the technology spreads. Imagine having an augmented reality caddie in your sunglasses advising you of every shot on where to aim, what club to hit, and how hard to swing.


I saw several interesting golf bags at the show. First off, know that even the simplest stand bags are getting even lighter in weight – making walking courses easier. But some companies are going even further. 

There’s also Zero Friction’s Stride, a bag that includes detachable electric wheels and a remote. But perhaps the coolest-looking bags were those in the Vessel limited-edition Tenth Anniversary Carbon Fiber Collection. If Batman ever played golf, he would carry these bags. 

They’re a stealthy monochrome – yes, they only come in black – and sport carbon-infused material side panels that were made in conjunction with Carbitex. 

It’s a flexible, almost rubbery-feeling material that seems bulletproof. Honestly, the various bags in this line-up resemble the bat suit. Matching headcovers are available. 

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