Over one third of the space at the Show is dedicated to soft goods - clothing. This year, technical garments were among the show’s biggest themes led by adidas as well as Nike, Ahead, Zero Restriction and Under Armour – Gear for Sports’ new tech division. The big hit of the clothing domain was the Fashion Spotlight, a runway show by 27 manufacturers that featured professional lighting, enhanced special effects and an upbeat soundtrack with techno, rap and rock influences. The Spotlight was always packed to the brim with standing room only at each show. Among the overriding themes in the show were more sleekly styled garments that stretch and cling to the body and women’s pants in a variety of lengths and styles – from tapered Capris to open leg culottes. Colors were present. Including a variety of reds, blues, yellows, purples and browns, with orange being the trendy new “in” color, but black was still the most favored. Many of the major name brands had enormous booths. The standouts with the “best of the best” shown below: adidas
With the acquisition of Reebok by adidas-Salomon, the adidas’s booth was a constant beehive of activity. Adidas was showing their multi-tiered performance product line, highlighted by ClimaCool Motion products with moisture wicking, UV protection and anti-microbial properties.
Causing quite a stir were adidas’s new Tour 360 and ClimaCool II golf shoes.
The Tour 360 ($180) golf shoes, adidas's flagship shoe, features an anti- clogging outsole that rests atop a heel and forefoot that move independently of each other, which produces a more solid base on regular or even lies. Strategically spaced cleats alternate with traction gripping elements to produce added stability. A 3-density sock line includes a supportive base layer, heel cushion and slow recovery memory layer.
The ultra light ClimaCool II ($80-$100) is what the company terms a performance athletic sandal. Air intakes and exhausts are a key feature to 360° ventilation. Advanced traction technology features rotational elements on the inside of the sole and lateral stability bars for maximum grip during a golf swing.
adidas’s ClimaLite Mercerized Pencil Stripe at $65 was one of the most talked about shirts at the Show. The main attributes of this mercerized shirt are its three-button placket and the self-collar, with collar stays to prevent rolling. Both open hem and set-in sleeves are featured.
The shirt is65% cotton and 35% polyester mercerized ClimaLite jersey with a hydrophilic finish – pure technology and wonderfully comfortable. www.adidasgolf.com
The sophisticated styles of Como Sport, Robert Trent Jones, Bobby Jones and Walter Genuin, were there as always, but so were the cutting-edge looks for women from companies such as K. Dreyer, Golf Girl Couture, Tulliano and newcomer Verdina. These are the companies that are snipping at the heels of the heretofore-staid clothing companies, such as Cutter & Buck, Greg Norman and Jamie Sadock. Female golfers want and need clothing that suits their lifestyle, and the companies mentioned herein are providing all of the above.
One of the most impressive lines of clothing was seen at Karen Dreyer’s
This new company is reinventing exciting, quality ladies apparel with style and elegance that will be capturing the hearts and wallets of the well-dressed golfer.
Karen's designs are contemporary and her company is one of the few that really knows how to design golf clothes that easily transition to other venues.
The clothes fit well, wear most comfortably and are made of high quality fabrics, with attention to detail being a focal point. Watch for this company to make enormous inroads into the ladies fashion domain. www.kdreyer.com There's a good reason why Ahead and Fairways & Greene are fast becoming the two most popular clothing lines in the industry - quality, style and value. Ahead
In the past four years, Ahead has surpassed all expectations - their booth size has quadrupled, as well as sales. Ahead's new high performance Extreme Fit (E16X) and the Coolmax caps, C17CMX and C18CM3 – under its A-Care Performance System, are designed to move moisture away from the head, keeping the head dry and cool during hot weather.
The new CoolMax caps use a meshed-back design that allows heat to escape more quickly. The C17CMX offers a two-color design with colored front panel and white mesh back, while the C18CM3 uses CoolMax fabric inside the mesh back and comes in solid white
Ahead also introduced a new rubber appliqué label. Highly detailed, it will be available for the entire line of hats, gloves and outerwear.
Ahead's Kate Lord Collection features classic styles that are comfortable both on and off the course. In 2006, Kate Lord Collection will introduce new styles, colors and fabrics to complement the in-line collection.
This collection uses a feminine and subtle ornamentation on all the pieces. The signature KL heart logo or stacked Kate Lord lettering is tastefully placed on each garment in tonal embroidery. www.aheadweb.com Fairway & Greene
Offering the finest fabrics and designs, F&G has become the choice of the upscale golf shop and its customers. Tour players such as Brad Faxon, Curtis Strange, Bob Gilder, Hall Sutton, Gil Morgan and Jay Haas are just a few of the players who sport F&G shirts.
Both Men's and Ladies lines offer both classic and contemporary styles using double mercerized Pima cottons for their golf shirts and sweaters. What sets F&G apart from the competition is their outstanding quality, trademark finishes and superior customer service.
Many Tour players wear the company's products and are not even paid to do so, which speaks highly of the company's products. F&G can be found in over 3,000 green grass shops and that number is growing. (MSRP $125 plus) www.fairwayandgreene.com Firethorn Golf
Firethorn Golf's 2006 outerwear line is constructed with its F-Tech technology - high-performance, water-resistant features that are breathable and practically noiseless. Firethorn has eliminated the "swish" sound commonly associated with moderately priced outerwear. In its place is lightweight, stylish and bold designs featuring extensive weather-resistant detailing.. Firethorn Golf not only offers a silky and exceptionally quiet experience, but also retails at surprisingly low prices beginning at $44.95 US.
Storm flaps, high side zippers, and elastic or drawstring waists are standard on nearly all gear, while protected scorecard pockets, cell phone pockets, and adjustable cuffs promote a element-proof experience. The company's popular pullover converts into a short-sleeve wind shirt, thanks to convenient zip-off sleeves. Likewise, a quarter-zip pullover converts to a wind vest in a flash.
For 2006, the company's outerwear collection is available in a bold selection of colors, including Dazzling Blue, Jockey Red, and Rattan, as well as its "Classics" hues including Black, Incense, and True Navy.
In addition to its selection of mercerized, modal, and cotton classics, the company’s polos (MSRP: $29.95 - $69.95) also offer a multitude of styles, with its trademark F-Dry moisture wicking technology. By combining such performance qualities with a gentlemanly silhouette, Firethorn has created a new niche of “crossover” performance gear for the most common body types and course-to-street lifestyles.
Firethorn Golf fashions are available in sizes S - XXXL www.firethorngolf.com Retro Cap
Imperial Headwear: Among the many cap producers, Imperial continues to have the most innovative and best fitting caps available. These caps are classy, well made and offer the best selection. In the shoe domain, companies such as Bite, Ecco and Etonic are grabbing up chunks of market share from the big boys. Their innovative styling and use of space-age materials are the predominant ingredients to their success. Etonic
Both Etonic's glove and shoe are phenomenally comfortable pieces of equipment.
Etonic's new G>SOK-GT golf shoe is spike-less and is for golfers looking for a more traditional styling with additional performance features. The rubber sole, co-designed with Goodyear, has multiple traction elements with extended flex zones, longer stability bars, and additional tri-directional pyramid turf grips for superior traction. A TPU stability shank also provides added arch support and lateral stability. The full grain leather upper has a new sleeker last, giving the shoe a more traditional look without sacrificing comfort and fit.
Its blue stability bars and gray and orange gripping nubs work together to keep you grounded throughout your swing. The soft leather linings of the G>SOK-GT, combined with the GORE-TEX® moisture wicking linings, provide for superior waterproof protection and the maximum breathability possible in a golf shoe.
MSRP $125 www.etonicgolf.com Bite Golf Shoes
Long acknowledged as the leader in comfortable golf shoes, Bite has introduced a new shoe combining comfort, a wide toe box, sharp styling and orthotic friendliness - the Biosport.
One of the primary benefits of the Biosport is that it has properly positioned Forefoot grooves for a natural foot flex. Additionally, utilizing a Trufit fiberglass arch shank, there is excellent Torsional control in both the arch and heel. The Biosport has heel support counters for lateral stability and shock grid cushioning under the foot bed.
The low profile outsole design enhances ground feel, while soft, full grain leather uppers offer immediate comfort.
The Biosport uses Bite dynamic Fast Twist spikes for optimal traction and minimal impact. Sizes 7 to 14.
MSRP $110 www.biteshoes.com DeFeet Socks
DeFeet Socks - simply put these socks are the most comfortable golf socks currently known to man. In high demand from Tour players such as Shaun Micheel, Brenden Pappas, Ian Leggatt, Spike McRoy, Marco Dawson, Gene Sauers and numerous others, the sock lets you feel as though you are walking on air. This sock features CoolMax technology. Do yourself a favor and get a pair or two.
MSRP $10.00 www.defeet.com Glenbrae
Also makers of excellent socks are the UK Company – Glenbrae. They too feature the CoolMax technology that is so prevalent in the clothing industry. www.glenbrae.com Accessories, Training Aids and Performance Jewelry: The Show is no doubt a paradise for those who like golf training aids, and/or golf accessories, in the form of memorabilia, books, sculptures, antiques or art - you name it - it's all here. Bracelets and pendants – performance jewelry for golfers – have become extremely popular over the past years, as golfers look to cope with stress and enhance performance. Leading the way this year was Qlink and Trion-Z Qlink
The QLink pendant, worn by more than 300 professional golfers, including Charles Howell III, Juli Inkster and Jesper Parnevik will, according to the developers of the Qlink, Clarus Transphase Scientific, Inc., help strengthen a person’s resilience and resistance to the harmful effects of stress. The company claims “People who wear a QLink pendant report having clearer thinking, increased awareness, calmness, better sleep, enhanced mental focus, stamina and vitality.”
The Q-Link Titanium and Q-Link Designer Pebble Style Sterling Silver join the growing list of products that currently include the Q-Link Black and Q-Link White models. The new Q-Link Titanium retails for $229, and the Q-Link Designer Pebble Style Sterling Silver pendant retails for $349. www.qlinkgolf.com Trion:Z Bracelet
Under the umbrella of Sonartec Golf, Trion:Z has introduced a new ionic/Magnetic therapy device. The Trion:Z features minus ion and magnet technologies to provide benefits to consumers who are physically active, or are exposed to positive ions from computers, cell phones, electrical machinery and other tools of modern urban living. Positive ions are associated with a number of symptoms including fatigue, lack of concentration, headache, nausea, joint and muscle pain, and other discomforts.
According to Trion:Z , their product counteracts the positive ions at rates twenty to fifty times that of other ion products. Trion:Z products also feature medical grade magnets in a patented Alternating North-South Polarity Orientation (ANSPO) that greatly increases the Magnetic Field Flow of the devices. Numerous color combinations are available.
MSRP $19.95 www.trionz.com
. Medicus Driver
What would you do if you had the best selling product in the market for seven consecutive years? Medicus surveyed golfers to find out what make and model driver golfers were hitting off the tee, and to their amazement they found that most golfers didn't hit a driver. So responding to customer demand, Medicus developed its new dual-hinge driver. Because golfers tend to over swing with a driver, they generally start by casting or coming over the top, which the Medicus driver will detect immediately. According to Hank Haney (Tiger’s swing guru), "A swing path that travels too far inside, causes the Medicus to break. This flaw in the initial take away is what leads golfers to bring the club down outside and come over the top."
The Medicus driver is initially set up for the higher handicap player with easily adjustable hinges that allow the better player to alter the tension and make the club more sensitive during the swing. It also allows for incremental adjustments for all golfers as they continue to improve their swing technique and tempo. The human body learns in slow motion, and swinging slow and smoothly illuminates even minor swing flaws. Coincidentally, the most effective use for the patented Medicus dual hinge is in the driver. (MSRP $159.85) www.Medicustrainer.com Zelocity
One of the most active booths and perhaps the most interesting was Zelocity. The concept of golf performance monitors, though having been around for a while, has been defined and improved substantially by Zelocity, especially their "fit-in-your-bag" Pure Contact Monitor.
Doppler radar provides the Pure Contact monitor the advantage of collecting hundreds of thousands of data points for ball flight and swing analysis. The radar "sees" the club and golf ball before, during, and after the moment of impact, and follows the ball as it flies down range. This allows Zelocity to collect a stream of actual data points (100,000 per second) from the Doppler radar signal.
The monitor measures ball velocity, the carry and total distance in yards or meters, calculates average distance, has an On-board display and a 100-shot memory.
It is an ideal practice tool and features numerous advantages over other monitors: this product is portable, runs on a 9-volt battery, needs no elaborate preparation and/or site improvements and has hedonistic appeal - immediate results. Most importantly, not only can you groove your rhythm and tempo, but also experiment with drivers, shafts and balls that give you the best performance, while on the range or any hitting facility.
Larger and more detailed versions of monitors are also available.
MSRP: $395 www.zelocity.com The Shoe Tool
This is what attending the Show is all about - finding something unique that is functional and needed. No more shoe brushes are required, as the Shoe Tool works especially well on wet grass remaining on your spikes after playing, the tee box and also for pull-cart wheels.
Shoe Tool is available in numerous colors. Every golfer needs one of these rakes in his bag.
$8.95 www.theshoetool.com David Leadbetter's Interactive 5 DVD Set
With over five hours of instruction and 70 drills, David, one of the foremost golf instructors of today, has developed a series that if followed, will dramatically improve your golf game. The DVD features the same advanced technology David uses to coach the world's top tour players. You can view and analyze your own golf swing, as on-screen prompts diagnose your faults, then David prescribes drills to remedy them.
His 30 years of teaching techniques, concepts and methodologies used with the biggest names in golf are contained in the series. It is interactive, engaging, comprehensive and definitely worth the investment.
MSRP $99.95 www.davidleadbetter.com There were two manufacturers of golf sunglasses at the Show. PeakVision Sports
Endorsed by Bruce Fleisher, Billy Andrade, and my wife, PeakVision is one of the leaders in high-end golf-specific sunglasses.
According to the company, their sunglasses are supposed to improve your vision from tee to green - and even help you see the contours of the putting surface better than without sunglasses.
PeakVision sunglasses feature a new type of lens material called NXT. This material is supposed to have exceptional clarity, with the added benefit of excellent scratch resistance. PeakVision NXT lenses are also not polarized as polarization distorts peripheral vision - which is important on short-game shots, where you want to see your ball, your line, and your target at the same time.
PeakVision employs Dual-Zone lens technology. The basic idea is this: make the top half of each lens dark to block out direct sunlight, and make the bottom half lighter to bring out the contours of the greens.
The top portion of each lens is a neutral-density gray, which is dark enough to keep you from squinting, as you follow the flight of the ball on sunny days. The bottom portion is an amber color, which knocks out glare and really brings greens into focus.
Wrap style frames are available in seven models, from blades to more traditional looks. The majority of the frames are available in a variety of finishes - including metallic looks, flat matte finishes and patterns, such as tortoise.
PeakVision glasses come with a sturdy protective case. MSRP $119 - $209
www.peakvisionsports.com SunBuster Sun Glasses
Developed by the makers of the GustBuster umbrella, SunBuster is a new type of lens, also adaptable for prescription glass wearers, designed to enhance your ability to read a putt.
SunBuster designs are both excellent and “cool” and made of the best materials both in lenses and cases.
SunBuster uses a Nine Layer SolaRex lens with EyeQ polarizing technology and close to optical perfection as a lens can get. The high impact 20+ Poly Carbonate is synonymous with maximum shatterproof protection. SunBuster lenses meet or exceed ANSI standards for eyewear protection. The unique S-Guard coating prevents annoying scratches to the SunBuster Lenses
SunBuster glasses offer full UV protection, and more importantly, have passed the ANSI Z-87 Impact and Optical standard tests, which is the most strenuous of the ANSI safety tests.
MSRP $119.95 - $129.95 www.sunbuster.info Overall, two definitive conclusions can be derived from the Show experience. Golf is alive and well and is poised to improve over the next few years. The golfer has numerous options for every golf product and one needs to take the opportunity to explore, test, and take advantage of the technology now available - it will enhance your enjoyment and skill level in the game of golf. Barry Lotz, J.D.
, Ph.D. is the director of the Professional Golf Teachers Association of America. He is also a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and the California Golf Writers Association. He consults and acts as a Mediator for the golf industry. He is a contributing writer to numerous national magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com