There's a whole world of products out there to wow your golf junkies. From clubs and balls to bags and shoes, the newest products can be found at the annual PGA Merchandise Show. At this year's event in Orlando, Fla., in late January, Nina Renaud, principal of Corporate Golf (www.corporate-golf.com) combed exhibits to bring you some of the freshest ideas on the floor — gifts that players will use, and that will keep your company and your event top of mind. Note that pricing figures are estimated for quantities typically ordered for tournaments — 72 to 240 players.
Lose the Ball, Keep the Package
Players love getting logo balls, especially the latest models. Ironically, one reason that balls are so appreciated is because they are so easily lost — a downside for a planner who wants to make a lasting impression. One solution is the new gift sets from Callaway Golf. Three to six balls come in a plush, reusable logo-embroidered valuables pouch or attractive logo tin. The larger sets also include extra items: divot tools, ball marks, etc. Most sets are priced in the teens and $20s, including logos. The six-ball tin with single-use camera and sunscreen runs higher.
Cure for the Common Golf Shirt
Any resemblance to a plain old golf polo ends when a shirt made from one of the new high-tech performance fabrics gets worn on a hot day, taken on a trip, or laundered. They feel cool and comfortable, dry in a flash, and stay wrinkle-free. High-tech shirts are featured in the 2004 collections of many top makers. Ashworth's new E-Z Tech polo (shown left) is a great example. Travel hint: When you pack for your trip home, don't put an E-Z Tech you've worn in your suitcase with a fresh one. You won't be able to tell which is which! From the high $30s up.
Protect Your Sticks
A new golf club travel cover from Sun Mountain Sports, called Atlas, combines the best features of hard- and soft-sided products. Its rigid, padded top protects clubs from airline abuse like a hard case, but its flexible sides keep it lightweight and convenient to store. Folded down, the Atlas is just 2 feet high. The Atlas includes a “lance,” a telescoping rod that, once locked at a length beyond the longest club, prevents any compression damage. From $160 up.
Handy Hat Clip
No more fumbling through a pocket full of tees and tools to find a ball mark! Two companies — Golf Design and Ahead Headgear — are making a ball mark that sits on the brim of a hat. Players attach a metal clip to their brim, which magnetically holds a ball mark until they need it. Either clip/ball mark combination is less than $10 per player, including your company or event logo. For just a few dollars more, both companies offer gift sets that include a pitch-mark repair tool and a spare ball marker.
Swing Sock is a simple, yet ingenious, warm-up tool — a weighted cover that fits the head of any iron or wedge. It's the same concept as a “batting doughnut” for baseball players. The Swing Sock can also be used as a training aid to improve tempo and increase power. Less than $20 per player, including a custom logo.
Wind Shirt of the Pros
The “Wentworth” microsuede is the new style from Zero Restriction Outerwear. ZR is what virtually every touring pro wears in rain or wind, and it has developed a cult following among avid golfers. The brand is well-named: Every detail is designed to prevent the garment from interfering with a full swing. The Wentworth, made of buttery-soft, sueded microfiber in a subtle plaid, comes in vest and long-sleeved versions. Although at least eight weeks' lead time is required for quantity orders, Zero Restriction will make women's sizes as well as men's at no extra charge. Vest from about $70; long-sleeve from the low $100s.