Blood, Sweat & Tears
After 15 consecutive years attending the PGA Show...nothing and I mean nothing amongst the million square feet of show floor space still gets me as excited as the area in that back left corner of the exhibit. When I walk through those doors the first place I go is still the same...the putter booths.
More than anything I just love putters. But year after year you begin to admire more than just the newest designs displayed amongst the exhibitors booths. Start spending time with the guys in the putter industry and you quickly realize that these guys aren't cut from the same cloth as all the others. Of course everyone is passionate about their product across the show room floor...but these guys...literally have puddles beneath their aching feet filled with the blood, sweat, tears and metal shavings that have gone in to their designs.
1 Napkin Drawing Away From The Next Big Thing
It's made up of guys from all walks of life. And this year was no different. You had everything from an industry vet like a Bobby Grace to a 20-something law student trying to break in the industry. The putter world doesn't discriminate, not matter what your background, a putter guy always feels like he is just one napkin drawing away from the next big thing.
Something Had Changed in 2013
But after walking up and down the isles of the my favorite part of the show I have to admit I was left feeling like something was different in 2013, something had changed from years past. I doubled back through one more time just to make sure. And it was more than obvious my initial feelings were correct. Not only were their less putter companies exhibiting at this years show, but the booths were also dramatically cut down in size and the super high-end custom stuff (aka: Putter Porn) I had come to love seeing so much at the PGA Shows was almost entirely missing. Yes, their were a few pieces of one-off eye candy on display but for the most part this year was nothing more than the production stuff many of you guys had already seen.
Now, I know I just got done saying there wasn't much eye candy on display by the putter guys at the 2013 PGA Show, but Scotty Cameron is always the exception. Between his cases on display at the Titleist booth and the Table Rock exhibit for the Scotty collectors he always brings it to the show for everyone to see. And this year was no different...only problem was if you didn't get to the Table Rock booth quick enough there wasn't much to see, it gets gobbled up quick.
And for all those Scotty haters out there, if you can spend just one second being objective you can't help but marvel at what this guy has and still continues to create. Put yourself around the putter industry long enough and you are guaranteed to walk away impressed. The man was/is/and continues to be at the top of his game.
Probably the biggest mover and shaker at the show this year in the putter section was RIFE. We covered their first set of newly released putters a couple weeks ago and told you there was much more for RIFE fans to look forward to...and they didn't disappoint. Between their Apple like booth set-up and fresh new designs they definitely had a very productive show. We also caught a glimpse of something to look forward to in the near future from the brand...lots of custom stuff sounds like it is coming down the pipeline. And also some technology I have felt is much needed in the driver category but actually might first be seen in a couple new RIFE putters. But we will just have to wait and see....
It was just a couple years ago that Piretti was the new guy on the putter block at the PGA Show. In that time many brands have come and gone but Piretti has become a staple not only at the show but also on many of the tours. If your looking for a smaller brand that I think has officially made it in the industry and will be around for quite some time in the putter world, Piretti is definitely that brand.
If you've been a golfer for any amount of time, Bobby Grace is more than likely a name you not only recognize but might also have had in your bag at one time or another. The man has done it all in the putter game. He has gone from designing on his own to being behind some of the biggest names in golf and now back to designing for himself. And from my conversations with him he couldn't be happier. Though his booth might have been smaller and not as much custom stuff was on display, this years show might have been his biggest success yet.
Remember that guy I was talking about...the 20-something law student trying to break in to the industry...well that's the guys behind the KRONOS putter brand. If you happen to be a fan of the boutique putter brands that keep it simple, clean and vintage then KRONOS might be your brand.
AXIS 1 Putters
The original Axis 1 putter design has won more than its share of awards...everything from "MyGolfSpy's Most Innovative Product in 2009" to "Sports Illustrated - Best In Show". And while the design looks similar they continue to refine the construction and blueprint behind its success. Hard to imagine but they are working on a more traditional design with similar functionality for those golfers that just cannot bring themselves to game one of these designs. And for those that haven't I still suggest you give one a shot. They might look strange, but so did the PING Anser when it first got released. And this one might be even more effective.
One thing you can bank on at the PGA Show is a busy SeeMore putter booth. These guys have a loyal following and for good reason. For those that believe in the RST tech it is hard to ever go back to something else. Their customer service is also one of the best in the business. So what's new from SeeMore? Well, more RST tech in a couple new designs that's what. And while the SeeMore RST technology can been kind of limiting regarding the design possibilites for the SeeMore brand, they definitely have some things in the works to change that on the horizon. So be on the look out for what they have up their sleeves.
Remember the ProFound brand? Well, it looks like they are trying to make a comeback. If you forgot about their putters and the theory behind the brand, it's all about, "Hide The Orange". They have a new website, new owner and lower pricing on their putters. For the European Spies out there, you might remember they had quite a stable of pros gaming these back in 2006. We will just have to wait and see if they can make it back in '13.
Haven't seen something wacky enough for your taste buds yet? Well, hopefully this will wet your whistle. It's called the MxV1 Putter from MXV Golf and it is one of the more intriguing putters you will see. So what's the deal with this page peeler of a putter? It's all about what they call Center Strike Technology™.
Simply put (depending on how well you know executive desk toys from the 70's), based on Newton's Cradle (the popular executive desk toy that adorned many a corporate office in the 70's), by striking a golf ball with a putter of equal diameter, you essentially hit a ball with a ball. Naturally, you'll strike the center of gravity with less error as the club glides to its target in a steady flow of energy (momentum, hence MxV). Got it? Good. Will surely make for an interesting MyGolfSpy Labs from the looks of this thing.