From the PGA Show in Florida to the Golf Industry Show in California, industry suppliers had plenty of exciting new products and services to brag about.
The golf industry went bicoastal with its major trade shows as 2019 began, with the 66th PGA Merchandise Show, held in late January in Orlando, Fla., followed two weeks later by the Golf Industry Show (GIS) in San Diego.
The PGA Show drew nearly 40,000 golf industry professionals, including more than 7,500 PGA Professionals, from all 50 U.S. states and 89 countries, who perused the newest products, trends and technology from more than 1,000 exhibiting golf companies and brands, including more than 200 companies that were new to the show this year.
The Golf Industry Show drew total attendance of 11,900, which show organizers said was up from 2018 and included an 11 percent increase in qualified buyers who looked over what the 510 GIS exhibitors had to offer.
Next year, travel will be kept to the absolute minimum for those who wish to attend both shows, with the 2020 PGA Show scheduled for January 21-24 in Orlando, followed immediately by the 2020 Golf Industry Show, January 25-30, also in Orlando.
Here are highlights of some of what was on display by selected exhibitors at this year’s shows:
In addition to drawing much attention for videos that were played to demonstrate the autonomous mowing solutions being developed through a new partnership with Precision Makers, other items of high-interest at the John Deere Golf booths included four new real mowers: the 2700 and 2750 Precision Cut™ Triplex Mowers, and the 2700 and 2750 E-Cut™ Hybrid Triplex Mowers, all of which will be available in 2020.
John Deere also unveiled the two latest additions to its 6000A Series mowers—the 6080A and 6500A E-Cut™ Hybrid Fairway Mowers. And it displayed its new GPS PrecisionSprayer, which uses AutoTrac™ to help spray predetermined areas in less time with greater pass-to-pass accuracy.
The exhibits for Textron Golf brands—E-Z-GO, Cushman, Jacobsen and Textron Fleet Management—featured Cushman’s new Hauler 4×4 (see photo, this page), which has four-wheel-drive capabilities, a 2,000-lb. towing capacity, 1,500-lb. payload, 1,000-lb cargo box and comes in 3- or 6-passenger models. Cushman also displayed its new Hauler 800 ELiTE™, the industry’s first lithium-powered utility vehicle for clubs and courses; Hauler®, Refresher® and Shuttle® vehicles that now feature closed-loop electronic fuel injection technology; and the new Cushman SprayTekXP, offering the widest range of turf-spray booms for increased productivity and superior precision.
Textron Fleet Management demo’d Shield Plus™, a web-based solution developed with a wide range of management features to help properties optimize their equipment and crews. Shield Plus can be accessed from any device and utilizes geofencing capabilities to create restricted areas and reduced speed zones.
In addition to its new Carryall 502™ utility vehicle, Club Car enthralled booth visitors with demos of Tempo Walk, its hands-free autonomous golf caddie unit. Constructed with a durable aluminum frame and containing a lithium-ion battery that holds a 36-hole charge, Tempo Walk moves at speeds up to 7 mph and weighs 95 pounds, minimizing its impact on golf course turf. With its compact frame size, four Tempo Walk caddies can fit into one golf car.
Yamaha Golf-Car Company featured its new UMAX Rally™ 2+2 light utility vehicle that’s designed to easily convert “from work to play,” making it well-suited for club and resort properties as they emphasize more member and guest services and activities. The UMAX Rally 2+2’s edgy styling features a lifted suspension, Yamaha Genuine front brush guard and wide fender flares. It incorporates two luxurious bucket seats in the front and two additional convertible seats in the rear. A new basket area spans the width of the car and there is also a spacious, under-hood storage compartment that opens like an automobile hood and is sealed to keep water out.
Toro announced the launch of the all-new Greensmaster® 1000 Series fixed-head walk greens mowers. The new series of fixed-head greensmowers, with several patent-pending features, was designed to eliminate variability in the walk-mowing process by integrating operators of all sizes and skill levels to work in harmony with the machine.
The all-new Greensmaster 1000 Series models are powered by Honda® GX120 engines, and are available in a variety of standard cutting widths, including:
• Greensmaster 1018, featuring an 18-inch (45.7 cm) cutting width
• Greensmaster 1021, featuring a 21-inch (53.3 cm) cutting width
• Greensmaster 1026, featuring a 26-inch (66 cm) cutting width
In addition to introducing the Lynx 7.0 Central Control system, Toro Irrigation announced the launch of the innovative Infinity® Razor™ kit to streamline maintenance efforts and prolong the intervals between servicing sprinklers on commercial irrigation systems.
The new kit was designed with feedback from end users to increase labor savings, enhance game play, improve course aesthetics, and help eliminate trip hazards. By bringing the sprinkler head flush with the playing surface, Razor inserts help to optimize irrigation efforts, potentially contributing to water savings.
The innovative Razor kit allows superintendents to incrementally raise sprinkler heads sitting below the soil’s surface due to natural shifting over time. The installation of the Razor kits reduces the frequency of needing to excavate and re-level the system. The kits come with three incremental inserts, allowing course superintendents and technicians to select the right insert(s) to fit the needs of each individual sprinkler head. The kit includes:
• Razor One, a 1.5-inch screw, raising the sprinkler head approximately 0.5 inches from its factory configuration of 1 inch.
• Razor Two, a 2-inch screw, raising the sprinkler head approximately 1 inch from factory configurations.
• Razor Three, a 2.5-inch screw, raising the sprinkler head approximately 1.5 inches from factory configurations.
IZON Golf displayed its capabilities for total course management—from GPS fleet management, real-time pace of play and driving/walking history to preferred pin placements, direct clubhouse-to-player communication and on-demand reporting. A full marketing suite provides access to IZON’s proprietary ad server, to develop marketing efforts that can be set up by the golf course in real time znd with zero cart-battery reliance: IZON Golf has cut the cord with the first-ever self-reliant GPS system. For the golfer, IZON Golf technology provides a shot planner, side games, live cart-to-cart scoring, a shareable scorecard, and more.
Golf Life Navigators, which has been referred to as “eHarmony meets Zillow for Golf” displayed how it helps avid golfers find golf communities through an online questionaire, ProGuide³. More than 9,500 golfers have completed the questionnaire and Golf Life Navigators helps to provide them with the best possible matches, through the close work it does with private clubs that are actively seeking new members.
Toptracer Range launched a handheld solution at 2019 PGA Merchandise Show. This mobile-based product allows uncovered driving ranges to capitalize on the revenue-generating benefits of Toptracer Range. Designed to remove barriers for Toptracer installation at facilities without covered structures, the handheld option allows customers to simply download a free app on smartphones or tablets, which displays data on every shot hit.
Toptracer Range has leveraged this technology to help facility operators transform their driving ranges into practice and entertainment destinations. It combines tech and fun to create a superior experience that is perfect for all skill levels. Friends and family can compete in a variety of games or play virtual golf on simulated courses, a convenient way for beginners to experience golf in a low-pressure environment.
Using cameras mounted around the facility, Toptracer Range technology displays an array of details on each shot – including distance, speed, launch angle, shape and more – to either in-bay screens or the new handheld app. The Toptracer team works to tailor solutions based on a facility’s budget and available space. Early adopters are reporting substantial gains in customer traffic and earnings.
Youth on Course – the non-profit organization providing young golfers with subsidized play, college scholarships, paid internships and a caddie program – continued its growth with significant increases to its golf program in 2018. National membership grew by 55 percent and 374 new courses were added to the organization’s roster totaling 992 courses across 26 states.
Fueling the golf economy, nearly 150,000 rounds of golf were played for $5 or less and $985,000 were reimbursed back to golf courses. To date, 765,390 rounds have been subsidized and Youth on Course has reimbursed $5.2 million dollars back to partner courses.
Eight additional state associations added throughout the year include Golf Association of Philadelphia, Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado, Iowa Golf Association, Maryland State Golf Association, Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association, North Dakota Golf Association, Rochester District Golf Association, South Dakota Golf Association.
In addition to subsidized rounds, Youth on Course also facilitates paid internships, a caddie program and nationwide scholarships. They have awarded 223 students with college scholarships totaling more than $1.4 million in financial support. The current Youth on Course scholarship retention rate is ninety-four percent, with 80 students already graduated.
THOR GUARD is a predictor of lightning within a defined area of risk. This technology is the result of the founders’ decision in the late 1960’s to focus research efforts on the study of the electrostatic field (the energy field of which thunderstorms are composed). The more conventional study of the electromagnetic field (the field that is affected as a result of a lightning discharge), has continued to be the focus of lightning detection systems.
THOR GUARD reads the activity within the electrostatic field through a proprietary program developed after hundreds of hours of thunderstorm monitoring and will predict the probability of a lightning strike within a predetermined area of concern. This program can also project the potential for deadly “bolts out of the blue,” which are strikes that seem to come from nowhere and cause a high percentage of lightning fatalities. These are the significant technical advantages that have allowed THOR GUARD to become an accurate and meaningful advance warning system of lightning potential.
Tagmarshal’s actionable data and intuitive technology have tracked more than 7 million rounds of golf and have shown an average of 15 minutes pace of play improvement. With lack of time being a major reason people are playing less golf, quicker rounds mean more rounds, which equates to more revenue for golf courses. Whether walking or riding, tracking tags provide valuable data to the clubhouse and marshals who are better equipped to keep traffic flowing smoothly on the course. C&RB