The 2022 PGA Show, which concluded Friday, was far more low-key than in past years with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting travel for a lot of the larger companies that normally attend. From the outside looking in, this could have depleted the energy in this annual gathering of PGA professionals, golf pros and industry lifers, but there was an unintended benefit that outweighed so much of the cost this pandemic has exacted.
From the folks I met, I heard over and again how nice it was that their smaller companies -- some mom and pop shops, some much bigger than that -- got so much attention from the folks at the Orange County Convention Center. Though attendance was down from past years, there seemed to be more focus from folks who were there.
That was true of CBS Sports' experience, as well. We were able to speak with a long roster of folks throughout the week and see some of the more interesting, innovative brands and companies in the process. Here's a look at a few of our favorites who either joined us on set or saw us keep returning to their booths over the last four days.
1. TRUE Linkswear: I've been a fan of this golf shoe company for a while, and it was great to hear more about their story and their commitment to making the most comfortable, sensible golf shoe in the world. I haven't tried them all, but of the ones I've worn, TRUE is as good as it gets. One of their co-founders, Jason Moore (brother of Ryder Cupper and five-time PGA Tour winner Ryan Moore) had me all in on their future and their bent toward a tremendous product built on the premise that it can be used for the purest form of the game that exits, links golf.
2. Golfzon: I'm not going to be able to expense the premium products from Golfzon (their newest golf simulator can run north of $60,000), but I did enjoy talking to them and testing out their simulator a bit too often through the week. There's a bit of an addiction to the fact that it automatically retees your golf ball (almost like when Twitter or Instagram automatically refreshes your feed when you log back on), and I'm way in on their products (more likely in a commercial setting than having one installed in my home).
3. Golden Tee: Speaking of addicting products, First Cut podcast producer Jacob and I played several games of Golden Tee between video shots on set. The Golden Tee booth was set up right around the corner from ours, and we snuck over there as often as we could. The simplicity of their product is what compels me the most. There are only a couple of buttons -- which you rarely use -- complemented by the primary method of maneuvering through the game, the pool ball-like joystick that you spin and roll with your hand to try and get around the course under par. The graphics are not elite. The gameplay is not nuanced. There is no metaverse to be found. And yet, that's kind of the point. It's part nostalgia, part simplicity and all pure, unadulterated competition and fun. All the way in.
4. Sunday Golf bags: I've been using a Sunday Golf bag for a while now, so it was nice to finally meet the folks behind the product. Unsurprisingly, they're complete and total fanatics when it comes to golf. They simply wanted to create a bag that could be used in alternative golf settings (think short course, par-3 courses and complex putting and chipping areas). All of these alternative golf settings seem to be on the rise, and Sunday's arrival perfectly reflects this reality. They recently got some of their bags into Dick's Sporting Goods, which is good news for them as well as for us, considering it means they're more likely to be producing great bags for a long, long time.
5. Neuropeak Pro: This breathing device is not cheap, but it could be a worthwhile investment. The product an interesting blend of technology and science that has helped players like Bryson DeChambeau and Jordan Spieth with calming their nerves and maintaining focus on and off the course. The reductive overview is that this product helps you learn to breathe better and, over time, control your heart rate in such a way that leads to "improved focus and increased resiliency and adaptability". (Here's a longer explanation.) The overall result is, hopefully, more control in moments filled with the most pressure. Hopefully, Spieth still hollers like normal (for my content purposes) but perhaps with a bit less internal roller coaster than before.