2013 PGA Merchandise Show – The Hottest Golf Equipment Revealed!

PGA Merchandise Show Hireko Golf Booth Power Play Warp SpeedHireko Golf’s Technical Director Jeff Summitt recaps some of the coolest golf products from the 2013 PGA Show

I would like to thank all those current (and potentially new customers) who attended the annual PGA Merchandise show this past week and stopped by our booth to say “Hello” and see the hottest new 2013 golf gear .  Hireko was by far and away the largest golf club component distributor displaying at the PGA Golf Show in Orlando, Florida. For those that were not as fortunate to come down to warm and sunny central Florida, I would like to give you a quick recap of what we heard and saw.

Now, if you want a recap about the whole show, you came to the wrong place.  For 99% of tPGA Merchandise Show Hireko Golf Booth iBella Obsession Linehe time, my feet were tethered to our booth space to talk turkey about our golf equipment.  Sure, I could peer down the adjacent aisles and see the large banners and booth spaces by the major golf equipment manufacturers.  Most of them unveiled their new 2013 golf equipment online what seemed like months ahead of time that there was no real need to venture out to see them.  In contrast, Hireko waited so people would very well get their first glimpse of the new products in person at the PGA Trade Show.

Within eyesight of our booth were a couple of our vendors showcasing their latest wares at the such as UST (Recoil shafts) and Golf Pride (Niion grips). Plus I did get to sneak out early one morning to Lamkin’s meeting room to get a peek and feel of the new Lamkin iLine Golf grips. But what was really surprising to see what appeared to be an electronic show with the emergence of all the video golf equipment, GPS, golf range finders, launch monitors and the like available.

Amongst the vast number of exhibitors stood Hireko’s PGA Show booth within 400 square feet of prime Florida real estate.  While not fancy or equipped with an array of jumbo TV screens, smoothie machines, sport cars or rented “booth babes” was some of the prettiest (and most affordable) golf clubheads in the entire conventional hall. From the attendees’ responses, there was not one 2013 golf component clubhead that stood out, but rather a consensus of a well-rounded line.

The Acer XS golf club line got lots of looks and touches from two-tone copper-on-black color scheme.  And of course, the XS Forged iron got quite a bit of notice since there was a higher concentration of more adept golfers attending the show.  The Acer XS Titanium fairway woods were a big hit as well for their affordability, especially by the distance challenged.

Buzzing around the next corner of the booth customers could set eyes on the sleek new Power Play Warp Speed golf line. The driver got lots of accolades for its elegant look and we had a lot of customers now interested in a “Brassie”.  Those looking for a high-performance set of irons got quickly educated about the high-COR face of the matching irons.

We didn’t forget women golfers either.  The new iBella Obsession Womens Golf Club Line couldn’t be missed by the bright pink and white color scheme and sparkling Swarovski crystals.  Two other intriguing products for the short game were the adjustable Dynacraft VLS wedge and Dynacraft Triple Threat putter.  Who would have ever thought about controlling launch and spin on a wedge without bending loft?  Hireko, that’s who.

In coming weeks and months ahead, don’t worry we will set aside to address each of the new clubhead models in more detail. However, it wasn’t all about the newest 2013 golf gear either. The high level junior golfers making their pilgrimage to our PGA Merchandise show booth all seemed to gravitate to the Power Play Caiman Tour blades.  With the feedback from the attendees, we feel like we (or you) have a killer line up to choose from.

2013 PGA Show HIreko Booth Showcasing Acer XS LineI did manage to give an oral presentation to the International Clubmakers Guild (ICG) on “Fitting professionally, economically and accurately” using an adapter system like our QuikFit program. I gave pros and cons of how such a program can not only streamline their business, but make sure their customers walk away satisfied the first time. If you are interested in golf clubmaking, all we can say is get involved! For addition information on the International Clubmakers Guild, please go to their website at www.clubmakersguild.com.

The PGA Merchandise show 2013 brings together the entire golf industry under one roof. Now that I am finally returned back from the show and off of my sore feet, it is now time to start or continue working on the projects that you will see in 2014 and beyond.  In the meantime, enjoy the extensive line-up this year because there is not a bad apple in the bunch.

2013 Aldila Golf Shafts

The Nitty Gritty to Cutting Graphite Golf Shafts Efficiently

Rod Saw Cutting BladeThere are a number of items available to clubmakers to cut golf club graphite shafts; many of which are motorized abrasive blades.  However, not every hobbyist golf clubmaker is going to have access to these tools and needs to cut the golf club shaft without fear of splintering and potentially destroying what could very well be a $100 (or more) investment. One solution to manually cut golf club graphite (or composite) shafts fast, safe and efficiently is the rod saw blade.   Let me give you some handy tips on how to use tool properly.

Graphite shafts need special care to be cut properly.  A tubing cutter, that you would use to manually cut a golf club steel shaft, will crack or destroy a graphite shaft in no time at all.  Don’t think about pulling the hacksaw from your tool chest either.  A normal hacksaw blade has teeth that are serrated along both edges of the blade, which can splinter the fibers potentially causing breakage at a later time.

Enter the rod saw blade.  It possesses no teeth at all, but a rod of tungsten carbide particles enabling the blade to cut on both forward and reverse strokes. It makes thin straight cuts in all types of shaft materials used in

Power Play Warp Speed Brassie Golf Club
golf. Yes, it is even strong enough to cut steel. It can cut through a graphite shaft in 15-20 seconds after the shaft has been securely place in your vise. The model we sell fits on a standard 12” hacksaw frame found at any hardware store or in many home shops.

I would like to share a few how-to tips as well. I find it best to place a piece of masking tape at the portion of the shaft I want to cut.  I do this for a couple of reasons.  The first, many golf club graphite shafts are black and the use of the masking tape assists in properly marking the area to be cut with a Sharpie pen.  Secondly, by wrapping tape around the shaft, reduces the likelihood that the shaft would splinter during the last moment of the cutting process. To further avoid any potential splintering at the last minute, cut half way through the golf club shaft and then rotate 90º and precede cutting through.

Even for veteran clubmakers, the rod saw blade is handy to cut a single shaft instead of firing up your motorized equipment or to find that you have a damaged blade in need of replacement. Plus it comes in handy cutting the shaft angle and through bore plugs for those golf  club thru bore installations.  All-in-all, it is a long-lasting tool no golf clubmaking shop should be without.

Purchase the Rod Saw Blade here.

New Shaft Testing Equipment Added to Hireko’s R&D Lab

Santa was especially kind to me this year and delivered a new piece of equipment (called an EI shaft profiler) to augment the equipment we already have on hand to educate you more on the proper golf club shaft choices.  See, it pays to be nice!  If you are not familiar with EI (short for elasticity times inertia), as few will, it is a 3-point bending test that measures the golf club shaft deflection along a span of the golf shaft. By taking measurements from the tip to the butt and plotting the results provides a more comprehensive look at the golf shaft’s stiffness distribution and a better understanding of how that shaft will react.

I began scientifically testing shafts in 1989 to more accurately compare one from to another. In 1991, I created the DSFI (Dynacraft Shaft Fitting Index) formula as a way to accurately compare shaft stiffness based on the interrelation between golf club frequencies and torque that is still published annually to this day. That was the first year the data was published to help fellow golf clubmakers fit more precisely. In 2006, I expanded it one step further and started compiling tip and butt deflections measurements and added them to the DSFI formula.  This would provide a much clearer picture as how two shafts, that at least on paper appeared to be the same, could be actually quite different.  With the addition of our EI shaft profiler, we hope to provide you with more accurate shaft fitting for years to come.

It will take a while to compile all the data and put in into a format that will be easy for our customer base to understand and use.  I wanted to let you know we don’t rest on our laurels and hope to expand our knowledge base so that we may increase yours too.  Here is a snippet with a comparison of three cut #5-iron shaft deflections. All are of the same length, frequency and weight but completely different shaft stiffness distribution profiles.

The left side of the chart represents the tip and each of the 14 data point’s measures 2” closer to the butt.  The lower the reading; the stiffer the shaft is at a certain point.  For example, Series 2 (or the shaft in red) has a much stiffer tip section that the other two, but is more flexible in the butt end.  This shaft should produce a lower golf club launch angle, while the shaft in green will produce the highest golf club launch angle as they exhibited at the range. That is how to interpret the data.

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Download The New 2013 Hireko Golf Catalog Now!

Featuring the new Acer XS and Power Play Warp Speed Line, gorgeous iBella Obsession clubs and hundreds of new shaft and grip products, our new catalog is the most ambitious and comprehensive catalog we have ever created.

Download New 2013 Hireko Golf Equipment Catalog Here
Full Version is 33 meg PDF file. Download time dependent on internet connection

For slower connections, you can download the catalog in two parts:

Download Part 1 – pages 1-86 (16 meg file size)
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Download New 2013 Hireko Golf Club Price List

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Rating Golf Equipment and Tying it to Handicap

For my first new blog entry of the New Year, I wanted it to be thought provoking and you will see why in a second.  What lead to this was an article I recently read on Golf.com about rating golf equipment and tying it to the player’s golf handicap, much like they do course slope ratings.  What you say?  If you think your head has been buried in the sand during the holidays, don’t worry as little has been publicized about it. I want to first state if there is one golf club equipment company I have the utmost respect for, it would be Ping Golf.  That is why these comments took me aback and why I have tried to wrap my fingers around the reasoning behind them.

Who will do the ratings?
To be fair, you would really need an independent or outside agency to conduct these ratings to be credible. Does the USGA (or R&A) want to get involved?  I seriously doubt it. The tradition of golf has always been one set of rules for all and this would mean that would no longer exist.

Are the ratings going to be generic? For example, will any head larger than X-amount but less than Y-amount, be given the same rating?  What if the player ran a groove sharpener on their 2010 conforming irons or began sanding the face of the conforming driver thinner and made them no longer conforming – who would police it and how would one account for it if someone was honest about admitting to it?

Or would the ratings be much more complicated than that?  I would argue this next statement vehemently, but in the minds of the OEM’s, USGA and general public, all component heads are inferior to brand name clubs because they don’t see the pros using them on TV. If that was the case, the same score with Hireko golf clubs (Acer, Dynacraft, Power Play, iBella) would mean a lower net score than with a set of Pings because they would have to be rated lower. If so, golfers would have to be nuts to pay the high price of clubs when they know they are going to score the same if equipped with the same golf club shafts and golf club grips.  That also opens up another can-of-worms.  Does the type of shaft and grip play into the rating system too?  After all, golf balls were mentioned.

If you thought our tax code was complicated…
Even on Capitol Hill, the members all know (but won’t agree on it or anything else) a simpler tax code in necessary.  Could you image going though each of the 14 clubs in your bag and going, “Well I need to subtract 2 from my golf handicap for this 480cc driver with a 0.870 COR, subtract 3 more for my Shred-o-Matic 52, 56 and 60º wedge set, subtract yet another for my Polara ball…oh, I at least get to add one for my vintage Titleist Bull’s Eye, non-anchored putter.”  Golfers already have enough problems remembering to clean their golf club grips and component golf  club heads beforehand, now they will have to further calculate (and debate) how many strokes they are going to give to one another on the first tee for their weekly skins game. But I do see an app for that in the future.

Writing on the walls
Or is there something more sinister in the works for the long term future of golf?  For example, is Ping (or for that matter) any manufacturer knowingly thinking of making certain retail clubs that won’t conform to the current Rules of Golf?  Or is the USGA going to roll back and relax some of the equipment rules? Most golfers already know the difference between old golf club grooves and new golf club grooves means virtual zilch to the average golfer’s score. Plus it is easier and less expensive to manufacturer knowing these type clubs don’t need to conform.  However, golf club drivers could be larger (more forgiving) than the current 460cc or the spring-like effect could exceed existing limits (more distance).  It would open up the floodgates for potential new equipment that manufacturer’s wouldn’t dare to come out with now that would be deemed non-conforming.  Golfers don’t want to be accused of cheating regardless if they play by the rules or not no more than a manufacturer wants to invest into clubs the general public may not be interested in buying. It’s a double-edges sword.

Might we see drastic change to golf itself?  When you think about the Rules of Golf, who is to say the PGA of America couldn’t adopt their own set of equipment rules for their tournaments that are less regulatory.  After all, there are only a couple handfuls of manufacturers with deep enough pocket able to sponsor club contracts for the professionals.  It wouldn’t take long to get all of them on board and the other manufacturers to follow.  The average golfer would likely purchase the equipment the players on tour use (even though they swing nowhere like them in the vast majority of cases).  Sure, we could still have the US Open, US Amateur, Mid Am, etc.  Those could go by the current set of rules. I serious doubt this is the case or intent, but would be a way for manufacturers to circumvent the rigid regulations imposed on golf clubs in the past dozen years.

What is the likelihood of this happening?
Mind you, none of these thoughts may be on the table at any name brand manufacturer’s board room. But it does cause my mind to speculate or read the tea leaves from Mr. Solheim’s comments. Why even debunk the status quo?  Personally, I play golf only for the fun and health benefits as am I sure the majority of golfers do – especially our customer base.  I am certainly not going back to wooden woods as I revere the equipment we have today. But I also don’t want a 550cc driver than is going to pierce my ear drums and potentially cave in if the walls are too thin.

If the comments are made to get more golfers back in the game and toward growing participation, then I am all for it. Where do I sign up?  I think there are easier ways of doing so that are less complicated such as designing smaller executive-style, par 3 or pitch-n-putt courses where time, space and money are less of a barrier as there will always be the longer and more challenging courses to play.  Another important thing to remember is only one in five golfers even carries a USGA handicap.