Golf Vacation Gear

The Goofiest Products and Pitches at the PGA Show


The PGA Merchandise Show Rather than subject you to yet another list of “best new products” from the recent PGA Merchandise Show, I thought you’d get a kick out of seeing some products and pitches that struck me as some of the worst.

As a reminder, “The Show” is the annual, Orlando, Fla., circus, er, event where everyone with golf-related products comes to hawk their wares to the trade.

And I do mean everyone: from the big boys like Callaway and Nike to hopeful (and sometimes delusional) mom-n-pop inventors.

For the past 18 years I’ve left the Show saying, “now I’ve seen everything.” And every year later I’m happily proven wrong.

So, without further ado…

Swing Trust Oil

Swing Trust OilThere are a lot of figurative “snake oil salesmen” at the Show, but these guys win for the most literal interpretation of it.

Yes, they’re literally selling tiny flasks of oil (for thirty bucks) that they say will help you play better golf.

The flasks clip to your bag. Then, you “simply unscrew the cap and waft under your nose as desired.”

What, aromatherapy isn’t already part of your pre-shot routine?

The scent is supposed to promote calmness, focus, confidence, trust, and therefore, a better game.

Wait, it gets crazier: this stuff is endorsed by PGA Tour player Mark Wilson, who has played in four tour events this year and missed the cut in three of them.

Maybe he needs to start wearing it as aftershave…or drinking it.


NexbeltThe theory behind this product is actually pretty good; it’s the pitch that’s terrible.

Nexbelt uses a ratcheting system instead of holes so you can more precisely tighten or loosen it as needed. And retailers should like it because its one-size-fits-all approach simplifies inventory.

Problem is, Nexbelt is pushing a video for how much “faster” it is to put on than conventional belts — a whopping four seconds faster.

And here I thought traffic was the reason I’m late for work.

The Golf Bike

The Golf BikeSome things can be good ideas, but bad businesses.

Take the Golf Bike, an off-road bicycle with a rack on the back for holding a set of clubs.

Exercise is great and golf carts are bad. I get it.

But how many people can really use this?

There are a ton of golfers (including me) for whom biking to golf courses isn’t feasible. I can just see myself peddling this thing down the New York State Thruway alongside tractor trailers.

Sure, you could tote the Golf Bike to the course with your car (it doesn’t fold up), but the biggest problem still remains: finding courses that will allow the bikes on their fairways. Most are ultra-protective of their turf and their cart revenue.

The only thing that makes sense about this product is the company’s name — Higher Ground Bicycle Co. — because you’d definitely need to be pretty high to think this is not a risky business proposition at $700-$800 per bike.

What do you think about the products and pitches above? Was I too harsh? What golf gimmickry have you come across?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

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  1. John Thompson

    February 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Great piece on the worst of the show…showing us that golfers will buy or try anything to make a certainly found the worst..good job

  2. Ted Trauner

    February 7, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    The Nexbelt is a very good product. It seems a bit childish to ding them on their marketing. Perhaps you should offer to be a marketing consultant to them since you have such vast knowledge. I do agree that the speed of putting the belt on is insignificant but focus on what’s important – it is a good product.

  3. Craig Better

    February 7, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I’d gladly consult…for a fee and expenses. :) Agree on the product’s merits — what struck me was how “off” the marketing message was, though. Today, both need to be spot on to make it.

  4. Ray Streinz

    February 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    The bike’s not that bad a proposition. For areas with second homes and a golf course I can see this as a good choice. People are buying golf carts to get around, this is a much cheaper alternative. However, I think they need a design that also carries a bag. I agree that you that it will be difficult to convice management to let it on the course.

    The problem with the belt is not the marketing, it’s the colors! Ugggh!

  5. Ron Duncan

    February 7, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    I actually like the Nexbelt. I received one at the show and have worn it already. It is much easier to adjust during the course of a round of golf than a regular belt.

    I agree with you on the bike, but I missed the swing oil and I thought I had looked the floor over pretty good.

    Some of the tee designs were interesting to say the least.

  6. Doug Roberts

    February 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    The tee package given to everyone in their dity bag promoting all natural and decomposes much faster…And you get two big plastic apparatuses to implant the tees. I tried em and they break every hit…And now I have two hunks of plastic to dispose of….I chatted with the Higher Ground Bike Dude and liked the idea. As I’m in a complex where many use carts as daily drivers. My conversation concerned them selling the attachment on the back that could hook to your bike much like child seats. Plopping down $100 for a golf bag attachment rather than $800 for the bike might be palatable.

  7. Loren Justins

    February 7, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    I disagree about the Nexbelt. I use them and they are fantastic!! I initially thought the ball marker in the clip was gimmicky, but I use it all the time now. Easiest belt to get on and off, and the most comfortable as I dont need to punch new holes in it. Cant rate the product high enough!!

  8. Mark Greene

    February 7, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    I bought a pair of golf ball finder glasses that were supposed to make it really easy to spot your golf ball in the rough. But they never worked well at all. Every little bit of paper would shine bright as would leaves and anything reflecting sunlight. Plus it was a pain to keep putting on the glasses every hole. Nice idea, but useless.

  9. Lloyd K

    February 7, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Hey, somebody will buy it just to say they have it, so why not build the craziest thing and charge a fortune for it?

  10. Dan Anders

    February 7, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with your appraisals! The best one I EVER saw was two guys on a golf info channel selling a spray bottle (like the ones you buy at the pharmacy when your nose is plugged) and their pitch was ” …just squeeze your spray bottle in open air and you will KNOW which way the wind is blowing!” Three bottles for only $30…pretty good huh? 😉

  11. Craig Better

    February 7, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    I ‘loved’ that one, too. It’s called Windage. Wrote about it a few year back and said…

    “The main problem is…there’s an existing invention that does the exact same thing. It’s called grass.”

    Full post here:

  12. Dan Anders

    February 7, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    …But I think I may try the Nexbelt after reading all the reviews….

  13. Guy Korecki

    February 8, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Why don’t u just say that the golf industry is just ripping people off big time. Put together a 5 dollar piece of plastic and call it a swing trainer, and charge people 40 to 100 bucks unbelievable. Get a pro or golf name to endorse it and double or triple that cost. 3 4 500 bucks for a driver or a putter is ludicrous.

  14. Max Guajardo

    February 8, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    There was an Ivy League study regarding the effects of certain chemicals and their scents on eye/hand co-ordination.
    The combined double-blind study revealed that the smell of jasmine had a marked effect on the ability of athletes to see and strike…baseball and tennis players, as well as golfers ,were studied.
    So, there’s a bit of science involved in the effect of aromas, during the course of play, on athletes…

  15. garman

    February 9, 2013 at 12:36 am

    Wow. Some of the comments here gives one an idea of where the nutty ideas come from.

  16. GH

    February 9, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    The main reason for this belt is that pro-shops & Pros have never been successful selling belts and always have left over stock every year. When you have to buy100 belts in different colors and styles to fit everyone you will have belts left over for years. One size fits all is the key because you only need 12 belts to start your shops inventory.

  17. Craig Better

    February 9, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    GH, you’re right. Before this, I helped launch and wrote for two golf trade magazines focused solely on retail (one green grass, one off-course), so I totally get it. That’s why I said in the piece: “And retailers should like it because its one-size-fits-all approach simplifies inventory.”

    It actually strikes me as a good idea for the consumer and the retailer. Was just having a little fun with what I thought was silly marketing message about ‘speed.’

  18. Roger Kleinschmidt

    February 11, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Amazing, I thought the bike golf cart was one of the BEST ideas of the Show! What an extra appeal for kids. And I can’t wait to try one and I am 71! Now if we only had more, especially public courses, offering these. Great idea!

  19. Larry Day

    July 8, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    I actually find this golf-bicycle idea very interesting. It facilitates the combining of a skill game with aerobic exercise for folks that like to bike. It could increase the speed of play. Cycling can be much easier than walking for some people. Most public courses have cart paths and the “bicycle-golfers” could be confined to the paths for protection of the turf if that was a concern. Although, I wonder if a bicycle would cause anymore damage to grass than a cart with two riders and bags. Wide bicycle tires, to spread the pressure, might be a requirement that would help. I acknowledge that “bicycle-golf” is a novel idea; a little “outside the box.” However, I think this concept has some potential. – Respectfully, (not trying to pick a fight here) – When it comes to new ideas, Confucius might have said – “Mind like a parachute – work better when open.” :)

  20. Bill Giering

    January 10, 2014 at 11:48 am

    How did you miss…

    It allows you to drink coffee all morning and walk the show floor all day with out stopping.

  21. Craig Better

    January 11, 2014 at 9:24 am

    LOL — this is definitely hysterical, but not something new (or newish) I saw at the PGA Show.

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