The buzz of the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla. returned January 23-26, 2024 to a level not seen in a half-decade with plenty of Canadian connections at the annual kick-off to the golfing year.
There were a few questions about the longevity of the show, especially in the years following the emergence of COVID-19. But with golf booming like never before, this year featured more than 1,000 exhibitors and attendees from more than 80 countries – the “miles and miles of aisles” returned.
Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum was thrilled to see such excitement around the game as Canadians emerge from what the organization has called a “Momentous Year” for the sport.
At the top level, there was the where-were-you-when moment of Nick Taylor’s RBC Canadian Open triumph, but also four wins from Stephen Ames on PGA Tour Champions, and multiple winners across the PGA TOUR, LPGA Tour, Epson Tour, Korn Ferry Tour, and more – including Alena Sharp winning a bronze medal at the Pan Am Games and the Canadian squad winning the World Junior Girls Championship for the first time.
“These were the real successes on the golf course,” Applebaum says. “But off the golf course I would say seeing the strength of our clubs, seeing the strength of our membership, and bringing so many partners to the table was incredible.
“We’re just so happy to be supporting Canadian golf and leveraging off this amazing success into 2024.”
With more than 10-million scores inputted into the Golf Canada app last year and with the trend of incredible participation numbers in new entrants into the game – including more women, more young people, and more diversity – Applebaum says there is so much to look forward to as we inch closer to spring.
With the new year underway there is also lots of new gear available.
Here’s everything you need to know from some of our partners to make sure you look and play your best in 2024!
The big story for Titleist this year is wrapped in the AVX golf ball, a new roster of Scotty Cameron putters, and an extra-special wedge drop from Canadian Golf Hall of Famer Bob Vokey – the SM10 Vokey wedges.
The new AVX delivers new technology in the core, the casing layer, the cover, and the dimple pattern to deliver better spin and control for golfers but keep all the distance you love with irons and the driver.
“We really operate with the spirit of continual improvement,” says Frederick Waddell, the senior manager of golf ball product management at Titleist. “When we think about Pro V1 or Pro V1x – the best players in the world trust those products, you trust your game to those products, so we have to be striving for better materials, better manufacturing processes, fine tuning flight, spin, feel, so then you can play your best.
“We don’t just offer one golfer we have fitting options and by constantly tinkering with those and looking to improve those, we’re serving players that want to play their best with the best products in the world to shoot lower scores.”
There are 10 new models of the Scotty Cameron Phantom mallet putters that were completely redesigned with improved feel and sound, plus alignment-infused head shapes.
“The theme (for 2024) is alignment by design,” says Austie Rollinson, the senior director of putter research and development at Scotty Cameron. “We’ve really worked hard to infuse alignment through the whole shape of these putters to help the golfer align better to the target […] and alignment is key to making more putts.”
Finally, the new SM10 wedges are all about getting a lower ball flight, a much-improved feel, and giving golfers maximum spin.
“With SM10 it’s all about ball flight,” says Corey Gerrard, the director of marketing for Vokey Wedges. “You’re going to see a higher (centre of gravity) that’s moved forward in the face that gives you that lower ball flight and plenty of control and maximum spin to stop the ball closer to the hole more often.”
FootJoy has once again given Canadian golfers all kinds of reasons to continue to play – no matter what the weather.
From an outerwear perspective, FootJoy’s new line is all about dialling in a ‘modern classic’ aesthetic while also providing top-level performance in all weather conditions.
“We do ‘modern classic’ really well and we’re looking to push and innovate on that,” says John Toracinta, the senior marketing specialist at FootJoy. “When you talk about modern classic, everything is getting a little tighter from stripes to prints to patterns and not only on shirts and essentials but also on outerwear and the small details that differentiate it.”
On the footwear side, the big story for 2024 is the update to the FootJoy ProSL. Available in two models, the ProSL has been a great franchise for FootJoy for a number of years and it’s changed the way spikeless traction works for golfers.
“In prior years we’ve been doing evolutions – like updating materials – but this year for ProSL we went full revolution,” says Dan Buonomo, product manager at FootJoy. “It’s completely redesigned not only from a look and feel perspective but also the traction story that’s going on underneath.”
Canadians will not only see Levelwear on our top Tour talent once again this year – like Corey Conners, Adam Hadwin, Taylor Pendrith, and Maddie Szeryk – but it will also be available at both the RBC Canadian Open and CPKC Women’s Open merch tents through 2024.
The great story for this year’s drops from Levelwear is all about colour and fabric across its lines of polo shirts, layering pieces, and more.
“We’ve got more colour stories than we ever have had before and new technologies in some of our fabrics as well – and lots of new prints,” says Gareth Knocker, the director of apparel at Levelwear. “Prints are definitely still trending, so we have a lot of new, fun prints for Canadian golfers this year too.”
Puma will be launching its 2024 Maple Leaf Collection in May while the brand, which celebrated its 75th anniversary last year, will be the official outfitter of Team Canada’s golf squad at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.
“We’re really excited. This is a first for us. We’ve been making a collection for Canada for a little while now, but this is the first time there’s a lot more at stake,” says Chris MacNeill, the senior manager of golf apparel at Puma. “We custom made some products for them – from Canadian-themed graphics to colours and all-new performance fabric [and] we’re excited to bring the performance side plus the fashion side together and outfit Team Canada this year.”
The new Falcon system from Foresight is a shrunken version of the incredibly popular GC Hawk, while also new for 2024 is the Quad Max – the PGA TOUR favourite has received a few new tweaks for this year.
The best is just getting better!
And in case you were wondering about getting a Foresight machine in your home – you’re not alone. Mitch Grassing, a Canadian launch-monitor expert at Foresight based out of Kitchener-Waterloo, says, in Canada, the in-home units make up about three quarters of their business and is the most popular set up.
“If you’ve got a space to swing a golf club,” Grassing says, “we can make something happen.”
Proud partner @ForesightCanada has exciting new developments ahead for 2024. pic.twitter.com/2CuLzdi77E
— Golf Canada (@GolfCanada) January 25, 2024