BY MARK KEAST

The PGA Merchandise Show, held every January in Orlando, is the monster of all luxury golf shows, the place to go to if you’re looking for all the latest industry news on new equipment and fashion for the upcoming golf season. This year, over 40,000 golf industry professionals from the United States as well as 80 countries attended.

Related: A first look at Taylormade Golf’s new SIM or “Shape in Motion” metalwoods

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Touring pros are hitting the ball farther and farther, and a big trend among golf equipment manufacturers this year were designs that help moderate swing speed golfers unlock more distance in their games.

Photo by Hailey Garrett/PGA of America

A number of high profile golf product releases this year worked in more lightweight materials and aerodynamic design, placing more emphasis on hitting the ball higher and farther. That will make the game more fun for the average player.

TOP 5 NEW PRODUCT RELEASES FROM THIS YEAR’S SHOW

TITLEIST: T400 IRONS AND TS1 DRIVER

Said to provide average golfers with the most forgiving Titleist irons ever, the new T400 irons have an advanced split sole design, super-thin face and wide body, hollow head construction backed up by extreme amounts of high-density tungsten, so the golfer can hit the ball higher and farther.

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“T400 is the super distance Titleist iron. This club is engineered to get the ball in the air and launch it as far as possible, even when the strike isn’t perfect,” says Josh Talge, Vice President of Marketing, Titleist Golf Clubs, in a statement. “There are so many golfers, particularly players with moderate swing speeds, who can benefit from this technology. T400 gets the absolute most out of your swing while still providing the playability of a Titleist iron along with that look, sound and feel that dedicated players demand.”

The TS1 driver is ultra-light – 275 grams, 45 grams lighter than the Titleist T2 – with a thin titanium crown, and Fujikura Air Speeder and MCA Fubuki MV (Max Velocity) shafts, weighing just 40 and 45 grams, respectively.

The TS1 is for golfers averaging around 85 mph in swing speed, and about 220 yards or less of the tee. Thinner, faster face, streamlined shape, reducing drag, a 460cc Speed Chassis (available in 9.5, 10.5 and 12.5 degree lofts) – it’s way more forgiving, with a slight draw bias.

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“You can swing as smooth and easy as you want and the ball just takes off. The distance just feels effortless,” Talge says.

COBRA’S SPEEDZONE WOODS AND IRONS

There is maximum forgiveness with these irons, which you’ll see in part with carbon at the top of the iron club heads, from the 7 iron and longer, to re-distribute the weight.

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Try it out and you’ll find lots of ball speed off the mill-forged face, with lower CG. These rank among the best “feel” of any clubs on the market now. The clubs are very responsive to slower swing speeds, and that’s the whole point. Get fitted for your clubs, so you have a shaft that will help get the ball in the air, and spin it more.

If you’re an average player, looking for game improvement, this is an answer.

CALLAWAY’S MAVRIK DRIVER

It’s all about clubhead speed with drivers this year. With that in mind we give you Callaway’s latest – the MAVRIK, featuring Cyclone Aero shape for reduced drag (the back edge of the clubhead is more elevated off the ground, for example). There are three head designs – Standard, Max (two interchangeable weights for maximum forgiveness and draw configuration) and Sub Zero (two interchangeable weights to fine tune trajectory, for ultimate forgiveness).

The Flash Face SS20 is designed to increase ball speed even more, along with forgiveness and spin robustness. But five yards longer then their Epic Flash driver? You’d have to test drive one. One thing is for certain – you will feel like you are hitting the ball faster.

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Like with their past drivers, two internal Jailbreak bars connect the sole and crown of the clubhead, allowing for faster ball speed, and a lighter carbon crown better redistributes weight for higher MOI (Moment of Inertia – when the ball meets the clubface someplace other than the sweet spot).

PING’s G710 IRONS

PING calls these their longest, most forgiving irons, featuring a maraging steel face (provides more strength and flexibility) matched up with a stainless steel body creating a metal-wood like flexing and fast ball speeds, and added distance.

Of particular interest to mid- to high-handicap golfers, with slower swing speeds – a high-density tungsten toe and heel weights are positioned optimally in the stainless steel body that increases the MOI by five per cent, leading to more forgiveness, distance and accuracy. Get fitted for these – PING offers a lot of options for loft, lie, shaft, length, and grip.

The sheer size of the clubheads on these make the G710 one of the most forgiving iron sets out there on the market. The end result will be more consistent distance and direction. In terms of “feel”, if you have hit PING irons in the past, these will seem very familiar to you. The substantial sole on these clubs means a more smooth, seamless interaction with the turf, with a lot of bounce through impact. The flat black finish on these makes the face of the club really pop.

Try them out – you’ll notice better distance with these clubs, that’s for sure.

MIZUNO’S ST200 METALWOODS

It’s the Holy Grail for most golfers, those who are too busy to play every day, and only get out maybe a day a week – straight line distance and predictability. Material meets craftmanship here – the technology behind the new ST200 metalwoods combines low spin and a lot of forgiveness. They are built off a Beta Rich Forged Titanium face (for great ball speed), and a thinner, lighter crown, and improved weight technology and re-distributed weight across the crown, which makes the club more stable.

Three drivers cater to a particular type of player – also featuring Wave Technology sole, and a variable thickness graphite crown. The ST200 is best for low spin forgiveness, the ST200G is best for high swing speed efficiency, and the ST200X is best for mid and lower swing speeds.

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There it is again – a golf club manufacturer making sure they cater better to the average, mid- to high-handicap golfer, with a lower swing speed, where game improvement is key. The overall objective is to not only get more people into the game, who perhaps have never played before, while keeping those who don’t play as often, more involved.