It’s a Twofer: PGA Show newcomer GolfPod blazes a genuinely new trail
As an Apple loyalist since I bought my first Mac in 1990, I couldn’t help but notice on Tuesday when the company released some rather staggering financials: $75 billion in revenue, $18 billion in profit and 75 million iPhones sold during the final three months of 2014. To put that in perspective, Callaway is all excited because it got within shouting distance of $1 billion of revenue—for the entire year!
I mention this because I did my part to fuel the Apple juggernaut, upgrading my iPhone 5 to the iPhone 6. The latter comes preloaded with the company’s Health app, which I accidently pressed while retrieving the device from my pocket during last week’s PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. That’s when I discovered that this little technological marvel had been tracking my steps along the Orange County Convention Center’s unrelenting concrete floor. Total distance covered over the three days of the show? Would you believe nearly 20 miles!
Now, a week later, my middle-aged body has mostly recovered and I find myself digging through the mini mountain of printed brochures and press kits on thumb drives I collected along the way. Rather than foolishly try to cover the entire show, I zeroed in on companies that offer products and/or services that make golf travel more feasible and more fun, especially when it leads to the world’s best links courses.
I’m talking about outerwear that keeps you dry or warm or both without impeding your golf swing. I’m talking about footwear that’s friendly to golfers who walk (trust me, the last thing you need on a 10-day golf trip to Scotland is a blister on your big toe on day two). I’m talking about companies that will help you get your sticks across the pond fully intact, whether that means checking them on your plane or shipping them in advance. And I’m talking about the gatekeepers to the game’s most desired destinations, most notably in Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
I’ll share the lessons learned over the coming weeks and months as I have an opportunity to experience some or all of the above for myself—as well as get to know the people behind the organizations that make it all possible. Like, for instance, the very happy hour when I shared a snifter or two of Penderyn whisky with the Welsh contingent.
But I digress.
To whet your whistle, I’d like to call your attention to Aeroe Limited, a complete newcomer to golf. This New Zealand-based company made quite a splash in their Orlando debut, showing off the GolfPod—a hard shell travel cover and cart/trolley golf bag all in one.
So, what’s the big deal with this travel product?
The GolfPod’s feature/benefit proposition is refreshingly simple: Why bother with two products when one will do?
This futuristic-looking case weighs 15 pounds. You can load it up with clubs, balls, tees, umbrella, rain suit, shoes, water bottle, etc. and, Aeroe Limited claims, it will still come in under the airline’s 50-pound weight limit for checked baggage. They also say it doesn’t qualify as oversize luggage, so it can be dropped off and retrieved along with your regular suitcase. It’s “virtually indestructible,” eliminating the horror of arriving at your destination with a driver that’s been snapped in two in transit. It’s ostensibly waterproof (a big plus on a links course). And it’s easy to maneuver—whether that’s from airport baggage claim to your rental car or, more important, from the car to the course.
How does it work?
Obviously, I haven’t had a chance to give it a whirl yet. But I did get to lay hands on it at the show and, I must say, it’s quite slick. Old-school hoofers who insist on carrying their bags will turn up their noses at the GolfPod. But it just might suit those who walk and use a push cart/trolley (like me) or ride on a cart/buggy.
If I have a concern, it’s with the interior storage cubbies. They seem a tad small to accommodate the multiple layers of clothing you invariably need to have with you at all times to counter the auld country’s variable weather.
Also, unlike a conventional travel cover, the GolfPod won’t be much help as a fallback position when you can’t fit all of your non-golf stuff in your suitcase. But perhaps that's a good thing. After all, this overflow issue usually only arises when: 1) I’m traveling with my wife; 2) we’ve accumulated a bundle of souvenirs during our journey; and 3) we need to transport them back home. “We can just stuff it in the golf bag,” she’ll say as she makes her way to the gift shop’s nearest cash register. If the GolfPod nips those expenditures in the bud, it’ll pay for itself—many times over.
Beyond all that, I’m inclined to root for a company that’s come up with something that’s genuinely different and actually makes sense the more you think about it (hopefully that’s how many of you view this blog). Perhaps that’s why Golf Digest named the GolfPod one of its “Editor’s Picks” at the PGA Merchandise Show.
These clever Kiwis just might be on to something.
Where can I buy it?
Unfortunately, that’s still a work in progress. Aeroe Limited has a US distribution partner in place and will begin shipping the GolfPod there in early fall. Availability in other countries will follow.
Is it worth the dough?
The company has set the suggested retail price at $599. They’ll also offer a $199 device that will allow you to attach the GolfPod to a car’s roof rack, thus freeing up the vehicle’s interior for people and suitcases.
Clearly, the Golf Pod not for the faint of wallet. But if you travel by air with your sticks once or twice a year, it’s definitely worth a look. Based on the quality of its construction, you should get several seasons out of it.
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