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There was a lot of new technology floating around at the PGA Merchandise Show.
But, not just limited to clubs.
Distance finder technology keeps getting better and better.
We were lucky enough to be able to spend a few quality minutes with our friend, Chip Holcombe, from Bushnell Golf at their booth. Chip gives us some insight not only into some of the new technology available from Bushnell, but also some of the rule changes by the USGA with regard to distance finders.
Take a watch or a listen below. For our audio versions of the GolfBetter podcast, visit our website, Soundcloud or subscribe free on iTunes.
Tom Brassell: 2016 PGA merchandise show continues as we head over to technology in Bushnell. And who better to talk about that than our good friend Chip Holcombe? Chip, thanks so much man.
Chip Holcombe: My pleasure. Good to see you guys here this year.
Tom Brassell: Before we get into technology, isn’t the show great? This year just has some kind of energy to it.
Chip Holcombe: It does. It’s kinda hard to say this … This is my 30th year at the PGA show and of recent years with the golf business, struggling a little bit, in general, this year has been … more excitement. There’s more people here. It’s busier. Certainly here in the Bushnell booth, it’s been almost overwhelming. This brand is on fire. Overall, yes. It’s great to be here. The show is really, really good this year.
Tom Brassell: We’ve talked to a lot of club companies and they’ve talked to us about that fallacy that customers have that “hey, technology can’t get any better. What I had 5 years ago is good.” And that’s a fallacy. Same thing here with regard to rangefinders, correct?
Chip Holcombe: Yeah, there’s been some of that. How far can it go? Every year, Bushnell just seems to surprise me with the different technology they come out with. I just can’t believe it. In my mind, thank God I’m not an engineer … In my mind, every year, I think we’ve hit the threshold and every year they come up with something new. It’s amazing.
Tom Brassell: Share with us a little bit about what you have, for those on audio might not be able to see it, but for some of those watching video some of the products you’ve brought to us here.
Chip Holcombe: Yeah, absolutely. So, the number 1 selling rangefinder in the world for the last 3 years has been the Bushnell V3. It’s a handheld rangefinder very similar to what I’m going to show you here momentarily. Sells for $299. What we’ve done this year is … We’re going to introduce a V4 which is what we’re introducing here this year. It’ll ship in April.
What we’ve done is we’ve made the thing a little smaller. It’s a little easier to hold in your hand. IT’s got a few upgrades from the focus piece here. Instead of being in the eyelet where it was before, it kind of tend to move around it moved up top where it will stay. The button is easier to push this year very simple it’s faster, it’s just an upgraded unit, same price the price did not go up. What’s critical here about this conversation these units are available at a regular … what we call tournament edition, and then also available in a slope unit. You notice how this has a silver front and this has a red front. This unit here is the V4 slope version. You’re able to calculate instantly, the slope so if you shoot you point the coordinates upwards and shoot … it says uphill and I shoot at a flag at 150, and it will pop up the ball and say hey it’s 3 degrees up, calculate your number to 156.
Tom Brassell: That’s your club, your 156 club?
Chip Holcombe: It’s automatic, there’s no thinking you don’t have to worry about it. It’s the mot trusted slope. We have a different algorithm then our competitors which is why we have 99% PGA tour. 99% of the PGA tours use Bushnell it’s because our slope is more accurate. That’s something I learned this year, that I found very interesting. There has been a slight change in the USGA rule about slope and rangefinders, which we should probably talk about. This is going to affect sales going forward certainly for us and certainly the consumer it’s going to be a nice little rule change. It’s been long over due in my opinion.
Basically here’s the deal, we all know that we can’t use slop in a USGA sanctioned event whether it’s a member guest or PGA tour event okay. In the past … so now if you own a unit that had slope in, had the ability to have slope you are not allowed to use that in the member guest. You can use it any other time, of course naturally for casual golf or practice rounds but, never in the event itself. The USGA is now saying is now is that if you have slope and it has the ability to be turned off in that unit, they’re going to trust you now. So you can use it in your member guest as long as it’s in the off position.
Tom Brassell: Playing on the honor system, right?
Chip Holcombe: Exactly, which is the way it should be. Anyway, we’re all on the honor system with the rules of golf anyway are we not? Completely makes sense I’m glad to see it. It’s an opportunity now for customers to upgrade their units and retailers to sell a little higher priced unit.
Tom Brassell: Well that’s great. USGA comes to play now and you can put it in play as long as you’re in the off position. Just a couple more things watches are big right?
Chip Holcombe: Watches sell … and our GPS we are all using the same satellite. There surprising accurate, very couple very easy to use. Our new watch this year is called the Neo Ion okay? A couple things that are unique about this. We redone the packing to look a lot more attractive for the retailer and point of sales. It’s really a much better looking package this year. Comes in 4 different colors, Black, Charcoal, white and we also have a Folds of Honor version that’s red, white and blue because we donate to the Folds of Honor group. Which is a fantastic group. This retails for $199. It’s got 35,000 gold courses pre loaded on it. There’s no where in the world you can go and and golf course is on it basically. I mean it would be a very rare find if you found one that wasn’t on here it’s been mapped. It’s really convent, it’s super conformable, our band is by far the most comfortable band out there. Everything is automatic, once you turn it on it will automatically find you, where every you are and tell you how far you are from the tee off. It will follow you out throughout the hole. You don’t’ have to turn it off. Another advantage it will automatically power down. There’s other features like our odometer, it can be used as a regular watch there’s a stop watch, there are a number of features that go with that watch.
One of the bigger advantages is the battery life, most of our competitors … actually all of our competitors, never last more than one half maybe two rounds in a stretch. Ours will go 3 plus rounds on one charge. If you’re in America especially the age of convince that’s a pretty nice advantage.
Tom Brassell: You’re talking about the technology and what GPS were when they came out and now the watch and what’s happened there and it’s just amazing.
Chip Holcombe: It is amazing. I’m just elated to be a part of Bushnell they way they’re growing the technology, they lead the industry Bushnell is 71% market share in the U. S which is just unheard of in the gold industry. I would also add the people that run the company are as good as it gets. Right out of Kansas City, Missouri they are fantastic people it’s an honor to work for them.
Tom Brassell: Chip Holcombe, Bushnell thanks so much, it’s great having you. Thanks for joining us.