An unlikely winning Vibe at PGA Show

Mark Wolf brings Vibe speaker/tumber to Orlando last minute, leaves with top award; E-Z-Go turns to lithium batteries; Gimme Tape takes guess work out of short putts

Mark Wolf brought his Vibe, which is one-part speaker and one-part tumbler, to the PGA Show on a late whim and won the PGA Show's Best New Product award.

ORLANDO, Fla.. — Two months ago, Mark Wolf had no idea he would be in the golf business, let alone winning a Best New Product award at the 2022 PGA Show in Orlando.

Wolf, the president of Fireside Industries in Arizona, won the coveted honor as voted on by an award-winning panel of PGA professionals and top golf buyers, with his Vibe speaker tumbler that players can use on their golf carts.

Wolf had originally designed the product 18 months ago for the fishing and camping markets, and was attending a surf show in Orlando two months ago when a woman asked if he could provide some for an upcoming charity golf tournament.

"It just exploded into all these other golf events," he said. “We were getting phone calls from pro shops because once you do a tournament the golfers take it back to their home course and everybody starts seeing it."

So Wolf found out about the PGA Show just six weeks ago and decided “what the heck” as he headed cross country from Phoenix to Florida.

“This makes us think there is an untapped market here,” Wolf said. “Heck, we just scrambled to get here. I was just happy to get the plane flights and the hotel. We just got a basic booth to show off the product.”

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Wolf picked up his award without a logo shirt, sporting a nondescript black long-sleeved polo.

His product is anything but nondescript, with unique technology that uses a screw on the bottom piece that holds a Bluetooth enabled speaker and a customized lithium ion “tripled” battery life that lasts up to eight hours.

“So even if you are that bad of a golfer you can get in eight hours of golf and listen to music,” Wolf said.

Wolf also made the tumbler waterproof up to 1 meter, and placed a microphone on the chipboard.

“So if you wanted to conduct business on the golf course you could take calls right through the speaker,” he said.

The price point is a reasonable $49.95.

“You are getting a $60 speaker with a free Yeti cup on top with a battery that will last eight hours on the course or at the beach or wherever,” Wolf said.

The tumbler comes in 12 different colors.

“I have been in manufacturing for over 26 years and very few times in your career do you stumble upon something or build something that reaches so many different people, so I really have high expectations,” Wolf said. “It will be interesting to see where it all goes.

For now, each tumbler is unique to its own golfer. But Wolf’s mind was spinning as he posed for photos.  

“In the future I want to link five up to one phone — and now you have a party,” he said.

A fivesome would be unique, as well.

E-Z-Go golf carts announced a major sustainability vision at the PGA Show that includes the phasing out of all lead acid batteries carts with a goal of now selling or leasing only lithium battery products to golf courses and consumers.

Gunnar Kleveland, president and CEO of Textron, the company that manufactures E-Z-Go vehicles, told a story about recently walking into a cart barn filled with carts holding lead-acid batteries.

“The acid made our eyes water and the floor looked horrible,” he said. “Once we replaced them all with lithium batteries the club just had to clean the floor, put laminate on it and they will never have to do it again because there is no spillage.

"There is still gas out there, but with each passing year it’s going to be less and less. I keep talking to my team and I believe it’s going to happen faster than they think. The price savings on using lithium is so great, the battery lasts a lot longer, they keep their power a lot longer and there is no spilling of acid.”

Kleveland noted that E-Z-Go golf carts are 300 pounds lighter without lead-acid batteries.

“That impact on grass is huge,” he said.

John Collins, vice president and general manager of E-Z-Go, echoed Kleveland’s sentiments about the firm’s forward-thinking objectives. 

“We’re excited about this journey of sustainability, and lithium has been great for our business,” Collins said. “We are all in on this deal. We are the electric leader – no more lead acid carts for us. And customers are expecting more than just that, though. If you have been to your local club the golf cart we produced five years ago it’s not the golf cart we build today. What customers expect is they get out of the car they drove to the golf course and they want a very similar golf cart experience — luxury seats and connectivity with USB ports.”

While in Orlando, E-Z-Go also unveiled a new golf cart called the E-Z-Go Liberty that is the first cart of its kind as a four-seat forward facing vehicle, which Collins described as more family-friendly than previous versions of carts that seat more than two people.

“I really don’t want my 5-year-old and 11-year-old facing backwards,” Collins said of his family golf outings. “This vehicle everyone faces forward and it’s a much better experience for the people using our product -- and is a safer experience. Think of the benefits of taking three of your kids golfing and keeping them all together. I suspect golf courses won’t buy an entire fleet of these but a few as family vehicles.”

And it only comes with a lithium battery.

Talk about a newbie at the PGA Show. Jamie McCutchen, the president and CEO of a South Carolina company called Rymar Innovations, just launched a website two days ago for his new golf invention — the Gimmie Tape.

And McCutchen had just 10 of his unique multi-function golf tools on hand to show prospective buyers.

The idea for the invention was spurred by McCutchen’s weekly golf foursome that had a propensity to let’s put it bluntly – cheat on the putting green by taking gimmies from farther and farther distances.

So, he invented a golf gadget that is a ball marker and a repair tool, and is equipped with a 7-foot tape measure, which can be used as a putting alignment tool. Or if you turn it over, as a scolding device for those cheating on the green.

The flip side the tape measure has lines on it and reads as follows:

  • 0-12 inches: A gimmie
  • 1-2 feet: A friendly gimmie
  • 2-3 feet: If it’s a bogey you can pick it up
  • 3-4 feet: Putt it
  • 5-6 feet: Don’t ask
  • 6-7 feet: Don’t three-jack

“I have a Saturday group that needs some truth serum,” McCutchen said. “We have a couple of guys whose buddy is a 16-handicap and he has a 4-footer, and they need the points so they swat it back. Nah, nah, we’re going to put an end to that with my Gimmie Tape.” 

The cost is $14.95 and McCutchen is taking pre-orders until his product gets shipped.