PGA Merchandise Show showcases best of the golf industry

The 64th PGA Show in Orlando, Florida, was once more the place for those in golf to come together for networking and to see the latest products on offer. Andy Brown and the GOLF RETAILING team attended and found a busy show but one that perhaps needs a spark of invention to keep it fresh and relevant.

Orlando was once again the host for the PGA Merchandise Show, which ran from January 24-27th for an incredible 64th time. There is no doubt that it is the world’s largest gathering of PGA Professionals and it was great for myself to get out there with our publisher and sales director. We flew out early on Sunday morning which gave us Monday to acclimatise, catch up on emails and play some golf before demo day on the Tuesday.

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 12.05.26Demo day is at Orange County National Golf Centre, located around a 30 minute drive away from the Convention Centre. Free buses were running from the centre to demo day every 20 minutes approximately and getting one of these is a good way to save yourself the 50 dollars or so a taxi would be. Demo day isn’t an essential part of the week’s experience but it might be the week’s coolest; a host of brands are laid out in a circle around what amounts to the biggest driving range I have ever seen providing the opportunity to test out new products in the Florida sunshine. What’s not to like about that?

The show began in earnest on the Wednesday and, like last year, the halls were packed with brands both big and small. Callaway, TaylorMade, FootJoy and Titleist had – as one would expect – the biggest stands there. PGA Merchandise Show Event Director Marc Simon said: “The energy level and optimism on the PGA Show floor were at an all-time high. The fact that so many leading companies were launching new products this year, the long list of celebrity appearances, industry insights offered on three live stages, and a strong PGA Education Conference line-up combined to generate an exciting, compelling week.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 12.06.37While numbers attending seem to be good and, as Simon says, many leading companies were there it should be mentioned that there were also some notable absences. While Nike not being there is understandable, there were quite a few smaller companies who decided not to exhibit, such as Mizuno and numerous shaft companies had no presence on the exhibition floor. A big reason for this must be cost – exhibitions aren’t cheap to attend. While some missed the whole event, others took a meeting room instead of floor space or even booked a meeting room at one of the numerous hotels across the street from the centre.

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 12.06.49The official data from the show’s organisers shows that 7,500 PGA Professionals attended and, of these, pros from the UK were the second largest contingent after Canada. I did see a few pros at the show from the UK that I knew and doubtless there were others there as well, although the exact figure of the amount of UK Pros has not been released yet. While I believe that the show could benefit from change – I talked to a few people who had been going for ten years and said that nothing much had changed in that time – the event is something which I would encourage PGA Pros to attend. While appreciating that Orlando is a long way to go and the trip is another expense, the show is definitely something that PGA Pros should look at. A good option could be to take a few members over with you – the weather in Orlando is pretty good in January and there are some beautiful golf courses around there. This could be a chance to get closer to some members, play some golf and also attend golf’s biggest trade event.

The team at GOLF RETAILING will be attending the show next year and we are already discussing ways that we can work closer with those in the industry to help bring more UK-based Pros out there to experience the show first-hand. Watch this space for future announcements.

The PGA show by the numbers

  • 40,000 number of golf industry professionals who attended
  • 84 countries were represented at the show
  • 5 top countries by attendance: Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and Mexico
  • 1 million square feet of exhibit and meeting space
  • 7,500 PGA professionals attended
  • 1,000 media from 31 countries attended the show
  • 5 top American states by attendance: Florida, New York, Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania

PGA Merchandise Show Winners
Award-winning PGA Professionals and top golf buyers voted for the three best new products among the merchandise displayed in the PGA Show New Product Zone.
The 2017 New Product Zone winning products were:

  • Frogger Golf – golf bag latching technology
  • Saber Sports Trainer – fitness and teaching tool
  • Tzu Tzu Sport – colorful apparel collection

Organised in partnership with the United Inventors Association (UIA), the Inventor’s Spotlight pavilion showcased golf inventions not yet available at retail.

The 2017 Inventor’s Spotlight winning products were:

  • Most Innovative Concept – Fatt Matt – Awkward lie training tool and other training aids
  • Best Marketing Effort – Ligature Technologies – “Red” Data Golf Course GPS Phone App
  • The Pinnacle Award (Best in Show) – Neuro Connect – sport enhancement technology

Major announcements and product introductions at the show:

  • Tiger Woods joining TaylorMade tour staff
  • PING’s new iBlade irons and Vault series of putters
  • Foresight’s GCQuad
  • Michelle Wie joining Callaway Golf’s professional staff
  • New GPS electric trolley to be launched by Motocaddy
  • Callaway Golf’s Great Big Bertha Epic and Epic Sub-Zero drivers and fairway woods
  • Titleist’s new 917 drivers and woods and new Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls
  • Srixon’s new Z-Star and Z-Star XV golf balls
  • Cleveland’s RTX3 wedges