March 5, 2012

Inside The PGA Merchandise Show

I rushed through the doors as they opened on the first day of the show like a crazed shopper rushes through the doors at Best Buy on Black Friday.  This was my first show of everything golf related.  Jack Nicklaus had just greeted us all, Country Western Singer Julie Roberts had just sung the National Anthem, and the thousands of people in the atrium were ready to see the newest and latest golf equipment, gifts, gadgets, apparel and anything else you can imagine related to golf.

I took several videos from the floor of the golf show.  These are posted on our you tube golf channel if you would like to get a feel and flavor of the show.  I will tell you upfront that they were taken with my trusty I-phone so the quality will not be movie studio like but it will help you see the massive nature of the PGA Merchandise show.  Go to www.youtube.com/fitnessforgolftv.

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Layout of the Convention Center

When you first look at the map of exhibitors, the striking thing is that almost 50% of the space is allocated to a category called Golf Apparel.  Evidently, there is a lot of clothes sold to golfers.  All the big brand names were there:  Cutter and Buck, Greg Norman Collection, Ashworth, Bobby Jones, Fairway and Greenes and many more.  Of course all the big sports companies like Under Armour, Adidas, Nike along with the golf specific companies apparel like Titliest, Callaway, Wilson, Cobra and Footjoy also were there showing not only apparel but everything under the sun golf related.

Then you found all the specialty vendors which were kind of fun.  Loudmouth has John Daley’s wardrobe as their inspiration.  There was a guy selling only knickers that Payne Stewart would have been proud to wear.  There was golfing apparel for little tykes.  There was golfing apparel meant strictly for country club golf shops.  If you can imagine a golfer wearing it from Oakley sunglasses to Pukka headwear, you would have found a display there.

Golf Products and Services

In the middle third of the convention center was entitled golf products and services.  In this section I found everything from Golf Fuel to Golf Carts.  This show was for everyone in the golf business so the golf superintendents come to improve their course maintenance.  There were tee markers and tees.  There were ball washers and the latest and greatest new golf balls.  There was all kinds of gifts, trophies, prize packages and other services to help run local golf tournaments.

Lots of training aids were on display from big to small.  Every guy who has ever had a dream to make it big selling that one training aid that will help every golfer cure whatever ails them was showing.  There were products for the mental game, there were products for fitness, there were products for improving your putting, your swing or your chipping.  If you are a slicer there were probably two dozen guys who have just the thing for you. If you are a hooker there’s another two dozen products.

My favorite area was where the golf simulator companies resided.  I had no idea there were so many companies that offered to come into your home and put in a simulator so you can play all kinds of fancy courses in the privacy of your own home.  I shot a video of a 180 degree in the round simulator that would only set you back $80,000 plus.  Check it out at https://youtube.com/fitnessforgolftv.

Another favorite section was the international travel for golf destinations.  I visited the Ireland and Scotland sections and they spoke just like the real thing.  Since my son, dad and I are making a trip over the pond later in the year, I thought I would get the literature and speak with the locals.

If it has to do with golf and it wasn’t apparel or equipment, it was in this section.  I was like a kid in candy store in this part of the convention.  I made some good contacts that in future issues I will share with you for what they offer you might enjoy or be able to use to improve your golf game.

Golf Equipment

The last approximate 1/3 of the space was all the golf equipment vendors.  A few of the biggest like TaylorMade had monster showrooms elsewhere to tie in with apparel that they sell.  Other than that every club manufacturer was showing  but I entered the Orlando convention center 20 minutes before it was due to open just so I wouldn’t miss anything on my only day there.  As I walked in I noticed a stage in the middle atrium so I positioned myself close to that just in case there were festivities.  Jack Nicklaus was supposed to kick things off.  I thought if lucky enough to be close to his greatness, maybe some of it would rub off on me.

In addition to all the equipment purveyors, there also was all the guys who offer club enhancements.  Lots of shaft makers for example were showing.  Specialty club guys that make sand irons in their garage (at least it seemed like it) were showing how their clubs were far superior.  Before I would go that route I would check with my expert Tom Wishon for his advice.

Then the captivating area was the indoor driving range where you could try out clubs.  There must have been 100 stations and multiple vendors for you to hit.

Golf Celebrities and Entertainment

At all hours of the show you could find some booth that was having a celebrity who was giving a talk about improving your game and how that product or service was the answer.  I listened to David Leadbetter talk about how important improved fitness was for the game of golf.  Right up our alley at www.FitnessForGolf.com.  I listened to David Stockton talk about improving your putting.

Additionally, Ken Griffey Jr. was there to help with the Golf 2.0 initiative.  Multiple presentations were given on stages to help golf professionals get advice on better training techniques or marketing techniques to improve their customer base.

As you can tell there was a lot going on, and I did not capture even a small part of the activity.  Check out Fitness For Golf TV on youtube (https://youtube.com/fitnessforgolftv) for some of the videos I shot during the day.

As I said last week, it was an overwhelming trade show with lots of different gadgets we golfers put up with in hopes of improving our scores.  I’m going to try a few out next week on my guy’s golf trip and I’ll report back in a few weeks if there’s anything worth looking at.


This article was written by Mike Root owner of Fitness For Golf

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