Refusing to let recession cast a shadow over the golf industry, the 56th PGA Merchandise Show concluded on an upbeat, positive note Saturday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.
With an estimated 40,000-plus attendees marking the beginning of the 2009 business cycle, PGA Professionals and industry leaders spent the final day of the 2009 PGA Merchandise Show detailing best practices to thrive and survive in a challenging economy, sharing strategies on building club memberships, and placing final equipment, apparel and accessories orders for the coming year.
“People are concerned about the economy, but this was the most efficient way for us to see the companies we needed to see, see new products, and plan our merchandising strategy for the coming year. It was extremely beneficial for us,” noted Greg Bray, PGA professional at Terradyne Country Club in Kansas. “There is no substitute for being able to see products, touch it, feel it and try it under one roof. We accomplished all of our goals in three days.”
Most of the 1,100 exhibitors at the 2009 Show were pleasantly surprised by the steady traffic that flowed and conducted business during the three days of the 56th PGA Merchandise Show.
“The PGA Merchandise Show is an important writing show for us, and it looks like our people will write the same amount of business as we did last year, which is encouraging,” said John Kawaja, executive vice president for TaylorMade-adidas Golf Company. “The people who are at the Show are here to do business, which is the reason we had a good show. There didn‘t seem to be as many tire-kickers as you might see.
“I don‘t know if anyone knows exactly what will happen with the economy, but the golf industry will endure,” said Kawaja, who oversaw the addition of the Ashworth band to the adidas family at the ‘09 PGA Show. “I think every industry in America is in for a tough first quarter, but in April when the sun comes out and is shining, the core golfers will return and continue to play the game. There will be an asterisk to this year, but at the end of the day, golf will be OK. Golfers still want to play and they will spend. Those PGA professionals, golf facilities and golf companies who manage their businesses efficiently during the challenging times will be fine in the long term.”
“We had great traffic flow throughout the first two days of the Show and steady traffic on Saturday, so our expectations were exceeded,” said Mike Read, category director-golf for ClubCar, which introduced its new Guardian Satellite Vehicle Control system to monitor and protect golf-car fleets from misuse and theft. “The Show has always been the best method for us to connect with the maximum number of PGA professionals in one place. This was the ideal situation for us to introduce a new system like the Guardian SVC Manager.”
An attentive crowd heard a blue-ribbon panel of experts discuss ways that PGA professionals and facility managers can continue to generate revenue and operate efficiently in a challenging economy in a ‘PGA Best Practices’ roundtable at the PGA Equipment Forum Saturday.
“I have been at my facility for 50 years, and this is the scariest time I have seen,” admitted Ken Morton Sr., PGA professional and general manager at Haggin Oaks Golf Club in Sacramento. “We were on a record pace with rounds and revenue heading into June, but then we saw a one percent decline in June and a slight decline in every month.
“Then, in mid-October, the bottom fell out of retail sales. That made budgeting for 2009 very difficult. How do you forecast for 2009 in a virtually unknown economy? Well, you meet with your management teams weekly, downsize some projects, and learn to order and conduct business more efficiently. We don‘t like to lay off employees, because we‘re like a family. But we asked if anyone wanted to take four or five weeks off and take unemployment, and there were a few volunteers. You have to make some difficult decisions in these times, but those who remain proactive will be all right.”
A final review of the PGA Merchandise Show will be published on GBN later this week.
PGA Merchandise Show www.pgashow.com