The 59th PGA Merchandise Show brought together some 1,000 companies and brands along with more than 42,000 PGA Professionals, buyers and industry leaders from nearly 80 countries to introduce the latest in golf equipment, apparel, accessories and services, January 25-28, 2012, in Orlando, Fla.
This year’s PGA Show was the industry’s most comprehensive gathering of manufacturers and influential industry leaders to participate in the event’s expansive selection of programs for merchandising, professional development, product testing and peer networking.
There was a discernable aura of optimism and upbeat economic outlook during PGA Show Week.
TaylorMade-adidas President and CEO Mark King predicted a good year ahead on the second day of the Show saying, “TaylorMade-adidas had its best year in history in 2011, and judging by the first two days of the Show, this year is going to be even better. The energy and enthusiasm at the Show has been phenomenal, which certainly sets a positive course for the industry in 2012.”
Added PGA of America President Allen Wronowski, “The 2012 PGA Merchandise Show has provided the industry with a lot of positive momentum going forward. There’s a lot of excitement and buzz. Certainly it feels like there is recovery in the industry.”
Slight increase in overall attendance
With every major equipment, apparel and accessory company exhibiting and writing orders, early attendance figures for the 2012 Show indicate a slight increase in overall attendance and a three percent increase in PGA Professional attendance.
Attendees came from around the world with the top five countries (outside of U.S.) represented in attendance being Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, Korea and Germany. The top five U.S.states represented in attendance were Florida, California, New York, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
PGA Show Week began on Wednesday, Jan. 25, with the 10th anniversary of the PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day at the Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge in Winter Garden ,Fla. More than 6,000 PGA Professionals and invited retailers tested the latest products from 100-plus golf equipment, training aids, performance wear and golf accessory companies.
Leading companies such as Callaway Golf, Titleist, TaylorMade, Ping, Nike, Cobra PUMA, Bridgestone, Cleveland/ Srixon, Mizuno, Wilson and many others returned to the world’s largest professional Outdoor Demo Day to show off their wares. Several professional players, celebrities and renowned PGA teaching professionals made special appearances at Outdoor Demo Day including Nick Faldo, Lexi Thompson, Suzann Pettersen, Jim Flick, Bob Toski and Michael Breed.
The PGA Merchandise Show officially opened its doors at the Orange County Convention Center on Thursday, Jan. 26, when PGA World Golf Hall of Fame member Jack Nicklaus and Major League Baseball great Ken Griffey Jr., a member of the Board of Governors of the Boys and Girls Club of America, were joined by country recording artist Julie Roberts and PGA of America officials in the event grand opening.
Golf 2.0 to grow participation in golf
Nicklaus joined PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka, Mike Davis, executive director of the U.S. Golf Association; Frank Sanchez, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America; and baseball superstar Ken Griffey Jr., who sits on the Boys & Girls Clubs Board of Governors, for the PGA Show Keynote address on Golf 2.0, an industry-wide initiative promoting programs to grow participation in golf. Noting that “golf has given me everything I have,” and “I care about the game,” legendary champion and course designer Jack Nicklaus shared his belief that aspects of the game need to change in order for it to prosper, and that Golf 2.0 is a major step in the right direction.
“I’ve always been a traditionalist, but I’ve realized that in order to save the game we need to think outside the box,” said Nicklaus. “This plan (Golf 2.0) is the most comprehensive that’s ever been put together, it’s not a Jack Nicklaus or PGA of America initiative, it’s something the whole industry needs to be involved in.”
With the Golf 2.0 initiative placing a focus on making golf fun, many exhibits followed suit. Cobra Puma had an adult-sized slide, while Travis Mathew had a blackjack table and the Golf 2.0 booth itself offered attendees a chance to play video golf. The fun activities fit in with the optimistic mood of the Show.
The real life of the party was the wide variety of new products on display. Product introductions from industry leaders such as Titleist, Callaway Golf, TaylorMade, Nike, Ping, Cobra PUMA and Wilson were behind the buzz on the Show floor.
“I think consumers are going to be very excited by the new products for 2012,” said Brad Bachand, the PGA head professional at Man O’War Golf inLexington,Ky., and the 2007 Kentucky PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year for public facilities. “All the products we’re seeing are so good, you can’t really go wrong.”
A ‘Bigger buzz’ this year
“It has been a wonderful Show for FootJoy; it has exceeded our greatest expectations,” said Acushnet Company’s Chris Garrett, senior manager for FootJoy consumer marketing. “Traffic has been tremendous. We did a lot of research before deciding to return to the Show this year, and we are glad we made the decision to come back with such a significant presence.”
“There is definitely a bigger buzz at the Show this year,” said Mike Attara, PGA Professional and president of Spirit Golf Management. “The addition of FootJoy and its line of apparel have added a lot to the Show, but virtually every major company is here with new products this year. It’s a good sign for the golf industry.”
A number of high-profile professional players, teachers and celebrities made special appearances at the PGA Merchandise Show including 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III, Tom Kite, Greg Norman, Lee Trevino, Billy Casper, Ian Poulter, Paula Creamer, Hank Haney, David Leadbetter, Michael Breed, Butch Harmon, Natalie Gulbis, Lexi Thompson, Johnny Damon and Anna Nordqvist.
“I would call this year’s Show very upbeat and exceptional,” said Todd Trifaux, vice president of Sundog Eyewear who hosted Paula Creamer on Friday. “This is the best traffic we have experienced in four years. We’re seeing a lot more buyers and genuine customers, which is a very positive sign.”
“The Show is all about who’s attending: For golf shops, they want to be able to see everything under one roof; for manufacturers, we want to be in front of all the great retail partners we work with throughout the year,” said Bob Philion, president of Cobra Puma Golf. “The more people and companies you can get in one place, the more bang for your buck. It’s incredibly important for us to be able to see so many accounts in one place.”
The ‘Capital of Golf’
“This is the capital of golf this week,” agreed Raphael Peck, global vice president of apparel, footwear and accessories for Oakley Golf. “It’s critically important to be here if you want to get your message across to your customers.”
The Ping booth was not only bustling with business the first two days of the Show, but PGA Professionals were lined up hundreds strong to participate in the Ping Skins Game Putting Challenge, which introduced the iPing putter app to industry professionals in an interactive environment.
“We had four Ping fitters devoted to the iPing putter app on the first day of the Show, and they helped 220 PGA Professionals familiarize themselves with iPing and sign up for the Ping Skins Game,” said Pete Samuels,Pingdirector of marketing. “Traffic has been terrific, and the reaction to thePingi20 and G20 lines has been extremely positive this week at the Show.”
The 2012 PGA Merchandise Show brought back the biggest brands in golf, plus some 300 new companies and a medley of favorite features, such as Indoor Demo Days, the Inventor’s Spotlight Pavilion, the New Product Zone, the PGA Education Conference, PGA Awards Night, multiple specialty exhibitor pavilions and numerous networking events. New in 2012 were the Business Leadership Series, PGA Fashion E Studio, International Clubmakers Guild Connections Center and new PGA Show streaming video reports on www.PGA.com
Several exhibitors left the PGA Merchandise Show receiving awards for their ingenuity. Top retailers voted for the best three overall new products displayed among nearly 275 new products in the PGA Show New Product Zone including Cart Clamp, a golf cart accessory; Hydro Flask, an insulated stainless steal drinking bottle; and Crocs™, an alternative to traditional golf shoes. Also, inventions showcased in the Inventor’s Spotlight were judged by a panel of experts from both the Product Development and Golf Industries. The 2012 Inventor’s Spotlight winners were Score Band for Best Product Concept and Integrity Analysis SwingProfile for Best Market Research & Best Overall Product.
More than 1,000 media from around the world came to the PGA Merchandise Show. Golf Channel, a PGA Golf Shows media partner, also provided extensive coverage for consumers at www.GolfChannel.com and will present a one-hour PGA Merchandise Highlight Show on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. (eastern).