More than 41,000 industry professionals from 74 countries came to the 56th PGA Merchandise Show, 29th – 31st January in Orlando, to uncover the latest products and trends, write new business, share business best practices and strategize for the year ahead.
The results found the industry’s most influential business leaders pleasantly surprised by the resiliency of the golf industry and recharged to navigate a predicted tough economy in 2009.
Refusing to let the recession cast a shadow over the golf industry, the 56th PGA Merchandise Show saw only a 4.53% decline in attendance by PGA professionals, retailers and industry leaders who came to see the latest products of 1,100 golf manufacturers.
PGA Merchandise Show days also were jam packed with indoor and outdoor product testing, more than 70 education seminars, special events and programs at the PGA Equipment Forum and new Fashion Gallery, plus celebrity appearances, networking events and the introduction of several industry growth of the game initiatives.
“Our goal was to create an event that would help energize the golf industry as it goes forward in 2009, and judging by the strong traffic on the Show floor, the reports of orders being written, and the business relationships being made, it seems the business of golf is off to a fine start for 2009,” said Ed Several, PGA Shows group vice president.
“The PGA Merchandise Show this week certainly underscores the resiliency of the golf industry and speaks to the industry’s commitment to growing the game under all circumstances. New innovative products, fresh approaches to business in this economy and programs such as Get Golf Ready, show that golf is continuing to press forward.”
Golf’s top names in manufacturing built an electric atmosphere at this year’s Show. On the hard goods side, Titleist and Cobra returned with a big presence on the show floor, at Demo Day and with the well-attended Titleist Experience programs in the OCCC Chapin Auditorium.
Callaway Golf, exhibiting for the 26th consecutive year, drew a standing-room only crowd for their PGA Equipment Forum presentation with LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam and the debut of much-anticipated new products in their booth. And, PING kicked off its 50th anniversary with a memorable birthday celebration, compelling product introductions and an exciting presentation with LPGA star Lorena Ochoa
“We‘re excited to be back at the PGA Merchandise Show,” said Peter Broome, Titleist vice president of business partnerships. “Many people have asked us during the past month why we chose to return to the Show. First, we welcome the opportunity to showcase our products and meet face to face with so many of our customers. Plus, we feel it is important to participate in the largest gathering of the golf industry as a major stakeholder in the industry.”
Feedback from European-based exhibitors who have been returning home over the past few days has been almost uniformly positive.
On behalf of Srixon and Cleveland Jon Parsons said, “It was an excellent show – the first time the two brands have been shown together in the USA, with an incredible reaction to all new products, especially the new Z-STAR ball. Substantial business was written.”
Clive Wood of Assay Golf, the UK distributor of GEL Groove Putters, summed up the views of many when he said, “Despite official figures that state that visitors to the PGA Show were down by 8%, GEL Golf was delighted by the response and traffic to our stand. Interest was high and the feedback positive.
“No doubt however the presence of Paul Hurrion, who is now becoming extremely well-known in golfing circles, on our stand to launch his four new models in the GEL Paul Hurrion Signature Range attracted not only a lot of PGA professionals but buyers from all over.”
“GolfBuddy had a very positive show in what was demonstrated to be the only growth sector of the golf market. Everyone was looking for the next best thing in the market and GolfBuddy seemed to fit the bill for the European visitors. No download fees seemed to be our big attraction,” said spokesman Craig Bousfield of Power Marketing (UK) Ltd. “We are looking forward to a great year.”
Grahame Jenkins, managing director of Premium Golf Brands, said “I am very pleased to say the mood at the show about the business year ahead was remarkably positive. I expected to be discussing doom and gloom with every account and it thankfully did not work out like that. Most retailers recognised the downturn and the need to keep stocks tight but the overriding comment coming out of our meetings was that apparel would be more important than ever to a successful retail outlet.”
“Medi8 had 6 brands exhibiting at the show,” said Nicole Wheatley from that PR & marketing agency, “all of whom found that although the show felt smaller than in previous years the people attending were of a high calibre so some good business was done. It’s always an important show for us as its one of the few occasions in the year that the world’s golf media are in one location so it is essential that we attend.”
Krista Kinn, executive designers assistant for Ben Hogan Apparel, said, “We found that for apparel there was a huge amount of interest this year and the clothing section as a whole was very busy on the first two days. Because of the economic downturn we took a slightly smaller booth area in case there were fewer visitors but we were delighted in just how many buyers visited the Ben Hogan booth. It was a really good show for us.”
Tony Clark CEO/Managing Director, Explanar Golf, summed up, “ It was a good show actually with no negative vibes from customers in respect of the economic market.
The PGA Merchandise Show is the world’s largest and most influential golf business gathering and marketplace for the global golf industry. The 57th PGA Merchandise Show returns to Orlando, Jan. 28-30, 2010, at the Orange County Convention Center. For additional 2009 PGA Show event information or to plan for 2010 participation, please visit www.PGAShow.com