PGA Merchandise Show off to strong start; Callaway dismisses its heritage

ORLANDO – Here’s a pleasant surprise and perhaps a harbinger of better times ahead at the Orlando golf industry conference. Parking lots were full, registration lines were long and booths were crowded at yesterday’s opening of the PGA Merchandise Show. That’s not just PGA of America rhetoric – I saw it with own eyes otherwise I wouldn’t have believed it.

Dare I say yesterday’s activity reminded me of the “good ol’ days’’ of 10-15 years ago when the golf industry was reaching its high water mark. It’s been drowning the past few years, but if the show is any indication, the industry looks like it’s at least coming up for air.

The one big disappointment at the show was Callaway Golf Company’s lack of acknowledgement of the 20th anniversary of the Big Bertha driver, which changed the golf industry in terms of product and marketing and made Callaway the dominant name in the metal woods market.

I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for Big Bertha, which I first saw in August of 1990, as well as Callaway Golf founder Ely Callaway. But those things aside, consider the Callaway Golf booth here on the show floor. It’s filled with accessories such as head covers and golf bags. One has to look hard to find any clubs.

That’s no surprise given the fact that Callaway’s accessories sales (divot tools, towels, caps, etc.) were larger than metal woods in 2010, but it’s wrong on a number of levels and gives you some insight into how Callaway management views the industry and its heritage – with not a lot of respect.

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