Orlando, Fla. – Despite a ongoing recession that continues to put a drag on much of the world’s economies, the 57th PGA Merchandise Show concluded Saturday with an upbeat mood as many of the leading golf-related brands posted positive traffic from the estimated 40,000 golf professionals attending the annual convention hosted by the PGA of America.
Setting the stage for a successful 2010 business cycle in the golf industry, the 57th PGA Merchandise Show featured an ambitious schedule of educational seminars and nearly 1,000 top golf brands and vendors conducting a final day of order writing and networking Saturday at the Orange County Convention Center here in Central Florida.
Approximately 40,000 PGA Professionals, retailers and industry leaders from every U.S. state and 76 countries attended the 2010 PGA Merchandise Show demonstrating a guarded optimism while using the Show as a springboard from recession to recovery. A highly energized Outdoor Demo Day on Wednesday, and high-quality traffic on the Show floor Thursday, Friday and Saturday turned economic question marks into exclamation points for the remainder of 2010.
“The Show floor was robust, and we were pleased with the support of the industry from the exhibitor and PGA Professional perspective,” said Ed Several, PGA Golf Exhibitions vice president and general manager.
“The goal of PGA Golf Exhibitions and The PGA of America was to produce a world-class business-to-business platform and set the tone for the industry in 2010. By all barometers we saw at the Show, 2010 has potential for a bright business future. It was nice to see the industry united this week in establishing a positive business tone for the year ahead. As the industry resets, there are PGA Professionals and industry leaders from around the globe who used the education seminars and business initiatives at the PGA Show to prepare for a successful 2010.”
Large companies such as Callaway Golf, Titleist, PING, Cleveland Golf/Srixon, Bridgestone Golf and Cobra Golf reported accomplishing all of their objectives at the 2010 PGA Merchandise Show, while smaller businesses took advantage of the consistent traffic to write orders, sign up new clients and establish relationships with influential PGA Professional and industry buyers.
“As a stakeholder in the industry, we approach the PGA Merchandise Show as an opportunity to better connect with our partners,” said Peter Broome, vice president of business partnerships, Acushnet Company, the parent company of Titleist. “We were able to accomplish this by providing multi-dimensional opportunities such as the Titleist Experience, product workshops, and Demo Day, in addition to displaying our product line on the Show floor. From launching of new products to introducing our new golf ball fitting initiative, the feedback we have received from our partners has been extremely positive.”
Tour Golf was another pleased national vendor.
“Like a lot of companies, we came into the Show watching our expenses carefully and not knowing what impact the economy would have on attendance and business written at the Show,” said Jay Hubbard, director of marketing for the Batavia, Ill.-based company. “We were pleasantly surprised with the traffic and the buzz on the Show floor all week. We had a great Thursday, a good Friday and a very solid Saturday, so I would say the Show was an overwhelming success. There was a good flow to the Show and a great buzz all week. The Outdoor Demo Day was fantastic.”
First-time exhibitor Dawgs, which manufacturers lightweight, flexible golf shoes and after-golf footwear, didn’t know what to expect prior to the 2010 PGA Merchandise Show. But Dawgs President and chief executive Steve Mann said Saturday that the Show blew his socks off – or perhaps his shoes.
“We have done hundreds of trade shows, but I’ve never seen traffic and sales at our booth like we experienced this week,” said Mann. “Our Dawgs golf shoes are a new product, so we didn’t know how they would be received in the golf community. But this Show was absolutely fabulous. We picked up six international distributors, talked to 30 or 40 PGA Professionals and retail buyers, and we signed up countless new accounts. People are looking for something new with a reasonable price point, and we have filled that bill.”
A full schedule of education seminars and presentations on the PGA Equipment Forum stage highlighted Saturday’s final day of the 2010 PGA Merchandise Show. A PGA Employment Services presentation entitled, “How PGA Professionals can be key for employers in generating new rounds and retaining members,” moderated by PGA Employment Consultant Dick Bradow, drew a good crowd and generated a spirited discussion. A PGA Teaching Best Practices presentation featuring some of the best and brightest golf instructors in the game discussing how to successfully integrate new methods at their facilities also was popular.
“The various Education Conference seminars and presentations were one of the main reasons I came to the Show this year,” said PGA Professional Steve Wilkes of Fort Dodge Country Club in Fort Dodge, Iowa. “I attended three education seminars each day, and then came down on the Show floor to see what is new in training aids and other products. I did something this year I’ve never done. I visited the New Products area, where they feature just new products. That gave me a lot of new ideas, and then I visited those booths. It was a great way to help organize who you wanted to see, since I was looking for new products.”
“I was looking for tournament software and tournament prizes, so this was like a giant supermarket for finding everything I needed in one place,” said Mark Swanson, PGA Professional at Santa Ana Golf Club in Albuquerque, N.M. “It has been interesting to see how the Show has changed over the years, but it seemed to be better than ever this year. The Show floor seemed to be better organized so that you could visit several similar companies’ booths next to each other, rather than running from one end of the floor to another to see the same type of company. That made it very convenient.”