The 64th edition of the PGA Merchandise Show, recognized as the golf industry’s “Major of Golf Business” that concluded last month, certainly painted a more positive picture for the golf industry that is still readjusting economically.
The numbers of golfers is declining and more golf courses are closing, but many now see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Having been to all the shows except one since 1973, things have definitely changed from sales reps showing their products under tents in a hotel parking lot to now having more than 1,000 exhibiting golf companies and brands, including 271 new ones, within nearly 10 miles of show aisles in the Orange County Convention Center West Concourse Exhibit Hall.
Equipment companies made major equipment announcements and apparel companies introduced their latest fashions, featuring bursts of color and new styles, sports performance fabrics, classic styles and leisurewear with sporty details. In addition, there were lot of other companies showing their golf-related items. I did notice more simulators than I’d seen in the past.
Many exhibitors like Vlad Gribovsky, owner of TPK Golf, reported increased sales of their products.
“The overall scope and upbeat atmosphere of the PGA Show is the best I can remember,” noted Joshua Spragins, PGA professional at Union League Golf Club in Philadelphia, expressing the view of many pros I talked to.
More than 40,000 people attended, including 7,500 PGA professionals from here and 83 other countries. However, I did notice that there were a lot of non-qualified buyers for a show that wasn’t intended to be open to the public.
One suggestion from a golf professional I visited with might be to return to having the show open only to qualified buyers the first day.
My own suggestion would be to return the “New Products” back to the other end of the building. It was a long walk through all the apparel displays this year. I’m sure some buyers might have missed seeing them this time.
The preliminary demo day was also well attended by thousands of golf professionals and invited golf retailers previewing and personally testing the newest equipment, training aids and accessories from more than 100 top golf companies at Orange County National Golf Center, which featured a 42-acre practice facility that included 200 hitting bays, multiple putting greens and the vendor village. I don’t know of any other facility that could handle it.
“We had more interested buyers previewing our training aid than ever before,” Gribovsky said. I know that I gave more demonstrations myself and didn’t get a chance to see anything else as I’ve in the past. A couple of buyers came by because they had seen Michael Breed using the training aid on The Golf Channel and wanted to see how it worked.