The 2014 edition of the PGA Merchandise Show wrapped up at exactly 3 p.m. on Friday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, but the impact of the show will be felt for the remainder of 2014 and beyond.
With over 1000 exhibitors and well over 40,000 attendees, you never know what to expect- especially after the entire golf industry was hit hard by the downturn in the economy.
The good news is the mood this year was positive and serious. That bodes well for those that make their living in the golf industry. “Serious” was a word thrown around by many of those on the show floor. Serious buyers, serious innovators, and people serious about seeing the game of golf grow.
“In terms of business, I think the industry is in a good place right now, the best place we’ve been in for several years,” says PGA of America President Ted Bishop. “With the economy, we haven’t been able to paint a pretty picture for a while, but the PGA Show has given us a sense of optimism and enthusiasm as we move ahead.”
Another reason it was serious this year was the fact that Donald Trump was brought in to lend his expertise and passion to a panel discussion.
Say what you want about Trump, but when it comes to golf, he owns courses and is passionate about the sport.
All the major players in the golf industry when it comes to manufacturers were present and the rank and file attendees appreciate that. The next schedule of the show running Tuesday-Friday also seem to please most people.
“The PGA Show seems to get bigger, better and more exciting every year,” stated Josh Rackley, PGA Professional at Gulph Mills Golf Club in King of Prussia, Pa. “If you can’t find what you’re looking for in golf here, you won’t find it anywhere. I like the Tuesday through Friday format. It lets us get back home for the weekend – I’m really enthused about 2014.”
The show floor is loosely divided into three sections each year. Equipment, accessories, and apparel. In the equipment area, hitting bays are set up do the new products and technology can be tested.
“The main benefit of the Equipment Test Center is to see the companies that I don’t already know about,” said PGA Professional Chris Wegner of Hawk Pointe Golf Club in Washington, N.J. “Seeing what some of the smaller brands have to offer is great.”
45 hitting bays are used by attendees to test the latest equipment, see demonstrations and also get in some putting.
It was only a matter of time before the Golf Channel realized that there was a benefit to having a larger presence at the show than running an hour-long best of show that ran after the show was over. This year, the popular “Morning Drive” show broadcast each day from an elevated broadcast platform in the middle of the expo area.
There seemed to be many more first-time exhibitors than in years past and also you can see the trickle-down emphasis on growing the sports as many more products were on display for women and junior golfers.
The PGA Merchandise Show is serious business and that was proven in 2014.
Rick Limpert is an Atlanta-based writer that covers events, sports, and technology. You can follow him on Twitter at @RickRoswell.