2010 PGA Merchandise Show
Attendees test equipment at the Equipment Testing Area at the 57th PGA Merchandise Show. (Pritchard/PGA of America)

PGA Merchandise Show: Day 3 Notebook

The 57th PGA Merchandise Show is now officially in the books. Our Craig Dolch writes that it was a success on many levels, which is saying a lot with all that was set out to accomplish.

By Craig Dolch, Special to PGA.com

ORLANDO –- Whether it was educating PGA Professionals about the new grooves rules, how to connect with their members through social networking or the usual introduction of new golf equipment and training aides, the 57th PGA Merchandise Show had a lot to accomplish this year.

As the 1,000 exhibitors started packing up Saturday, the general manager of the Show, Ed Several, was confident about one thing.

Mission accomplished. 

"We have two goals: To organize a world-class business-of-golf event and to provide the industry with a platform to reset and get energized for the rest of the season," Several said. "I don't think there's any question we accomplished both of those goals this year."

Final attendance numbers weren't available Saturday, but Several said the Show topped last year's overall attendance (40,000 fans) for the three-day event as well as for the Demo Day on Wednesday.

"We are definitely up over a year ago," Several said of the crowds at the Orange County Convention Center. "In this environment, anything that's up is a plus."The Show had its share of headliners, with Hall of Famers such as Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Annika Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez on hand. They were here to do more than sell their products.

"It's always nice to come to Orlando for the PGA Merchandise Show and support the industry," said Watson, a new ambassador for Polo Ralph Lauren.

With the business model of golf changing faster than J.B. Holmes' backswing, the Show has taken on a greater importance. That's why the PGA of America introduced its PGA Connectivity Lab to help Professionals learn social media and help grow their business.

The PGA also unveiled its critical "We Are Golf" program, where the industry will work more closely with politicians in Washington to extol golf's many benefits to the U.S. in order to receive more favorable legislation.

Of course, the focus for most of the Show was on golf, primarily its equipment, apparel, training aides and other products that have become so essential to the sport. Most vendors said they were pleased with their sales.

"This has been a good business-writing Show for our apparel sector, and we met all of out expectations on the hard-goods side," said Joe Urzetta, Callaway Golf's senior vice president for U.S. sales. "The Show has been positive and we were able to accomplish our objectives."

Golf, like every industry, has been hurt by the country's economic woes in recent years. But Several said the Show wasn't negatively affected in terms of vendor turnout.

"There wasn't a category of golf that wasn't covered from the standpoint of depth of exhibitors," he said. "Traditionally you have one area that's heavy, but this year every area such as putters, bags, accessories, apparel, range items, etc., were all well represented."

Several sees even bigger days for next year's Show in Orlando; it runs from Jan. 27-29, with Demo Day on Jan. 26.

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