ORLANDO, Fla. -- If the first two days of the 58th PGA Merchandise Show are an accurate barometer, the golf industry is putting recession in its rearview mirror and riding a wave of positive momentum into the 2011 business cycle.
Nearly 10 miles of aisles were bustling with business Friday on Day Two of the 2011 PGA Merchandise Show, with a galaxy of golf's brightest stars teaming with a series of education seminars, fashion and equipment presentations, industry announcements and roundtable discussions to set the table for today's final day of the golf industry's largest retailing reunion at the Orange County Convention Center.
"Based on the buzz and excitement at this Show, it feels like the golf industry is moving forward and is primed for a turnaround year -- economy be damned," noted Bob Maggiore, vice president, brand and product marketing for TaylorMade-adidas Golf. "We recognized that we had a unique opportunity this year to promote all three of our brands -- TaylorMade, adidas and Ashworth -- under one roof, and I think the presence of so many industry leaders has helped us all draft off each other's energy."
With virtually every major equipment, apparel and accessory company exhibiting and writing orders, attendance at the 2011 Show was up 15 percent entering Saturday's final day of merchandising, networking and product presentations.
One of the crowd magnets on Friday was the long list of celebrity appearances, including 2010 U.S. Women's Open champion Paula Creamer; LPGA Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez; LPGA standouts Anna Nordqvist and Natalie Gulbis, and PGA Tour bright lights Matt Kuchar and Ryan Moore.
"All of the new products and technology at this year's Show indicate the needle is moving in a positive direction," said PGA Professional Ed LaPierre of PGA Tour Superstore in Naples, Fla. "The support of so many companies and the presence of so many celebrities has made this the best Show in many, many years."
Added Michael Marion, PGA Master Professional and director of golf at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif.: "It's nice to see all of the equipment companies back at the Show, and it's great to see so many apparel companies using the Show to introduce fresh, new styles and colors.
"People are re-evaluating budgets and products, but there is hope on the horizon. I think we're starting to see bright light at the end of the tunnel."
Several presentations and roundtable discussions on the PGA Equipment Forum stage drew large audiences at the Show Friday, as did a late-afternoon Play Golf America Conference and the Elations "Rock the Joint" concert featuring Lou Gramm of Foreigner singing his 15 top-10 hits on Friday evening in the Linda W. Chapin Theater at the Orange County Convention Center.
The 2010 PGA Merchandisers of the Year provided an educational array of best practices to attendees during a spirited presentation Friday morning, while an informative clubfitting and product presentation by Ping followed. A roundtable discussion and presentation on women's golf entitled "Putting Yourself in Her Shoes: Your Course Playbook for a Winning Season" drew another enthusiastic crowd in the afternoon.
"These types of discussions that really get golf facilities thinking about women's issues and how to serve the women's golf market are very important, and the PGA Merchandise Show is the ideal place to conduct such a presentation," said PGA Professional Le Ann Finger, who moderated the panel discussion. "Women can make a difference, and are making a difference at golf facilities throughout the nation."
Rolling into today's final chapter of the 2011 PGA Merchandise Show, most of the nearly 1,000 companies and brands exhibiting are encouraged about the economy and the 2011 business cycle.
"Judging by the response to our new products, I would have to give the PGA Merchandise Show an 'A' grade this year. I would also say the industry is turning the corner as far as the economy and is back on positive ground," said Dennis Moses, Midwest sales manager for Callaway Golf. "A good, positive PGA Merchandise Show is good for the health of the industry, and that is what we have experienced this week."
PGA Expo returns to Las Vegas, Venetian Hotel on Aug. 22-24
The new PGA Expo will tee off on Monday, Aug. 22, with a special Demo Night and Networking Party at the Callaway Golf Center
What fashion lines, color schemes and styles will be hot in the spring of 2012? What new golf equipment, training-teaching aids and accessories will be introduced to the industry in 2012? What creative business practices will help golf operators become more effective and efficient in 2012?
The golf industry will learn the answers to all of those questions while upholding a 20-year tradition, when the 2011 PGA Expo unfolds on Aug. 22-24 in Las Vegas.
Previously known as the PGA Fall Expo, the new PGA Expo will tee off on Monday, Aug. 22, with a special Demo Night and Networking Party at the Callaway Golf Center on the south end of the famous Las Vegas Strip. The Callaway Golf Center features a two-tiered, 113-stall lighted driving range; putting and chipping practice greens, and a nine-hole lighted par-3 golf course - ideal for PGA Expo attendees to test-drive all the latest golf equipment.
The 2011 PGA Expo then returns to the posh Venetian Hotel & Casino on Aug. 23-24, with more than 200 golf vendors showing off their latest merchandise and innovations in all-inclusive exhibit displays. Once again, the PGA Expo will be part of Fashion Week in Las Vegas, co-locating at The Venetian with MODA, MRket, and Accessories: The Show (and with MAGIC just down the street). The PGA Expo moved to The Venetian and was an integral part of Fashion Week last year in Las Vegas, a fact not lost on Expo attendees and organizers.
"The turnkey, all-inclusive booths, the intimate one-stop shopping, and the crossover traffic from the other retail fashion shows nearby created a universal PGA Expo that appealed to PGA Professionals, golf-industry leaders and mainstream retail buyers last year," said Ed Several, senior vice president of PGA Golf Exhibitions. Several noted that 450 qualified buyers from other Fashion Week shows visited the 2010 PGA Expo, while hundreds of PGA Professionals and other PGA Expo buyers visited other Fashion Week shows with their PGA Expo credentials.
Billed as "Golf's Essential Spring Buying Event," the 2011 PGA Expo will preview 2012 spring lines, offer a strong line-up of Education Conference seminars, provide an early testing ground for 2012 equipment and provide a unique networking opportunity for golf-industry leaders worldwide. The three days of activities and education seminars will allow PGA Professionals to earn up to 20 MSR credits.
Following the first day of exhibitions and education seminars at The Venetian Hotel on Tuesday, Aug. 23, the popular PGA Expo Welcome Reception Presented by Elations will again be held at Tao Nightclub in the Grand Canal Shoppes of the Venetian.