The PGA Merchandise Show, now the world's largest and most influential golf business event, grew from humble beginnings in Dunedin, Fla., in 1954, when a handful of golf merchandisers assembled in the PGA National Golf Club parking lot during a series of PGA winter tournaments. By 1957, the number of manufacturers" representatives had become so large, approximately 50 by then, that PGA officials leased a tent.
The PGA Merchandise Show moved when The PGA of America's winter tournaments relocated to Florida's East Coast. In 1963, the Show was held at the Port St. Lucie (Fla.) Country Club; from 1964–73 at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (now known as BallenIsles Country Club); and in 1974, moved back to Port St. Lucie, still under a circus-sized tent.
The PGA Merchandise Show and winter tournaments moved to Orlando, Fla., in 1975, where the show was indoors for the first time. In 1982, The PGA of America relocated to the new PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, a mile from its former headquarters. The PGA Merchandise Show was subsequently moved to the Miami Beach Convention Center, where it remained for three years.
Due to the continuing demand for increased space capacity, The PGA moved the Show to the new Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in 1985 and again the Show was quickly filled to capacity. As the PGA Merchandise Show grew so did the West Building of the Convention Center, which added 200,000 gross square feet in 1989 and nearly doubled in size to 1.1 million gross square feet in 1996.
In 1998, The PGA of America sold an equity share of its golf shows to Reed Exhibitions, the world's leading trade show organizer. In partnership, The PGA and Reed produce and manage the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando and the PGA Fall Expo in Las Vegas.
Since the Reed/PGA partnership, the PGA Merchandise Show has evolved to become an all-encompassing global platform for the introduction of new products, indoor & outdoor product testing, wide-ranging education seminars, industry symposiums right on the show floor, national awards presentations, fashion features, player development programs, professional networking events and more.
Several valuable industry programs have been added since the partnership including the VIP Buyer & Exhibitor Program in 1999; the New Product Center in 2001; comprehensive PGA Education Conference, Outdoor Demo Day and the Show floor's "19th Hole" in 2003; the PGA Employment Center, the national PGA Awards Night, the Pro-Pro Tournament Series and the Indoor Demo Day at the Equipment Test Center on the Show floor in 2004; the Play Golf America Conference and PGA Teaching Best Practices in 2006; the PGA Equipment Forum and industry presentations, plus the PGA Short Game Testing Center in 2007; the PGA Mentor Lunch and PGA/AGM New Product Preview & Reception in 2008; a complimentary industry concert was added in 2009; a new career fair, PGA Connectivity Lab and an Executives Club right on the show floor in 2010. In 2011, the PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit was added to Show Week; the Fashion Gallery stage made a return; the new attendee Superpass cost savings program was introduced; plus the New Inventor's Spotlight Pavilion and the Apparel New Product Center were new additions to the global industry gathering.
Nearly 42,000 PGA Professionals, golf retailers and industry executives from 88 countries and all 50 U.S. states came to the 58th PGA Merchandise Show to launch the business of golf for 2012 -- packing 10 miles of Show aisles, more than 1,000 golf vendor booths and a full schedule of special events. Product presentations by golf's top market leaders combined with indoor and outdoor Demo Days, multiple designer fashion shows, teaching clinics, education seminars, career workshops, industry awards, networking receptions and more.
Now more than ever before, the PGA Merchandise Show is the ideal, global platform that industry leaders, top manufacturers, PGA Professionals and golf organizations utilize to grow the business, participation and interest in golf.