The places to be

While most people at the PGA Merchandise Show were focused on the, you know, merchandise, John Kim considered the big picture. After three days of looking at the booths holding all that great gear, he picks his six favorites.


The Callaway, TaylorMade and Travis Mathew Apparel booths were among John Kim's most appealing spots on the Show floor. (John Kim and John Holmes/

By John Kim, Coordinating Producer

ORLANDO, Fla. -- After three days and 10,000 miles of walking (okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it feels about right) I feel like I've seen enough golf "stuff" to last a few lifetimes.  But it was cool stuff.  Really cool stuff.

You've seen our coverage of all the gadgets, clubs, shirts and accessories that will be seen on courses all over the world this year.  What you might not have seen (or tohught about) were the actual vendor booths. 

Check out photo galleries and videos for a peek at how elaborate and amazing the set-ups were to try and draw the attention of the golf professionals, buyers and distributors that were walking the floor. Oh, and to get media attention, of course. And though everyone seemed to do a really good job, there were a few that really stood out.

I don't necessarily equate "bigger is better" to my top choices. But this year, there were a few booths (not really booths -- exhibits, wings, museums, whatever you want to call them) that stood out just a little more. 

So as we all depart Orlando, here are the six venues I thought did the most impressive job of creating some buzz, not just for their products, but for fun action on the convention floor.

6. Cobra Puma. With an orange theme (from carpet to actual oranges in displays to orange drinks served), a "balcony bar" complete with a DJ spinning records and a slide down into a pool of orange plastic balls, visitors felt more like partiers than buyers. A slew of Cobra Puma celebrities were there, including Lexi Thompson, Blair O'Neal and Ian Poulter. The atmosphere was light, fun and energetic. Well done.

5. Callaway. Callaway took up a huge area in the fashion/apparel area, complete with dim mood lighting, a large lounge setting, a fashion runway stage in the middle and a very classy decor of golf bags, clubs and Callaway Golf apparel. Visitors definitely enjoyed this unique and laid back setting (laid back other than their fashion show with models tossing Callaway merchandise to a raucous crowd!)

4. Titleist. Titleist-Footjoy was one of the larger displays, well, because they almost have to be. Wall after wall of shoes, clubs, bags, balls and clothing, a separate area for their Titleist Performance Institute fitness programs -- anything golf, they are a part of it and you could tell.  The ever-present white blazers worn by their representatives is always a nice touch and easy way for anyone to find someone to answer a question, take an order or do anything else to promote their great line.

3. Ahead. Ahead is mostly known for their great hats, but they also have a fast-growing and very well-respected clothing line. So much so, they took up three separate but adjoining booths that were constantly packed with visitors. Most notably, outside of their large and busy presence, their annual "hat drop" -- where they drop more than 700 golf hats from the ceiling for visitors -- is always one of the highlights of the show.

2. Travis Mathew Apparel. Two semis parked inside, with full trailers for taking orders, a card table with dealer for a variety of games, a separating enclosed wall that gave the large space an intimate feel and racks and racks of really nice apparel. And net to one semi was a classic black Lincoln Continental that just begged to be taken out on the open road. Hard to beat.

1. TaylorMade-adidas. Not sure how they pulled this off, but these guys had their own wing of the convention center. With a VIP feel as you entered through a pair of tunnels of sorts, it combined a rock ‘n roll atmosphere with fun and games and lots and lots of the TMAG swag that has become so prevalent.  With the launch of the new RocketBallz series, the flash and splash of their area included their own snack bar, a video game area for kids, two demo ranges to try equipment and, of course, all the apparel you could dream of.