PGA Merchandise Show begins with focus on growing the game

Davis Love III presented Andy Nisbet of California with the PGA Junior League Golf trophy.

Show begins with focus on growing the game

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The first day of the 2013 PGA Merchandise Show combined a nostalgic look back at the first 60 years of the PGA Show with a focus on the products and programs geared toward keeping golf strong in the decades to come. Thousands of PGA Professionals and golf industry insiders filled the Orange County Convention Center to see the latest offerings from the biggest brands in the business and learn more about how the industry-supported Golf 2.0 initiative can help golf facilities grow their bottom line and the game.

On a day when longtime Show-goers gathered for an anniversary photo shoot commemorating the 60th anniversary of golf's premier gathering, the future of the game was on display at the opening ceremony for the 2013 PGA Merchandise Show. Local participants in the PGA Junior League Golf program joined PGA President Ted Bishop and 1997 PGA Champion Davis Love III on stage to formally open the Show, and growing the game was a recurring topic throughout the day. Love told the crowd assembled to watch the opening ceremony that he's serving as honorary captain of a PGA Junior League Golf team in Sea Island, Ga., this year, while high-profile speakers such as Annika Sorenstam, Ian Poulter and Dottie Pepper all took to the PGA Forum Stage to discuss the state of the game and ways to bring more players into golf.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 golf companies and brands welcomed thousands of PGA Professionals and golf shop buyers from 75 countries to the 60th Show. Attendees saw the latest in golf equipment, products and services, and apparel. With more than 40,000 attendees expected over the duration of the PGA Show, there was optimism for another strong year in the golf business.

"It's great to see the Show back to where it was," said Peter Bevacqua, presiding over his first PGA Merchandise Show as CEO of The PGA of America. "This is the biggest the Show has been since 2008, and that's a great signal that golf is vibrant again."

Coming off an impressive 2012 sales year, a who's who of the game's biggest brands and hottest new companies showcased new products meant to keep the momentum going in 2013. Introductions from industry leaders such as Titleist, Callaway Golf, TaylorMade, adidas, Ping, Nike and Cutter & Buck created strong buzz on the Show floor.

"For me, the PGA Merchandise Show is about cool, interesting new products," said Alan Carter, head professional at Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course in Jasper, Alberta. "It's really a matter of finding those products that are going to be hot at the shop for the next season, and there are a lot of great choices this year."

From the Equipment Test Center to the New Product Center and the Fashion Studio, the length of the PGA Show floor was filled with attendees who were ready to place orders and learn about the latest golf equipment, products, services and apparel.

"We're seeing customers who are ready to buy," said Jake Rawson, Cutter & Buck's global golf sales director. "2012 was a strong year with great sell-through in a lot of golf shops, and people look like they're trying to build on that momentum. There are a lot of great activities going on all around the Show, and you can really feel the energy in the building. This is a great start."

The first day of the 60th PGA Merchandise Show was also filled with opportunities to see and hear from some of the biggest names in golf. Sorenstam used her keynote address on the PGA Forum Stage to discuss ways to grow the game, while Poulter and Pepper gave presentations – moderated by NBC Sports broadcaster Jimmy Roberts – on the business of golf. Many other well-known stars could be seen around the Show floor, including Graeme McDowell, Carl Pettersson, Mark Wilson, David Toms, Michael Breed, Hank Haney, Chuck Cook, Butch Harmon, Natalie Gulbis, Stacy Lewis and Chi Chi Rodriguez.