PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- The PGA Merchandise Show is traditionally a barometer for the business of golf in the year ahead and this year's event established an enthusiastic tone with increased participation levels across all segments and an uptick in business conducted. This indicates that the golf industry is riding a wave of positive momentum into the 2011 business cycle.
Nearly 42,000 PGA Professionals and industry executives from every U.S. state and 88 countries filled nearly 10 miles of aisles while previewing the latest products and writing orders from nearly 1,000 golf companies and brands, Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 27-29, at the 2011 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla.
All of golf's best names in golf manufacturing joined with its brightest stars for equipment introductions, product testing, fashion presentations, industry announcements, a series of education seminars and networking special events to set the tone for golf business in 2011.
With every major equipment, apparel and accessory company exhibiting and writing orders, early attendance figures for the 2011 Show indicate a 3.5 percent increase in overall attendance and a 7 percent increase in PGA Professional attendance. Attendees came from around the world with the top five countries (outside of U.S.) represented in attendance being Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, Korea and Germany. The top five U.S. states represented in attendance were Florida, California, New York, North Carolina and Georgia.
"We are pleased with the overall increased attendance and especially the seven percent increase in PGA Professional participation," said PGA Worldwide Golf Exhibitions Senior Vice President Ed Several. "The packed aisles, industry enthusiasm and increased order writing reported by vendors are all solid indicators of a strong business cycle for golf in 2011."
The energy on the floor of the 58th PGA Merchandise Show was apparent from the beginning of the first day, Jan. 27, when Grammy award-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis treated attendees to a jazz set prior to the official opening of the Show. Following a heartfelt rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" from Marsalis and a ceremonial tee shot from 2010 Vardon Trophy winner Matt Kuchar, PGA President Allen Wronowski proclaimed, "The 58th PGA Merchandise Show is officially open for the business of golf."
Once the doors opened, the aisles were packed and the exhibits were full of buyers writing orders. The business of golf was also brisk in terms of major announcements including a first-day, standing room-only event in the PGA Equipment Forum where PGA of America Chief Executive Officer Joe Steranka and a group of industry leaders unveiled a new partnership between the PGA World Alliance, China Golf Association and PGA Worldwide Golf Exhibitions, with endorsement by The PGA of America and the GCSAA, to produce the PGA Merchandise Show-China Golf in Beijing and a the PGA Merchandise Show-Asia in southern China with PGA Merchandise Show branding. The new PGA Merchandise Show–China will be held March 18–20 in Beijing, while the PGA Merchandise Show–Asia will be held Oct. 20–22 in Guangzhou. The announcement was followed by a keynote address from renowned competitor and international business leader Greg Norman, who was then joined by well-known PGA Professionals and television personalities Hank Haney and Michael Breed for a panel discussion on the Asian golf marketplace.
"The potential for growth in China and throughout Asia is tremendous, and the 10 most-developed PGA Associations that drive an economic engine of $90 billion annually are committing their expertise and resources to teaching, promoting and helping the game move forward in that important part of the world," said Joe Steranka, CEO of The PGA of America. "The excitement and enthusiasm for golf in China is as great as anywhere in the world, so this is a significant step toward helping develop the game in Asia."
In addition to the busy marketplace, Show days were full of professional learning opportunities in the PGA Show Education Conference, at the PGA Equipment Forum industry presentations and within a full schedule of events at the PGA Show's Fashion Gallery stage.
Attendees found an energetic Show floor featuring exhibits, hundreds of vendor Show specials and promotions, plus some 47 equipment testing bays at the Indoor Demo Days; multiple New Product Centers to centralize the latest introductions for buyers; a new Inventor's Spotlight Pavilion for patented products not yet available at retail; numerous specialty exhibitor pavilions including fitness, training aids and golf travel; plus the second annual PGA Merchandise Show Career Fair.
"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 have made this the best Show in many, many years."
Each day offered a full calendar of special events and each night, attendees could participate in and network at special industry events including the Association of Golf Merchandisers Product Preview and Reception, the prestigious PGA Awards Night, and the entertaining Elations "Rocks the Joint" Industry Concert featuring Lou Gramm, formerly the lead singer of Foreigner.
Earlier in the week, PGA Professionals and invited golf retailers tested the latest innovations in golf equipment, training aids and accessories during the ninth annual PGA Merchandise Show Outdoor Demo Day on a breezy-but-beautiful Wednesday (Jan. 26) on the 42-acre practice facility at Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge in Winter Garden, Fla.
As the world's largest professional golf-testing event, more than 90 companies used the event to unveil a variety of new drivers, irons, putters, fairway woods, hybrids and wedges across the 200 hitting bays, five practice greens, New Product Preview area and the vendor village to showcase a litany of new golf products.
"This is my first Demo Day at the PGA Merchandise Show, and it's amazing to have all of the great golf brands together at the same facility," said Mike Owens, PGA head professional at Country Oaks Golf Course in Thomasville, Ga. "I have been able to hit every club I've ever dreamed about hitting, and I was able to compare products side by side. This has made my ordering for 2011 very easy."
Additionally, golf’s top instructors and teaching took center stage early in Show Week when the 12th Biennial PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit was added to the PGA Merchandise Show calendar of events, Jan. 24-25 at the nearby Faldo Golf Institute by Marriott. Hosted by PGA Professional Michael Breed of Golf Channel fame, the Summit’s schedule of presenters included World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame member Bob Toski; coaching legend Lou Holtz; and PGA Teacher of the Year recipients Dr. Gary Wiren (1989), Mike Bender (2009) and Todd Anderson (2010).
The PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando and the PGA Expo in Las Vegas are organized in partnership with The PGA of America. For more information, visit pgashow.com.