LAS VEGAS -- The 2012 PGA Expo attracted thousands of PGA Professionals, influential buyers and industry leaders to a Las Vegas golf marketplace of inspired solutions for merchandising top new products, learning effective business-building strategies and sharing best practices in growing the game, Aug. 20-22, in Las Vegas.
"The PGA Expo has undoubtedly found the correct formula by being in the center of Las Vegas Fashion Week, which allows PGA and industry professionals to see the entire fashion world, attend education conference seminars, test the latest equipment and see the newest apparel lines in just three days," explained PGA Golf Exhibitions Senior Vice President Ed Several.
Attendees traveled to the PGA Expo from 47 U.S. states and 21 countries to take advantage of a robust schedule of exhibits from more than 200 top golf companies and brands, indoor and outdoor product testing, fashion programs, education seminars, industry presentations and professional networking events.
This year's PGA Expo Education Conference seminars featuring Golf 2.0 programs and issues were extremely popular with many seminars filled to capacity. "Working hand-in-hand with The PGA to build an even better instruction and education component resulted in unprecedented attendance by PGA Professionals," said Several.
From the new instruction workshops prior to Demo Night, to the 20-plus education seminars and standing-room only presentations by renowned instructor Hank Haney and mental performance coach Jim Fannin, learning opportunities could be found at every turn during the 2012 PGA Expo.
"It was nice to see so many golf-instruction features playing prominent roles in the PGA Expo this year," noted PGA Director of Instruction Ben Alexander of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. "Having Butch Harmon speak last year and Hank Haney this year was a real boon to the Las Vegas show, which seems to be getting better every year."
Fannin's keynote presentation at the main stage found every chair filled and attendees lining the surrounding aisles to hear his advice on achieving success in growing the game.
"Jim Fannin's presentation was the most inspirational thing I have ever attended at any PGA golf show," lauded Brad Lozares, PGA director of golf at Palo Alto Golf Course in Palo Alto, Calif. "His presentation really resonated with me and my staff members. I've been in the golf business since 1971, and I've never heard anything so relevant and inspiring. He provided a lot of food for thought."
The PGA Expo Show floor was bustling with business beginning Tuesday with a ceremonial first swing by Haney to the blast of confetti canons to open the doors of the Venetian Ballroom. A new equipment and instruction section showcased the latest equipment, ballflight monitors, simulators, clubfitting systems, and teaching and training aids. The "practice" area was anchored by an expanded putting green with turnkey kiosks for putter companies as well as the new Club Performance and Testing Center for hands-on testing of the latest equipment and training aids.
While PING drew large crowds to test-drive its new Anser driver, PING's first fully adjustable driver, and its full line of woods, irons, wedges and putters, many PGA Professionals also took advantage of PING's 'N Flight Fitting system to learn how to custom-fit clubs or to their own swing.
"PING has always been an industry leader in clubfitting, dating way back to its introduction of the PING Eye2 irons," noted Scott Ballif, PGA Professional at Conestoga Golf Club in Mesquite, Nev. "It's always interesting to see what new equipment PING has at the Las Vegas Show, and it was fun to hit the new Anser driver to compare it with other drivers in the PING line. It's a great piece of equipment."
Callaway Golf also saw increased traffic with regional manager Eric Meracle reporting a positive outlook among PGA Expo attendees for 2013. "The general mood of buyers this year is far more positive; there has been a lot of excitement and enthusiasm for Callaway products and for golf in general throughout the Las Vegas show," said Meracle. "We saw a lot of encouraging signs in Vegas. Traffic seemed significantly higher this year, and the number of people interested in our clubfitting and club testing was greater than ever."
The PGA Expo focus on fashion while co-located with apparel trade shows and in the heart of Las Vegas fashion week saw the introduction of the several new fashion and lifestyle apparel programs including the well attended PGA Expo Fashion Designer Panel on Tuesday morning. Golf Digest Fashion Director Marty Hackel and Golf Channel's Win McMurry moderated an informative and fun conversation on the latest fashion trends with top designers sharing their opinions including John Ashworth of Linksoul, Billy Draddy of Fairway & Greene/Zero Restriction, Ralph Dunning of Dunning Golf, Linda Hipp of LIJA and Mike Rowley of Straight Down.
Also, a new PGA Expo "Fashion Row" displaying the latest golf and resort apparel, was poised at the entrances to the Venetian Ballroom, helping to attract some 500 additional apparel buyers from Fashion Week events to explore the vendors of the PGA Expo.
"The PGA Expo remains an ideal time to preview our spring 2013 lines and begin taking orders for the next cycle," said Scott Stone, national sales manager-golf for Ahead. "It is a great platform for Ahead to showcase our lines to a diverse group of buyers who recognize the benefit of attending a multi-show venue in a multi-show city."
Kentwool, still celebrating staff member Bubba Watson's victory at the 2012 Masters, introduced the colorful 19th Hole Collection of dress socks for men and women. "While we conduct a lot of demographical wear-testing to determine what consumers want, it's always good to see such a positive response to a new line like our 19th Hole Collection," said Mark Kent, president and CEO of Kentwool. "This is our first PGA Expo in Las Vegas, but it has been extremely successful. This is more intimate than the big show in Orlando. After the first 30 minutes, we were ready to sign up for next year's Las Vegas Expo."
More than 50 PGA teaching professionals attended the new instruction workshops that officially began PGA Expo week on Monday, Aug. 20, at Callaway Golf Center. PGA Professional Eric Alpenfels presented two, new high-impact instruction workshops focusing on developing skills and participation of junior and women golfers.
Immediately following the workshops, PGA and industry professionals enjoyed field-testing the newest equipment, training aids and accessories of some 40 manufacturers first hand at the annual PGA Expo Demo Night at the Center's driving range, putting and chipping greens. The Center's Divine Nine, a nine-hole lighted par-3 course, was the site of a social golf outing.
Allied golf organizations also utilized the industry gathering for meeting with members. The Association of Golf Merchandisers hosted merchandiser roundtables, designer discussion panels and the AGM Product Preview at the Venetian just prior to the PGA Expo Demo Night. Additional allied golf organizations holding meetings and membership networking events included the Golf Business Network (GBN), Nevada National Golf Course Owners Association (NvGCOA), National Golf Sales Representatives Association (NGSA), Women in the Golf Industry (WIGI) and International Network of Golf (ING).
New Product Zone Winners
The New Product Zone has quickly become one of the most popular areas on the Show Floor because it is the best place to see all the newest merchandise in one location. A panel of influential merchandisers and PGA Professionals voted for the top three products of the New Product Zone. Results are below:
∙ Ernest Sports, Booth 811, "The ES12" -- Portable Launch Monitor, http://www.ernestsports.com 
∙ Switch Belt, Booth 727, "The Switch Belt" -- Clothing Accessory, http://www.switchbelt.com 
∙ The Set Up Stick, Booth 729, "The Set Up Stick" -- Training Aid, http://www.thesetupstick.com 
Top Buyers Choice Award
Kentwool, a new PGA Expo exhibitor in 2012, was voted by influential merchandisers and PGA Professionals to receive the PGA Expo Top Buyers Choice Award from nearly 100 new exhibiting companies in 2012.
The PGA Expo and PGA Merchandise Show are organized in partnership with The PGA of America.