Of the thousands of great products, initiatives, seminars and announcements that came out of last week's PGA Expo in Las Vegas, two in particular will resonate significantly here at PGA.com and hopefully in your golf life.
PGA.com is partnering with two well-known organizations to help foster more players learning and playing golf and also providing golfers with the most secure, confident and authentic buying experience of golf equipment online.
The first announcement has to do with the creation of The Pro Shops , a creation of the PGA Trade-In Network and eBay, where golfers can view, research and bid on golf merchandise within a designated PGA Trade-In Network branded shop on eBay. This means golfers such as yourself will be browsing through and potentially buying golf clubs, apparel and other merchandise that has been inspected, sourced and authenticated by PGA Professionals.
"It's very significant that buyers can have full confidence that the golf merchandise -- including clubs -- they are bidding on, and ultimately receiving, via the world's largest auction site have been authenticated and listed by the PGA Professional, the experts in the game and business of golf," said Leigh Bader of the PGA Trade-In Network.
"This model works because it's a simple, effective and needed program. Its requirement from the PGA Professional is something they already do everyday. They will encourage golfers to trade in their clubs (for sale in the The Pro Shops), use their expertise to ensure authenticity and integrity, and to share their knowledge and passion for the game. This three-step "Play It On!" pledge will create the large and diverse inventory that we already know golfers are searching for -- combined with their trust that their delivered product is what they purchased.
Andy Feierfeil, the Business Lead for Sporting Goods eBay, North America, echoed the enthusiasm.
"It's in eBay's DNA to enable connections across commerce," Feierfeil stated. "And this partnership will further strengthen our lead in the online golf purchases industry by helping connect buyers to PGA Professionals. Anytime we can help golf enthusiasts of all playing levels get direct access to the right golf equipment for their game, it's a winning proposition for everyone. And of course, more options for more golfers will only help grow the game."
Golfers will be able to access The Pro Shops from multiple channels on PGA.com. Visitors on PGA.com will have the ability to see the latest products, read reviews or stories about them and further research them and purchase directly from a PGA Professional -- all with a few simple clicks. Items, including merchandise, lessons and perhaps other services such as club fittings, will be available on both an auction and a "Buy It Now" option.
The second announcement concerned PGA.com's partnership with the ACTIVE Network, the leader in cloud-based activity and participation management solutions.
This new program  will allow PGA Professionals to easily list their instruction programs, junior golf camps, Get Golf Ready clinics, Play Golf America days and even tournaments to play in to an exponentially larger audience. For the golfer, this means a one-stop shop to search for these golf events in their area, sign up for ones that interest them and pay prior to arriving at the course.
"While we were looking at the game of golf from a consumer perspective, looking at how we could attract more golfers, we found that one of the biggest barriers to growing the game was the difficulty that many potential players faced in simply finding ways to become active participants," said Allen Wronowski, President of the PGA of America. "Now with PGA.com and ACTIVE Network's registration solution for PGA Professionals, golfers have an easy access to the resources and events in their area that can get them started in this wonderful game."
ACTIVE Network, with over 8 million unique visitors to ACTIVE.com each month, is showing great enthusiasm and confidence in getting into the golf space.
"Through our strategic partnership with the PGA.com and this new directory and registration solution, we hope to create great experiences for people that are interested in getting active in the sport of golf," said Ron Ward, general manager of Golf at ACTIVE Network. "Our technology is designed to help PGA Professionals manage their events more efficiently, promote them to a large audience of golfers and help grow participation by making it easy for those golfers to find and register for these programs."
Both initiatives are designed in large part to help grow of the game -- where a more robust marketplace will hopefully create easier solutions for golfers to find affordable golf equipment and the ease of signing up for golf events will mean increased participation in all facets of golf. PGA.com will continue to seek out initiatives and partnerships to serve all golfers -- and more golfers; these two significant steps are a strong foundation for that goal.