PGA Demo Day is fantasy camp for golfers

Blair O'Neal
The PGA of America
Cobra Puma's Blair O'Neal dazzled the crowd with her golf skills, fashion sense and the new line of Cobra products.
Steve Eubanks

Series: Eubanks

Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 | 10:10 p.m.

In a city where amusement and hospitality are the main economic drivers - a place where even the McDonald's looks like a theme park ride - the PGA Demo Day fit right in.

The spectacle at Orange County National Golf Club was like a golfer's dreamland, a 360-degree cornucopia of new clubs, tees, shoes, launch monitors, and gadgets of all shapes and sizes.

This wasn't your typical fitting tent with a bag full of clubs to try. The Cobra area looked like a European nightclub, complete with white leather couches, giant flat screens and a dance soundtrack that did wonders for your tempo. They also had a couple of their stars hitting shots: Blair O'Neal, who is one of the few golf cover girls who is taller and prettier in person than what you see on TV, and Lexi Thompson, who is just as talented as advertised.

The specs and performance characteristics of the equipment became almost secondary to the branding messages: Cobra was hip and new, colorful and just slightly irreverent, while TaylorMade had every fitter on sight wearing the orange face paint that has become a part of their 2013 marketing campaign.
Some were incredibly organized: Addidas handed out beepers like you get when waiting on a restaurant table. You were only called to the tee only when a fitter had time to give you his full, undivided attention.

Others were free-for-alls.

Titleist and Nike were the busiest in terms of actual testing as everyone wanted to give the new 913s and the Covert series a whirl, but every manufacturer had their fair share of takers. Mizuno irons were all the rage, as were the Adams hybrids. And you couldn't stir the people with a spoon at the Callaway area when ReMax World Long Drive Champion Jamie Sadlowski unleashed the new Razr Fit Xtreme driver, pounding tee shots over 350 yards into the wind.

There were also the smaller and newer companies, some of them upstarts and some trying to gain a foothold in a crowded industry: companies like SCOR Golf, a wedge manufacturer that has developed short irons in every loft from 41- to 61 degrees, and several new tee companies, their owners convinced that they had finally built the better tee peg.

Bobby Clampett was there with his "Impact Zone" books and videos, and Ken Griffey, Jr. was hitting shots and posing for pictures.
Oakley was expanding its brand awareness with new shoes and soft goods to go with their sunglasses, and Ashworth put a new line of throwback, limited-edition putters on display.

By the end of the afternoon, it was sensory overload for anyone who loves the game. There were more new products than any one person could possibly test, and enough promotional gadgetry to make P.T. Barnum blush.

But that was the point. This was more than a try-it-you'll-like-it day on the range. It was an extravaganza.
In the town where magic is the official mascot, PGA Demo Day was a golfer's dream come true.