PGA Mega Show returns in Orlando

PGA Show Orlando

PGA Show Orlando

The PGA Merchandise Show, the world’s largest gathering of  the golf industry ,  was held physically on its traditional dates at the end of  January ,  after a gap of two years. The 3 day mega show at the mammoth Orlando Convention Centre in Florida, which is attended by as many as 40,000 delegates, was cancelled in 2020 because of Covid and held virtually in 2021. 

“Buyers have expressed a pent-up demand for merchandise and services and miss the in-person experience with products and company leadership,” Marc Simon, PGA Golf Exhibitions vice president, said in the lead-up to the event that was held in Orlando, Florida from Jan 25 to 28. “There is a desire to return to peer networking and national-level education and industry programming.”

The PGA Merchandise Show debuted in 1954 with the intention of connecting the people who teach golf and operate golf facilities with those that manufacture golf merchandise (it is not open to the general public). Like all industry conventions, it provides an opportunity to network and learn about new products and services. Prior to the pandemic, the show boasted of a line-up of roughly 1,000 companies and an attendance of about 40,000. If there’s a golf-related product you own or have seen on TV, it’s probably appeared at the show.

According to NBA’s Golfpass, making golf more inclusive was among the themes of this year’s event: “Stix’s affordable clubs and Urquhart’s adjustable club help address economic barriers to golf, while Black-owned brands like Deuce Premium appeal to golfers who have long felt forsaken by the game’s mainstream fashion aesthetic.”

Meanwhile CBS Sports raved about the shoes made by TRUE Linkswear and the lightweight golf bags made by Sunday Golf. These bags are specifically made for alternative settings such as par-3 or short courses where you need fewer than the maximum 14 clubs, though the company has recently introduced a version that can hold 14 clubs as well.

While the PGA Tour was able to pull off hosting a physical event even though the United States was in the grips of the Omicron virus, the show wasn’t without problems. Many of the major club manufactures such as Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist, Ping and Cobra chose to stay away. Among the apparel companies, Nike, Adidas, and Polo were missing too. Attendance and participation were also down significantly.

Roughly 600 exhibitors were present compared to roughly 1,000 pre-pandemic, while attendance was estimated at 12,000 to 15,000, significantly below the 25,000 that were expected to attend this year, and far below the usual 40,000.

“The equipment makers pulling out this year suggests the large industry players have voted against an in-person Show during a global pandemic, but the fact that 13,000 pros registered suggests the industry still wants to get together. The elephant in the room is what happens next year. Will exhibitors want to have a big presence again and be willing to pay the price? Or has The Show outworn its relevance? “ 

At the same time, there were those that were happy to see the show return to something normal. Among them was Bridgestone. “To us it was not a waste of time or a negative experience. We look back and say, ‘That wasn’t bad.’ It wasn’t the best show ever, but it was worth our time and money,” Dan Murphy, president and CEO of Bridgestone Golf, told USA Today.

All of which means the golf industry will be watching next year’s event closely.

Should the pandemic have waned by then and attendance numbers bounce back, this year’s event would become just a pandemic blip and The Show will go on.

However, if the numbers don’t bounce back as expected, it would signal that the Show will have to evolve to stay relevant.

In good times, several Indian distributors and industry experts have attended the show but India Golf Weekly is not aware of any who made the trip to Orlando this year. 

Photo – CBS

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