Favorites of the PGA Show '13
What is it like going to the PGA show?
This is my 3rd year going to the PGA show in Orlando at the end of January. Each year I take a different approach to the show. The 1st year was simply overwhelming, the 2nd year was chaotic with appointments, and this year it was fun, relaxing and purposeful. It depends on what you are looking to get out of the show as to how you will approach it. If you want to try all the new stuff and figure out what you want to buy in the upcoming year, spend all day at demo day; you can touch, feel and hit just about every club and shaft available. If you are there to learn about the industry, there are a number of seminars and presentations on Thursday and Friday. If you want to connect with just select companies, use the PGA show app and map out a course that will keep you from zig-zagging all over the convention floor. Personally, I think the best thing to do it just stroll up and down each aisle trying to see as much as you can in the time you have. Most likely you will quickly realize that there is a whole center section of the convention floor that you wish they would move. Here are some of my favorites of the PGA Show '13.
Meeting the stars
Now I'm not paparazzi, nor do I really care what celebrities and stars are doing, but I will admit hanging out and meeting some of the biggest names in golf is pretty cool. This year I saw, Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer, Ian Poulter, Scotty Cameron, Jesper Parnevik, Blair O'neal, Anna Nordqvist, Lexi Thompson, Jamie Sadlowski, Win McMurry, Ken Griffey Jr., Diego Velasques and Bob Bettinardi. I know there were some other big names at the show, I just didn't have time or space to meet all of them. This year Cobra brought in the most stars for their demo day, Ian Poulter, Blair O'Neal, and more. Taylormade brought in Gulbis for a Thursday morning Tweet-up. Nike had Ken Griffey Jr. crushing balls at Demo day. Callaway had Jamie Sadlowski bombing 400 yard drives on the OCN range. Bridgestone had Paula Creamer signing at their booth. There was no shortage of big names in golf at the show. Not only touring pros, but the Golf Channel and Back9Network had their crews all over the place.
Seeing all the new toys
It is like a kid in a candy shop at the PGA Show. There are so many products on display that it is almost impossible to see them all in just a couple days. Obviously, the big companies tend to make a big splash by showing off racks and racks of their new gear, while smaller companies are just trying to get noticed. No matter what new golf products excite you, this is the place to see them first. Many of the companies don't use the show to introduce their products to the consumer for the first time, but often it is the first in-hand experience many golfers will get. If you want to hit them, demo day has you covered. If you want to see how they are made, the show floor will often have displays. I find it most enjoyable trying to find that "diamond in the rough" product. There are many small companies trying to become the next big thing; most will fail because the product itself isn't useful, but some will have great success. It's not just clubs, it everything from tees to apparel. If you like new stuff, the show is the best place to see it all under one roof.
Hanging with 40,000 other golfers
This is the most fascinating part of the show; Who will you find in a crowd of 40,000 people? I'll give you a run down of some of the common characters you will run into at the show:
- The aspiring pro--You will see many of these. The show is filled with guys hoping to make it on tour someday because they shot under par one time. They are like walking billboards and think that they are going to strike it rich at the show if some company notices them or think that because they won their club championship others will notice.
- The old guys--These guys think that the show is just a giant giveaway. Every booth needs to watch out for these guys. They think everything is free. They have bags full of gear from every booth. The second they hear a rumor about a booth giving something away for free, you will see them heading that way in herds.
- The better than you--These are often show veterans that have "been there and done this" for a number of years and don't really have time for anyone. They tend to do what they do without any concern for anyone else. They don't move out of the way nor do they act in any sort of gentlemanly way. You may get a glance from them like "who do you think you are"
- The booth worker--You can tell those that are at the show from sunrise to sunset. They are simply tired the whole time. So many people, so much small talk, so many appointments, so much stress trying to secure buyer and interest in their product. They work hard for 4 days straight with little time to enjoy the show or see anything other than the small space of their booth and the one across the aisle from them.
- The model--She stands there all dressed up for the company often with no clue what she is promoting. She gets harassed and oogled all day long. Sometimes she even ends up in silly costumes or is asked to wear less than flattering clothes. While we all like pretty girls, I wouldn't wish this job on anyone. I often wonder if they really help promote a brand.
- The blind wanderer--The newbies to the show can usually be spotted as they aimlessly wander around. The convention floor is huge and there is so much to see, they have their heads either in the clouds, or in a map, often times bumping into things and people. Just look for the person with big eyes.
- The media dudes -- (I include myself here) You can almost always spot us by our cameras and backpacks. We are snapping thousands of pictures from every angle. Sometimes we are taking what would seem to be the strangest pictures for some angle in an article. We sometimes cut to the front of a crowd trying to get the best camera angle. Some of us have big crews with video cameras and the like (not me), others of us just have an SLR w/ a giant zoom lens to get every last stitching detail of a shirt. We will probably be wearing plenty of logos of who we represent (guilty) so that there is no confusing us with a different media outlet.
- The good peeps--After a couple of years attending the show, you learn that there are some really cool people in the industry that care about their product as well as the golfer. They take time to talk to you, they care about your opinions, and they even remember you from year to year. The cool peeps are the ones you spend time with at the bar at night after the show.
Playing golf in January
Being from the frozen north, I wouldn't dare travel to FL without playing golf. Actually I don't go a day in FL without playing golf. Not having played in over 6 weeks and probably not again for 6 weeks means as much golf as possible. So my strategy that has worked well for the last 3 years is go to the PGA Show in the morning and play golf in the afternoon. The weather has been perfect in Orlando each year. There are countless courses to choose from. Every year I find somewhere new to play. This year I played at the Disney Courses and made a day trip to Streamsong. While the courses are busy and rounds can be slow, it is still golf in January and for me that is one of the main reasons I visit the show year after year. There are so many courses you can play, from PGA tour stops to local munis. It is not the cheapest time of year to play, but playing golf in January is worth it.