A Quick 9 from 2017 PGA Show

1. The MAJOR of Golf Business – I got home after leaving the show and opened an email recap of the PGA golf show which claimed that the PGA Show in Orlando is the golf industries “MAJOR”.  It went on to talk about the buzz, the higher attendance and all the great things going on at the show and I wondered if they were at the same show that I was.  While there might have been an increased attendance of PGA professionals there because they needed credits, the shows overall attendance was down.  There were less people and less companies.  There were large open areas all over the convention center floor and at demo day.  While it may have been a “MAJOR” it was more PGA Championship than the Masters.

2. Best Booths – Every year there are a few companies that have outstanding booths, some of them are my favorites, year after year, and others come in and steal the spotlight.  Callaway clearly won the major OEM booth war.  They went big again and with the few surprise products in the booth, they were the EPIC talk of the show.  A close runner up was Taylormade with their collection of trophies from their tour stars which was really cool and the announcement of signing Tiger Woods was gigantic.  Seamus booth always has their retro cool on display.  Edel changed it up this year, but in a good way showing off their standard and artistic goods.  Volvik surprised with the volume of buzz and color at their booth.

3. Best Products – It was pretty easy this year to pick out the best products.  ARCCOS was the clear winner of best at the 2017 PGA show.  Their Course Analyzer app which will be coming out soon is amazing.  It uses your data compared with how the hole is played and gives you the best options to get the lowest score on the hole.  It would be like having a caddie that knows your game and can calculate the odds perfectly for every course and every hole, even ones you haven’t played.  Itobori stole my heart with their artistic clubs.  I also learned that the small grinds all over their clubs aren’t just art, but a design feature for booth feel and turf interaction.  Another product that could be a game changer is the E-Wheels from Clicgear carts.  They are powered wheels for your push cart at an affordable price and they will click right on to your current cart.

4. Everybody can Dream –  Like every year, there are numerous “inventors” that dream they have created the next best product.  Another tee company, another training aid company, another golf shirt company; they all think they will strike gold.  Unfortunately most of the things that I saw in the “new product” area are doomed to fail.  Most are gimmicky, poorly built and have spent too much of their money on a marketing firm that is basically just taking their money.  I have to say, this was the most disappointing show when it came to new products.  There might be a couple of things pictured above that will survive if they are lucky.

5. How-to-PGA show –  I’m not going to call myself a PGA show veteran, but after numerous years and doing the show a number of different ways, I think I’ve dialed in my routine for maximum enjoyment.  One of the most important things to do is avoid meetings.  Everyone want way too much of your time to give you a “press release” presentation.  Odds are that back to back meetings will be at opposite ends of the convention center and rarely are your meetings on schedule so, it will require constant Google Calendar updates and you will miss many great things going on at the show.  Don’t hit clubs at demo day.  While I know that is the whole point of demo day, but seriously why would I want to stand in line for over an hour to take a few swipe with a demo club, when next week I can get a better experience locally without the pressure of a couple hundred people watching me swing.  Don’t spend every waking minute at the show.  There are many things to do in Orlando, especially playing golf.  Even if you have to work the show, make sure to set aside a day before or after to play at least one round of golf.  Isn’t that what the show is about, playing golf.  Have a good plan for food.  I’ve typically just grabbed junk food here and there just to get through the days and nights of the show.  This year I was able enjoy some high quality meals and I was surprised how much better I felt each day after a good steak dinner.  Have Fun. While this is a no-brainer for all of life, don’t take yourself to serious or think how important you are, just enjoy the experience.  Golf is supposed to be fun.

6. The PXG Effect – Expensive golf clubs aren’t a new thing.  At one of my first shows a company had a $50,000 set of clubs.  But since the more mainstream acceptance of the PXG price point, OEMs and boutique brands are aiming for a higher price point.  Callaway brought in T.P. Mills putters for a high price point Odyssey Putter.  Tyson Lamb showed up at the Table Rock booth with $3500+ putters.  Honma and Miura which have been around for years, are hitting the US market hard with their premium clubs.  There were a few other Japanese brands that have historically been to expensive to sell in the US that are now going to make a sales push here now too.

7. Golf in Orlando –  Previous shows had me traveling from MN to FL in January, now it has me coming from AZ.  Even though I can now play golf year round, I still make time to play a few round while I’m in Orlando.  One of my top priorities no matter where I live is getting out to Streamsong.  Their 36 holes (soon to be 54) are some of my favorite courses to play anywhere in the US.  The rugged linksy courses are always in great shape and are a pleasure to play.  The 1.5 hour drive isn’t ideal, but worth the drive.  I also got 2 other opportunities to enjoy some of Orlando’s bests at Lake Nona (courtesy of Tour Edge) and ChampionsGate.

8. What NOT to do – Depending on who you are, will greatly depend on what not to do.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you are a big OEM, be big.  I noticed that the big boys got it this year, and those that haven’t traditionally been as big, went bigger.   If you are a new inventor, don’t show up without a good team of advisors and marketing help.  (Make sure they are there to help, not just collect a check).   Don’t bother with a booth and major investment in the show if you don’t have the ability to speak English.  Not everyone at the booth needs to be fluent in English, but someone who knows the product should.  You also don’t need bikini models to sell your golf stuff.  Sure it might bring attention to your booth, but not the real consumer.  Don’t bring an untested product to the show.  If you aren’t ready, wait.  Please enough with the alternative golf carts, they aren’t catching on.  If you want to bring a celebrity, make sure they are a golfer too.

9. Friends Make the Show – My first show I went by myself.  Over the years I’ve made many friends in the golf industry and that is why I go back year after year.  Without them, I certainly wouldn’t go.  This year was one of the best hanging out with Tyler (T_Fity) from 2nd Swing (also an iGolfReviews writer), Matt from PluggedInGolf and Fernando from South Florida Golf Magazine.  There were others that I was able to cross paths with at least until the next show which also makes the whole experience the best.  Bring Friends, Make Friends and Enjoy Golf.