2018 PGA Show Quick 9 Recap
1. Did you seen anything exciting?
This was the number one question I was asked throughout the show. Unfortunately the answer is NO. There are some new innovations promoted by every company, but for the most part, nothing was “ground breaking”, “stop the presses” sort of news worthy. The saddest part of the show is to see dreamers throwing away their money on a golf invention that has zero chance. The new product section this year was the most empty and most pathetic display I’ve seen in years.
2. Tour Edge Media Event
I look forward to this golf media event every year. Playing with friends, enjoying Lake Nona and getting some quality time with each company makes for one of the most enjoyable days of the show. There are press conferences to begin the day, which have value if the company has something worth sharing. (not all do unfortunately.) Hitting the new Tour Edge C721 and getting some nice sample products is always a nice bonus to this event. If you bring your A game there is even a chance to take home some cash!
3. Demo Day
This is the most diabolical part of the show. The idea is to “test” clubs at each hitting bay. Since the 360* range offers quite a variety of wind directions, it certainly has an impact on how well you hit, at least in one of the directions. The fact that most companies have lines of people beyond their area, means you have to hit in front of 100s of people criticizing your swing. Add to that many northern golfers haven’t swung a club in months; does it really work? Then the waits appear to be long, some companies even bragging about a 4 hour wait to hit clubs. Really? The positive is to see the clubs out on green grass and get a few swipes if you want. The other cool part is seeing the other on course accessories; push carts, power carts, alternative carts and other training aids.
4. Seamus at Winter Park Event
“Nailed it” Akbar is one of those humble dudes that says that they didn’t really know what they were doing, didn’t know how they would run a golf event, not even sure if people would like it and then boom. KILLED IT. Winter Park is a true redesigned gem with 100 years of history and now a really good, fun course. They had a chill format so that you could play with anyone in just about any size group. We had a 5-some and I heard there was a 7-some playing, yet there wasn’t a single pace of play issue. They had a low key bartender serving drinks around the course and clubhouse, they did a simple pizza dinner, and then sent us out to play some night glow golf. They handed out gift bags of appreciation while we listened to stories about Winter Park and bringing back a simple muni golf model.
5. PGA Show Floor
Walking the show floor now for the 8th time means I know generally where certain things are, and what to kind of expect while making loops. I did what I typically do, just roam. I did have a couple appointments, but found there was little need for that, it just makes you run around with too many worries or constraints. OEMs went big like always and apparel continues to grow. There were a few favorites missing this year which is always curious what that means for their business. There were a few re-introductions of companies that had been missing for a few years too. It is a golf junkies paradise, but yet there isn’t much that hasn’t been seen already thanks to the internet.
If you don’t attend at least 1 free cocktail hour, you have totally missed benefits of the show. Post-show hours is when the real show happens. There are numerous parties hosted all around Orlando for free food and booze. They do require invites, but many companies are fairly generous with their guest list. Even if you can’t get a comped hook up, there are plenty of place to hang out with friends for a drink or even some karaoke.
Roughly 1/2 the country is under snow right now, so Orlando makes a great destination to golf. Since moving to AZ that isn’t my big worry, but playing in the lush FL conditions is certainly a nice change of pace. Winter Park is a must play. You’ll be blown away by how good and fun this little historic course it. Lake Nona rocks if you have an invite and not trip to this area would be complete without at least one round at Streamsong.
8. Best and Worst of the Show
I’m not going to do a big ranking or hand out awards, but a couple things stood out. The digital invasion into the golf industry certainly dominates the show. Everyone is talking about sensors and data collection. Simulator, launch monitors and even GPS balls are becoming realities. On the flip side, there are more ways to get around the course with an attempt to create more innovative and fun ways to get from shot to shot. I’m sorry about the standard 4 wheel, 2 person, 2 bag power cart isn’t going anywhere. It might be a skateboard, scooter, dune buggies, bicycle, or some flying contraption, but they aren’t going to ever take over because of easy of use and economics. Stop already, they aren’t going to catch on.
9. Old Friends and New Friends
Still the best reason to go to the PGA show is to see friends and make friends. Hanging out with Matt and Matt from Plugged in Golf, having drinks with Fernando of South Florida, karaoke singing with the Zimmerman team, playing golf with Mitch and Ryan of Golf New Network and enjoying dinner with Hunter PR is what really makes the show worth the trip. If you are even a little social, there is good chance you’ll make a new friend in the industry.