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The PGA Merch Show

March 15, 2017

The 64th PGA Merchandise Show looked like a beast to say the least. 

One demo day at the Orange County National Golf Center followed by three days of exhibits, education and lanyard flashing at the Orange County Convention Centre with an attendance of 40,000 golf industry professionals from all 50 US states and 84 countries around the world. 

This is where it all happens, this is where the PGA & Golf Industry pros and the coolest golfing social superstars gather to discover the latest trends in golf equipment & technology, apparel & accessories. 

With a good dose of FOMO we kicked back and watched it all unfold as it blew up and took over the social channels of most of the people we follow. 

After the dust settled and the hangovers wore off we took 5 and got the low down from some of our favourite personalities that attended the 2017 circus show, this is what they had to say. 

Coach Rusty (Legendary golf trick shot artist) 

How was the demo day?

Demo day was a blast! I have gone for about 7 years straight now, and it's always a different experience. Networking, testing new products, and just breathing golf. You can't ask for a better time. 

Coolest new release? 

The new Mack Daddy Forged Wedge by Callaway. It's designed by Rodger Cleveland, and is just the filthiest weapon around the greens. 

Funniest moment? 

Was when I was trying to juggle a golf ball while riding a golf board. Almost ate it multiple times. But actually stuck a back flip. Boom!

Best thing your got out of the PGA Show? 

The free beer at the Travis Matthew booth. Hands down. All the way down hahaha! You can't beat free booze. 

Chelsea Lynn Pezzola (Professional golfer & fitness model ~ road to LPGA

Four days of golf industry cray, could you have done five?

As much as I love the PGA show and all the fun things going on, I missed the course way too much! Definitely couldn't handle another day ;) 

Did you feel like a kid in a candy store? 

Ummmm duh!!! Miles of golf gadgets, clubs, and so much more... how could you not! 

Who owned it? 

This is definitely a tough one as each vendor brings their own style and flare. Callaway seemed to really dominate with the release of their EPIC Driver but not without a fight from TaylorMade announcing their alignment with Tiger Woods. And of course who can forget about Oakley showcasing Bubba and his Golf Course Jet Pack. 

One realisation? 

You know that stereotype that golf is BORING? Well attend one PGA Show and I can assure you that your mind will be changed! 

Sean Guerrero from GolfBalled.com (Golf reviews, giveaways & classic golf banter) 

Where did you hang out most?

I never got time to hang out at one particular place. My days were jam packed with 15 to 30 minute meetings stacked on. I think I packed 73 meetings into the 4 days.

If I was to reveal the best place to hang out at the show, it was the Travis Matthew booth. They had beers & booze flowing all day long with chill games to play like shuffle board, mini basketball, and even skee ball. I hung out there whenever I had free time for the obvious reasons.

Any feedback for organizers?

Let me rent a damn segway or let me use a golf scooter hahaha.  And maybe add a day because I can never squeeze in all my meetings or get to walk the show floor to browse around ;)

Parties?

The parties are always awesome. I actually see these as opportunities to drink and network with people in the industry. I've built my best business relationships over drinks and parties. Got to spend quality drinking time with Travis Mathew, Cobra, Wilson Staff and TaylorMade that further strengthened my working relationships with them. Went to the New Era party, Top Golf party, and Travis Mathew party. Had a blast at all of them.

Best thing about it?

My favorite part of the week was hanging out with all of my instagram friends. I had met some of them before and others I hadn't, we all came together as one big insta golf fam. Everyone is so cool in person and we all just want to help each other grow!

Best thing I got out of the week was just solidifying my relationships with the major manufacturers and coordinating our promotion schedules for the year.  Another great point I took from the week is my conversations around the industry that recognize the growth and power of social media and the need to utilize our platforms to effectively reach golf consumers. 

Karin Hart (Marketing director, model & golf addict) 

Did you make it around to every exhibitor?

Yes I did, even if it was just passing by their booth to see what they were selling. It took me a whole four hours to walk through the entire show (it was ginormous!) I really wanted to see everything the show had to offer.

Coolest exhibitor layout?

Of course I loved the "big name brand" layouts because they were the most creative and fun. Callaway, Adidas Golf, Cleveland Golf/Srixon, and Titleist were all cool to see along with their products all in one place and OEMs unreleased.

TaylorMade had a "Hall of Champions" at the beginning of their booth which included displays of huge awards and trophies, such as the 2016 Golf Medal, the Byron Nelson trophy, US Open trophy and lots more. Mind blowing to see those up close in real life. Toward the back of their exhibit was a huge semi-realistic driving range set up. That was fun to stop by, hit a few balls and get fitted for new clubs. 

The Foresight booth had their golf simulators set up for everyone to try. The staff were very friendly and welcoming which is a game changer for trade shows. The best part was when they let me try their zombie-golf game where you had to hit zombies running at you with your golf balls - hilarious!

Travis Matthew were hands down the most fun booth. From their double-decker RV to their "beer belly" mannequin, they stole the cake as the best place to chill.

Will you be changing up to any new gear?

After trying out a few new clubs at the show, it definitely encouraged me to upgrade the 12-year-old hand-me-down set I currently have haha! I would just die for a Scotty Cameron putter with the St. Patrick's Day themed head cover (St. Patty's Day is my birthday.) I absolutely loved the TaylorMade clubs that I tested out and would like a set of those, and while I'm at it, of course I want a new Cleveland wedge for all my trick shots :) 

Best thing you took from attending?

The people I was able to meet and connect with while I was there. It's not very often you get to have so many golf brands and influencers in one place. It was so amazing to actually meet a few other "golf babes" from Instagram; my friends Fiamma Felitch & Kenzie O'Connell were at the show as well as Tania Tare, Nikki B, Tisha Lynn & Elise Lobb just to name a few.

It was really cool to meet the actual people behind some of the brands I am familiar with such as Canoos, Monument, Flirtee, Ellabella, Bradley Putters. Those people-to-people connections are priceless and worth the entire show just for that alone. 

The Putskee (The premium in portable putting) 

Was it good for business? 

It was quite good for business. Always great to get in front of people that would most likely never know you exist otherwise. And also great to meet people in person that you've only known through social media.

One thing that would better prepare you for the show?

Make sure to have a back up plan for a lost shipment. We made it through the show without any of the Puttskees or displays we originally shipped. Thank God for friends back home and Fedex overnight!

Highlight?

Watching people keep wanting to play on a Puttskee non-stop until someone drags them off of it. And, seeing other booths using Puttskees to draw in people. Oh, and the 18Birdies party was pretty awesome!

Will you be exhibiting again next year?

For sure!

Travis Harrison (Golf Professional at Brighton Golf Academy & Skillest App

It was the first time I have been to the show so I don't have anything to compare it to. I thought it was great/massive but from reading reports on leading golf web sites it was apparently the worst show in years???

I went there as a presenter/seller not to actually purchase so had a quick look around but didn't really search the place for all the latest and greatest.

Is it too big to take in?

Not if you go there with a game plan, for example have 3 or 4 clear goals to gain from the show and see everything relevant to them. If you went there and tried to take everything in, it is way to much, 5000 booths! We went there to get our product out to golf pros/coaches and felt it was extremely successful, we didn't try to sell it to everyone. 

Is the golf industry healthier than ever?

It's an interesting question, I think the target market for golf is changing, there are still companies like titleist marketing/promoting the same - staff wearing gay chinos and suit jackets, spruiking the same shit. Then there are a lot of other companies changing things up like Cobra with DJ's and a new attitude. This is creating interest in a younger demographic which will ultimately lead to a long term healthier industry. 

Quirkiest new product? 

As mentioned I didn't really look around a lot but there was an electric motor bike which is used as a golf buggy. I could see people cruising down the St Kilda foreshore on them as well as using them for golf. They are a similar idea to the skate caddy golf boards. The issue golf companies have with equipment is the legal limits on what they can do with it, so it's now just re-marketing each year rather than some amazing new design because it isn't allowed to be any better. 

Key takeaway? 

Selling our product to such a huge audience and personally getting to meet numerous of the top coaches in the USA. We tried to target a lot of coaches who had a big Instagram following as our product helps them monify their followers rather than just giving everything away for free.

Mic drop...