ORLANDO, Florida (Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk/iG) — The 2016 PGA Merchandise Show was recently held in Orlando, Florida, on January 26-28, 2016. It is the World’s Largest Golf Show and referred to as the industry’s annual “MAJOR of Golf Business.”
There were 42,000 golf industry professionals from 91 countries, 7,000 PGA Professionals from around the world, which was up from 2015 and more than 1,000 media representatives from 23 countries. I have been covering the PGA Show for Inside Golf Magazine for the last 8 years and I wouldn’t miss it for the world!
The atmosphere of the PGA Show was exciting. It kick started on Tuesday, January 26, at the 42 acre facility at Orange County National. There was a centennial tee shot struck to celebrate the 100 day Kick Off honoring 100 years of the PGA.
The driving range was bustling all day. Over 100 top golf companies were situated on the massive circular driving range. Attendees went from booth to booth testing all of the new 2016 product from the major manufactures. It was the place to be to try new putters, shafts, launch monitors, woods, hybrids and of course drivers, to name a few.
There were special appearances from many golf celebrities including bunker lessons from Annika Sorenstam, teaching lessons from Golf Channel’s Michael Breed and appearances at sponsors’ booths including 2-time Masters winner Bubba Watson who put on a fun and entertaining clinic. I was thrilled to run into friend and fellow Canadian 2-Time World Long Drive Champion Jamie Sadlowski.
On Wednesday, January 27, the Show moved to Orange County Convention Center where it was spread out over 1 million square feet of interactive exhibit, demonstration and meeting space. I learned after the first year to wear comfortable shoes! PGA of America Hall of Famer Lee Trevino was part of the celebration of Day 1 and talked about the impact PGA Professionals have had on the game and the growth of the game over the last 100 years.
There were 284 new companies to the PGA Merchandise Show and booths ranging from speciality tee markers, golf socks, head covers, lawn mowers, golf travel destinations, range finders, teaching aides, apparel, sunglasses, ball markers, golf carts, golf fitness goodies, shafts and everything golf, could be found walking the 10 miles of exhibit aisles. It is also commonplace to run into golf legends as you walk the halls. I was over the moon to bump into and chat with the effervescent Chi Chi Rodriguez.
Other celebrities on hand for meet and greets included Lexi Thompson, Bubba Watson, Jesper Parnevik, Lydia Ko, Blair O’Neal, Ian Poulter, Greg Norman, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Annika Sorenstam, Johnny Miller, Hal Sutton, Nancy Lopez, David Leadbetter, Hank Haney, Michael Breed and Jim McLean.
Other popular aspects of the show included the PGA Forum Stage which hosted many educational and entertaining presentations, the PGA Education Conference, PGA Youth & Family Golf Summit, Outdoor Instructional Workshops, the FIT to W.I.N. stage and the new Textile Sourcing Pavilion. All created added value for the participants on hand and truly had something for everyone.
One of my highlights each year is going to Canada Night, the PGA of Canada Awards Night. Top Professionals and Humanitarians are presented with Awards. Everyone wants to come to this party including international delegates. It is a fabulous mingling event amongst those involved in the Canadian Golf industry in any capacity.
Award winners this year were Danny King (The Performance Academy at Magna), Mike Weir Player of the Year, Dean Manz (Wascana Country Club), Pat Fletcher Retailer of the Year, Cory Southon (Henry Brunton Golf), Moe Norman Candidate for Membership of the Year, Adam Werbicki (The Derrick Golf & Winter Club), George Knudson Teacher of the Year, Adam Boge (Golf Mentor), Jack McLaughlin Junior Leader of the Year, Tristan Mullally (Golf Canada), Ben Kern Coach of the Year, Judy Forshner (Glencoe Golf & Country Club), Murray Tucker Golf Professional of the Year, Liam Mucklow (The Golf Lab), Tex Noble Award for Professional Development, Daryl MacLean (Cherry Hill Club) and Stan Leonard Class “A” Professional of the Year.
I was thrilled to see Serge Savard at Canada Night. The famed Montreal Canadian Hockey star has won 10 Stanley Cups, 8 as a player and 2 as a General Manager. We met in Calgary at the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame Golf Tournament last summer. He is a fantastic golfer and remembered me hitting it over 300 yards for his team! I was tickled! He received the George Cumming Distinguished Service Award at Canada Night and said how honored he was.
My main focus at the show was looking for the new and neat products offered by Canadian Companies. I met so many amazing people and can’t wait to share all of the new offerings for 2016! Companies I visited include Sunice, 2UNDR, Projeckt, Accra Golf Shafts, Sun Dog Eyewear, Sligo, Nivo and High Definition Simulators. One of my best new surprises was a company out of Halifax, Dormie Workshop. The make handmade leather head covers that can be personally designed, perfect for a special gift or for corporate logoing.
Look for my article on Canadian Golf Companies at the PGA Show coming soon in IG Newsletter and in the Spring issue of IG Magazine.