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2103 PGA Merchandise Show – Day 1 Recap

The inaugural day at the 60th annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., packed in the crowds and the Orange County Convention Center was abuzz with high hopes for growing the game this year. Aisles were so jammed with attendees it was almost impossible to walk a straight line between the more than 1,000 booths exhibiting products from the top brands in golf.

Industry Trends
After Day 1, clear trends emerged for golf in 2013 – A heightened emphasis on women, juniors, technology and even vivid colors, namely orange and lime green.

Kicking off the show, PGA of America President Ted Bishop heralded programs like Get Golf Ready and Tee it Forward. “Get Golf Ready eliminates the embarrassment factor of taking up the sport,” he said. “It makes golf fun.” Indeed throughout the day, there was a common theme – growing the game by making it more fun, more accessible and more affordable.

Annika Sorenstam addressed crowds Thursday, noting the opportunity to grow the game by introducing more women and kids to golf. Photo by Katharine D.

Keynote speaker, Annika Sorenstam noted that 80% of golfers are men. “Getting more women and kids into the game opens up a huge opportunity to increase the number of golfers,” she said. “Why doesn’t everyone play?”

Annika’s answers… Time constraints: “People don’t have time to spend five to six hours on the course. We need to speed up the game.” Lack of access: “There are not enough driving ranges and accessible public courses.” Too expensive: “The cost of equipment, joining a club and greens fees are just too pricey for many.” Courses too tough: “It seems to me courses are getting tougher and tougher; longer and longer.”

News Nuggets
Adding golf to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro was also a major topic of discussion. Most attendees agreed the positive effect on the game would be huge.

Michael Whan, president of the LPGA, revealed a new international tournament to debut in 2014 – the International Crown Tournament to be played July 21-27, 2014, at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland. The tournament will take place every two years and 32 players representing eight countries will be selected to compete based on Rolex rankings.

PGA Tour Wives Association members Kelly Bettencourt (husband Matt) and Amy Wilson (husband Mark) served up recipes from the “Beyond the Fairways and Greens,” cookbook. All proceeds from the book’s sales go to charity. Photo by Katharine D.

Notable New Gear
Show gear finds worth noting included Quick Spikes that strap onto your sneakers; fuzzy animal golf bag slip covers from Mini Zoo Golf; really cool clothes (many reversible) for small boys and girls from Fore!! Axel & Hudson and Fore N Birdie; and striped socks from Kent Wool. And what show would be complete without a tasty beer like Slammin’ Sam.

On cold days you’ll want to wear your Mobile Warming jacket or vest that delivers warmth at the touch of a button thanks to built-in heating panels you’ll hardly know there’re there the garment is so light. We’ve heard of one guy who even wears his vest to bed on cold winter nights.

Show gear finds worth noting included fuzzy animal golf bag slip covers from Mini Zoo Golf. Photo by Katharine D.

Sun Mountain showcased smart new golf carts in sharp lime green and orange colors. Their new Combo Cart integrates bag and cart into one neat package and with a seat — perfect for club players who like to walk and store their bags. Sun’s amazing Star Cart should also be a big seller with its lightweight, maneuverability and easy fold-up.

In the instruction category, there were plenty of contenders: US Kids, a leader in kids’ color-coordinated golf club sets and bags, showcased its new Tour Series for more advanced youngsters and SNAG (Starting New at Golf) promoted its new Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues  kicking off at several parks and recreational facilities around the country.


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