The Future of Golf: 12th Annual Demo Day
Every year, Demo Day combines fun, games and sex appeal with serious golf products to kick off the 61st annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, the golf business industry’s biggest event.
As is tradition, this year nearly 100 exhibits and tents were set up around the perimeter of the driving range of the 42-acre Orange County National Golf Center as professionals, retailers and media streamed in to see and test the newest and hottest in golf equipment, instruction, tech tools and more.
At 9 a.m., Florida lived up to its title as the “Sunshine State” – sunny and pleasant.
The 2014 Demo Day featured the usual big hitters – TaylorMade, Nike, Titleist, Bridgestone, FootJoy, TourEdge, FlightScope and SuperStroke – but there were some notable newbies, as well – LaGila Sports Golf Wipe cleaners, Ray Cook putters from Rochester, and PutterWheel putting stroke analyzing systems.
The carnival-like atmosphere of golf business’ hottest preparty exuded fun – a true golfer’s paradise – as eager participants stepped up to hit balls with the newest drivers, irons, hybrids and putters, try the newest tech toys and get close to some of golf’s biggest superstars.
Exhibitors like Cleveland Golf challenged people with a game similar to cornhole bean bag toss, while Cobra Puma Golf had golfers hitting balls with their wedges into steel drums and plastic barrels while a DJ pumped high energy music from an Army-style truck.
It was a one-two shot for the partygoers at the COBRA PUMA Golf tent – take a shot at hitting the COBRA BiO Cell driver, the one Rickie Fowler uses, and then get a shot of vodka and Red Bull. COBRA Golf staff player and model Blair O’Neal, who earned a ton of recent buzz as the COBRA swimsuit calendar sweetheart, drew a crowd as she challenged PGA TOUR player Rich Beem to a longest drive contest. Beem, 44, hit first at 240 yards, O’Neal followed up with an impressive and bet-winning 265 yard drive.
At the Callaway tent, famous long drive champ Jamie Sadlowski gave an astounding display of pure macho strength and skill. Starting with a 7 iron, he hit the ball 243 yards, then carryied the ball 320 yards with a 4 iron. He then hit an 18 degree tour iron 325 yards and completed his performance by drilling a driver 378 yards.
With so many people eagerly lining up to try out TaylorMade’s newest clubs like the SLDR easy-to-adjust driver, the golf giant took a page from the nearby theme parks, implementing a sort of “fast pass” system, giving golfers buzzers that lit up and vibrated when it was their turn to demo the clubs. Smart move.
Fujikura drew onlookers with scantily-clad and beautiful photo op models dressed as police officers posing for pics with their promoted shaft products.
At noon, the black clouds rolled in and the winds kicked up, suspending the party for a time. But not even the rain could dampen the spirit, and before long the action was back up and running again. Bring on the music and the smack of clubs hitting balls – a great start to another great PGA Merchandise Show.
Featured image courtesy of Golfweek