PGA show in transition | California Golf + Travel
The 69and The PGA Show was held from January 25 to 28and at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in Orlando, with most attendees expressing the following opinion: “It’s great to be back.”
They were referring to the hiatus in 2021 when the show, due to the pandemic, was held virtually, an unsatisfactory format for many and not worth repeating. The PGA Show is the golf industry’s premier annual gathering with its roots dating back to 1954 in a parking lot in Dunedin, Florida, where a few golf companies showcased products from car trunks. Over the years it has grown significantly to become ‘The Principal of the Golf Industry’ with some 40,000 PGA Professionals, industry members and media attending the 2020 edition which has been held as ever since. several years in the huge million square feet of the OCCC.
The show serves several purposes for the PGA of America, including continuing education sessions for its members and at the same time providing golf equipment, apparel, gear and service companies with ready exposure for club professionals. and retail buyers. Many apparel and service companies use the show to draft orders for the upcoming season, as do smaller club or boutique manufacturers, but large equipment companies do not since most of their clubs and balls are pre-ordered.
The other major reason that industry members continue to attend year after year should not be overlooked is the opportunity to meet and greet old and new friends and, as networking event, the show is a must for those wishing to assess the state. Of the industry.
The Covid crisis, however, has changed old ways of thinking.
Last year’s show turned out to be less than enthusiastic with several industry veterans telling me the virtual meeting format was unsatisfactory after trying to sit down for sessions. looking at their computer screens. The PGA has said candidly that it expects the 2022 show to be less crowded than the last one on site in 2020, but longtime observers we spoke to were surprised by the considerably smaller size of this year.
Comments about companies staying on the sidelines due to the unknowns surrounding the progress of the pandemic miss the point. These decisions are often made months in advance and are usually not the subject of the latest evening news headlines about infection rates and other data.
*Figures are not available at the time of writing, but a reasonable estimate is half the number of participants, or around 20,000
*According to the Show website, there were 578 exhibitors compared to around 1,000 in recent years
*Demo Day has often had 100 participating companies and this year 40 were present
*Of the 12 largest equipment companies, only Bridgestone exhibited and two of the largest apparel companies, Nike and Adidas, chose not to have displays.
Some are of the view that the Salon 2022 was the last gasp of a dying event, which has lost its viability and relevance. We disagree that this year’s show was a good example, change is needed and the PGA said so. For example, check-in is a service that needs some serious help with hundreds of people queuing on the first day to be processed for a badge. The net effect was the frustration of those who signed up and those who wanted to sign up. The biggest question for attendees and exhibitors is how the travel costs and loss of time can be justified.
Continuing education courses run by the PGA for the benefit of members, of which there were 36 on the program this year, are already being delivered at local chapter level both virtually and in person. Expanding local and regional schedules can potentially remove a major reason for club professionals to take a mid-winter break in Orlando.
Return on investment
Golf marketers, especially club and ball companies who have in the past taken up huge amounts of show floor space in light of the 2021 virtual show experience, have reassessed their budgets. . This isn’t just an assessment of the top 11 manufacturers deciding not to spend millions on a booth and their staff spending a week doing something that may not provide a return on investment. acceptable.
Oftentimes, gear company executives in particular have proudly talked about “supporting the PGA of America and club professionals” when coming to the show, but the truth is different. The old adage “get what you pay for” applies and while the PGA of America has indicated no-shows will return in 2023, we’re not sure that will be the case.
An optimistic guess is most, but not such a big investment of time and money. They will make an even more critical assessment of the potential return.
That leaves networking as perhaps the biggest reason anyone in the industry attends. Most of those who attended, myself included, felt that this year was a good one but not a great opportunity for substantive conversations. However, it was evident after the 2021 virtual show without networking how schmoozing, dating and renewing acquaintances were reinforced as vital communication factors.
After review the only conclusion is that the PGA Show is in transition and although there is a show in 2023 you can count on it to be different and although the number of exhibitors and members of the present industry will not reach pre-pandemic levels, many if not most will return.