Depending on when you read this, I could be 30,000 feet over North Carolina or Georgia on my way to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.
It’s been a tradition for years and while the show has changed dramatically since I first started going, one thing that doesn’t change is a crazy schedule.
I get into Orlando around 1 p.m. and on Tuesday evening, Nike Golf is holding a reception, then on Wednesday, it will be a trip out to the huge Demo Day at Orange County National.
In a town famous for Disney, the Demo Day offers a day of fun and games for those who circulate in the golf industry, but I do have some business there, including meetings with David Marshall from PING and later with Nike Golf president Cindy Davis and Rock Ishii, Nike’s guru of golf balls.
The show gets underway at the Orange County Convention Center on Thursday and will begin with the traditional kickoff by Titleist, which will be hosting several workshops throughout the three days of the show.
Later in the day, Mark King, the colourful CEO and president of TaylorMade, is meeting with us and he always has interesting things to say about the state of the industry and ideas to improve our fortunes.
After that, an annual tradition is a sit-down with PING president and CEO John Solheim, an experience I always enjoy.
Always informative with well-thought ideas, we usually discuss fitting, new products, the state of the industry and the economy, but certainly one of the things I hope to discuss is a proposal he’s put forward about having three different types of golf ball, each with different distance standards.
I’ll also be meeting during the show with Dr. Alan Hocknell, Callaway’s director of research and development, to chat about the products that will highlight that company going forward.
There’s never a dull moment and no lack of good ideas around the leaders of golf manufacturers and, of course, I’ll stopping to chat with Canadian reps, as well as professionals, owners, general managers and other Canadians in attendance.
That won’t just take place on the show floor. The PGA of Canada/Sunice (Fletcher Leisure Group) Canada Night takes place on Friday evening, which should lead to some interesting conversations.
Like others, I was saddened to see that Dick Grimm couldn’t make it for honours that the PGA of Canada is planning for him, but it’s always great to see the accolades accumulate for such an icon of Canadian golf.
Saturday usually offers time to wander the show floor to see what I’ve missed by attending several meetings.
The feeling I’m getting from south of the border is that there’s a new optimism in respect to the American economy. That’s not to say that there isn’t a long road ahead, but the mood seems slightly better than the immediate past when the industry seemed so moribund.
A change for the better in attitude may be wishful thinking, but the industry is looking for something to grab onto, so a real sense of renewed optimism can only serve well in carrying the industry forward.
When the show ends on Saturday, I’m heading over to Tampa for a couple of days and return on Feb. 1, but in the meantime, keep an eye on GNN for news emanating from the PGA Merchandise Show.
i20s Make Their Mark
Speaking of PING, the new i20 driver and irons made a splash just in time for the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando when Mark Wilson made a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole of the Humana Challenge on Sunday to win the wind-delayed PGA Tour event.
Wilson was also wearing Sunice, operated by the Fletcher Leisure Group.