What a Difference a Year Makes
By ED TRAVIS
What a difference a year makes. Registration of golf professionals and industry members for the 70th PGA Show Jan. 24-27, 2023, has begun and a preliminary listing of exhibitors has been released. Indications are the Show’s woes of the past two years may well be behind them.
This time last year the prospect of a shrunken version of the industry confab was being forecast due to the recovery from the worldwide pandemic. The virtual Show in 2021 had met with little success and for the onsite 2022 Show prospects were thought to be limited. The fact is 2022 attendance wound up less than 40% of pre-pandemic 2020 and exhibitors fell from approximately 1,000 to less than 600 with most major equipment and apparel companies absent.
That seems to be changing for the 2023 Show which is again being held in Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center.
In a release from the PGA of America President Jim Richerson was quoted, “The PGA Show is our largest annual gathering of PGA Professionals and the most significant business event for the global golf community each and every year. It is a valued opportunity to experience and source the latest innovations, connect with peers and industry leadership, and grow your career and business. We are better from coming together at the PGA Show, and the sport and business of golf is in good hands from the cross-community collaboration.”
The same release anticipated the number of exhibitors to top 800 with a significant number of the golf industry’s largest companies contracting for booth space. So far, the list includes the two largest equipment makers Callaway Golf and Titleist and in addition Bridgestone Golf, Cleveland Golf, Cobra Golf, Mizuno, Ping, Srixon, US Kids Golf and XXIO. Some of the tech companies committed: aboutGolf, Bushnell Golf, Garmin, Foresight Sports, FlightScope, Trackman and TopTracer. Among the apparel companies: ahead, Antigua, Ashworth, FootJoy, Lacoste, Peter Millar and Puma Golf.
The PGA Show formerly was the primary way corporations introduced new products while they affirmed relationships with old customers and solicited new customers. Computer-based ordering combined with inventory and production issues have made the Show less a vehicle for order taking and more an image and visibility opportunity that new companies in particular can use to their advantage.
For the 28,000 PGA club professionals it also is a proven way to fulfill their continuing education requirement with the many courses offered as well as the time-proven meet-and-greet way to improve industry connections.
Still to be heard from are several well-known equipment makers such as Tour Edge Golf, Wilson Golf and TaylorMade Golf though TaylorMade has not exhibited for several years.
The industry is booming and according to the National Golf Foundation counting on-course and off-course participants total over 40 million. Golf rounds are up, and equipment sales have continued to set records. So, a good assumption is more companies will sign up to show off their latest and greatest, but the number could still fall short of the pre-pandemic count. Companies, industry insiders and professionals may also have found that alternative ways they were forced to use during the past two years to stay current are sufficient and a trip to the Sunshine State is not required.