The 2018 PGA Merchandise Show is in the books. Bigger and better than ever thanks to a roaring economy. The show drew more than 40,000 attendees, nearly 8,000 PGA Of America members in the house from every state of the union and a lot of world-wide attendees from 87 countries outside the U.S. There were north of 1,000 companies showing their stuff, including 225 companies that were new to the show. The show takes up more than one million square feet in the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, there are 10 miles of aisles to navigate along with 50 indoor range stations for club testing. We spent seven hours walking the show and will start today to give you a taste and talk about some interesting things on display. This is the first of a series of installments for The Show!
The big boys went even bigger this year. Some companies spend huge amounts of money on their display areas, 10s of thousands of dollars, some perhaps in the $50,000 range. There’s a huge presentation stage for seminars and educational presentations produced for PGA Of America members. This year there was a separate Golf Fitness, Wellness and Instructional Stage. A lot of emphasis on fitness this year. There’s also a lot of fringe stuff as far as golf goes, upscale skin care products like you might find in a ritzy department store, bulky exercise machines, a lot of items you might normally expect in a golf business setting.
So without further delay, let’s get to it.
TaylorMade has become the company that loves to go “over the top” with its floor area. You go through a tunnel akin to something you’d pass through on your way to a Disney ride — crazy lighting and then voila, you’re staring at a massive wall mural of one Eldrick T. Woods, wearing his “game face.” TaylorMade is still pretty hyped about him using their stuff even though he’s been away from the game for a couple of years. Another entire wall has all the names of professionals from around the various world tours who use TaylorMade equipment in one form or another. Huge wall, TaylorMade’s payroll is obvious hefty.
The TM guys were pumping the new “Twist Face” technology on the M-4 driver. Everyone heard Dustin Johnson talking about it after he won the Tournament of Champions, a good soldier for their brand. The knock on TaylorMade is that they seemingly come up with something new every 10 months and that new stuff seriously drives down the demand, and also the price for the old stuff while it’s still sitting on the display racks at the big retailers. The irons were wonderful and shiny, just like everyone’s. As far as the “Twist Face” is concerned, Woods demonstrated that when you’re crooked, you’re crooked no matter what kind of face you have on your driver. He hit only 17 fairways in four days at the Farmers Insurance event last week.
Twist Face? Sounds like another high-tech gimmick to trick 18-handicappers into buying another expensive driver. Just wait a year, they’ll be $200 less.
Titleist divides and conquers. It has its FootJoy brand shoes, clothing and outerwear in a separate area just outside the equipment area. Titleist was introducing two new balls — the Tour Soft and the Velocity. Big emphasis on a new line of Vokey wedges — SM7. They also have the new AP3 irons and of course, a new line of Scotty Cameron putters (more details on that in the article below this one “PGA Tour News.”
Callaway is in a constant war with TaylorMade when it comes to drivers. Callaway counters the Twist Face with the new “Rogue” that is a continuation of their “Jail Break” technology. There’s also the “Rogue” lineup in fairway metals as well.
PING doesn’t bring out new editions every year like TaylorMade and Callaway neither does Titleist. Both companies are a little more calculating. PING introduced its G400 Max driver and G700 irons. PING has managed to stay alive as a family-owned business while the others are now owned by equity funds and foreign investment groups. PING doesn’t have the presence in tour representation but has stayed as one of the best brands in the game. Good for them!
Wilson Staff was once one of the iconic brands in golf. Back in the ’70s it was huge. It was sad to see that today, the company was exiled to a room outside the main floor of the show. Wilson Staff still makes good equipment, heck, they’re all good, all the big companies, but they just haven’t had the resources to “buy” big name players like the other companies.
So now we’re off and running. We have more, a lot more. Stay tuned and take in the Friday Feature, we’ll bring you a look at some of the interesting stuff that caught our eye as we trudged those miles and miles of aisles.