For years I have wanted to attend to the PGA Merchandise Show, so when I had a chance recently, I jumped at the opportunity. The Show was held 4-7 February 2000 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. It is set up mainly for club professionals and is closed to the public. I was fortunate to cover it as a media member providing show updates for equip2golf.com.
Let me start by saying that I have never in my life seen so much golf-related merchandise under one roof. The Show was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida and was divided into three sections: equipment, products and service, and apparel. I spent most of my time combing the equipment section checking out the new product offerings. Below are some of the highlights from my perspective:
New Products. There were a number of new products introduced at the show. The following is a partial list: Cleveland TA-1 and TA-3 forged irons, Cobra CXI irons, Callaway Rule 35 golf ball, Kasco VS Tour irons, Mizuno S300 forged woods, Odyssey White Hot putters, Orlimar Ken Venturi forged irons and SF302 irons, Ping IsoForce2 and Anser Ti putters, Precept Tour Premium forged irons, Taylor Made SuperSteel woods and irons and Tour Performance wedges, Titleist 975F fairway woods, and Zevo Mid- Blade irons. Many of the new iron introductions continued the current industry trend of the movement back to traditional designs incorporating the latest technology advancements.
Sleepers. There were a few lesser-known products at the show that could end up being big players in their respective equipment categories when the word gets out.
Wood. Black Titanium driver. New driver made from a new material that is said to be harder than titanium. Also features a mix of vertical and horizontal grooves on the club's face that is said to help reduce hooks and slices. Currently used by Chris Perry and Bob Lohr on the PGA Tour.
Iron. Traditional Golf forged irons. Small company out of Fountain Valley, California offering two classic styled iron forgings (blade and cavity back) with clean lines that look to be of high quality.
Ball. Nike Tour Accuracy golf ball. This ball has received considerable attention lately with wins by Nike staff players Paul Azinger and Michael Campbell.
Most Unusual. Along with the usual new product releases, there were also some unusual offerings. One such product is "The Rock" Driver by V-Flyte. The company is currently airing an infomercial on The Golf Channel. The driver has a head made of a polymer-based material (plastic) that is said to be as hard as today's drivers but with more feel and control.
Celebrity Sightings. As with any large convention in the sports world, several companies had their main endorsers out at the show. The following were seen at the show: PGA Tour players Nick Faldo and Jesper Parnevik. LPGA Tour players Catrin Nilsmark, Michelle McGann, Si Ri Pak, and Kris Johnson. Senior PGA players Chi Chi Rodriguez, Bob Murphy, and Johnny Miller. Star of the hilarious FootJoy commercials, Sign Boy as well as former sports greats Ernie Banks, Phil Espisito, and Jim McMahon.
Personal Highlight. I had the opportunity to meet and chat with master putter designers Scotty Cameron and Kevin Burns. It was interesting getting some of their insights behind their designs. It was obvious from talking to them that they are true craftsman and have a passion for putter design.
All in all, it was a great experience. If you ever get a chance to attend, I highly recommend it. It is a great place to interact with the industry leaders, see some of golf's biggest names, and spend a couple of days getting lost in the world's largest pro shop.