The Insiders’ Guide to the PGA Merchandise Show

What will be the hottest, must-see trends at this year’s Show? These veterans offer their picks.

Just as every real golf fan routinely circles the dates of the Masters, all the major players in the golf industry plan their last week of January around the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. “If you don’t go, you should,” asserts LPGA Hall of Fame Master Teaching Professional Dana Rader, who has attended every PGA Merchandise Show since 1985. Beyond the great networking opportunities, she says, “You see all the trends in one place—in business, equipment, technology, teaching, apparel.”

“‘Seen anything good?’ is what we all ask each other,” says 2015 PGA of America Professional of the Year Tom Henderson of Round Hill Golf Club in Greenwich, Conn. “There’s always a buzz about something.”

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Yet, like picking stocks, predicting trends is hit-or-miss, so we’ve asked some astute veterans how they plan on investing their time in Orlando.

CLUB UP: Tuesday’s PGA Show Demo Day at Orange County National Golf Center never fails to draw a crowd. “I always look for that next white driver,” says PGA Master Professional Bill Hughes, the Regional Director of the PGA Tour’s TPC Operations. He’s referring to TaylorMade’s immensely popular R11 model from a few years back. “This year I’m looking to see what innovations Ping has with its new line,” he says. “Ping is always on the cutting edge of technology.”

MINE THE SHAFTS: With custom club fitting becoming so popular, Hughes also expects to see major innovations in shaft technology from Fujikura, MRC, FST, Nippon, and many more.

BE THE BALL: Every pro seems anxious to see if Titleist will introduce the AVX, a premium distance ball the company test-marketed in Florida, Arizona, and California as an entry to the Pro V line.

FIT IT IN: TPI co-founder and decorated PGA Professional Dave Phillips anticipates seeing continued innovations from K-MOTION (creator of the K-VEST) or another kinematic sequencing product. “Ideally,” he says, “it would be something affordable that consumers could buy and wear while working on their game at home or on the range—and I could give them feedback through remote coaching.

BRING IN THE NEW: Join the 87 percent of attendees who visit the Show in search for new products. The best place to discover what’s new? The New Product Zone: Hundreds of the newest equipment, apparel, products, and accessories in one location.

BREAK FOR LAUNCH: And speaking of affordable, with technology moving so quickly, numerous pros are curious if this is the year we’ll see new innovations from TrackMan, Flightscope, Foresight, and other launch monitors.

DRIVE REVENUE: Looking to attract Millennials? Hop into one of Club Car’s new Shark Experience carts. The result of a partnership between Greg Norman, Verizon, GPSi, and Club Car, this connectivity center on wheels features GPS, Shot Tracer technology, built-in speakers, streaming television, music, and golf lessons from Norman, and myriad other digital enhancements.

WEAR IT WELL: As to what’s trending in the bottom-line-critical soft goods area, head to the Association of Golf Merchandisers (AGM) product preview Tuesday at 5:30 in Exhibit Hall A, near where the bus drops off Demo Day attendees. “You’ll see what colors, fabrics, and styles are going to be popular,” says Tracy Moffat, president of AGM, which will also debut its four-session certification program during the show’s Education Sessions.

PROWL THE CATWALK: Hit the PGA Live Fashion Show Thursday, January 25, at 5:45 on the PGA Forum stage, and make sure to “walk the floor and look at all the offerings,” says Moffat. “There’s something for every club at every quality and price level. If Peter Millar isn’t in your budget, look to Antigua, Cutter & Buck, and Bermuda Sands.”

GET GIFTY: A big trend Moffat sees at the Show is more crossover vendors. “There’s a plethora of gifts and accessories with no relation to golf that are huge margin items,” she says. “People like simple, tasteful things they can bring as a hostess gift, display at home, or accessorize an outfit with.”

GO OFF-COURSE: “Look for cool stuff from lesser-known companies,” says Dave Hensley, the Head PGA Professional at the internationally ranked Ballyneal Golf Club in Holyoke, Colorado. “We’re a small, out-of-the-way club with a national membership, so I make an effort to find products with that flavor—brands and items you don’t see everywhere else.” Examples include apparel from QED and Ouray, a leather-encased copper bottle by Links & Kings, and beach bags and yo-yos from Crab & Cleek.

“I almost think you HAVE to go,” says Tom Henderson of the show. “I go because I’m afraid I’m going to miss something.”

Don’t miss 2018’s hottest trends and newest products! Register today for the PGA Merchandise Show.

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2020 PGA Merchandise Show


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