Welcome to the 2011 PGA Merchandise Show

Welcome to the 2011 PGA Merchandise ShowThe 2011 PGA Merchandise Show is in the books, and from what I can tell, this year was a great success for everyone involved. The state of golf, although it may be changing in the broader scheme of things, has been slow for the last few years thanks to a weak economy. But this year, folks were excited and ready to get the ball rolling again as it relates to the golf industry and the future of the game of golf. The PGA Show takes place in Orlando, Florida, at the Orange County Convention Center each January. It’s a three-day event featuring all the latest and greatest in apparel, equipment, instruction, and more. This is truly an event for all fans of the game of golf and for PGA teaching professionals. There are even a few PGA and LPGA players that show up.

The show is not open to the public, but since I work in the golf industry, I am able to attend. Last year, at my first PGA Show, I spoke to a room full of AMF Golf Management members. I spoke again this year, with good friend and co-worker Zach Miller.

Getting into Orlando

We left the Wednesday before the show in order to get there early and set up our booth. On Wednesday, the PGA does a demo day, where manufacturers can show off all their new gear, from a new driver to new irons, putters and more.

This trip we stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort right on International Drive. This hotel, also known as The Castle, was pretty cool. It was, for lack of a better word, an actual castle. The place was decorated like a castle and even the amenities made you feel like royalty. Plus, it was walking distance from the convention center. (It was a long walk, but it was within walking distance.)

Conference Talking Points

On Thursday, Zach and I spoke to a room full of AMF members. We had a three-hour presentation organized, where we talked about various online solutions including custom websites, social media and online brand management efforts, and streaming video. We kicked things off with websites and the importance of having a custom website.

Zach took the reins on this presentation, and spent quite a bit of time showing examples and asking questions to the crowd. The audience interaction was great, and for the last half an hour we just fielded questions from the room.

Next, I discussed social media and all of these online brand management solutions. Facebook, being the one that creates the most buzz with these golf guys, was a major focus point. I did discuss Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs, but spent the most amount of time on Facebook.

About fifteen minutes into my presentation I invited AMF member John Graham – John Graham Golf – to the stage. John is a friend of mine, and is running a great social media campaign for himself. He is blogging, using Facebook and Twitter, and has started to introduce video into his daily efforts. I wanted to have John on stage with me so these guys could see not only how it has worked for one of their own, but to hear a success story from someone that doesn’t worry about the dollar sign attached to his efforts.

After we finished talking about websites and social media, we spent a little bit of time talking about streaming video. Again, I asked an AMF member to join me on stage. I also asked Steve Burzynski to join us on stage as he knows more about streaming media than anyone I have ever met.

I asked and wanted Jeff Ritter – Jeff Ritter Golf – to talk about his success with the popular video-sharing platform YouTube. Jeff, a PGA teaching professional from Scottsdale, has taken video and the use of YouTube and turned it into more than a positive ROI.

Jeff started using video by simply posting a short clip of his golf swing. He posted it, without any intentions of it going viral, and that’s exactly what it did. He posted the video only to wake up the next day with 1,000 views. Long story short, Jeff has continued to post videos on his YouTube channel, and he is on his way to nearly three million views before the end of the month.

As you can see, these guys “get it” when it comes to using social media and online branding solutions.

The Show Floor

Last year, the show floor blew me away. Imagine hundreds of club makers, fashion designers, and more, all in one place to talk about their product. It’s a madhouse of exhibitors that travel all over the world to showcase their products. This year, sadly, I didn’t even make it to the show floor. After we presented on Thursday, Zach and I had scheduled tons of short, thirty-minute meetings with AMF members. I didn’t even make it out of the AMF Clubhouse.

Through Twitter, I had scheduled a meeting with Daphne’s Headcovers. They are the folks who produce Tiger Wood’s head covers, and I am trying to buy some for my collection. I wanted to schedule some time to chat about this purchase order. I also scheduled a meeting with the boys of Swinkey Golf.

I missed both meetings, but was lucky enough to meet the guys from Swinkey at an event on Thursday night, planned, promoted and hosted by none other than John Graham. It was fun, took place at Miller’s Ale House, and was a good chance to network and meet a few new faces.

All in all the 2011 PGA Merchandise Show was a complete success. I can’t wait for next year’s show. I’ll make sure I see the show floor next year!