I’m on my way home from the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show, and I just had to write down some thoughts on my week in Orlando. For those of you unfamiliar with the PGA Show, it’s the biggest collection of golf course professionals, equipment representatives, and basically golf industry people in the world. I mean EVERYONE in the world of golf is there. I have been going to this show for four years now, and this one was the best yet. It just seems to get better year after year.
Working for IMAVEX has given me access to some of the biggest names in the world of golf. To give you an idea, while in Orlando I met with Martin Hall, Henry Brunton, Mike Bender, Jason Sutton, Mark Sweeney, Jeff Ritter, Peter Kessler, Dylan Ross, Lorin Anderson, and many more. We got in Monday and were in meetings from the time we got there until we left for the airport. We literally left a meeting and grabbed a cab.
Golf Business Network
We work closely with the Golf Business Network, and not only manage their website but also several of their members. GBN has a room during the show, and we set up in there. It also allows us a place to call home for meetings and also schedule meet-and-greets. There is a cocktail party in the room (known as the GBN Clubhouse) every night allowing for networking. I try to take full advantage of that by passing out and collecting business cards left and right.
Other vendors set up in the GBN Clubhouse too. Brands like the Greg Norman Collection and Fairway & Greene have booths to showcase their offerings to GBN members. IMAVEX also has a pretty sweet discount for members. Anyway, they hold several meetings and round table discussions in the room, and we love being able to out our booth up there.
We have a great relationship with GBN, and without guys like Lorin Anderson, Bob Mulcahy, and Grant Way, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
One of my favorite things about the show are the networking events. From cocktail parties to meet-and-greets, the PGA Show is a great place to meet the movers and shakers in the game of golf. On Wednesday night, I went to the Brick House Tavern + Tap (they have a great beer selection) for the Junior League meet-and-greet. My close friend Jackie Cannizzo is affiliated with the Junior League, and they had a huge announcement the Friday of the Show. I ended up running into several people I knew including Dennis Sales, Sara Dickson, and Kate Temptesta. I actually hadn’t met Kate until this week but we ran into each other several times.
The mixer was fun, and I’m glad I went. Junior golf is a huge part of the game and tomorrow’s lesson and private club member is a junior. The sooner pros realize that the better. I couldn’t be more proud of Jackie for her attention to the project.
On Thursday night, I was back at the Brick House for another meeting. John Graham, a Twitter superstar, holds one of these every year, and I wasn’t missing this for the world. I ended up meeting tons of people I had only communicated with online. I ended up meeting and chatting with Jason Helman, Rob McGill (love that dude), Brandon Stooksbury, Megan Padua, Aaron Olson, Andrew Marr, Kirk Oguri, and many more. It was fun putting a face to a tweet. I must admit I knew more Twitter handles than I did names!
Last year I didn’t even make it to the show floor. This year I walked around a little bit to see what’s new in the industry. From golf balls to gloves, you can find a little bit of everything here. You can even buy stuff like shafts, balls, towels, and more. If you’re lucky, you will get some free stuff from some of the vendors. Some of the booths, like the Callaway, Taylor Made, Puma and Titleist booths were massive. I’m talking ridiculous setups that you could get lost in. A lot of them have open bars so you can grab a drink while walking around the floor.
On Wednesday, I was walking around and ran into Butch Harmon. I had never met Butch, only in passing, but stopped to say hello. I also ran into Yani Tseng, Alexis (Lexi) Thompson, Natalie Gulbis, Kristina Kim, Brad Faxon and several other pros. It’s neat to be walking around and see Dave Stockton or Scotty Cameron just hanging out on the show floor.
Eating Out & Lodging
When we travel like this, we eat out a lot. When we got in on Monday, we went to The Crab House. Steve loves this place, and while it’s not the best seafood I’ve ever had, it’s solid, and I highly recommend the macadamia nut crusted Mahi Mahi.
On Tuesday, my good friend Greg came to visit me. He recently moved down to Florida and was only a couple of hours away. He drove up, and we had lunch. It was good to see him. I miss hanging out with him.
Wednesday we met Grant at Hooters and ended the night at Miller’s Ale House. Miller’s is sweet, and has a very open and inviting atmosphere. Every time I am in Orlando I try to swing by there. The place is always busy, regardless of what’s going on at the convention center.
For lodging this year, we stayed at the Hampton Inn. Last year we stayed at the Holiday Inn Castle, but this year we were much closer to the Orange County Convention Center. It was close enough to walk, and we got a GBN discount for staying there. The room was nice, and the hotel had free Wi-Fi. They also had a sweet breakfast every morning. I didn’t get to enjoy it, but the guys did and were impressed. The hotel lobby also allowed for a place to meet people.
The PGA Show is just a ton of fun and a great place to meet new people, to network with everyone, and to see the latest and greatest in the world of golf. The older I get, the more I get dragged in to this industry… and I couldn’t see myself working in any industry but this one. As they always say… FORE!!!
Have you ever been to the PGA Merchandise Show?