PGA Show Endures the Age of Multi-Marketing
Americans of a certain age will remember the Wish Book, whose chunky pre-Christmas version featured gifts of all kinds, from louvered blinds to lingerie, plus holiday decorations. And most exciting to the cookie-crumbed hands that grabbed the bounty eagerly from the mailman, it had toys. Pages and pages of toys.
The Wish Book as we kids knew it was a happy holiday paean to Sears' historic foothold in the mail order business, which began in the late 19th century. But the rise of department stores, and Sears own success in that important retail genre, made the Wish Book something of an anachronism: Still prized, but more as a Christmas season tradition than for its many-lined order form. (Sears still has specialty catalogs, but search Wish Book on the Internet now, and you go straight to Sears online retail site.)
As golfs main toy display, the PGA Merchandise Show has in just a few years morphed from a massive, must-be-there-in-force sales floor to a meeting that many are reluctant to abandon. Nonetheless, some major golf equipment companies have departed, citing the outsized budget line items involved with moving to Orlando each January a booth the size of two or three pro shops, plus hundreds of people to support the effort, all with attendant travel and entertainment costs.
Alas, some of the defectors have been major players, and it has not helped the shows current owners, Reed Exhibitions, that some left with apologies for doing what the budgets compelled them to do. Acushnet, owner of the Titleist, FootJoy, Cobra and Pinnacle brands, has not attended since 2002. Ping skipped last year and is not returning this year. Adams Golf continues to stay away. Cleveland Golf will be there this year, but is making noises about this being its farewell to the show. TaylorMade-adidas Golf made a point of supporting the show when others were leaving, but it abruptly decided in December 2003 not to come in 2004, the commercial equivalent of stepping out of line just as your boarding pass is being ripped.
But just as newspapers did not suffer the manslaughter predicted by futurists who were high on the Internet in its early days, so has the PGA Merchandise Show survived the onslaught of multi-channel marketing, tighter budgets, and uneasiness about travel.
In figuring out why it has endured, its easy to say that the golf trade likes the Show because it is the only industry-wide meeting on the calendar. Others cite the weather and the opportunity for a working vacation for golf pros. But the real fascination is the well-known Toy Store Effect. Even without the absentees, the Show is the most stunning collection of golf equipment anywhere on Earth, after all these years a breathtaking annual adrenaline splash that amazes newcomers and excites veteran golf gearheads.
Even the vets arent immune from losing control of their jaw muscles. I am about to cover my 10th PGA Show, and Im still amazed at just how much there is to look at, learn about and absorb. Bottom line: If you like golf equipment, this Show is still fun.
Reed has worked hard to update the presentation, too, last year adding a pre-Show outdoor demo day that met with rave reviews. The all-day swingfest is held at the massive range at Orange County National Golf Center & Lodge outside Orlando, and it promises to be a hit again. Most importantly, the chance to swing, feel, heft and roll lifts attendees from the role of mere window shoppers with tired feet to the happy position of test drivers in Softspikes.
In an effort to capitalize on that success, Reed has arranged a large, netted, 45-bay indoor hitting area for the four days of the show proper. This innovation will be the centerpiece of what was once just 10 miles of walk-look-walk-look-some-more exhibits.
Heres a brief sample of what will be on view at the Show:
Callaway Golf: ERC Fusion driver (already in many tour bags); new-era Big Bertha irons
Nike: Ignite driver, the one Nike aggressively brought to market after Tiger Woods much-publicized driver misgivings in 2003. Also, Slingshot irons, featuring a weight band across the back cavity. Theyre beginning to show up in some tour bags.
Cleveland Golf: Cleveland is proud of a new line of wedges made of a metal they say is revolutionary. The CG10 line features multiple bounce options and that soft metal, called Carbon Metal Matrix. A new line of game-improvement irons, the TA6s are due, as well as a new Voodoo putter from Never Compromise, the upstart putter line that Cleveland recently bought.
Club Car: The Precedent golf cart allegedly has none. Club Car promises sleek, updated styling, a 360-degree bumper for added impact protection, and back-friendly, ergonomic seats, plus many other features.
And thats just the beginning. Join us on Golf Central at 7:30 PM/ET Wednesday, Jan. 28 through Sunday, Feb. 1 for coverage, then at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday for a live one-hour wrap-up show on the Show.
Email your thoughts to Adam Barr
Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball
Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.
In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.
"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’
Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.
“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.
“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’
Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.
The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving
Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.
The major championships I'm certainly proud of, but Barbara, the kids and my grandkids are the best things to ever happen to me. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! pic.twitter.com/wkma1Q9LlK— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) November 23, 2017
GC Tiger Tracker:
Mixing Thanksgiving and waiting for a week from today. pic.twitter.com/u9m9WxQNYx— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) November 23, 2017
Happy thanksgiving to everyone! Hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends. #Thankful— Steve Stricker (@stevestricker) November 23, 2017
Was reading about Thanksgiving. Originally they ate waterfowl, venison, ham, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. Seems a bit tastier than Turkey!— Frank Nobilo (@FrankNobiloGC) November 23, 2017
Literally food for thought.
Tyrone Van Aswegen:
Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017
Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.
Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan
Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.
Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.
Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:
“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”
Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.
“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”
Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.
“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”
Best Greg story: coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes “Yep, caddied for her, her, her and her” Legend— Matthew Galloway (@matthewgalloway) November 23, 2017
In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.
“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”
Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.
“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”
The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time Tour caddie, Greg Sheridan. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP pic.twitter.com/QKy0YdK249— LPGA (@LPGA) November 22, 2017
Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.
“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.
Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:
Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:
Sad to hear the passning of Greg Sheridan. This photo brings back many memories. Always respected his caddy skills and devotion to womens golf. @natalie_gulbis @LPGA #RIPGreg pic.twitter.com/lHU3Ixz9Vk— Annika Sorenstam (@ANNIKA59) November 23, 2017
LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:
Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:
Professional caddies are often overlooked and underrated. But they're just as often the unsung MVP of a player's success. We just lost a great one. RIP Greg Sheridan. He was the 1st to welcome me to my LPGA assignment years ago. He will be missed eternally.— Jerry Foltz (@JerryFoltzGC) November 22, 2017
Rest with the Angels now, Greg Sheridan. ❤️— Christina Kim (@TheChristinaKim) November 22, 2017
LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:
RIP Greg Sheridan. One of the most successful and great caddies of World Golf, period.— Shaun Clews (@shaunclews1973) November 22, 2017
LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:
Sad to here that long time tour caddy Greg Sheridan has passed away! RIP Greg, you will be missed. — Jonny Scott (@stixy76) November 22, 2017
LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:
The world is a sadder place today without our buddy Greg Sheridan, a caddy and a friend for lifetimes...Godspeed buddy— Kevin Casas (@TheKevinCasas) November 23, 2017
LPGA pro Jennie Lee:
So sad to hear the news of long time LPGA caddie Greg Sheridan. I️ remember sitting next to him on the plane from Walmart to the US Open one year and he gave me the best words of wisdom on player/caddie chemistry. He will be missed greatly. Thinking of you @natalie_gulbis ❤️— Jennie Lee (@JennieLeeGolf) November 23, 2017