Putting Out from the Show

By Casey BiererJanuary 28, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 PGA Merchandise ShowORLANDO, Fla. -- Another PGA Merchandise Show is behind us and by all accounts it was a good one.
Traffic was reported to be very high on the first day continuing in to day two with traffic lightening as expected on day three. There was no day four this year. The Show was intentionally shortened to three days in an effort to compress traffic and in so doing, increase the intensity.
According to Ed Several, VP and General Manager of PGA Worldwide Golf Exhibitions, the plan worked. The Show has been fantastic this year. When you looked down the isles you saw nothing but huge crowds. The most important thing from our standpoint is that the exhibitors are very happy because the customers came this year and there was a buzz. And I think the excitement felt at the PGA Merchandise Show this year is an excellent indication to everyone that 2007 is going to be wonderful for the golf industry.
My impressions are one thing. Ill give those to you at the end. Just as important are the impressions of people attending, exhibiting and working the show. Lets start with a few of the exhibitors.
We had two booths this year at the show, says John Steinbach, Director of Corporate Communications for TaylorMade-adidas Golf. On the TaylorMade side it was all about introducing new products like the Burner driver and the R7 SuperQuad. This part of the show for us was about demonstrating, educating and listening to customers. We werent concerned with writing TaylorMade orders. On the adidas apparel side it was about order writing. We introduced a new line which was extremely well received and we wrote a ton of business. And asked of his overall opinion of the show this year John responded, Excellent. The traffic was high and thats what we really look at. I would say the show had a buzz and people looked to be genuinely engaged.
Jay Russo is the Managing Director of P3 ProSwing, a company that specializes in making an affordable, full service swing analysis and simulator system. He was all smiles. The PGA Learning Centers took a look at all the swing simulators available in the marketplace today and chose ours to become the latest edition to their Technology Partner Program so we couldnt be more pleased with that.
Absolutely incredible, says Dena Cuppett, Marketing Manager for Trion:Z. A year ago we were giving away the bracelets and we were mobbed. This year we charged wholesale and we still had people waiting in line to get a hold of the product. Trion:Z says their minus-ion properties counteract the Positive Ions created by modern technology, daily stress, and physical activity. They use Gauss therapeutic medical grade magnets to get the job done. About the show being one day shorter than last year, Dena says, I wondered how shortening the show by one day would affect things. I actually think it was a good thing. People seemed to be more focused to get done what they had to get done because there wasnt that fourth day.
Connie Little, Director of Marketing and Product Development for Nancy Lopez Golf couldnt have been more pleased. This is our first time here since re-launching the brand under our new Canadian ownership. We had Nancy here doing autograph signings and the response to her being here and to the new product just couldnt have been better. Overall it was a very successful experience for us.
You know, this show was off the charts for us, says Jon Claffey, Director of Marketing for Nickent Golf. The show came at a great timejust after Jeff Quinneys great performance at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic where Jeff made that amazing hole-in-one on the 17th hole on Sunday. A lot of people saw that. We launched our new 4DX driver here along with continuing to showcase our popular hybrids. And the traffic was incredible. Like several other companies this year, Nickent chose to participate in the Demo Day on Wednesday and take out space at the Equipment Testing Center in the Convention Center rather than take booth space on the floor. Jon Claffeys report card on that decision; We came in a little bit of a smaller role this year. Our main interest was for people to hit our products. The Demo Day certainly allowed that to happen and the excitement has carried over here to the Equipment Testing Center. So, we couldnt be happier.
Moving on from exhibitors I talked to Sally Sportsman, a veteran public relations director in the business of representing clients who exhibit at the show. This show was one of the best Ive seen. There was a lot of serious business being done here this year. The exhibitors, I think, were noticeably pleased with the amount of traffic and the quality of traffic. And really, thats the litmus test that is used to determine the success of a show. So from that standpoint I think it was a homerun.
And of course there are personalities galore that come out for any number of reasons. I caught up with tennis great Ivan Lendl who is now a self-proclaimed golf addict. He was at the adidas apparel booth and told me, It is amazing what has happened with technology not only on the golf club side but on the apparel and footwear side as well. When I played competitive tennis I was wearing cotton everything and sweating like a pig and my shirt weighed five pounds when I took it off. Now with materials like adidas ClimaCool I can play golf in the hottest weather and my body feels still very comfortable. Where was this stuff when I really needed it?
Show girls are one of the real bright spots of any industry trade show. The PGA Merchandise show is no exception. These very beautiful women are hired to stand in exhibitors booths and attract the attention of passersby so that they, well, dont pass by. This has been really awesome this year,' says Ashley Smith, one of the Bullet Golf girls. The show is enormous. I dont know how people get to see everything. I was working at my booth so I didnt really get a chance to see that much stuff. But people looked pretty busy and happy. I wanted to know what Ashley thought about being stared at so much by people walking by; because trust me, people must have been staring. You know, it goes with the territory. Thats kind of my job. I try to attract as much attention as I can so that people stop at the booth and check out what we have. I think I earned my money this week.
Next up on the docket, Joseph and Ruth Balulis, owners of Marquette Trails Country Club in Baldwin, Michigan. Theyve been coming to the PGA Merchandise Show for 42 years. I started attending these shows back when they were in West Palm Beach, says Joseph, and it was just a tent in a parking lot with people showing stuff out of the back of their cars. To see what it has turned in to is just amazing. The number of vendors is really something. I mean, look at all the companies here showing their products. Ruth told me, I kind of miss the fourth day. The fourth day allowed us to come in the afternoons for two of the days and we liked that. But you know, times change so we just kind of go with the flow.
Now heres the flow of my opinion. This 2007 PGA Merchandise Show rocked. The energy was high, the exhibitors were fired up, and the attendees were there, I felt, not because they had to be but because they wanted to be. In years past that has not always been the case.
There were certainly some hot stories like shape geometry in drivers. To square or not to square; that was a big question. And whatever side of shape you come down on no one was arguing that increasing MOI (moment of inertia) is an element of club design that will increase in intensity as the limits of size and COR continue to be addressed by the major golf manufacturers.
It was a show of unabashed enthusiasm for new golf fashion. Personally, I cant remember seeing more people crowded in to the apparel company booths. And interesting to me was the attention paid to even smaller companies where in the past, perhaps, the giants of the business got the lions share of traffic. Dont get me wrong. You needed elbow pads to get through Nike, Greg Norman, adidas, Cutter & Buck, and Izod; just to name several. But there was high interest paid to companies youve never heard of as well. Thats a sign, in my opinion, that entrepreneurs are seeing an opportunity for growth in golf and that cant be anything other than a good sign.
And finally, how can I resistthe Show girls. Very well done this year to all of you exhibitors who hired the attention getters; those wonderfully beautiful girls with fantastic smiles who welcome people in to the booths and get the conversation rolling. A special shout out to Aspen wherever you are.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PGA Merchandise Show and Convention
  • Getty Images

    Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

    By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

    PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

    At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

    “The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

    Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

    Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

    “Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

    Getty Images

    Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

    The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

    “Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

    And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

    After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

    “Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”

    Getty Images

    Rory almost channels Tiger with 72nd-hole celebration

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:11 am

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy’s final putt at the Arnold Palmer Invitational felt awfully familiar.

    He rolled in the 25-footer for birdie and wildly pumped his fist, immediately calling to mind Woods’ heroics on Bay Hill’s 18th green.

    Three times Woods holed a putt on the final green to win this event by a stroke.

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    McIlroy was just happy to provide a little extra cushion as the final group played the finishing hole.

    “I’ve seen Tiger do that enough times to know what it does,” McIlroy said. “So I just wanted to try and emulate that. I didn’t quite give it the hat toss – I was thinking about doing that. But to be able to create my own little bit of history on the 18th green here is pretty special.”

    Getty Images

    A performance fit for a King

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:08 am

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Five hundred and 40 days had passed since Rory McIlroy last won, and since golf lost one of its most iconic players.

    So much has transpired in McIlroy’s life since then – marriage, injury, adversity – but even now he vividly recalls the awkward end to the 2016 Tour Championship. He had just captured the FedExCup and $11 million bonus, but afterward, in the scrum, he was asked instead to reflect on the passing earlier that day of Arnold Palmer, at age 87.

    “Obviously I had a great win and it was a great day for me, but in the big scheme of things, that didn’t matter,” he said. “The game of golf had lost an icon, a legend, an inspiration to so many of us. I probably wasn’t as ecstatic as maybe I would have been if Arnie hadn’t passed away.”

    But there was McIlroy on Sunday at Bay Hill, at Arnie’s Florida home, summoning the kind of charge that would have made the King proud. With five birdies in his last six holes, he broke away from a stacked leaderboard to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational for his first victory on Tour in 18 months, since that bittersweet evening at East Lake.

    “Kind of ironic,” he said Sunday.

    But the connection between McIlroy and Palmer runs deeper than that.

    Palmer and McIlroy’s wife, Erica, shared a birthday – Sept. 10.

    Palmer wrote letters to McIlroy after each of his many victories.

    Palmer had lobbied for years to get McIlroy to play this event, even threatening him. “If he doesn’t come and play Bay Hill,” Palmer said in 2012, “he might have a broken arm and he won’t have to worry about where he’s going to play next.”

    McIlroy kept all of his limbs intact but didn’t add the event until 2015, when Palmer’s health was beginning to deteriorate. That week he sat for a two-hour dinner with Palmer in the Bay Hill clubhouse, and the memories still bring a smile to his face.

    “I was mesmerized,” McIlroy said.

    And entertained, of course.

    Palmer ordered fish for dinner. “And I remember him asking the server, ‘Can I get some A.1. Sauce?’” McIlroy said.

    “And the server said, ‘For your fish, Mr. Palmer?’ And he said, ‘No, for me!’"

    McIlroy chuckled at the exchange, then added somberly: “I was very fortunate to spend that time with him.”

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    McIlroy has been telling anyone who will listen that he’s close to playing his best golf, but even he was surprised by the drastic turn of events over the past 10 days.

    During that 18-month winless drought, he endured an onslaught of questions about his wedge play, his putting, his health and his motivation. Burnt out by the intense spotlight, and needing to rehab a nagging rib injury, he shut it down for four months last fall, a mental and physical reset.

    But after an encouraging start to his 2018 campaign in the Middle East, McIlroy was a non-factor in each of his first four Tour starts. That included a missed cut last week in Tampa, where he was admittedly searching.

    “The best missed cut I’ve ever had,” he said.

    McIlroy grinded all last weekend, stumbling upon a swing thought, a feeling, like he was making a three-quarter swing. Then he met for a few hours Monday in South Florida with former PGA Tour winner and putting savant Brad Faxon. They focused on being more instinctive and reactionary over the ball.

    “He just freed me up,” McIlroy said.

    Freed up his stroke, which had gotten too rigid.

    And freed up his mind, which was bogged down with technical thoughts and self-doubt.

    “The objective is to get the ball in the hole,” he said, “and I think I lost sight of that a little bit.”

    All McIlroy did at Bay Hill was produce the best putting week of his career.  

    Starting the final round two shots back of Henrik Stenson, McIlroy made the turn in 33 and then grabbed a share of the lead on the 11th hole.

    Tiger Woods was making a run, moving within a shot of the lead, but McIlroy answered with a charge of his own, rattling off four consecutive birdies – a 16-footer on 13, a 21-footer on 14, a chip-in on 15 and a two-putt birdie after a 373-yard drive on 16 – that left Woods and everyone else in the dust.

    Then McIlroy finished it off in style, rolling in a 25-footer on the last that was eerily similar to the putt that Woods has holed so many times at his personal playground.

    “I know what the putt does,” McIlroy said, “so it was nice to make my own little bit of history.”

    Justin Rose has played plenty of meaningful golf with McIlroy over the years, but he’d never seen him roll it like he did Sunday.

    “He turned on the burners on the back nine,” he said. “He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

    It’s little wonder McIlroy pulled ahead of a star-studded leaderboard, closing with a bogey-free 64 and winning by three shots at 18-under 270 – he led the field in driving distance, proximity to the hole, scrambling and strokes gained-putting.

    “It’s so nice that everything finally came together,” he said.

    Over the next two weeks, there figures to be plenty of conversation about whether McIlroy can channel that fearlessness into the major he covets most. The Masters is the only piece missing from a career Grand Slam, and now, thanks to Faxon’s tips, he’s never been in a better position.

    But after a turbulent 18 months, McIlroy needed no reminder to savor a victory that felt like a long time coming.

    There was a hug for his parents, Gerry and Rosie.

    A kiss for his wife, Erica.

    A handshake for Palmer’s grandson, Sam Saunders, and then a fitting into the champion’s alpaca cardigan.

    The only thing missing was the King himself, waiting atop the hill behind 18 with his huge smile and vice-grip handshake.

    “Hopefully he’s up there smiling,” McIlroy said, “and hopefully he’s proud of me with the way I played that back nine.”