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Like a Kid in a Candy Store

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The 2003 PGA Merchandise Show is set to start this week in Orlando, Fla., with over 1,200 exhibitors on hand to roll out just about anything and everything relating to golf.
 
From corporate giant Nike, to televisions The Golf Channel, all the way to a company called Golf Around the World, Inc., the show is to the golfer what a candy store is to a kid.
 
The newest high-tech clubs, the latest in apparel and fashion, indoor/outdoor putting greens, beautiful golf prints and pictures, enough different swing aids to drive a person insane, and so many cute little knick-knacks it would make anybodys grandmother jealous.
 
The list is endless. But for some things in life ' like pizza, beer, and a Caddyshack movie marathon ' endless, well, thats a good thing!
 
What began in 1953 - the 2003 Show will mark the 50th anniversary - has evolved tremendously from the very first show, where exhibitors were actually selling products out of the trunks of their cars.
 
Now, it is the place for buyers to see all the new product introductions and view golf equipment, apparel, products and services and, in turn, eventually get it out to the public for consumption.
 
From the millions of dollars spent on gigantic, elaborate booths to the sheer size and scope of all those involved, it is truly one of the best golf stories of the year.
 
And this year they're even introducing a new area in the mammoth Orange County Convention Center that really has the golfer in mind: the new 19th Hole. The long overdue idea gives the thousands in attendance a place to go grab a cold one at the Amstel Beer Garden and at the same time give them a chance to test their deft putting stroke on the enormous putting green that will be showcased.
 
A four-day conference program is also being introduced this year with seminars ranging on topics such as Liquidating Inventory, Branding Your Golf Shop, Changing Your Demographics and featuring panel discussions on Golf Fitness, Web Optimization plus a slew of other topics.
 
It would take a full three days to actually visit all the booths, not taking into account the time lost wondering how many strokes some of the new dazzling putters would take off your game, or which classic picture of Arnie would look best above your fireplace.
 
About the only thing the show lacks is a full-scale long par-5, complete with trees, bunkers and a greenside pond.
 
Though give it a year or two and some company out there will be sure to be rolling out the idea to the golfing masses.