The PGA Show roared back in a big way this year.
Nearly 30,000 PGA Professionals, golf leaders, industry executives and retailers from more than 86 countries came together to meet with more than 800 golf companies at the 70th PGA Show in Orlando, Florida, Jan. 24–27, 2023. Following two years of business disruptions by the global pandemic, the PGA Show was a clear sign of a bullish year ahead for the continued growth of the sport and the $84 billion golf industry.
The PGA Show, organized by PGA Golf Exhibitions and the PGA of America, began in the trunks of cars at a winter golf tournament in 1954 and has grown into golf’s longest running and largest global business gathering. Among the tens of thousands of attendees were nearly 7,000 PGA, LPGA and international PGA Professionals and more than 800 media reporting from the annual event.
“The PGA Show is annually the largest gathering of PGA Professionals and industry leaders, and it has certainly lived up to that billing this year,” said PGA President John Lindert. “It was the epicenter of golf business with more than 800 companies conducting business and remains the largest stage in golf for networking, education and career development. We met with innumerable allied golf associations and organizations to develop strategies to grow participation in the game and business strategies for the months and years to come.”
“The energy on the PGA Show floor was fantastic,” said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh. “I grew up on a trading floor (on the New York Stock Exchange) and this reminds me of the energy and enthusiasm of a busy trading day. It is reflective of the (golf) industry, basically booming. We played defense for a couple of years during the pandemic, but we’re on the verge of being all the way back now. If the PGA Show is a barometer, 2023 is going to be a great year for golf.”
“An expansive mix of companies combined with strong participation across the international golf business community at this year’s PGA Show created an industry reunion unlike any other in recent years,” said PGA Golf Exhibitions Vice President Marc Simon. “The in-person connections and vibrant business on the Show Floor resulted in an optimistic outlook that has momentum to drive the golf industry to new heights in 2023.”
PGA Show Week officially began with the golf industry’s annual professional demo day, the PGA Show Demo & Fitting Day, returning to the massive circular range of Orange County National Golf Center (OCN) in Winter Garden, Florida, on Jan. 24. The sunshine-filled, day-long Demo & Fitting Day, produced in partnership by the PGA Show and PGA Magazine, provided important education and product testing of the latest equipment and technology, and opportunities for PGA Professionals to learn from experts in coaching, clubfitting and range operations.
“The gates opened at 9 a.m., and our bays were full by 9:05 and stayed that way all day,” said Alex Goodman, National Sales Director, Toptracer. “Coaches are especially excited to see what we’re doing with our new software. Having the chance to show it to them in person is the perfect way for them to learn about it. We’re excited by what’s going on today.”
“Demo & Fitting Day is a great way to see how OEMs are using their new fitting technologies and how we, as PGA Professionals, can use them to better fit our players,” said Paul Ferrone, PGA Owner, Downtown Golf, Stamford, Connecticut.
“There’s really great energy this year, a real buzz out here. Our tee sheet is full of appointments, and we have all our fitters out here helping attendees see our full line of equipment. There’s no replacement for swinging it and seeing it when it comes to golf clubs,” said Tom Olsavsky, Vice President of R&D, Cobra Puma Golf.
PGA of America President John Lindert and PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh opened the 70th PGA Show on Jan. 25 with welcome remarks to a crowded lobby packed with PGA Professionals and golf buyers ready to take their first step onto the massive Show Floor, full of the newest golf innovations. Following the ceremony, the doors opened to more than 800 companies, from emerging ventures and veteran manufacturers to the games’ most recognizable brands, to create the world’s largest business-to-business golf event. Golf’s top companies and market-leading brands, along with more than 250 exhibitors new to the PGA Show, introduced thousands of new products and services to drive golf retail in 2023.
Callaway Golf’s new Paradym clubs, PING’s G435 clubs and Cobra Golf’s new Aerojet clubs attracted attention, similar to the new Titliest ProV1 and ProV1x golf balls, Scotty Cameron putters and Mizuno ST230 drivers and the Club Car CRU golf cart. Bushnell Wingman and Full Swing KIT launch monitor, among thousands of exciting products were also among products that can positively impact the game experience. Fashion companies such as KJUS, Dunning, Peter Millar, FootJoy, PUMA Golf, Ralph Lauren and some 300 additional apparel and accessory companies introduced their newest collections for Fall 2023.
“I don’t think I’ve ever talked as much in my life as I have this week at the PGA Show. We’ve had non-stop traffic in our booth, and it’s been a lot of fun walking buyers through our expanded line,” said Brandon Wallach, Vice President of Marketing, TRUE Linkswear.
“This is our third year as a company, but our first PGA Show. It’s been an awesome opportunity to learn about a lot of things in the golf industry, like getting involved in Golf Retirement Plus for PGA Professionals. Our customers are giving us great feedback and helping us evolve our product, and that’s the value of meeting people face-to-face,” said Dave Dickert, CEO and Co-Founder, Branded Bills.
The 2023 PGA Show also shined a spotlight on new products and talented inventors in the New Product Zone and Inventor’s Spotlight Pavilion. Innovations in the New Product Zone, a one-stop pavilion of the newest golf merchandise, were judged by a panel of award-winning PGA Professionals and golf buyers. The judging panel selected three overall “Best New Product” Award winners – Dotty Green Golf rangefinder, SKONI footwear and the PUTTLINK smart ball.
The Inventors Spotlight pavilion, organized in partnership with the United Inventors Association (UIA), showcased new golf products developed by independent inventors within 53 inventor exhibits. Products were reviewed by UIA experts and top inventions were presented with one of three awards: Best Marketing to Mach One Golf Balls; Best Innovation to Vippy Golf height-adjustable tees; and the Pinnacle Award – Best in Show to Paradax Golf all-in-one cartbag.
In addition to the busy marketplace across the expanse of the Show Floor, PGA Show days were full of professional learning opportunities during exhibitor and industry presentations. The PGA Industry Stage powered by CapTech offered a full schedule of diverse programming from the PGA of America in collaboration with golf organizations, business leaders, top coaches, players and architects. The Golf Fitness, Wellness & Instruction stage featured complimentary education sessions presented by TPI and the Golf Fitness Association of America, with supporting sponsors Life Fitness and Technogym. The Inventors Spotlight pavilion and stage offered entrepreneur and inventor education sessions and product pitch panels, each Show day.
PGA Professionals, college students and second-career professionals connected with employers right on the Show Floor in the new golf industry Career Zone featuring company recruiting activations by Worldwide Golf Shops, Titleist, Troon, NBC Sports and other companies, plus employer-led panel presentations and networking events. Golf and resort facility operators found out more about on- and off-course amenity improvements, plus attended daily programming on the new Pickleball Court, sponsored by Acrytech. Golf fashion retailers saw the latest collections in motion on the runway during the Live Fashion Show on Wednesday, Jan. 25, in the Fashion Lounge.
“It’s fashion in action,” said Ardie Cashman, the Merchandise Manager at Bearpath Golf & Country Club in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. “I enjoy seeing clothing in movement on a person as opposed to on a table or on a hanger, and the fashion shows have turned me on to some vendors over the years I might not have discovered on the Show Floor.”
A dynamic 2023 PGA Show Floor featured interactive destinations including the PGA Professional Hub where Members could centrally access Association and partner benefits and programming while showcasing PGA Frisco, the new home of the PGA; the Equipment Test Center, sponsored by Clubhouse Events, featured 44 testing bays and a 3,750 square-foot putting green; the Golf Fitness, Wellness & Instruction area; an Adaptive Golf Center; Club Amenities Pavilion and Golf Travel Pavilion.
“The PGA Show turnout is really impressive this year. The Travel Pavilion has been bustling all day, and it’s great to see so many people back. We brought three staff members this year instead of one, and it’s giving us a chance to catch up with so many people who are interested in coming to Scotland. We’re already planning to come back in 2024,” said Kevin Paver, Golf Marketing Manager, Dundonald Links, Scotland.
The 2023 PGA Show was a platform for golf entertainment launches including an exclusive preview of the new EA Sports PGA TOUR game and golf industry trailers for the new Netflix series, Full Swing, and the soon-to-be-released film, The Long Game, with special guests Director Julio Quintana and lead actor Dennis Quaid on-hand to provide insights during a Jan. 26 inside look into the production.
Renowned PGA teachers, PGA and LPGA touring professionals and celebrities also attended the PGA Show to participate in product launches and brand appearances including Matt Fitzpatrick, Brad Faxon, Jim Furyk, Justin Leonard, KH Lee, Ernie Els, Tom Watson, Davis Love, Brooke Henderson, Lexi Thompson, Blair O’Neal, Danielle Kang, Annika Sorenstam, Stacy Lewis, Sherri Steinhauer, Madelene Sagstrom, Kyle Berkshire, Jim Nantz, Butch Harmon, Johnny Damon, JoAnne Russell and more.
The 70th PGA Show also featured a heightened focus on providing golf business and operations best practices, career development workshops, teaching and coaching instruction and retail merchandising sessions through industry-led education and industry programming. PGA Show Week educational opportunities began with the PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit, Jan. 22-23, followed by the National Golf Course Owners Association Golf Business Conference, Jan. 23-25, the AGM Golf Retail Conference on Jan. 24 and the PGA Education Conference, Jan. 24-27. Complimentary PGA Professional workshops also were offered daily in the PGA Member Business Center at the PGA Show.
“All I can say is the PGA Show is back in a big way after the pandemic,” said Ed Gibson, PGA Head Professional at Makefield Highlands Golf Club in Yardley, Pennsylvania. “The energy and enthusiasm on the PGA Show floor is something I haven’t seen in many years.”