Looking back on the PGA Merchandise Show

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PGA Merchandise Show (Montana Pritchard/ The PGA of America)

This past January, I had the opportunity to attend the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.

This is where some of the new products are launched by various companies and where PGA of America professionals purchase clothing, equipment, teaching aids, etc. for their golf shops and academies.

Many Canadian pros attend as well and buy products, although this year with the exchange rate, they certainly bought less than usual.

The first day of the show is a demo day that is held at Orange County National golf club. This humongous 360 degree driving range is the perfect place for companies to showcase their products and have potential buyers try them on the driving range. Golfers can try clubs, shafts, gloves, teaching aids, shoes, GPS systems, ball fitting, and more. Professionals can also attend seminars from some of the leading teachers in the game like David Leadbetter.

I even attended a clinic by Bubba Watson where he hit a few amazing shots, but unfortunately the MC’s lengthy commentary did not leave enough time for Bubba to hit all the shots that everyone wanted to see! When one of the top players in the world gives an exhibition, people want to see him hit balls, not necessarily have a discussion with the company rep! Bubba is such an extraordinary ball striker, it would have been nice to see him hit more!

Bubba’s demeanor and sometimes odd personality remind me somewhat of Moe Norman.
He is a completely natural talent with a non-traditional swing and a demeanor outside the golf course which can sometimes be misunderstood.

My next two days (where it rained) were spent indoors at the Orange County Convention Center.
I had a great time looking at all the products and even had a chance to witness the new shoe fitting from FootJoy with a teaching device called Bodytrack! Did you know that wearing the right shoe can increase your clubhead speed by 3 to 5 km per hour?

I also had a chance to interview a number of golf celebrities for the French TV show Au 19e that will air on RDS this Spring and Summer. I interviewed Justin Thomas and his dad – a great young player who is currently 6th on the FedEx Cup standings. His dad is a PGA pro and a great example of what parents should do with young talented golfers – let them play golf and have fun!

I interviewed Jim Nantz, the television commentator for The Masters and the Superbowl  He’s a class act! I spoke with Lee Trevino who at 76, recalled his three Canadian Open wins (1971 at Vallée du Richelieu and 1977, 1979 at Glen Abbey) as if they happened last month!

I spoke as well with David Leadbetter and Dave Pelz about their teaching philosophies; to Annika Sorenstam about her future plans and the upcoming Olympics; and to Johnny Miller about the PGA Tour and his dislike of slow play!

Many of the pros that attend the show embrace the opportunity to polish their knowledge about club fitting, pro-shop management, equipment and rules through different workshops and seminars provided by the PGA of America and some show exhibitors.

The PGA of Canada took advantage of the fact that many Canadians from across the Country attended to present its yearly awards at the PGA of Canada Night cocktail and celebration. Serge Savard, the former Montreal Canadians star, received the George Cumming Distinguished Service Award for 2015.

All in all, it was a great week for the North American industry to get together and celebrate the game we all love. The attendance this year seemed on the rise which hopefully bodes well for the upcoming golf season!

After five years at Golf Canada, I am leaving to take on a Head Professional job at Pinegrove Country Club in Québec. I’m looking forward to this great opportunity and I leave Golf Canada and my colleagues at every Provincial Association with the sentiment of satisfaction that the industry is moving in the right direction. I will keep some great memories of my time at Golf Canada!

Great season to all!