The show begins on Wednesday with the largest trade demo in the world at the Orange County National Golf Center. The Center hosts a circular driving range that even the longest hitters would be hard pressed to reach the opposite end. Around the perimeter of the range you can find a variety of short game practice areas including putting greens, sand bunkers and chipping and pitching areas. The latest in golf club and golf ball technology and training aids can be tested first hand.
The Orlando Convention Center is home for the show from Thursday – Saturday. There are close to a thousand vendors that range from the major golf companies to start-ups. The companies pull out all the bells and whistles to gain your attention. Displays are lit up, including music and celebrity appearances. I have been to the show four times and still have not been able to see all there is to see. It is an opportunity to be hands on with new equipment, clothing, accessories and training aids.
The energy is high and the ability to interact with fellow professionals who share a passion for golf is unmatched. In a crowd of thousands you can run in to legends like Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam, Lee Trevino, Ian Poulter and Butch Harmon or turn the corner and see a familiar face from a previous seminar you attended, a golf club you have played or a home town pro. For the golf enthusiast it is like being a kid in a candy store.
For me the highlight is always the educational component of the show. Many golf organizations rent conference rooms and bring in featured speakers to discuss major issues in our industry. Tour Professional Dave Stockton talked about how he finds teaching golf the most rewarding experience of his career. Sure he has won many tournaments but according to Dave, he loves playing golf but his true passion is helping people play the game. The owners of Vision 54 (Annika’s Sorenstam coaches) Lynn Marriot & Pia Nilsson, Solheim Cup Captain spoke to a group of us on the importance of a holistic approach to helping our students. Martin Hall, from the Golf Channel’s School of Golf brought his colorful storytelling skills to speak on current trends in teaching to a small group of professionals.
The seminars are a great opportunity to validate personal teaching beliefs, expand upon programs you currently offer and discuss in person pressing questions or issues. Call us the golf nerds, but we really enjoy learning and often laugh at how we are sponges just trying to soak up as much information as we can. Compare this to other professional conventions where attendees dread the conferences and attempt to sneak out to play golf.
As I reflect on the show I am honored to be a part of the world’s largest professional golf organization, The PGA of America. I am proud of my colleagues who work so hard to maintain the integrity of the great game of golf and who strive to make themselves better in order to make your experience on the golf course more enjoyable. The 60th Annual PGA Show is in the history books, but the seeds planted will blossom across the country as pros return to their respective clubs and bring these ideas to life.