SBJ/20090126/This Week's News

Scaled-down PGA show set to open

Golf fashion and educating PGA of America professionals about surviving the economic downturn take center stage at this week’s annual PGA Merchandise Show, which will have a slightly smaller feel this year.

The PGA Merchandise Show expects a
smaller crowd and fewer exhibitors this year.

Attendance at the event, which runs Wednesday through Sunday, is expected to be down about 5 percent from the 44,500 that attended last year. The number of exhibitors this year is approximately 1,000, down about 200 from last year, primarily the result of consolidation in the industry and fewer registrations from smaller companies, said show organizers. The PGA Show is held annually at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

The major golf companies are mixed in the size and scope of their efforts this year. Nike is taking part in various events but does not have an exhibit on the floor of the convention center. Callaway, which erects one of the larger exhibits on the equipment side of the show floor, is scaling back its display and bringing fewer employees.

Acushnet’s Titleist brand returns to the show after a six-year absence, and Puma is increasing its square footage. Adidas Golf has the same size exhibit as last year, though its newly acquired Ashworth brand will occupy some of the space.

The show is held each year at
the Orange County Convention
Center in Orlando.

The show has evolved since 2001 to become less about selling and more about product education and marketing. To that end, organizers are introducing a fashion gallery this year to allow apparel companies to present their 2009 lines. At least 22 will participate, including Nike, Puma and Adidas Golf.

Meanwhile, the educational component of the show will focus on helping PGA of America members and teaching professionals to combat the effects of the economy. Seminar subjects include financial planning, merchandising, club membership, player development and golf course management.

Those topics, said Joe Steranka, CEO of the PGA of America, are “things that are relevant in this economy so that golf professionals and their staffs can come down, get ideas, and immediately go back and get going.”

Nationwide, rounds of golf played and revenue from rounds were both flat in 2008, according to data compiled by the PGA of America. The association, which stages the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup, represents 28,000 teaching pros and serves as the steward of the golf business.

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