SBJ/Dec. 9-15, 2013/Media

For Golf Channel, a show in the Show

The PGA Merchandise Show each January represents one of those rare occasions when the global golf community gathers in a single locale.

Next month, for the first time, Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” will be broadcasting from the merchandise show, giving outsiders a glimpse inside one of golf’s greatest spectacles.

Golf Channel has reserved a space right in the middle of the Orlando Convention Center, site of the merchandise show, to serve as a remote studio for “Morning Drive.” Hosts Gary Williams, Holly Sonders and the crew will greet viewers the week of Jan. 21-24 with an inside look at the equipment trends, gadgets, personalities and apparel that made the merchandise show a must-visit for those in the industry.

“We really like the visual of being right in the middle of the activity,” said Tom Knapp, Golf Channel’s senior vice president of programming. “The merchandise show is the heartbeat of golf for a week and ‘Morning Drive’ is our signature show for the golfer. That’s what our show is all about.”

It’s rare for “Morning Drive” to venture away from Golf Channel’s studios in Orlando, just a few miles north of where the merchandise show is held.

But given NBC/Golf Channel’s recent agreement with the PGA of America to broadcast the Ryder Cup and associated programming, Knapp said, “It’s a natural for the additional coverage and to go live from the merchandise show.”

The merchandise show is a property of the PGA of America.

The importance of the week extends well beyond “Morning Drive.” The week of the show is a time when Golf Channel meets with advertisers and other business partners to plan for the year.

“It’s an opportunity for us to host the global influencers of the game,” Knapp said of the merchandise show week. “It’s a great time to spend with our partners to get to know them better. It’s a very important week for us.”

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