OpinionTuesday, January 21, 2014
Golf Show Week
The business of golf’s most important annual get-together starts tomorrow in Orlando, Florida, when the 61st PGA Merchandise Show gets underway, opening with a star-studded cast that includes famed entrepreneur and golf course developer Donald Trump.
“The Donald” — whose new course in Aberdeen, Scotland opened last year to rave reviews — joins PGA of America President Ted Bishop, former USGA Executive Director David Fay and Golf Channel President Mike McCarley for a State of the Industry Panel, where each will offer unique insights on the industry’s challenges this year and beyond.
That forum tees off the three-day show held at the Orange County Convention Centre, where golf professionals and business executives from almost 80 countries make an annual pilgrimage to what is our equivalent of Santa’s Grotto at the North Pole.
Close your eyes and imagine it for a few seconds, a thousand-plus top golf companies and brands all under the same roof, where more than 40,000 industry professionals from around the globe unite as retailers unveil the latest equipment and merchandise and where business leaders proffer sage advice.
It’s a bit like a toy store without limits, almost ten miles, over 16 kilometres, of show aisles of exhibits and product demonstration space. Put another way, that’s equivalent to a walk from Retiro to San Telmo where both sides of the street are lined with nothing but golf related merchandise. And after reaching San Telmo there’s still more than kilometre of shopping to go!
This year there are over 300 new exhibitors at the Show, a sign of spurting revival in an industry that has taken a severe beating during the economic recession. And for those musing over whether their personal widget is a commercial proposition, there’s even an inventor spotlight where the United Inventors Association provides a specialty area for new products or services not yet in the marketplace.
It will be interesting to see if Bishop, steadfast in his resistance to the upcoming anchored-putter ban, will use this forum to discuss the latest initiative that he and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem plan to present to the USGA Executive Committee on February 8, requesting a “grandfather period” for recreational amateurs.
Bishop has written to his membership soliciting real-life stories of players who may be adversely affected by this change in the Rules, hoping personalized examples will sway the USGA into a stay of implementation, say until 2020, similar to the square-grooves solution.
Tomorrow is also an important day in the future of Latin American golf, with top officials of Augusta National, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews and the United States Golf Association in Buenos Aires to announce a new initiative for the region. Details have been a close-held secret but clearly with a delegation of this strength, it will be good news. For full details see Thursday’s Herald. This is also South American Amateur Championship week, the IX Edition to be played at Barranquilla Country Club, Colombia, concluding Saturday January 25.