With countless exhibitors and nearly 1 million square feet of exhibition space at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, there is one essential attendees need to bring to the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show: A plan.
To a person, the Illinois PGA Professionals interviewed for this story stressed the requirement of doing your homework and arriving prepared to Orlando. That is the best and only way to maximize the experience of attending the show.
“Do as much prep work as you can,” said Todd Sones, who heads Todd Sones Impact Golf School at White Deer Run in Vernon Hills. “Make a plan of what you want to see, who you want to talk to. I’m making calls in advance to find out what’s going to be at the show. You shouldn’t walk in without a plan.”
Mike Holub, a PGA professional who is a rep for Greg Norman/Dunning, agrees. He sets up more than 30 appointments prior to the show.
“You can’t wing it if you want to get everything in,” Holub said. “You need a plan of action.”
Holub suggests becoming familiar with the floor plan for the Orange County Convention Center either by studying the January issue of PGA Magazine or the website at pgashow.com. There also is a free PGA Show Mobile App.
“The App is an excellent tool,” said Carol Rhoades, who teaches out of Cog Hill. “It will send you recommendations. It will say, “Because you were interested in that, you might want to take a look at this.”
Merchandise is in the show’s name, and there will be no shortage of it. Companies from around the world will be making the trek to Orlando.
On the apparel side, Holub says one of the most interesting developments is the return of cotton blends to moisture-wicking products.
“Cotton has a much softer, natural feel compared to the polyester,” Holub said. “However, cotton isn’t always the best for performance. Now (companies) are trying to get the look and feel of cotton with performance and tech fabrics.”
Sones always looks forward to seeing the latest on the technology front. He is intrigued about visiting with a company that has put sensors in shoes, measuring weight distribution during the swing.
“The show is a good place to see what’s out there with technology,” Sones said. “Some of it will be valuable to me, and some of it won’t. It depends on how you teach.”
The show, though, is much more than products. There are more than 80 seminars, clinics, presentations, training sessions and educational opportunities, allowing PGA members to earn more than 40 MSR credits.
“The programs are really designed to accentuate your toolbox,” Rhoades said. “It makes you think about what’s out there? Should I try this? Where are we at? Maybe you can pick up something for your club or facility to make it better and continue to grow.”
Rhoades is part of the committee that puts on the PGA Global Youth and Family Summit (Jan. 21-22 at Orange County Convention Center, Lecture Hall). She is interested in hearing how representatives from Europe and Canada use their sports camp models in their youth sports programs.
“This summit will have a lot of resource driven information,” Rhoades said. “We’re finding out that some of the things we thought were right aren’t necessarily the case anymore.”
Sones will be involved in workshops on the short game and discussing the various aspects of building an instruction program. The programs, he says, can provide “a kickstart” to the professional who wants to learn how to expand his business.
“If there’s an area where you feel like you can get better, you probably can find someone who will help you improve,” Sones said.
Cary Cavitt, a PGA Life Member, who now advises facilities on customer service, will be discussing his specialty (Here is the link to his site) with two presentations during the show.
“I’m doing one on leadership,” Cavitt said. “How do you motivate your team? It’s a long summer, and people start wearing down in July. Let me show what you can do to make your team perform their best all the way to October.”
The bottom line is simply being there. Cavitt is a big advocate of attending the show. He contends it should be on every professional’s calendar on an annual basis.
“If you’re in the PGA, and you’re not going to the show, you’re missing out on an important opportunity,” Cavitt said. “You’re missing out on seeing what’s new in merchandise, but that’s just part of it. The bigger thing is that this is a chance to visit with the people who have been there, people who have great talent in this business. They can help you become a better professional.”