In a release that ended months of speculation and rumors, the PGA of America and PGA Golf Exhibitions on Thursday jointly announced a list of companies planning to attend the 2022 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. The release also reveals which companies are opting not to take part.
More than 450 companies have signed up to attend the show and more than 600 are expected to exhibit their goods and services at Demo Day on Jan. 25 at Orange County National Golf Center and January 26-28 at the Orange County Convention Center. Among them will be Bridgestone, Cleveland/Srixon/Xxio, Cobra/Puma Golf and Ping.
TaylorMade has not attended the PGA Show since 2018. PXG, founded in 2014, has never had a booth or formally been a part of the PGA Merchandise Show.
“The PGA of America greatly values the companies who are coming to Orlando to connect personally with our membership and align with our association to grow the game,” said Jim Richerson, president of the PGA of America. “We are keenly focused on addressing critical industry issues and offering timely solutions for our professionals at the PGA Show to help the business of the sport move forward. It will be a welcome reunion for our membership and the industry, and we look forward to engaging with and supporting our PGA partners and the hundreds of other companies who have committed to helping thousands of PGA professionals advance their business objectives at the 2022 PGA Show.”
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In October, the PGA of America and PGA Golf Exhibitions announced the 2022 PGA Show would take place in person. In January, the 2021 PGA Merchandise Show was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. PGA of America members, representatives from brands and media members gathered in customized portals and teleconference spaces to share ideas, conduct business, hold teaching symposiums and network.
Golfweek spoke with representatives from several brands that chose to skip this year’s show over the past month. Each said that while they fully support the PGA of America and its members, they had to weigh numerous factors before making final decisions.
Unlike in pre-pandemic years when more than 40,000 people and more than 1,000 brands typically attended the show, companies are being forced to weigh the cost of being in Orlando for a week and the health risks associated with many employees gathering in an indoor space during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brands that send 50 to 100 people can easily spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, and possibly over a million dollars, on PGA Show-related costs. Some companies such as Callaway and Titleist, which are experiencing record levels of growth, did not have to pay those costs when the PGA Show went virtual last year, so adding those costs back into marketing and sales budgets in 2022 could be seen as tough to justify.
Large companies also have sales associates and regional representatives tasked with developing relationships and generating business at the local and regional levels throughout the year. As a result, they may not see the PGA Merchandise Show as an event needed for booking new orders.
Supply chain issues and a massive demand for gear over the last year have created long backlogs, with club orders often taking months to fulfill. Some industry insiders believe that until orders can be completed more quickly, pushing consumers to purchase new clubs could set up customers for frustration.
One insider veteran told Golfweek, “I think (there is) just too much in the wind for everyone to commit those kinds of dollars with the current state of things.”
The PGA Merchandise Show started in 1954 and is not open to the public. It is designed to act as a bridge between PGA of America members and the golf industry. It links the men and women who own and operate golf facilities and teach lessons with the companies that make and design everything from clubs to ball washers, course operating systems to trophies. Any product seen at a course likely can be found on display most years at the PGA Merchandise Show.
The PGA Merchandise Show also acts as a place where PGA of America members can attend training sessions and symposiums to further their golf education. The PGA Merchandise Show is also one of the premier networking events in the golf world. Representatives ranging from local public facilities to elite private clubs and world-class resorts walk the aisles, attend cocktail parties and play golf in the Orlando area.
“Buyers have expressed a pent-up demand for merchandise and services and miss the in-person experience with products and company leadership,” said Marc Simon, PGA Golf Exhibitions vice president. “There is a desire to return to peer networking and national-level education and industry programming that only PGA Show week can provide through the collaborative efforts of the PGA of America with allied partners such as the National Golf Course Owners Association, the Association of Golf Merchandisers and others. We look forward to providing the golf community with an exceptional event experience.”
What remains to be seen is whether the companies that have decided not to attend the 2022 PGA Merchandise Show return in 2023 and future years or if the show will be forced to change to bring back companies that are skipping in 2022.