Chairman’s View From Orlando

With the usual hype and buzz stimulated by 10-miles of aisles bustlingOdyssey Tank with business, the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, always captures the imagination of the 40,000 attendees.

With last year seeing more product launches from multiple brands you maybe had to dig a little deeper to find the stories surrounding this year’s show. 

Yes, you could still see the massive stands with loud music, bedazzling lights, double decker buses and even a military tank on the Odyssey stand (pictured)! But under all the razzmatazz the truer message from the panel experts is still the importance of growing the game, making it more fun, and introducing families at an early age.

None more so than TaylorMade CEO Mark King who launched, a forum where people have the opportunity to voice their ideas on how to make the game more interesting and fun.

His plan is to fund the best ideas, with early indications of increasing the size of the hole to 15″, using a ball twice the size, and using more fun, but illegal, equipment, all being trialled in competitions throughout the US. One thing is for sure the Americans are never afraid to try out something with the hope of finding success.

Success within our industry is currently getting harder to find, with many suppliers confirming sales down by 6%-8%, particularly in hardware. I’m sure we are all feeling the ripple effects of fewer participants, falling memberships and poorer weather contributing to these figures.

Secondly the most important message for me was – ‘Investment in technology!’ With a major UK internet retailer admitting their present business model is unsustainable, it now seems just lowering prices is no longer the way to capture the imagination of the consumer.

Instead more of our customers are seeking expert advice prior to making their own investment. Major suppliers also seem to be promoting the expertise of the green grass PGA Professional by supporting launch monitor purchases, enhancing demo/fitting programs, and restructuring their own business as they look at what they have to offer their own customer base.

Personally, as a PGA Professional, there is now so much technology at our disposal to further highlight our expertise in the retail process. Whether that be through launch monitors, putting labs, wedge fittings, ball fittings or through many of the different teaching aids available. The timing maybe right for you to consider technical investment into your own business offering, rather than continuing to bow to any price-match guarantees.

One thing is for sure as a TGI Golf Partner and a PGA Professional we are certainly more equipped to deal with any of the ripples that dare to hit our shores. Hopefully I have managed to share some of the visible enthusiasm the PGA Show never fails to create, as we look to rid ourselves of this extremely wet winter and look excitedly forward to getting our teeth into the new season.

Best wishes for successful retailing in 2014.

Gordon Stewart
TGI Golf Chairman
PGA Professional, Cawder Golf Club


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