I need to lose some weight!
At least that what they seem to be telling me at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida this year.
The greatest global golf get-together is where everyone in the equipment industry shows up to either promote or peruse the latest in golf-related gear. Set in the Orange County Convention Centre on International Drive, a main artery to the heart of Orlando, 40,000 assorted golf pros, media professionals and general golf groupies show up to see what's new, what's hot and what's going to be finding its way into our bags, our feet or onto backs this year.
My general impression from this year’s show was that it’s a lot about ‘slimming down’ or at least redistributing weight in a way that's going to make our golfing life a whole lot sleeker. As a self-confessed 'golf-glutton' when it comes to gear; I eat up everything that the PGA Merchandise Show throws at me and this year’s Aladdin's Cafe of golfing delights was no disappointment.
For me, the show starts on Monday with Media Day, this year held at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club at the heart of a 17-square-mile gated community in Southeast Orlando where several of the Tour’s top players such as Annika Sörenstam, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson have palatial homes.
This is a chance for a select group of companies to convince a select group of journalists that their products are worthy of column inches. We also get treated to breakfast, lunch, dinner, a few glasses of wine and a game of golf so it’s not such a hard day’s work.
The real work starts on Tuesday at Demo Day, held at the Orange County National Golf Center on surely what must be the largest golf driving range on the planet.
Arranged in a gigantic square, the club manufacturers line this impressive plot to give us a taste and chance to test out their newest technology. I tried this time to pace my way around, sampling mainly the latest irons and drivers - a tough job I know, but somebody has to do it.
Demo Day is a huge operation and a credit to the team that sets it up and runs it.
On Wednesday and for the rest of the week, we descend on the Orange County Convention Centre on Orlando’s International Drive for a further 3-days of indoor introspection. You have to love golf to do this job but again, for you, dear readers I will endure anything. So, let’s take a look at some of the items that really stood out or struck a chord at this year’s event and those that I might recommend to you.