While nearly everyone looks forward to the end-of-the-year holidays, my favorite time of the year happens to occur in late January.
This week, while you are all enjoying that steaming cup of coffee, checking out the morning news and weather, and planning just how to avoid the usual traffic messes, I will be in Orlando toiling away at the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show.
That's right, while you are relaxing in the comfort of your own home, or the 19th hole after a pleasant round, I shall be hard at work. I will be marching up and down aisles upon aisles of golf equipment, accessories, balls, apparel and so much more. My quest will involve hitting and testing all kinds of clubs and balls, and trying teaching aides in a tireless effort to find the best of these items and then report my findings to you, my adoring fans.
Held in the Orange County Convention Center each January, the Merchandise Show takes up pretty near every square inch of the Center’s one-million square-feet of floor space. More than 10 miles of carpet are laid out to form the aisles between exhibitors. My feet will tell you that I travel pretty much every foot of them at least once.
In addition to finding the inside scoop on the latest in golf technology, I also use my time at the show to line up exciting and interesting stories for the next several months.
Over the past few years, the news coming out of the show has gotten considerably better. The improving economy has been encouraging to the golf industry. Larger manufacturers and smaller companies have been returning to the show after being away for several years. Looking at the list of vendors heading in for the show, there appears to be a lot of newcomers exhibiting and many of the new companies from last year are returning.
Many manufacturers come into town several days early, not just to set up their booth at the convention center, but to host events for their best customers and select media.
These events usually kick off the show, filling our entire week with something to do. My week at the show customarily starts on Monday morning at the annual Tour Edge Multi-Manufacturers' Media Golf Outing.
My friends at Tour Edge know just how to tee our week off on the right foot. We spend a day trying out the company's new clubs, eating, playing golf, hearing about other new products, testing more new products, eating some more and having a few cocktails and maybe a cigar to finish the day and start the week.
Just as importantly, the event has become a fantastic way to see old friends and catch up with colleagues that I haven't seen for a year or more. We owe a huge thanks to Tour Edge for the wonderful hospitality that we receive to begin our week. At the end of the day, I head to my condo feeling happy and excited for the week to come.
Tuesday will find me at the show's Demo Day at Orange County National Golf Course. Here is where we get to put the latest clubs and other golf items through the paces. We will hit a lot of golf balls and try to find those items that you may not hear about from the national media.
After a morning of testing clubs, we're off to play golf at a nearby course. I'll be sure to fill you in on that round and make sure that it meets the standards needed to get in your “play list” the next time you are in the neighborhood.
On Wednesday I start my trek through the convention center. I will search high and low to find things to inform you of. In the coming weeks you'll hear about everything that I found of interest at the show. I'll fill you in on the new equipment, new grips, new swing aids, and even energy drinks. So, fill up your coffee cup and get ready.
Please, hold the applause. There is no need to thank me. I do all of this because of the deep love in my heart for our game. Sometimes one must make sacrifices for the good of the sport and the needs of his fans.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I really must to get back to planning my week. Round or three of golf? Check. Cigars? Check. Ice cold beverages for the fridge? Check. Hot tub? Check. Foot massage service? Um … hello? I need to get to work on that one.
James Stammer has been an avid golfer and golf enthusiast for nearly 40 years. Contact him at email@example.com.