With the annual PGA Merchandise Show forced to go virtual in 2021, golf professionals had to change the way they brought in new products for their pro shops.
By Jim Lohbauer, PGA Master Professional, Head Golf Professional at Coral Creek Club in Placida, Fla.
The PGA Merchandise Show, traditionally located in Orlando, Fla. each January, shifted to a virtual event in 2021 to connect the international golf industry online, allowing PGA Professionals, golf buyers, manufacturers and industry leaders to drive forward the business of the game from the safety of their homes, facilities and workplaces during the ongoing global pandemic.
More than 11,000 attendees from 78 countries, including some 6,500 PGA Professionals, connected online to source thousands of products from nearly 400 participating golf brands. PGA Professionals, golf buyers and industry professionals were able to take part in 192 live and on-demand exhibitor, industry and education presentations.
In total, virtual presentations drew nearly 25,000 participants, with numerous single presentations exceeding 400 viewers. The virtual platform facilitated nearly 5,000 attendee-exhibitor meetings and logged nearly 300,000 interactions, views and connections by PGA Professionals and industry attendees.
Jim Lohbauer, PGA Master Professional and Head Golf Professional at Coral Creek Club in Placida, Fla., spoke with C+RB about the unique challenge of buying merchandise for the pro shop without the benefit of attending the PGA Show in person.
Do you generally attend the PGA Merchandise Show?
I have attended the Show for the past 17 years.
In a normal year, how much ordering for the pro shop do you do at the Show?
Generally, I pre-book most of my apparel with reps at my home club during the year. I utilize the PGA Show as an opportunity to view new products and invest in capital purchases. Traditionally I do budget some purchasing dollars towards new products from the Show.
Did you attend virtually this year?
I registered for the Show, but was very limited in online activity.
What did you think?
I thought they did the best they could with what they had to work with. There’s no substitute for an in-person show, so I’m hoping we get back to normal for the 2022 Show.
Because it was virtual this year, did your strategy change?
Absolutely. Without seeing the products in person and meeting with sales representatives, I did not make any purchases this year.
Have you expanded your personal relationship with vendors?
I have always maintained a strong network with my sales representatives. COVID has altered the way we do business, but it hasn’t disrupted the relationships we have.
Do you generally attend the summer PGA Show in Las Vegas?
I have not attended this show in the past.
Does someone from the club attend the Golf Industry Show, CMAA World Conference or Chef to Chef Conference?
Our General Manager, and possibly Clubhouse Manager.
Like the PGA Merchandise Show, the Golf Industry Show and CMAA World Conference switched to a virtual format in 2021. The Chef to Chef Conference, generally scheduled for early March, was moved to September 8-10 in Austin, Texas.