A lengthy list of golf industry leaders and luminaries joined 1,000 leading companies and attendees from all 50 states and 78 countries on a busy Day One of the 2015 PGA Merchandise Show – The Major of Golf Business – at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday.
With Golf Channel providing “Morning Drive” coverage from 8:30-11:30 a.m., Bubba Watson was on hand to officially welcome attendees and open the PGA Show from the Main Lobby, while PGA President Derek Sprague – as well as thousands of enthusiastic PGA Show attendees – looked on. “The first day of the PGA Show has been exciting, fun and very crowded. It’s busy, busy, busy,” said PGA Professional Tara McKenna of Fort Myers, Florida, who has attended every PGA Show since 1991. “For those in the golf industry, this is like Christmas morning.” Wednesday also marked the first of three days of the PGA Education Conference, featuring dozens of seminars on Leadership, Teaching & Coaching, Retail & Merchandising, and Sales & Marketing.
Greg Norman and Lexi Thompson appeared on the PGA Forum Stage presented by OMEGA on behalf of Cobra Puma, while an update on golf’s return to the Olympics in 2016 was another first-day highlight. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and women’s golf initiatives were highlighted in a special presentation in the same location, and a new website for women’s golfers, GolfForHer.com, was also unveiled.
Panelists bring PGA Show attendees up to speed on the 2016 Olympic Games
It has been 111 years since golf was last a part of the Olympic Games. But the return of golf to the games is well under way, and the golf course where the competition will be held is in the final stages of construction.
As the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, near, a panel met yesterday morning on the PGA Forum Stage presented by OMEGA to discuss the state of construction on the golf course and the excitement for potential Olympic golfers. On the panel were Peter Dawson, president of the International Golf Federation (IGF); Ty Votaw, vice president of the IGF; LPGA Tour player Suzann Pettersen; PGA Tour player Graeme McDowell; former LPGA Tour player Amy Alcott, who is part of the Rio course design team, and Gil Hanse, president of Hanse Golf Course Design, the architectural firm in charge of course construction.
“Golf in the Olympics is the biggest grow-the-game opportunity we have,” said Dawson, referring to the golf industry as a whole. “The growth of the game is worldwide. Golf in the Olympics will lead to extra exposure and extra government support for the game.”
Bubba Watson thrills crowd on PGA Forum Stage presented by OMEGA
The 2012 Masters produced one of the most memorable golf shots in recent history. Facing Louis Oosthuizen in a playoff, Bubba Watson pulled his tee shot at the 10th deep into the towering trees, where it came to rest on the pine straw. The left-hander proceeded to pull a 52-degree wedge, hit a 50-yard draw, and land it 15 feet from the cup on his way to winning the Masters.
On Wednesday afternoon, Watson took to the PGA Forum Stage presented by OMEGA to talk to PGA Show attendees about how he works the golf ball like he did at Augusta, his social media usage and what it’s like to win the Masters.
“Whether you’re 92 or 35, like I was, when you have the green jacket on you’re 12 years old,” said Watson, describing the setting of the Champions Dinner at Augusta. “When we wear the green jacket it turns us all into kids. It’s great to see because it reminds me of why I play golf.”
The reason he plays: Because golf is fun. Another fun thing for Watson is “doing weird stuff on social media.” When he’s not posting hip-hop golf videos, Watson uses his social channels to interact with fans. “If it’s the golf course, baseball field, football field or the doctor’s office, it’s tough to really see who a person is,” said Watson. “Social media is a way to interact with fans and show them who I am as a person.”
Watson closed by taking questions from the audience and amazing a young golfer when he confirmed that he uses 10 wraps on his grips.