By Art Stricklin, Global Golf Post/Biz
FRISCO, TEXAS | Scott Stone, national sales manager for the Ahead golf apparel company, has been to more sales meetings than he can count, but he didn’t have to think much to see the difference in the 2023 PGA Buying & Education Summit, the first held at the massive, new Omni PGA Frisco complex.
“This new venue has a new vibe, but you only have to walk around to see what a huge vendor support that is here,” he said.
PGA officials reported attendance here this week as being more than double any previous summer show, with 1,000-plus industry attendees and 166 exhibitors.
“The feedback has been extraordinary on the entire campus and very positive on the event itself,” said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh.
Hundreds of national and international golf companies, many first-time attendees, arrived for the three-day showcase at the home of the PGA of America, a 500-room Omni Resort, golf, teaching center and much more.
“We had people out until midnight putting on the huge putting green under the lights. We had people in the pro shop. This is an incredible facility,” Stone said. “Having this at the headquarters of PGA of America brings the pros here, and there is so much to do. The more amenities, the more people, the better it is for us.”
Formerly set in a hotel ballroom off the Las Vegas Strip, this was the first of likely many summer expo events set at the Omni PGA Frisco Resort. It spills out to the large outdoor practice area, the largest putting greens in North America lighted for nighttime play, the 10-hole short course, the PGA Teaching Center and the adjacent national headquarters building.
Reflo Golf co-founder Rory MacFadyen traveled from his U.K. company headquarters to North Texas for the first time and was amazed by what he found.
“Just walking into Omni, it’s like breath taken away,” MacFadyen said. “It’s like nothing I have seen before, fantastic. It’s been great this week and allows us to establish a presence in North America that we wouldn’t have had.”
While many of the vendors are regular attendees at the PGA Show in Orlando, this revitalized PGA Summer Show, with the active support of the PGA of America, was a Texas-sized boon to their company efforts.
“The caliber of clients here is really surprising, really good, almost equal to the Orlando show, much better than we’ve seen before in the summer,” said Josh Mark, brand manager of Canadian female apparel company Swing Control. “Beautiful resort and the best footprint to expose our product. We just want new eyeballs, new customers. Our people are so loyal, so caring, we just need more of them. That is why it’s so exciting to be at a new place with new people.”
While there is not the space or the organizational interest of ever moving the January PGA Show here, that doesn’t mean those involved didn’t want to see the huge upgrade presented this week for the summer show.
“This is the opportunity for the PGA Expo Show to become a national show instead of what we had in Vegas, which was a regional show, and quite honestly, a bit disappointing,” said Anne Broholm, CEO of Ahead.
That was especially true for the outdoor golf technology companies that were able to spread out on the 665 acres of former North Texas prairie, 45 minutes north of Dallas, to showcase their products for show participants who lined up in the 100-degree heat to see the companies’ products under large shaded tents.
“It was very positive, because the moment someone experiences GolfForever training and our program firsthand, they understand the impact you can have on a golfer,” said Jon Levy, a vice president at the Colorado-based company. “It is some of the best participation we have ever had.”
Callaway CEO Chip Brewer sent a team of sales executives to showcase the outdoor golf fitting system for his company.
“We are doing fitting training (outside) at the Expo, something we have not done before,” Brewer said. “We are always excited to support the PGA of America and have the opportunity to meet with PGA professionals and include offerings such as fitness training.”
Most of the educational sessions were held in the modern, technology-filled, four-story PGA of America national headquarters, which gave constant tours to the show participants.
“This is a great chance for us to explain the PGA of America to a new audience,” said Don Rea, PGA of America vice president, who spoke to some of the summer expo tour. “There are so many ways to get involved in golf, from the business side, the teaching side, technology and playing. We want to talk with people who could be interested and explain the work-life balance we are continuing to work on and what it means to be a PGA pro.”
While there is no determined term for the summer expo to be at PGA Frisco, it’s clear after the successful first year that it’s not going back to a hotel ballroom in Las Vegas or anywhere else anytime soon.
“We’re going to grow from here,” Stone said. “Just look around and see the participation level this year, and it’s very exciting for us and for them to see all the work at PGA Frisco.”