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PGA Merchandise Show Day 4 Review: 5 Cool Booths

Jan 29, 2016 6:41 PM
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As things start to wind down on the final day of the 63rd PGA Merchandise Show, the @TheGolfSmash Twitter account and Facebook feed remain filled with details of the outstanding new products and services that we continue to encounter at the Orange County Convention Centre.

The range and quality of the exhibition has been truly outstanding and to conclude our time in Florida this post rounds up five of the coolest booths that we visited on closing day.

1. Scarborough & Tweed's

Corporate gift manufacturers are ten-a-penny in the golf industry and the number of companies offering such a service at the 2016 Merchandise show is astounding. In this context, the PGA’s decision to award Scarborough & Tweed the “Best New Product” prize for 2016 initially struck me as strange – how was the idea original?

Within a few minutes of meeting with the Scarborough & Tweed team this morning, however, it became clear that there is far more to this company than only producing distinctive corporate gifts, logo merchandise, and custom promotional products.

Scarborough & Tweed is underpinned by a cogent, socially responsible and charitable philosophy, one summed up by the tag-line: “Giving...it’s part of our fabric.”

 It is notable, for instance, that every bag purchased from Scarborough & Tweed’s Custom Bag Catalogue will provide one meal for a child in need through World Food Program USA, while a share of the revenue generated by Scarborough & Tweed administers is also donated to charitable causes.

Such a “give-back” ethos is hugely admirable and all too rare at the Merchandise Show: this philosophy, paired with Scarborough & Tweed’s high quality design and manufacture, marked the company out as worthy winners of the best new product award.

2. Visit Wales

A little off-beat perhaps, but Wales’ liminal position in the international golf tourism market is precisely what made my conversation with Clare Sanders at the Visit Wales booth this morning so interesting.

Wales’ Celtic brethren, Scotland and Ireland, are synonymous with golf in the popular American consciousness. Once every two years a leading Scottish course is broadcast live across the globe during the Open while the fact that Ireland has produced nine major winners in the last nine years has inevitably peeked international interest in playing the country’s links courses.

Wales, though, remains relatively virgin territory for American golf tourists.

While the hosting of the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor catalysed a rapid and enduring growth in awareness of golf in Wales, the absence of a top-level pro since Ian Woosnam and the dominance of the Irish and Scottish golf markets in the British Isles means that Wales is continuing to have to play catch-up to their near neighbours.

The long term goal for Welsh golf is to get a course on the Open Championship rota and the fact that Royal Portrush this year succeeded in persuading the R&A to return the Open to Ireland in 2019 suggests that there is hope on that front. Furthermore, Clare was keen to stress the fact that American awareness of Welsh golf has improved dramatically through the course of the 14 years that they have been exhibiting in Orange County.

The reality is that Wales is a much underrated golfing destination and the work that the Visit Wales team are doing in Orange County is ultimately what will help Welsh golf erode the dominance of Ireland and Scotland. 

3. Live Lucky

At least half of the Orange County Convention Centre’s 2,000,000 sq ft of exhibition floor-space has been taken up by clothing companies this week, from ambitious small-scale start-ups to the corporate giants whose logos dominate the PGA Tour. Such a circumstance has inevitably made it difficult for apparel producers of any kind to stand out; however, one logo which has succeeded in catching eyes all week is that of Live Lucky.

Established in 2008, Live Lucky offers lifestyle clothing and accessories for men, women and children in a range of clever, innovatory designs, all of which bear a very attractive four leafed clover logo.
Live Lucky lie very much outside the orthodoxy of the golf apparel industry and are well worth checking out at http://blackcloverusa.com/.

4. DV8 Foldable Clubs

In purely logistical terms, golf is not an easy sport to play.

We have all struggled  to fit our clubs in the trunk of a crowded car when getting ready to go to the course while many golfers who don’t drive simply cannot get to where they need to play owing the difficulties that taking a full set of clubs on any kind of public transport entails. Furthermore, the cost of transporting one’s clubs abroad is astronomical and only continues to increase.

It is in this context that DV8’s patented, quick-connect coupler clubs are so attractive.

A single, foldable Matrix crafted shaft can be attached to any retractable club head in seconds to complete the club you need for each shot and your entire bag fits in a back-pack. While such a product will hardly to appeal to a tournament golfer, it is a very convenient way for a busy, city-based professional or frequent traveller to always have a set of clubs on them and the quality of the clubs themselves is remarkably high.

5. Golf in Sicily

Italy is hardly a country one would immediately associate with golf, despite the Marco Simone course being awarded the 2022 Ryder Cup.

While the recent success of Edoardo and Francesco Molinari as well as Matteo Manassero has gone some way towards raising international awareness of Italian golf, the reality is that the country lacks any real golfing culture (soccer is king) as well as the kind of reputation required to attract international players to visit.

But if Italy is struggling to make the most of its outstanding golf-playing climate and topography, Sicily finds itself in an even weaker position. It was in this context that it was so heartening to see representatives of the Sicilian golf industry exhibiting in Orange County for it is only by bringing the product to the international market place that awareness will be generated.

Sicily possesses everything needed to become a leading European links destination, not least owing to the fact that its climate extends the golfing season far beyond that of Scotland or Ireland.

Great golf paired with sun, fine food and wine; what’s not to like? 

[Image Source: Flickr under CC]

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