The PGA Show was recently recognised for ‘outstanding actions and support for diversity, equity and inclusion’ in golf. We share the story behind the award and highlight the team’s ongoing efforts to create a more inclusive golfing industry.
When 14-year-old Layla Quick started out pitching her homemade lemonade to thirsty golfers in Durham, NC, little did she imagine that within four years her OMG Lemonade brand would be a talking point at the PGA Show in Orlando, the golf industry’s largest business event.
Layla had entered a pitch competition launched by the PGA Show which invited Black businesses to share the story of their business success, as part of its mission to make the show more diverse. Layla told the story of how she was inspired by her mom to start the company with just $20, and how it was generating six figure revenues within one year. Her pitch for OMG Lemonade secured first prize ‒ a free booth at the PGA Show 2022 in January – and Layla, aged 18, became one of the youngest African Americans to ever exhibit at the show.
During PGA Show 2022, the organising team was recognised for ‘outstanding actions and support for diversity, equity and inclusion’ for its ongoing efforts to increase diversity in golf. The Award, by the African American Golfers Expo, was announced during a meeting of the AA Golf Expo’s DEI Forum and Networking Reception.
Sponsors of AAGolfExpo
The PGA Show team’s commitment to increase diversity in golf goes back several years, explained Vice-President Marc Simon: “In 2018, the PGA Show sponsored a lunch and guided event tour for a diverse group of suppliers and exhibiting prospects. I personally ran this tour and we had 25-30 people take part. In 2019 and 2020 this was expanded to include an education session and networking reception open to all attendees.”
Through connections made at these events, Marc and his team kept in touch with Jim Beatty, the founder of the African American Golf Expo and Forum. “After talking in more detail with him, we decided to sponsor the inaugural AAGolfExpo, held from 21-24 August 2021 at the Atlanta City Club Marietta Golf Course and Marietta Hilton Hotel. We also offered a 10% discount for AAGolfExpo exhibitors to make participating in the PGA Show more affordable for first time exhibitors, answered general questions from Jim about event management, and gave insights and advice where appropriate.”
Geared toward supporting and growing interest, careers and opportunities for African Americans and other communities currently underrepresented in the sport, the first African America Golf Expo and Forum welcomed hundreds of golfing consumers and industry executives who met with minority-owned/focused businesses and organizations within 20,000 square feet of exhibition space. Event attendees also participated in a variety of sessions on topics ranging from golf programs at historically black colleges and universities to supplier diversity opportunities.
“The support from PGA Golf Exhibitions is deeply appreciated and most welcomed. It clearly signals their belief and commitment to increasing diversity in the $84-billion industry of golf for African Americans,” said Jim Beatty, who is also president of Jim Beatty Golf Ventures, executive editor of the African American Golfer’s Digest and chairman of the WE ARE GOLF Diversity Task Force Recreational and Competitive Play Committee.
PGA Show’s offer to host the “Share Your Story” contest at AA Golf Expo was targeted to exhibitors that had not previously exhibited at the PGA Show. Launched in the summer of 2021, the contest encouraged exhibitors to tell their story via a 3-minute video, highlighting the challenges and adversities they had faced in developing their business.
So impressed were the PGA Show and AAGolfExpo show judges with the submissions, that having selected OMG Lemonade as their overall winner, PGA Golf decided to award two runner’s up prizes of a 50% discount on space at the 2022 PGA Show. These went to Bucka Fogey Sports, an Abington, Pennsylvania based apparel company and American Soul Brothers, an Atlanta, Georgia based barbeque sauce company.
Now, be YOU
The PGA Show team’s diversity initiatives are part of a wider drive across parent company RX to promote and support a culture of inclusion and belonging within RX, at our events, and among the communities and industries we serve. The drive is being led by Global Director of Inclusion and Diversity, Ray Rhodes, who heads up the RX Global Inclusion Council, an I&D advisory board comprised of RX colleagues from 19 countries, representing many cultures and diversity dimensions.
For 2022, the PGA Show team worked closely with RX’s Inclusion & Diversity team and the PGA of America to create a diversity statement which welcomed all participants to the event and encouraged them to ‘Now, be YOU’. The statement was used as part of the show’s messaging to highlight the fact that, “at the PGA Show, everyone belongs”.
To complement the diversity statement, the PGA Show promoted the PGA of America’s “Make Golf Your Thing” campaign—a collaborative effort across the golf industry to ensure the future of golf is open to everyone. This multi-faceted, multi-year campaign will work to invite more people to the sport from all backgrounds to enjoy the game – their way. The PGA hosted a MGYT information centre at the show with sessions on the industry stage, and readily available information on the new inclusion guidelines for golf facilities, an assessment tool to help make facilities more welcoming for all.
Reflecting on the PGA Show’s award Marc Simon said: “PGA Golf Exhibitions is strongly aligned with the goals of increasing inclusion and diversity in the sport and business of golf. We are proud to help grow involvement by underrepresented communities at the PGA Show.”