Organised by RX Global in partnership with the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, The PGA Merchandise Show is the world’s largest gathering of golf industry professionals, traditionally connecting over 40,000 global industry professionals with over 1,000 exhibiting companies and brands, and around 1000 national and international journalists every January.

Unable to deliver a physical show in 2021, the team transformed the 68th edition of the event into a cutting-edge, highly-interactive virtual experience and marketplace, allowing PGA Professionals, golf retailers, industry leaders, manufacturers and media to participate from the safety of their homes, facilities or offices.

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. In all, there were 34,500 visits to Exhibitor Showrooms during the event and approximately 2,100 visits have taken place since. The virtual platform facilitated nearly 5,000 attendee-exhibitor meeting requests and logged nearly 300,000 interactions, views and connections by PGA Professionals and industry attendees. More than 409 million media impressions were generated, valued at approximately $3.8 million for the 78 brands and 277 news items covered.

Must-see content

PGA Merchandise Show is renowned for its industry programming, and the PGA Virtual Experience and Marketplace didn’t disappoint with sessions by golfing legend Phil Mickelson, 2020 Ryder Cup Captains Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington, PGA Champion Collin Morikawa and CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz, amongst many others.

The robust paid conference program was attended by over 1,500 delegates, more than took part in the paid education conference at the 2020 in-person show. Some 190 industry presentations, panels, webinars, exhibitor events and education sessions were delivered, garnering more than 25,000 views during show days, with numerous single presentations exceeding 400 participants. There have since been an additional 9,000 session views via the platform’s on-demand feature.

E-commerce enabled virtual showrooms

To maximize brand and product exposure for exhibitors, the PGA Virtual Marketplace partnered with RepSpark, which provides catalogue and digitization solutions for companies in the golf industry. This strategic collaboration resulted in an e-commerce plug-in feature on the show platform to facilitate business directly within the PGA Show virtual showrooms.

“26 brands took advantage of the opportunity, resulting in more than 1,600 catalogue, assortment or landing page views, despite a short lead time” revealed Susan Merola, Event Technology Director. “We are now working with RepSpark to transition to a “365” solution with RepSpark which would enable transactions within the PGA community throughout the year, between our physical events.” 

A dynamic showcase for innovation

Many leading equipment brands showcased their latest products including Titleist, Callaway, Bridgestone, Cobra Puma, Mizuno and Cleveland/Srixon; but the event was also a vital business catalyst for SMEs and first time exhibitors seeking brand and product exposure.

 “Our experience at the PGA Merchandise show was incredibly impactful” said Peter Luchak, Campus Promotions. “We could never have predicted a better result from a virtual tradeshow. We received 509 unique leads for our first launch of the patented  CoolerTag™ bag tag/can cooler combination. Participating in the ‘exclusive offers’ digital promotion allowed us to put samples into the hands of prospects all over North America, quickly kick starting the sales process coast to coast.” 

As a new product entrant to the golf industry and a first time exhibitor at the PGA Merchandise show, Rake Caddy’s expectations were somewhat uncertain, but they were delighted with the result. “The virtual show, although having its learning curves, was most definitely a success in our minds, and we are excited for the opportunities which we believe lie ahead. We are also excited to exhibit again next year, this time in person” said Mike White and Ryan Curran.

Year-round business opportunities, face-to-face and online

As part of their 365 digital strategy, the PGA show team are also working on a one-day content-based event in April, focused on retail and merchandising, and timed to coincide with the kick-off of the golf season and warmer weather in most of the US. The marketplace will be open for this virtual event and instant meeting functionality has been added so attendees and exhibitors can stay connected and continue to have meetings.

Reflecting on the success of the PGA Virtual Experience and Marketplace, Director Marc Simon said: We’re honored to be able support such a resilient and tight-knit community of people through unprecedented times. We can’t wait to bring the industry back together in Orlando next January. In the meantime, most PGA Show programming will remain available on our virtual platform on demand for an extended period of time, and our exhibitor marketplace showrooms will stay open throughout the year. We want to help exhibiting companies and buyers continue to connect, have meetings, discover new products and drive commerce throughout 2021.”

PGA Merchandise returns to Orlando from 25-28 January 2022.