Admiration, applause for PGA Show's impact

The floor of the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., on its first day at Orange County Convention Center.

The floor of the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., on its first day at Orange County Convention Center.

— The world of golf needs the PGA Merchandise Show, which ended Jan. 24 here at the Orange County Convention Center.

The world of golf needs the energy and ideas and innovation that are part and parcel of the PGA Merchandise Show.

I listened for hours as TaylorMade chief executive Mark King and his fellow panelists (president of the PGA of America president Ted Bishop, National Golf Foundation chief executive Joe Beditz and noted business consultant Gary Hamel) talked about a comprehensive grassroots effort to bring new people to golf. They named it Hack Golf, and its calling card is a cup that is 15 inches in diameter (a standard cup is 4 1/4 inches). Think you could make a few putts? Among a variety of amateurs, King reported a dip in average score of 11 strokes.

I admire their intention. The woman who sat next to me must have felt the same way, because she popped up from her seat like a bagel in a toaster and, looking directly at King, shouted, “You guys rock.”

Far beyond Hack Golf, though, the PGA Merchandise Show stands on its own as golf’s premier showcase of clubs, balls, apparel and accessories. Every year, for three days in January, almost everything in golf is here under one roof.

I attended my first PGA Show more than 40 years ago. It was held outdoors in a parking lot, with exhibitors shielding their merchandise from the weather with tents.

One thing hasn’t changed over the decades: the entrepreneurs and visionaries of the golf industry keep showing up, bidding for recognition and a larger piece of golf’s retail pie.

I applaud them all.

I applaud companies that have grown from one golfer’s imagination. One example: While in high school, Dave Glod started constructing golf clubs. He founded Tour Edge Golf in Glen Ellyn, Ill., in 1985 and has endured with design and quality control.

I applaud tiny companies that grew through persistence. Nobody paid much attention to an oversized putting grip called Fatso, but the golf gods smiled when the name became SuperStroke.

Golf is for dreamers. Let it always be so.

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