Golf heaven does exist – it’s called the PGA Show.
It’s a one of a kind event where 30,000+ golf industry professionals, retailers, media, and PGA professionals, meet up every January in Orlando for a jam-packed few days.
As noted in an old PGA Show press release, “The PGA Merchandise Show, now the world’s largest and most influential golf business event, grew from humble beginnings in Dunedin, Fla., in 1954, when a handful of golf merchandisers assembled in the PGA National Golf Club parking lot during a series of PGA winter tournaments.”
Since then, it’s switched locations throughout Florida and now is a staple in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC). I went to my first show in 2023 and was amazed at the scale of the event. It’s a time to test out new equipment, try out new training aids, learn more about the golf industry, network, and more.
After a crazy 72 hours, here’s my recap of the 2024 PGA Show.
PGA Show 2024 Recap
- The PGA Show (also known as the PGA Merchandise Show) started in 1954 with a handful of golf merchandisers at PGA National Golf Club.
- This is a trade only event and not open to the public.
- The first day (Tuesday) is a demo day at the Orange County National Golf Center, where you can test out the latest and great equipment.
- The other days (Wednesday to Friday) are at the Orange County Convention Center, with hundreds of booths. You can test out new technology, equipment, apparel, training aids, learn about golf travel destinations, and a lot more.
PGA Show Day 1: Demo Day
I booked my trip to the 2023 show at the very last minute and sadly, didn’t get a chance to attend demo day. So 2024 was my first year attending this portion and I couldn’t wait as an avid player and equipment geek.
From 9am – 12pm it’s media and PGA professionals only, so I wanted to get there early to beat the crowds. After going to the convention center to grab my pass, I took one of their chartered buses to Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge.
I’d heard of this course before, as it’s been the home of Korn Ferry Q-School Finals in past years. What I didn’t realize was that it’s also home to the biggest driving range in the country.
In fact, it might even look familiar even if you’ve never visited Florida.
According to the Orange County National website, “You may feel like you have seen our range before when you arrive for the first time. The facility gained notoriety when Tiger Woods bounced a ball off his sand wedge several times before striking it out of mid air 150 yards down the fairway in his famous Nike commercial.”
The 42 acre facility is a rare circular driving range with putting greens, a short game area, and only grass tees. All the big brands like Titleist, Cobra, Callaway, Ping, etc. have a booth and tons of other products too.
The energy was electric and as an avid golfer, it was hard not to love it. Not to mention food trucks and the Cobra tent even had a DJ blasting music all day.
Plus, they have short clinics and brand ambassadors in attendance. This year, Brad Faxon gave a great clinic on short game while showing off his skills using the Titleist Vokey SM10 wedges.
It took me more than four hours to make it around the entire demo day and I hit all types of new woods, irons, and wedges. By about 2pm, I jumped in a shuttle back to the convention center, so I could grab some food and get ready for the evening at the Open Forum event.
While I didn’t attend demo day last year, I did get a chance to attend the Open Forum. This is a small extra fee, but it is unlike anything I’ve ever been to before. It’s part presentation, part debate with audience interaction on all things golf science.
The event has had a myriad of presenters and speakers over the years including the co-founder Chris Como, Dr. Phil Cheetham, Brad Faxon, David Leadbetter, Brandel Chamblee, Claude Harmon III, and many others. It typically lasts about five hours but can run longer (last year it went until nearly midnight – or so I was told).
Open Forum is a fun event to learn more about how high level coaches think and teach the best of the best golfers. It’s great for industry professionals who like having a detailed approach to helping their students as well.
PGA Show – Day 2-4: On the Floor
Walking into the show is sensory overload in the best way possible. Music, golfers everywhere, and anything that you might need if you run a golf course or golf business.
As you walk through the main entrance, you get to see the PGA Championship trophy (last year they had the Ryder Cup trophy too). Inside the convention center are hundreds of vendors representing companies of all sizes.
What’s great is that you have a mix of everything – from equipment to golf course gear (check out our Vessel Golf bag post), apparel, training aids, and pretty much everything you need. At the back of the facility they have an indoor driving range (about 40 yards long then a net), probably 100+ full size simulators, a massive putting green, hundreds of golf carts, and more.
So, why does everyone go to this event? It’s a good mix…
Some people go to learn more about what training aids they should incorporate into their own lessons and schools. Others go to buy a new fleet of golf carts for their course or new range supplies. While others go to network, promote their brand, and find new partnerships.
One thing is for sure – everyone loves golf and is in a great mood. As a golf writer, tournament player, and podcaster I had a blast both years learning about new gear, trying out new gadgets, and of course, hitting all kinds of new clubs.
Top Clubs from the PGA Show
Demo day was busy, as were the driving ranges at the convention center, but I did hit a ton of new clubs. Here were some of my favorites that I think will make a big splash in 2024.
- Callaway Ai Smoke Driver
- Cleveland Launcher XL 2 Driver
- Cobra Dark Speed Driver
- Srixon ZX7 Driver
- Ping G430 Max 10K
- Mizuno Pro Fli-Hi Driving Irons
- Cobra Dark Speed Irons
- Callaway Smoke Irons
- Mizuno Pro 245 Irons
- Titleist Vokey SM10 Wedges
- Mizuno T24 Wedges
- Zebra Putters
- Meridian Putters
Unfortunately, PXG and TaylorMade were not at the show (which I’m still trying to figure out why) so I couldn’t check out any new gear from them yet.
Noteworthy Products at the 2024 PGA Show
I wish I could say I made it to every booth, but the crowds were huge and the place is a maze (nearly 20,000 steps/day). However, I talked to tons of people, learned about new brands, and tested out as much gear as I could.
Here were some of my favorite picks in 2024:
- Fore Cards : A fun way to mix up a casual round of golf with friends and take gambling games to a whole new level.
- Rypstick Swing Trainer: A great speed training device that is the length of the driver and has interchangeable weights. Plus, a detailed training protocol to help you gain speed fast. Given that it’s only one club, it is convenient and easy to keep in your bag at all times.
- Golf Buddy Rangefinders: Incredible rangefinders that provided an unreal display and very heavy-duty design for all budgets.
- Golf Swing Shirt : Don’t get me wrong, you’ll look a little ridiculous putting this shirt on, but it can help keep your arms connected throughout the swing. It will help eliminate “alligator arms” aka chicken wings/flying right elbows and keep your body working together.
New Short Game Aids
One thing I love about the PGA Show is that you have new products/brands all the way to the most established names in golf (Titleist, Ping, Mizuno, etc.). But some of the newer brands had some incredible products, specifically in the short game area.
Here were some of my favorites:
- Gimme Golf Lab: If you like short game practice, it’s time to ditch the shag bag once and for all. The Gimme Pro is a great new product to replace a shag that you can take with you to the short game facility in a small, compact design.
- PuttOut Putting Mat: This new putting mat will revolutionize the golf world when it’s released later this year. There are mini airbags underneath eight portions of the mat to help create breaking putts and ones that are uphill or downhill. It also folds up easily and works on any type of floor – this will be a game changer to indoor putting greens.
- PuttLink: The world’s first smart ball for putting looks and rolls like a real golf ball but wirelessly connects to your phone. It helps you understand your true roll distance, make percentage, entry cup speed, and more inside the app. Not to mention drills to practice smarter and make putting more fun.
- Pur Truth Trainer: This is the best of all worlds when it comes to putting aids. It has everything you need to get the ball started on the right line, dial in your path, and get your eyes in the right position.
- iAlign Putter Training Aid: An easy-to-use putting aid that makes sure your club is square at address to get the ball started on the proper line. It’s small and fits on any type of putter for immediate feedback whether you’re putting indoors or outdoors.
- Eagle iAlign Putting Aid: Developed by a highly competitive golfer, this replaces the chalk line and/or putting mirror. It makes it easy to ensure your eyes are over the ball correctly and lets the ball sit on the grass for a pure roll.
- Puttview Outdoor: This was a crazy set of augmented reality goggles that help you see the perfect read on any putt. Powered by Microsoft’s HoloLens you can see the ideal starting line and putt with confidence like never before. Unfortunately, these are about $15,000, so I’m not sure if they’re meant for the everyday golfer.
If you work in the golf world, this is a must attend event if you can make it work with your schedule. It’s a great way to connect with other golf professionals, network, learn about new brands, and discover how the game is changing.
Even if you can make it Tuesday and Wednesday then fly out at night, it’s worth it. You never know who you’ll run into – including players like Annika Sorrenstam, Ernie Els, Brad Faxon, and others that attend.
One thing is for sure – even though we’re living in a LIV vs. PGA and golf ball rollback world – the game is thriving. There are so many innovations from established and brand names to help golfers with all areas of their game.
The future looks bright for 2024 and beyond.
The PGA Show is an awesome event that I can’t recommend enough if you work in the industry.
It’s incredible to see so many innovators create training aids and other gadgets to help golfers improve. While new technology continues to evolve and make this complex game a little bit easier.