2021 PGA Show a “No Go”… Going Virtual

It seems like it was only a couple of months ago when I found myself wrapping up the final meetings at the 2020 PGA Show and I started to look forward to the 2021 edition.

Believe it or not, my planning for the next year’s annual PGA Merchandise Show begins as soon as the sun rises the next morning. Every year, I learn how to manage the giant labyrinth that is the “golf industry Mecca” just a little differently and better. Methods on how to run the floor and handle the Demo Day just a little differently. To maximize my efficiency and proficiency. I am, after all, a one person operation.

But, as the show wrapped up, and I was two days away from getting onto a Frontier Airlines flight back home to Buffalo, New York, my wife Crystal called me out of concern. Apparently some virus called Coronavirus was showing signs of running rampant and turning into something big. We didn’t know much then, but we knew that it hailed from another part of the world, a part of the world that impacts the golf industry and practically every other industry that there is.

January 2020. Headed home from the 2020 PGA Show. COVID-19 was well-established already.

Immediately, I started to think about individuals that I came into contact with, with a focus on those from that part of the world. I immediately figured out my answer, and the answer was actually zero. Perfect! Not a worry, right?

When it comes to large exhibitions like the PGA Merchandise Show that’s put on by Reed Worldwide Exhibitions in Orlando, Florida it doesn’t matter who you didn’t speak to or who you didn’t shake hands with. Because, it’s moot. The reality is that you don’t know who shook hands with the person that you just shook hands with.

Coronavirus or COVID-19 has turned into one Hell of a nasty critter. Claiming the lives of over 1 million while infecting over 41 million people worldwide. The disease has had a crippling effect on the global economy, yet the golf industry has managed and coped quite well. But, I’m not here to talk politics or epidemiology.

For several months I’ve been thinking about the PGA Show in January. If I may channel Shakespeare’s “Ham Omelette”, To go… Or not to go? That is the question. Wondering to myself and my wife if I should go or not. Is the risk worth the reward? In retrospect, what an oddly familiar phrase that is, ironic really since we often use the term to describe going for it or not on a golf hole.

The lights have gone out for the 2021 PGA Show. Going virtual.

The annual PGA Show is extremely important for me. The bulk of my content for the year comes from the two and a half days on the Orange County Convention Center show floor and the Demo Day that’s held at Orange County National Golf Resort and Lodge. Unlike so many other websites and blogs, I don’t receive many pieces of equipment to try beyond Demo Day. That’s why I write all of the “First Impressions” reviews, because as a self-described opportunist I depend on that resourcefulness to keep Until The Next Tee going.

The hamster in the hamster wheel, that is my brain, has been mulling over whether to go to the show or not. About two and a half weeks ago I contacted the media representative for the PGA Show (Sherry Major) to find out if I had applied for my media credentials. I literally couldn’t remembe if I had or not. Which in itself, is odd. It was then that I found out that registration hadn’t even opened yet, and that they were still deciding whether to have the show commence as usual (in-person) or if they were going to have a virtual show. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t even looked into flights or hotel rooms yet. The latter being something that I typically do by March at the latest. My flight, I’d be booking any time now. Yes, 2020 has been a different year.

As of yesterday, looking for a room got a whole lot easier. Making travel plans became even easier. The announcement came from PGA Worldwide Exhibitions that the 2021 PGA Show was cancelled, nay, they were going to be going with a “Virtual Golf Show”. A decision that I think was very wise and I applaud the decision. As much as it pains me to say it, but, that’s just my inner child coming out. All of those people, congregating in a confined area, no doubt at some point coming into close contact to one another no matter how much physical distancing is employed or sanitizer is spread around. Ultimately, someone will forget to wash their hands, use sanitizer, and/or break physical distancing protocols. Everybody touching all of the golf equipment, apparel, and anything else that you can lay your hands on. It could prove disastrous. It only takes one rotten apple to ruin a bushel.

Even though the decision may be detrimental to my efforts, on the heels of my best year for views ever, I’m also not tone-deaf. I realize that the locals are potentially affected more by this.

While the area of International Drive might feel the effects a little bit from the lack of golf industry invaders, Orlando and that area of “I-Drive” is, of course, a tourism destination. However, for those employed by Reed Exhibitions and those that are employed by the OCCC on the other hand, they might feel a pinch.

People like those that work at the concessions stands, the food and beverage department (catering), security officers, cleaning staff, porters, shuttle drivers, set-up and tear-down labourers, and even the massage attendants out in the concourse hallways. It is they, who are going to be missing valuable hours of work.

I love going to the show and I admit that it’s just not about the networking, swinging the latest and greatest in the world of golf equipment, observing trends in fashion, new ideas in health and wellness, or seeing old acquaintances and friends. I just love to go, period!

No in-person show means no Demo Day. No Demo Day means no Teezy Awards in 2021 and less review pieces. Hope to see you in ’22.

As far as Until The Next Tee goes, here’s how not being able to attend is going to impact me.

  • The lack of Demo Day will limit the amount of golf equipment reviews that I post. My reviews have turned into my “bread and butter” and are what mostly draws views to my website.
  • The lack of Demo Day eliminates my Teezy Awards. I’m surprised by the views that, that little creation has drawn.
  • Content. I will lose no less than 30 articles. How do I replace that potential lost content? What do I replace it with?

It’s that last point that I really hope to get help with, from you, my readers. In the event that I lose out on some reviews, which is all but inevitable, what sort of content would you like to see? More golf course reviews? Which is a content source that I’m just starting to tap. More editorials? More TOUR news? If so, which TOUR(s)? Golf tips? Honestly, I’m an open book. I’m always open to suggestions. Let me know.

Actually, there is one positive thing that will happen with me not traveling to the PGA Show for 2021. I can almost guarantee that I will not develop an illness or foot ulcer this winter. Every year that I go, something bad happens. So I have that going for me, which is nice.

Hey Orlando and the PGA Show. See you in 2022. It’ll be sweet.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee