Final Word – The 2021 PGA Show Virtual Experience

For another year, the annual PGA Show has reached its conclusion.

For the months and even days leading up to the virtual iteration of the PGA Show, I have to admit a few things. I was concerned about the technical side of things because, contrary to what you may think, I am so far from being a technical savvy individual that it is truly hard to comprehend. I had never used outlets like Zoom or Teams up until about 2 weeks ago. My experience was a total of three calls.

Secondly, I wasn’t into it. Period! I wasn’t feeling the whole virtual “thing” because my inner childish mentality came out, pacifier and all. There was no in-person attendance and I just didn’t want to accept the fact that it’d be okay. The lack of meetings, the absence of handshakes, and really my lack of technical prowess spooked me. I had a difficult time grappling with “the how”. Really, in retrospect, it was more about the fear of the unknown. Granted, media consultant for the PGA Show (Sherry Major) did settle me down… a lot.

I think my biggest concern heading into the show this year was losing content. Content like the annual Teezy Awards from Demo Day, which has gained in popularity. Also, the fact that a large bulk of my content comes from the PGA Show demo day and floor. Especially, when it comes to the equipment side of things. Reviews ARE the “bread and butter” of Until The Next Tee, a fact that became really obvious in my record-setting 2020.

But, it didn’t take too long for my sentiments to change. As the media registration finally opened and the exhibitor directory was launched, I started to go through my usual routine. Scouting exhibitors for anyone that caught my eye, with hopes of setting up meetings. With all of the media resources available and the exhibitor showrooms, the material is there to provide plenty of information to keep me going.

It’s sort of funny how the week progressed. It was almost like I was in Orlando for the “real” thing. I was waking up early, showering, doing my hair, shaving (that’s a stretch), having coffee, and going for the morning walk like I customarily do while attending the show. The only difference was that my pup, Muskoka, was with me. My “golffice” which I referred to as the “nervecentre” was a warm 80*F, I was sweating in there. There was some tropical foliage present – okay it was one small plant – but it was “Florida-like”. I even had a quasi ETC (Equipment Test Center) like we see at the end of the convention centre.

For the most part, my meetings went off without a hitch, other than a couple of time zone issues and one case where I was in the meeting room, my expected appointment was in there too. But, neither one of us saw that we were in the room. Managing some of the meetings was difficult too because, there was a total of three methods of meeting being used. Zoom, Teams, and the Online Rooms set-up by Reed Exhibitions were all utilized.

Overall, while the platform wasn’t perfect it was very well done. I applaud all that were involved. Thank you Reed Exhibitions for making this happen.

I had many great meetings and it ended up being a busy show. It wasn’t typical by any means but has anything been typical in the last 10 months? Nothing beats being in-person, but if I have to be totally frank, the virtual show was a great stop-gap. Ironically, the show being virtual and me not traveling to Florida was a blessing in disguise. Having been taken to the hospital by ambulance at 5 am EST on Tuesday morning, it was better that it happened here and not in Florida.

Hey Florida, see you in 2022.

I don’t know what 2022 holds, but I can almost envision a hybrid show next year. Sure, we hope to be in-person and I’ll be there, if allowed. But, I can see some virtual options being part of the equation too, although that might mean more manpower for the exhibitors. It might just be too difficult from a logistics standpoint.

There were all kinds of products discovered. What’s really exciting are the smaller, independent brands with great backstories. The number of fantastic products under $100 or even $50. Even virtually, the PGA Show was a cornucopia of quality products and hidden gems.

Per a press release from the PGA Show, the show was quite the success. “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” and “virtual presentations hosted nearly 25,000 participants, with numerous single presentations exceeding 400 participants. The virtual platform facilitated nearly 5,000 attendee-exhibitor meetings and logged nearly 300,000 interactions, views and connections by PGA Professionals and industry attendees”. To everybody involved, congratulations!

I found it so odd that the show ended up feeling like a simulation of actually being there. Early mornings, anticipation, the excitement, the rush of meetings, the full days (even though I didn’t have nearly as many meetings as when I’m in attendance), and falling asleep after I ate upon the conclusion of each day. It was different, but was it really that different? I even had the same letdown feeling when it was over after my final meeting.

I’m already looking forward to the possibility of traveling to Florida Jan. 25-28, 2022 for the 2022 PGA Merchandise Show. If it’s virtual, I’m ready for it as well.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind

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