I have just returned from Orlando, where the weather was predictable, the food at International Drive restaurants better than ever (no, really) and the food inside the cavernous hall impossibly bad and expensive. And quite why Reed Exhibitions and the Convention Center still seem incapable of providing more than 16 chairs for the 42,000 visitors to sit down is still a mystery. Okay, enough of the rant - It was a great show!
There was a real buzz around the hall this year and that augers well for the forthcoming golf season. There were really 2 shows this year. Nine hundred and ninety nine exhibitors were in the aircraft hanger know as Orange County Convention Center and TaylorMade Adidas Golf were in a "booth" that was big enough to have its own zip code. Once inside the TMaG extravaganza, having been scanned (actually Compuserv did a first class job of misprinting 90% of the badges, so I doubt anyone was scanned correctly!) visitors were treated to a veritable feast of fun golf activities and shopping opportunities. Mark King, the CEO of TMaG was clearly making a statement about the company's intentions for the year and he is continuing to build off the stellar year of the white R11 driver. Although I don't like the Rocketballz name (I do like RBZ) the 3 wood, hybrid and driver are great looking and at a $100-$150 cheaper price point than the R11 they are going to shift container loads of them.
Of course I also saw the usual array of products worthy of a spot on "the ridiculist"- a piece of cloth you stick on your head to stop sweat getting onto your golf cap, a golf tee that you stick in the ground and then unscrew to the correct height, a rubber mat with a logo that you jump up and down on to make a logo in the bunker. It will be surprising if any of these will be at the 2013 show and yet one has to admire the spirit and passion with which these inventors enter the golf business.
Let's hope the buzz at this years show continues through the sell in to the trade and to the season's real opener in April!