SKLZ sent 9 team members to the 2011 PGA Merchandise Show to partake in the golf industry's largest and most highly attended trade show. It was a landmark year for us as we watched our brand reach a new level of maturity, garnering recognition and respect from Pros, instructors and passionate golfers from all over the globe.
Demo Day was held on the Orange County National driving range, an impressive 42-acre, circular practice range. Though the setting was ideal, the wind was not. Thirty mph winds made demonstrations challenging. Even so, 250 teaching pros had the opportunity to hit balls and discuss the latest SKLZ products added to our full line of training aids as well as some of our staple training tools that have been updated with new features. A highlight for us was a visit from Doug Weaver, the Director of Golf Instruction at Palmetto Dunes in South Carolina. Doug spent a good chunk of time trying out our equipment and his definitive favorite was the Refiner Putter because of the instant feedback it gives on the most common putting issues he encounters with his students.
At noon on Demo Day, Mark Verstegen of Athletes' Performance and SKLZ Team Member and Golf Instructor to PGA Pros, Rick Smith gave a dynamic presentation on golf fitness. When 100 golf professionals gathered to hear about the impact of fitness on performance on the course, we knew the golf community was open to addressing their physical conditioning in order to become better golfers. To some, the concept wasn't new, but it was a chance to get the mechanical details straight from the experts. To others, it was an eye-opening introduction that spawned an extensive Q & A after the 1-hour presentation.
Thursday through Saturday, we set up shop at hitting bays #30 and #31 in the Equipment Test Center next to our San Diego neighbor, Cobra Golf. Over 3 days, we met 1,000 pros, 300 of which have signed up for our PGA Staff Program, bringing our total PGA Instructor list to just shy of 1,000. We're thrilled at the opportunity to share our products with golf professionals across the country who are the leaders and influencers in the golf community. The enthusiasm for the program proves we're filling a void in golf instruction.
After they got over the low retail price of the Gold Flex (will be available for $69.99), they experienced firsthand how this tempo and warm-up trainer helps with swing plane, strength and flexibility.
As for the Power Wedge, we witnessed over and over and over how the click of the Power Wedge lined up precisely with swing impact for a properly timed weight shift. This was a simple exercise for pros and instructors and it was impressive to watch. For others, the click occurred before or after impact and sometimes didn't happen at all. The ill-timed weight shifts resulted in a peppering of golf balls in all directions except for straight ahead. Pros agreed the Power Wedge is a valuable tool to correct timing issues.
We were a bit more formal about getting feedback on the Refiner Pro Graphite. Golfers and instructors participated in the Hinged Club Challenge. The Challenge went like this:
Step 1: Take a swing with your regular club (we had a Titleist on-hand)
Step 2: Take a swing with the Refiner Pro Graphite, the first and only hinged graphite driver
Step 3: Take a swing with the current leading hinged training driver by Medicus
Step 4: Record your reactions
We look forward to sharing detailed video and the tabulated results of the Hinged Club Challenge in a later blog post, though we can definitively say 100% of Pros preferred the SKLZ Refiner Pro Graphite to the Medicus.
A few other favorite moments from this year's PGA Merch Show:
>> Attending the kids fitness session with SKLZ speed, agility and quickness tools- a high energy demonstration from some of golf's future stars
>> Enjoying food and festivities with our growing team of US and International golf reps
>> Receiving media attention from Golf Digest and Golf Magazine-- you can already view the Golf Digest articlehere: Aids to Improve Your SKLZ
>> Watching Mizuno's truck get stuck in a ditch (truth is we all struggled a bit getting our goods situated first at Demo Day, and then again at the Convention Center)
>> Meeting smart and enthusiastic inventors from around the world who are raising the bar for all in golf training
>> Hearing prominent members of the golf community say "What do you have that's new?"-- a sure sign we've made a name for our brand and can be trusted to move forward innovating in the golf category.
If you attended the 2011 PGA Merchandise Show, we invite you to share your thoughts or questions below in the comments section.