GOING TO A NEW EVENT can be a logistical challenge: flying on a bad weather day, missing a tight connection (in Atlanta, of course), figuring out how to get out of the rental car parking garage (lame, I know), and finding my hotel in Kissimmee at midnight. Stuff like that.
Nonetheless, after a long hike across a mammoth parking area at the Orange County Convention Center, I set foot in the 2009 PGA Merchandise Show at 10 a.m. The demise of golf − like the demise of everything − is being widely reported, but it’s not in evidence here.
Here’s an outline of my first day at the show:
10:30 a.m. – After checking in at the media room, I head out onto the exhibition floor and wander aimlessly for 45 minutes. It’s like one of those giant Las Vegas casinos − it just keeps going and going and going.
11:15 a.m. – I stop by Laser Link Golf and introduce myself to Walker Inman Jr., a former tour pro who works for the company. I’ve talked to Walker on the phone; he was one of Jack Fleck’s pals on tour in the mid 1950s. Walker was the first Augusta native to play in the Masters. His dad was in the same Georgia Tech fraternity as Bobby Jones. (Yeah, that Bobby Jones.) Walker can remember the first time he met Jones like it was yesterday, which was actually about 70 years ago.
12:00 p.m. – I introduce myself to Gary Van Sickle, senior golf writer for Sports Illustrated. We talk about the changing media landscape. He probably hates me because I’m a blogger. (I’m kidding.) Seriously, print is dying and, like many people, he wonders where it’s all heading.
1:15 p.m. – I have a front row seat at an hour-long forum with Annika Sorenstam. We all know this, but she is the genuine article. (I’ll write about the Annika time in a separate post.)
2:30 p.m. – I’m a fly on the wall while several people chat up Jules Alexander, the famous golf photographer whose black and white shots of Ben Hogan are legendary. I finally get a chance to introduce myself and get his permission to run a photo with a story on him at the blog. The coolest 82-year-old cat you’ll meet.
3:15 p.m. – I’m back in the media room shooting the breeze with media people and Jeremy Friedman of the Golf Channel. The Golf Channel will preview Uneven Fairways, a documentary on the Negro leagues of pro golf, on Friday afternoon. It's golf history, a favorite subject of mine. Plus it's free popcorn and soft drinks. I’m there.
More to come.
−The Armchair Golfer
Top 10 Tips for PGA Merchandise Show