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February 2018 Industry Report

Last week’s PGA Show in Orlando had 40,000+ golf industry attendees. It was a bitter sweet couple of days for me.

This was the first year (at one point, we were the third most senior exhibitor at the show behind Titleist and Top-Flite) I attended the show without my dad. I have fond memories of us “hustling” magazines around the Orlando Convention Center for exposure.  

My “two cents” on this year’s show…

Attendance seemed to be about the same as previous years.

Other than a handful of exhibits (the exception being instruction exhibitors), the aisles of booths remain old school. It is clear golf is an industry that’s slow in adopting technology. Case and point, the daily list of seminars pushed out to all attendees by the PGA of America was a rigid PDF with type so small, it was unreadable. The layout is appropriate if you are looking at the list of events on a laptop, but my guess is 90% of us were using our phones.

It was heartening to see the networking and socializing by attendees both on and off the floor. It reinforced in me golf is a social game.

Management of the big four golf manufacturers (Titleist, TaylorMade, Ping, and Callaway) continually question the return on investment of exhibiting at the PGA Show. There was a period several years ago, where most pulled out entirely. Changes to the show’s format (with a focus to demo product) slowly changed the tide and this year…other than PXG…all golf equipment brands had sizable floor space. My impression is Callaway had the largest booth, but I tip my hat to TaylorMade for their cutting edge, cool vibe, modern booth. After a couple of tumultuous years, it was clear TaylorMade is back. 

 

Two steps forward, one step back

Slow and steady economic growth and a booming stock market can only help the golf industry in 2018.

It’s debatable whether the new tax plan will have an equally outsized positive effect. Yes, lower tax rates (both personal and business) keep more money in our pockets, but two changes to the tax code will have a negative impact on golf.

First, deductibility of guest fees for client golf are eliminated (as are tickets to all sporting events, including the Super Bowl).

Second, with deductibility of mortgage interest/property tax/state tax capped…the cost to own a luxury home in California and the Northeast has increased. Many may be forced to reduce their selling price to close the gap on “total affordability.”  These homeowners are the stream of future buyers into Sunbelt golf communities. If these prospects have less money in their pocket from the sale of their previous house, it may impact purchase decisions.

 

Celebrating the best of women’s golf

French Lick Resort, with two sister hotels—the West Baden Springs Hotel and the French Lick Springs Hotel—first welcomed guests in 1845. The AAA four diamond property has invested over $600 million in recent years. Amenities include the largest resort conference center in the Midwest, a full service casino, and 54-holes of golf, including Donald Ross and Pete Dye Signature designs. Ten dump trucks, running 12 hours per day for 18 months, were needed to grade the land for the Pete Dye golf course. The result is a sculpted course with narrow fairway corridors, changing bunker formations, and 40 mile panoramic views of the countryside. French Lick Resort will host two notable tournaments this year—the Smyetra Tour Donald Ross Classic in July and the second annual Senior LPGA Championship in October. More: www.FrenchLick.com.

 

Why me?

Grand amenities are important in a buying decision (whether it is deciding which club to join or resort to vacation at).

What is equally important…and often overlooked…is promoting your strong calendar of events and social gatherings.

For example, a family is considering a vacation, and they are evaluating the pluses and minuses of renting a home through Airbnb or staying at a resort. While a house may provide more elbow room, it doesn’t offer the wide-ranging choice of activities to create memories. People crave “experiential moments” with friends and family. It’s your job to provide it.

How important are social gatherings? A British study concluded extended loneliness is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day on the impact of your body’s health.

 

Mauna Kea Resort’s 45th Annual Pro-Am

Last year, 26 teams competed during Mauna Kea Resort’s Pro-Am, a Big Island of Hawaii tradition since 1972. Should you be able to field a team with three paid members this December, your room, golf, most meals, and airfare up to $900 is covered – a value of $4,500 to you. For an invitation, please email me at Mark@ExecutiveGolferMagazine.com.

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