The Pellucid Perspective - January 2014 - (Page 17)

THE LAST WORD The PGA Show - just like a box of chocolates N ewcomers to next week's PGA Merchandise Show will undoubtedly be amazed at the variety of products, devices, apparel and things that defy categorization filling the Orange County Convention Center's miles of aisles. Ask many veteran attendees, however, who are probably more interested in finding somewhere to sit down between appointments than roaming the aisles, and I'm willing to bet that virtually every one of them has a nominee in the nightly "Dumbest Idea Ever" debate at the Peabody or the Rosen bar. While the show features thousands of perfectly sensible products, there are invariably some that just make you shake your head and think "Really?" One of my Pellucid associates whose work appears in these pages monthly, Harvey Silverman, has one of those that's hard to beat. Five or six years ago, Harvey recalls, he happened to pick up a brochure in the convention center lobby that advertised an electronic, pager-sized device that a golfer was supposed to attach to his golf shoe with elastic straps. The device contained 18 "golf tips" (keep your head down, keep your eye on the ball, etc.), and by tapping the toe of his or her foot on the ground, the golfer could scroll through the tips displayed on the device readout until reaching the one(s) they wanted to focus on during their shot. Intrigued, the ever-curious Harvey located the spacious booth the device's inventor had rented at the show, and was told that the gentleman had invested $250,000 in the prototype he'd brought to the show! One can assume that device is now gathering dust in the gentleman's garage. Mike Tinkey, Deputy CEO of the NGCOA and a veteran of many shows, recalls a pair of similar inventions that were designed to be the ultimate cure for a swing flaw. In short, they eliminated the golf swing entirely. One was a shouldermounted device that actually shot the ball down the fairway, while another was a cart-mounted, bazooka-like device that did the same thing, but without even requiring the "golfer" to get out of the cart. We doubt you've seen either at your local course, or will. Casey Alexander, an analyst with Guilford Securities, golf blogger and former professional golfer, recalls a pair of products that caught his attention, one fondly and one not so much. The one he liked was a line of golf ball marker earrings with a magnetized ball marker that the female (one hopes) golfer could slip off, mark her ball and then replace in the earring setting. "I thought it was priceless," Alexander said. Maybe so, but it was probably also pricey, given that the designer was the well-known Swarovski. Still, the combination of attractiveness and utility isn't a bad one. On the flip side, a product called the Golf Swing Shirt failed Alexander's credibility test. Recalling his incredulity when he spied none other than Padraig Harrington endorsing the garb, which Alexander likened to "a strait jacket," he said, "There's no [freaking] way he'd ever put something like that on - he's a professional golfer for crying out loud. They must have paid him too much money to turn it down." One of my personal favorites was a rather complex-looking coupling device that, it turns out, was designed to hitch a golfer's bag of clubs to the rear of a riding cart. When the proud inventor noticed me looking at it and called me over, I couldn't help but ask what it was for. Looking surprised that I didn't immediately grasp the brilliance of the concept, he explained that it was for those cart path only days when the course was either waterlogged or had just been overseeded. Rather than having to take 3 or 4 clubs out to his ball, none of which might turn out to be the correct club, the golfer could slip the entire bag out of the coupler, carry it to his ball, and then slip the bag back onto the cart easily, without having to re-cinch the bag to the cart. (And who among us hasn't forgotten to re-cinch the bag, only to have it go clat- tering to the ground when we hit the accelerator?). I suppose he may have found a few folks willing to pay the tab for that convenience, but I'd be stunned if he ever recovered the cost of the R&D and manufacturing, not to mention the tab for the PGA Show booth. There are, of course, products that seem bizarre, hokey or much ado about nothing, but turn out to be smash hits. At the 2003 show, the convention center floor was awash with crunchy orange edibles that I soon learned were called Tee-zels, or their alter egos, Chee-zels. Seemingly everyone was either eating them, or crunching the overflow underfoot. The snacks, both the pretzel variety and the cheese flavored option, were shaped like a golf tee, and displayed in a golf ball-shaped bowl. Not being a huge fan of either, I scoffed, and predicted that the convention center maintenance staff would be happy the next year, when those snacks would have gone the way of the Pet Rock and wouldn't be littering the OCCC floor. Instead, I should have bought stock in the company. I don't know how many bags of those things they've sold since, but I'm sure it's well up into the millions. And even in the more mainstream product lines, where square drivers and the like have come and gone, how many of us laughed when TaylorMade spent millions on promotion of a white driver? That was only one of the simplest and most brilliant marketing ploys in recent equipment company history. Similarly, adjustable drivers? Who's going to go to all that trouble? Another number in the millions, I suspect. In many ways, at least for those who have a few discretionary inventory dollars to spend, the PGA Merchandise Show is like Forest Gump's mom's box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get. Sometimes it's one of those liquidfilled centers filled with something you'll hate, but if you're smart enough or quick enough to detect the caramels, you'll be -Jim Dunlap the envy of your peers. The Pellucid Perspective 17 http://WWW.PELLUCIDCORP.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - January 2014

2013: Farewell vs. good riddance – Industry bends but doesn't break
GolfNow's PMP sales pitch: Join or be stolen from
College Golf Pass aims to close golf's participation "doughnut hole"
Gender-based golf promotions carry risk
Orlando – Golf Central USA
December golf weather impact: Significant down month closes year of downs
Development restraint buoys Miami golf market
GreatLife expands business model into 3rd state
The PGA Show – just like a box of chocolates

The Pellucid Perspective - January 2014