You might be surprised to learn that year over year not much changes with the big OEM booths at the show. TaylorMade is huge. TourEdge is smaller, and every company brings a unique identity. With the possible exception of the reinvented Callaway Golf, big OEM booths at this show either reflect business as usual or even business scaled down.
While traffic at the show appears to be up, booth sizes in general appear smaller, and prominent product displays in many cases have been replaced by conference tables and heart-attack serious buyers.
Even in what feels like a slightly subdued setting, some booths outshine the rest. Here's a rundown of what the biggest names in golf are bringing to the table. Check them all out, and tell us which is your favorite.
As it always is, the emphasis at Bridgestone is on the golf ball, and getting fit for it. Just like years past, indoor ball fitting booths are the dominant presence in the booth. At Bridgestone, the ball isn't the only thing, but it's still THE thing.
While the company's J40 series of woods, irons, and wedges can be found in the booth, none is truly prominently displayed. Almost certainly because of past theft problems, this year the actual balls are largely out of reach, which actually makes for some pretty cool displays.
With all the bright colors on display, one has to wonder why Bridgestone chose to dress its team in muddy green shirts.
Bridgestone Booth Gallery
The most radical departure from years past can be found at the Callaway booth. The company says "things are different now", and the booth generally conveys that.
Keeping pace with TaylorMade, Callaway had several indoor hitting bays where show-goers can actually hit the latest products - including the new XHot. Have you heard of it?
Like years past, the Callaway booth is setup to be a meeting place for the Callaway sales teams. With the loud (PUMA-esque) music blaring, one has to wonder how productive those meetings can actually be.
While the Odyssey booth is spacious, not it's not packed with product - and that's ok. The large putting green with projected alignment stuff is designed to showcase the company's new Versa putter and EyeFit fitting system. Mission accomplished.
Something never change and that's mostly true at Cobra-PUMA. Even if things feel slightly toned down, DJ Scotty B still keeps the beats going up at the bar while the colorful PUMA apparel and Cobra golf displays line the walls.
Absent - almost conspicuously so - is the previously dominant presence of ORANGE. The message is clear this year; Cobra-PUMA is diversifying. And while detractors and fans alike will no doubt welcome the variety, I'd be lying if I told you I didn't miss the slide and the kiddie pool filled with Orange Balls.
At least you play (or watch Lexi Thompson) Dance Dance Revolution. As they have in years past, Cobra-PUMA hosted an in-booth party where PUMA celebs like John O'Hurley, Blair O'Neal, Lexi Thompson, and Anna Nordqvist (damn she's tall), mingle with the common folk.
With a larger presence on the show floor this year coupled with that whole "We want to be #1" thing, we expected big things from the Nike booth.
While the Covert theme (dark, sinister, unknown), kinda plays to the image of the new line, the the booth is dark - and it's reasonably difficult to get a clear look at the product. If I didn't know better, I'd think they didn't want people to see it (because it's really dark in there).
To paraphrase something from another company - as far as the Nike booth and the VRS_Covert is concerned; if you haven't seen it, you haven't seen it (because, seriously, it's really dark in there).
PING has never had what you might call a tremendous presence on the show floor. There are other displays where the nFlight fitting system is on display, but the main booth is dry, and lacks any sort of personality.
There are booths that are designed to showcase the product, and booths that are designed to sell the product (by way of numerous, pre-scheduled appointments). The PING booth is definitely the latter.
Over the last few years TaylorMade has maintained the largest presence at the show. Conversely, Adams has maintained almost no presence. Now the that two are under the same corporate umbrella...not much has really changed.
For 2013 TaylorMade continued their tradition of keeping their booth separate from the rest of the OEMs (far and off the exhibit hall past all the apparel guys). The square footage very likely exceeds that of all the other big OEM's combined.
In a layout not unlike your local shopping mall, each product in the TaylorMade arsenal essentially has its own booth within the larger booth. It's somewhat interesting that the entirety of Adams Golf occupies roughly the same footprint as a the Orange Julius (next to Old Navy). Take a look at the comparative size of the driving ranges (TaylorMade has a range, Adams has a hitting booth), and there's no mistaking who the top dog is.
As it always is, the TaylorMade booth is exceptionally well done, though perhaps it lacks the wow factor of last year's display. While the massive area means there's more elbow room than you'll find in most big OEM booths, it also gives the appearance that TaylorMade has less traffic than its competitors.
While my guess is TaylorMade still wins big on headcount, that point might be lost on the casual observer.
We've been tough on Titleist in the past. The general design of the booth barely changes from year to year, and the staff wardrobe changes even less.
With so many other OEMs fighting for their share of attention with giant booths, bright lights (or dim lights), and loud music, Titleist remains a predicable constant. This year, that's not a bad thing.
Titleist's displays show off the product better than any other big golf company at the show. They don't simply show you what they have - they show you how its made, and this year the displays are exceptionally well done.
While Titleist sometimes comes off as dry and out of touch, this year's booth strikes the right balance, which makes a strong case that Titileist could the best big OEM booth at the show.
Give Tour Edge plenty of credit for winning the booth babe war...and by a wide margin. Beyond that...as you might expect from a smaller OEM, floor space is limited, which means the company needs to strike a balance between displaying the product, and selling it.
The booth does that reasonably well, but the smaller size, on what appears to be a more-crowded-than-usual show floor limits TourEdge's curb appeal beyond those booth babes (which should still count for plenty).
Based on what you see. Which OEM has the best booth at this year's PGA Show?
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- Driver: Cobra KING LTD w/ 75g Aldila Rogue Silver 125 MSI X
- Fairway: TaylorMade SLDR S Mini, 12° Fujikura Speeder X
- 3-4H: TaylorMade SLDR TP S
- 5-GW: PXG 0311 w/ KBS C-Taper S+
- SW: TaylorMade Tour Preferred EF Tour Grind (54° bent to 55°)
- LW: Callaway Mack Daddy PM Grind 60°
- Putter: PING Karsten TR ZING