E.A. Sports Today

It’s a wrap — I’ll be back

PGA Merchandise Show closes and it looks a whole lot different than when it started

EDITORS NOTE: Kenny Szuch has been going to the PGA Merchandise Show for more than 35 years. East Alabama Sports Today has been excited to bring you his insights from this year’s show in only a way that he can.

By Kenny Szuch
For East Alabama Sports Today

ORLANDO, Fla. – The 2015 PGA Merchandise Show has concluded and plans are already in place for the 2016 Show. This event has changed dramatically over the years. My first Show was in 1977 and it took place in about 100 rooms of the Contemporary Hotel just to the right of the entrance to the Magic Kingdom. We went from room to room and looked at products literally strewn across the twin beds in each room. I don’t think anyone could have dreamed how that little merchandise show would evolve into the spectacle it is today.

In those days there was no such thing as an embroidered or logoed golf shirt. You had your choice of an alligator or a penguin. That was it. Either Izod, which today is Lacoste, or Munsingwear. Boy, have times changed.

The Ben Hogan Company has returned and will attempt to compete in the ever-competitive club market. It is a shame Mr. Hogan is no longer with us because he made the absolute best-constructed club on the market every year that he oversaw production and quality control. I don’t know who the principals are in the new Hogan start up, but if the craftsmanship is like the clubs of old, the Tour players will have them in their bags soon.

A couple of years ago at the Show I went to a booth that was about 50 square feet and had a rolling rack with a dozen or so VERY LOUD slacks. I and many others just walked by and scratched our heads at the crazy things we see at this Show. That little rolling rack of a few pair of crazy pants was Loud Mouth Pants, which Big John Daly wears daily. Today’s booth was at least 3,000 square feet with music, a bar, professional models sporting the 2015 line and people waiting to get an appointment to order product.

The line has grown to now offer slacks, shorts, shoes, headwear, belts, golf bags and “suits.” I think a nice Loud Mouth suit would be the perfect Christmas gift for Al Musky next year. We can probably get it in a Phillies color scheme.

For all you Skechers lovers out there, they have now entered the golf arena and the hottest player on tour, Matt Kucher, is on staff and will be wearing the shoes all season. His play the past couple of weeks has probably sold the company a million pair of shoes already.

Roaming the aisles today or standing in a booth were Greg Norman, MLB All-Star Russ Ortiz, Big Break’s own Sasquatch, Jordan Spieth and NASCAR man Kevin Harvick. There’s no telling who you might run into at this Convention Center.

Lastly, when I was at Calusa Country Club in Miami, this little teenage junior golfer would come out often and hit balls on my range. She was a good player but from a very modest financial background and her dad would go pick up balls on the range when nobody was looking to get her another 50-60 swings in. I saw her today and she no longer needs financial assistance. She now has her own vineyard along with LPGA super status.

That little girl was Cristie Kerr. Is this a great game or what?!

Hope the robins head south soon and the grass turns green in Calhoun County. Walking these aisles makes everyone want to tee it up.

Kenny Szuch is the director of golf operations for the City of Anniston, the pro at Cane Creek Golf Course and a PGA Class A professional. His most recent claim to fame is scoring a double-eagle 2 on the par-5 ninth at famed Oakmont.

Kenny Szuch and wife Ramona visit with Graeme McDowell at the Tour star's Nona Blue Irish Pub.

Kenny Szuch and wife Ramona visit with Graeme McDowell at the Tour star’s Nona Blue Irish Pub.

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