But the golf trade refuses to give up. You only need attend “Demo Day,” the day before the official start of the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., to see for yourself how, in the midst of it all, golf is still very much open for business.
Though this is my fifth or sixth time at the PGA Show, I’d never arrived early enough to visit the Demo Day when PGA professionals looking for the newest gear to put in their shops are able to test for themselves the clubmakers’ latest offerings.
Knowing how many PGA members, exhibitors, media, and PR/administrative personnel pass through the doors of the Orange County Convention Center during this event every year, I had some idea what to expect at Orange County National GC (where the PGA Tour Q-School was played at the start of December), but I hadn’t quite expected a circular, 42-acre range ringed almost entirely with hundreds of exhibitor stands, and thousands of golfers hitting balls into the circle where motorized ball-collecting carts scurried about doing their best to clear the ground of balls but always facing an uphill struggle.
Always on the Job
I had noticed him as I was lining up, shaking hands and introducing himself to all the staff, from those manning the computers to teenagers on garbage patrol. In between these introductions, he took phone calls, directed people trying to hold the canopy down despite the strong wind, and spoke into his walkie-talkie. As I approached him to get his thoughts on what he had seen so far, he glanced toward me and thrust out his hand. ‘Hi Tony, how’s life in Washington?”
I don’t say this to name-drop – how many readers have heard of Ed Several, after all? It just struck me as remarkable that a man whose job it is to organize and assure the smooth-running of an event as colossal as the PGA Merchandise Show, should remember the name of a writer he met once maybe four years ago. Having a memory like that must make life so easy.
Jacobson absolutely nailed it. He gave us his typically hilarious rendition of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and, though the younger members of the audience wouldn’t have known it, his Doug Sanders was spot on too, especially the reaction to the missed three-foot putt that would have won Sanders the 1970 Open Championship at St. Andrews. Towards the end, Jake and trick shot artist/fellow impersonator Nico Bollini took suggestions from the crowd and, apparently without much rehearsal, together they rattled off Seve Ballesteros (face and voice too), Greg Norman, Laura Davies and Chi Chi Rodriguez.
Hey, what’s up Little Suzy?
Seven years ago, I traveled to Connecticut to meet and play a few holes with Suzy Whaley, an LPGA teaching pro who had won the Connecticut sectional PGA Championship and therefore qualified to play in the Greater Hartford Open (now the Travelers Championship) at TPC River Highlands.