2018 PGA Merchandise Show: Three lessons learned in my first trip to Orlando

I breathed a sigh of relief as I walked out of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show at the massive Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, on Friday. It felt as if I'd been holding that breath in the entire four days I was there. I knew my first show would be a bizarre amalgamation of home entrepreneurs and multi-million dollar equipment companies, but I was ill-prepared for the sheer volume of people that would descend upon both the convention center and the city.

And you know what? I kind of liked it.

Despite wall-to-wall masses and more devices than you could test in a career, the show was fun (in a somewhat ironic way), entertaining and insightful. I learned about new products, met up with old friends and generally enjoyed myself in a way I never thought I would coming in.

Here are three lessons I'll take away and apply to next year's show (if they let us back).

1. Try everything: At first I was a little timid to test out the various pieces of equipment on hand at both demo day and the actual show. That's, uh, sort of why they're there, though. And I say "try everything" because you never know what you're going to enjoy most. I ended up enthralled with a swing simulator I'd never heard of, a mini-driver nobody had ever heard of and a golf vehicle that looked more like a four-wheeler than a golf cart.

2. People want to talk: In my job, I'm normally prepared for folks to turn me down when I ask to chat. It's easy to forget that the entire reason everyone is at this event is to spread the word about whatever product they're representing. People are dying to talk. Not just from the smaller companies, either. Nearly everyone we chatted with from big equipment or apparel or ball organizations were as giddy as the man or woman hocking shoe cleaning devices in slot No. 3821 at the convention center. I didn't expect (or think about) that coming into the week.

3. The golf industry is pro-golf: This seems rather obvious I suppose, but everyone I talked to in Orlando wants to do two things. They want to further their business or their company's business. And they want to push the game of golf forward. And not always in that order. That's not always the case in other sports -- I think because folks working in other sports don't play those sports like we play golf -- and it was an encouragement to me as golf barrels on into the future.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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