Visiting The 2018 Michigan Golf Show
Held annually in March at the Suburban Showplace in Novi, the Michigan Golf Show in Novi has become a rite of Spring. If the golf show is here, better weather is on the way.
The 2018 edition was the weekend of March 9 – 11.
No one should (or would) confuse the Michigan Golf Show for a northern version of the PGA Show. The Michigan Golf Show isn’t about exhibiting new products, but getting rid of the old. I would guess that two thirds of the 240,000 square feet of is comprised of discounters selling overstocks of golf clubs, apparel, balls, bags and shoes.
Shop sizes varied widely. Maple Hill Golf, a Michigan based discounter had a massive display, with thousands of clubs and shoes, along with balls, bags and accessories. The more widely known Rock Bottom Golf anchored another end of the display space. Other retailers, however, had just a 10×10 booth and were selling off gloves, or headcovers or a few shirts and ball markers.
That there is so much surplus golf stock concerns me a bit. It seems to me that if golf manufacturers had a better handle on their sales, golf discounters would not have thousands of year-old clubs in bins. As in years past, the biggest stock seemed to be of older TaylorMade models, but without counting, my sense was that Wilson was on the rise in the left-overs club count. Callaway seemed more scarce. Perhaps that is a reflection of the extraordinary sales of their jailbreak line of last year.
On the other hand, the clubs did sell — albeit to discounters and then to bargain hunters. I am certain that the manufacturers made a profit on each one they sold to discounters, and that the discounters are making a profit in return. That there is still profit to be had at those prices speaks to just how much retail golf clubs are overpriced.
Much of the remaining floor space was occupied by exhibitors trying to drum up business for golf courses and golf resorts with travel information, packages, discounts and the like. Michigan’s dominant four seasons resorts were well represented, including Boyne, Treetops, Garland, Grand Traverse, Crystal and Shanty Creek. Michigan’s golf-focused resorts such as Forest Dunes, Tullymore, and Arcadia Bluffs had stand-alone booths, while others organized themselves into regional consortiums, such as the Gaylord Golf Mecca or “Michigan’s Southern Swing.” Southeastern Michigan’s county and metropark golf courses had booths, as well as innumerable unassociated, individual courses.
Golf destinations outside of Michigan had a strong presence. Michigan’s golf-mad reputation brought golf courses, resorts and “trails” from Wisconsin, Kentucky, Indiana, North and South Carolina, and other places in the Mid-Atlantic, South and West. Interestingly, both Jamaica and the Dominican Republic had representatives.
The remaining space was occupied by hucksters with a variety of non-golf products: magic magnetic bracelets, medical marijuana licenses, vape devices, home gutters, pillows, sheets, smoked meats, basement waterproofing, chiropractic services, bathtubs, various medical products, home remodeling, and even beds. All, I think, were attracted by the supposed golf demographic, with its slightly-above-average income and education.
X-Golf Michigan was the presenting sponsor of the the Michigan Golf Show. I had the opportunity this past winter to test X-Golf at its Ann Arbor franchise, which is not far from GolfBlogger Headquarters. They had one of their simulators set up for a big money hole-in-one contest.
Among the discounters, there were a few new (to me) products and services.
One intriguing product I found was the Silo Golf Club Carrier. The Silo is a six inch long cylinder of soft and hard plastics designed to hold six clubs. The cylinder fits neatly into the hand and, with the Silo near the club heads, balances nicely.
Produced by a company called Rival and Revel, the Silo was designed for golfers to put carry a set of wedges and a putter from the cart to the green. It also would work nicely for carrying a practice set to the range. The designer told me about an unexpected use, however. In Japan, because so many courses are cart path only, the custom is to have a “small bag” on hand. That’s a subset of clubs that players pull out of their cart bag to take from their cart to the ball. Three silos would allow players to neatly group their clubs into long, medium and around the green packages.
The Silo apparently is selling very well in Asia for that reason.
I’ve also got this thought that it might serve as a “sunday bag.” You could carry a driver, four clubs and a putter in the Silo, put a couple of balls and tees in your pocket and have a nice afternoon walking.
Laughing Caddie, based in Troy, Michigan offers a variety of golf accessories with a clever logo. They specialize in providing supplies for outings, including tees, balls, hats, gifts bags and the like. The tees are printed with jokes and trivia. The owners said that their goal was to bring a little more humor into the game.
I agree that people take it way too seriously.
Michigan Golf Explorer is a very nice, high-end magazine that made its debut last year and is around for a second season. The publisher was giving away this season’s issue at the show.
Finally, I met an interesting company called Professional Golf Planners of America. Based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, the outfit helps charities and private businesses put together successful golf outings. That’s a golf business I have never considered. While the basic sort of golf charity outings that I participate in for local school sports teams and the like probably are too small for their services, bigger charitable outings might find it useful.
In all, I spent about five hours at the Michigan Golf Show, and according to my Fitbit, walked nearly three miles. I bought a West Virginia University ball marker, and a Datrek GoLite Hybrid Bag. I was very pleased with the price on both.
Deals aside, one of my favorite parts of the show is the opportunity to renew acquaintances. Among others, I had nice chats with Don Helinski of Forest Dunes, Dave Hill of Antrim Dells, and the folk at Boyne and the Michigan Golf Association. I also was interviewed by my friends at Michigan Golfer Magazine.
I am mentally ready. Now it is just a matter of waiting for the snow to melt.