New gear launched at PGA Merchandise Show in Florida - Boo Weekley and Ian Poulter

Nick Bayly reports from the groaning aisles of the PGA Merchandise Show in Florida, where the golf industry is gathering to reveal what new and improved products they have to help weather the credit crunch storm

Making a refreshing change is the appearance of a number of big name players, bussed in to boost brand appeal. Lorena Ochoa, the world’s best golfer of the female persuasion, was on Ping’s stand to help celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary, as well as having her swing put through its paces in front of an awestruck audience who found it hard to believe how someone so petite could hit the ball so far (timing is everything).

But perhaps the biggest crowds of the day were reserved for US Ryder Cup star Boo Weekley, who is here to promote his new clothing range, perhaps somewhat predictably called ‘Boo’. Not the first golfer you think of when fashion comes to mind, Boo is a breath of fresh air on the pro circuit, saying it exactly as he sees it. If it moves, Boo tends to shoot it, so I tried to stay very still when I got within range.

At the other end of the fashion-conscious stakes was the launch of Ian Poulter’s IJP Collection for 2009, which was a blur of tartan trousers and girly-coloured knitwear (bumblegum and fuscia are going to be hot colours for summer 2009, apparently). Poults, fresh from his recent laser eye operation (which went ‘well’) revealed his outfit for the Open Championship at Turnberry, which I can now also reveal features a Union Jack waistcoat, blue tartan and a Union Jack cap with a diamante effect. Very 50 Cent. Mrs Poulter, who is here to support hubby, also revealed herself to be at least six months pregnant, so another little Poulter will no doubt be crawling onto the green should daddy win the Open in July.

Poulter also revealed his favourite colour to be pink, something he has in come with Paula Creamer (aka The Pink Panther), who did a star turn on adidas’ stand, drawing in huge crowds. Despite the glitz and the glamour, there’s definitely a feeling here that the golf industry is holding its collective breath as the year gets under way, waiting to see how badly consumer confidence has been hit and whether the new equipment they have to offer will inspire us to head for the tills to invest in the next big thing.

It will be interesting to come back here in 12 months time and find out how many of the companies exhibiting here are still in business.

Right, I’m off to grab and foot-long hot dog and a gallon of Pepsi……when in Rome.

Where next?

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