The PGA Show is a must-attend for anyone in the golf business, and this year was no exception.
Attendees at the weeklong event at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center were awed by the energy surrounding the show – and while our newest mobile golf simulator unveiling may not be the sole reason for the excitement, it certainly added to the buzz! Along with showcasing the latest Dryvebox model, we partnered with PGA HOPE – the flagship military program of the PGA of America – to expand on a shared mission of broadening the reach of golf to nationwide Veterans and Active Duty Military communities.
After spending a week on the ground, absorbing golf every waking hour (and I was awake most hours!), I want to offer some of my insights. Here are four key takeaways from the PGA Show:
Off-Course Golf Technology Isn’t Slowing Down. Neither is the Off-Course Golf Market.
You’ve heard it a million times: “If you build it, they will come.” The familiar saying holds true, especially in the realm of off-course golf, as showcased at the PGA Show. Off-course golf technology has rapidly increased both in capability and availability and thus the trajectory of the market is pointed skyward. Companies pushing boundaries are expanding golf’s reach beyond the natural boundaries of traditional courses and making the sport more accessible.
Many eyes in Orlando fell on off-course technology for good reason: The competition is intensifying. As a number of companies develop new solutions, the technology becomes more democratized, opening up the game to more audiences by adding budgetary flexibility.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is also playing a crucial role in injecting new experiences into the sport. Fueled by AI growth, golf instruction is getting smarter. A prime example of this innovative technology can be seen through Sportsbox AI, the app co-founded by former LPGA pro Jeehae Lee that offers intricate data analysis to improve your swing.
Along with AI, virtual reality (VR) is breaking down traditional barriers to enter the sport. Golf+, the PGA Tour's exclusive VR golf game, is at the front lines of those opening doors through technology, offering the chance to play real-world courses at home and compete with friends digitally. I had a chance to discuss “New Golfer Engagement” on a panel alongside Ryan Engle, Golf+ VR's accomplished founder and CEO.
The Interest in Golf Franchising Opportunities is Real
Dryvebox touched down in Orlando with a primary goal of letting more attendees know about the possibility of franchising. Since our franchise program launched in September and our first franchise partner got going the next month, we have seen immense interest and continue to sign on new partners to expand our reach across the country.
The momentum was felt at the PGA Show. An overwhelming amount of interest in franchising opportunities exists among those who want to be involved in the business of golf – not just because it’s fun to be involved day-to-day in the sport (it is!) but also because of the untapped potential of a burgeoning market.
Our Dryvebox team met with a ton of people interested in hearing more about what we have to offer. And we aren’t alone. Five Iron Golf, an indoor golf simulator company, dove into franchising last May and has continued to gain traction over the past several months. It has helped grow the company to over 20 locations throughout the nation.
Franchise opportunities are not overly common in golf yet. But there is a simple reason why the interest from those who learn about it is high: The potential is readily evident. If you want to learn more about franchise opportunities, reach out.
Off-Course and On-Course Golf Can Coexist and Thrive Together
The need for integration between physical and digital golf play has become a necessity as major players in off-course technology, from simulators to enclosures and beyond, have become more dominant in the space. Engaging people in the game through off-course avenues can naturally transition them to on-course play and vice versa. The merging of the two not only enhances the golf experience but also enhances accessibility for the wider public. While on-course and off-course golf companies may operate in different spheres, it is not about competition, but rather complementing each other to grow the overall community. A rising tide should lift both entities.
At Dryvebox, we are committed to creating an optimal experience that encapsulates the entire journey of a golfer – allowing for both entertainment and genuine golf experiences. Our flexibility allows us to park outside of golf courses when the weather gets bad, and we can use our mobile golf simulators as teaching tools to create golfers who will take advantage of traditional courses. As off-course experiences continue to grow in popularity, a cohesive, collaborative approach can create a harmonious golfing experience and overall, support the growth of the game that we love.
Social Media is a Major Driver in Golf’s Growth
If you stumble across golf videos from time to time, it would be a shock if you haven’t come across content from Jake Hutt. Along with proudly co-founding Dryvebox and serving as our Chief Golf Officer (yes, the title is as cool as it sounds), Jake is a widely recognized content creator. That’s putting it lightly, given his borderline 250K Instagram followers, nearly 150K TikTok followers and 100K+ YouTube subscribers.
Jake is the most followed PGA professional online. And how did he get such a following? Mainly due to his engaging golf instruction across his social media platforms. Pretty cool, right? He had a chance to speak on two panels at the PGA Show – one about building a following on social media, and the other on what makes successful coaching.
While we are thrilled to have Jake as a core member of our team, the PGA Show highlighted that numerous individuals in the golf community are also reaching significant audiences online. The growing industry of independent content creation is booming, and golf is benefiting from it. Everywhere you looked in Orlando, content creators were present, from those with large followings – such as MrShortGame, Stacked Golf and Country Club Adjacent – to those just getting up and running. Female content creators are more prevalent than ever, too, which can only further diversify golf.
Ultimately, whether through instruction,story-telling, comedy, or unconventional approaches, their significant PGA Show presence shows how quickly they are growing the game we all love so much.
I want to extend my appreciation to everyone who contributed to making this week at the PGA Show a tremendous success. Dryvebox had an exceptional week in Orlando – stay locked in so you don't miss our next moves, as we have big plans for 2024!