ORLANDO -- Some hope. A dream. A lot of money. Hard work.
That's what it takes for most of the exhibitors to make it to a booth among the hundreds of aisles here at the 2006 PGA Merchandise Show and Convention.
Get off the beaten path and away from the glitzy displays put up by the industry's well-known names and you find the little guys whose unbelievable passion in their idea and product consumes their lives -- and their bank accounts.
Joe Curkovic figures he has spent $1.4 million to get his Swingscope teaching aid to market. The Montreal native has developed Swingscope (swingscope.com) to help teach golfers the proper turn in the backswing.
It straps on with a belt and sits on the right hip and buttock. Any kind of sway, slide or over-rotation causes the Swingscope to beep or vibrate.
Curkovic has believed passionately in his product and after four years of development has it poised to take off. After literally chasing down highly-regarded teacher Jim McLean on practice ranges and on the floor of this convention to sell him on the Swingscope idea, McLean is now endorsing the product.
An infomerical is ready to air on The Golf Channel starting in March.
"I went living without eating for two years," said Curkovic. "I was just hopped up on caffeine."
Getting McLean's endorsement "gave me validation to make something for the masses," said Curkovic, whose company is now based out of Toronto.
Elsewhere at the show, Philip Gazeley is in his booth where he is touting the 2Thumb putter grip (golfputting.com).
It's a grip wide enough to allow both hands to comfortably hold the grip while opposing each other rather than one above and one below. Your two thumbs sit side-by-side straight down the grip on top and your fingers interlock or overlap on the other.
The idea is to get the shoulders level, leading to a more neutral stance and efficient stroke. It does feel comfortable.
"I had a dream," said Gazeley, from Bedfordshire, England. He's spent $17,000 US to be at the PGA Show. "Sometimes I wish I didn't."
He was joking (I think), but his attitude sums it up for many of the people here who believe passionately in their products.
As much as this show is a huge buffet of golf products and ideas, it's a tribute to entrepreneurialism.