Based on what I saw—crowded aisles and waiting lines to register– and heard from attendees and exhibitors at the Golf Industry Show in Las Vegas the golf business seems to be gaining some much needed strength for 2012.
The most important barometer was the fact that the number of qualified buyers who attended was 7,068, a small gain from the previous year in Orlando and the highest since 2008 also in Orlando. Total attendance was down from 14,772 to 14,706, but came in non buyers and exhibitors, down from 549 to 540.
“I sensed a much better mood from both attendees and exhibitors,” said Rhett Evans, CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of American.
Mike Hughes, CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association, echoed Evans’ sentiments, adding: “I had several attendees saying it was the best they had attended.”
The 2012 Golf Industry Trade Show was our best ever,” said Jon Schultz of ezLocator. “ Traffic to our booth was up over 30% over the past previous years. At times, superintendents were four and five deep waiting to see a demo of our latest product. Everyone that stopped by was excited to see how our technology could save them time and money.”
Steve Baumgartner of Wittek Golf Supply called the show the best in a decade. “Traffic was strong almost all day long.,” he said. “The attendees who stopped by were qualified buyers, not just information gatherers.”
Jeff Scott of SGM Industries echoed the view. “The traffic in our booth was almost non stop,” he said. “Superintendents were enthusiastic and were comparative shopping, eager to find the right equipment that will most benefit their maintenance programs.”
It was my first time to attend this trade show designed mainly for superintendents along with course owners and managers. While I did not see as many familiar faces as I do at the PGA Merchandise Show, I did run into Aussie Barry Miles, who I had not seen in more than 30 years when we played golf in Hawaii. He’s now with Club Car.
I did enjoy the talk by David Feherty, who uses memories from his past to put together interesting stories that a standing-room only crowd really also seemed to enjoy. I liked him better in person than on his television show. He does tend to throw in a few words you do not hear in mixed company, but no one seems to mind.
One story in particular talked about the time as a young man when he was helping the greens keeper back in Northern Ireland. As he bent over to finish putting in a new hole location, it seems a shot from one of the lady members hit him in a very delicate spot for a male. While he was languishing in pain, she came up and never said anything as she went about the business of holing out.