Impressions of the 2015 Toronto Golf and Travel Show
As I approach the one year anniversary of this blog it is nice to be able to provide some ‘regular’ posts and a reflection post of the annual Toronto Golf and Travel Show is very exciting. First, it is an important milestone which indicates that spring is near. Second, as a golf enthusiast, the show is extremely impressive and offers something for everyone – tech and gear, courses, apparel, travel, and chances to meet leaders in the industry. And for myself there was a nice mix of all the above.
A new feature of this blog which will launch February 23 and extending to March 6 will be segments of my inaugural interview. Special thanks to Sean Casey, Director of Instruction at Glen Abbey Golf Club for his time. His interview will be released in nine unique posts which span an array of topics including his early career work with Tiger’s former instructor Sean Foley. But make no mistake, Sean Casey is a renowned instructor in his own right and I am excited to share with readers Sean’s philosophy, experience and insight on the game. At the Golf Show, I was fortunate to also interview Mark McLane, Executive Director for Golf PEI. Without giving too much away, I have also set tentative plans to interview the Program Coordinator for the progressive Golf Association of Ontario initiative, ‘She Swings She Scores’, and one of the Managing Partners for my golf club, the GTA Golf Club. This is a unique model that provides limited membership access to discounted greens fees at selected courses in the Greater Toronto Area as well in around London, Kitchener-Waterloo and a third hub in Chicago. I am hopeful the interviews will be informative and entertaining, while providing me some ‘journalistic’ experience.
A change in venue to the International Centre, a very large trade show venue in Mississauga, Ontario and adjacent to Pearson International Airport was interesting to see. My thoughts were numbers may suffer on Friday as the draw of downtown professionals on Friday was significant. Conversely, I expected numbers should increase over the weekend given the suburban location and proximity to major highways, along with free parking. Attending on the Friday afternoon I was impressed with the crowd and the overall layout. Over the years some exhibitors come and others go and it creates something new each year. What I appreciate are the ones who have made a long-term commitment to the Golf Show.
As mentioned, I had great conversations with Golf PEI and Golf Nova Scotia, two destinations which remain high on my travel list for golf in Canada. I visited several Ontario courses and observed how they’re seeking to engage people – less with giveaways and more with incentives for membership or extended play privileges.
The retail component was extensive but disappointing (for me, I acknowledge) with clearance-type retailers and not a leading retail chain. I also was impressed with the presence the RBC Canadian Open had. Participants were invited to post a picture on twitter with the RBC Canadian Open trophy for a chance to win an autographed Graham DeLaet hat and a Golf Canada golf bag. I also like the GAO booth which was set up for people to converse with staff. Given their influence and reach over the game in Ontario it was nice to see them set up so invitingly.
Like every year, I entered several contests for golf trips. I was so impressed with the golf Bluetooth speaker system from Songbirdie and bought an entry level model with a small cord which would attach to my iPhone…nice for early morning rounds which may allow me some mellow tunes to really relax and enjoy my surroundings. And no, I would never play it so loud as to disturb others…there is etiquette to remember. But I do play some courses which are, shall we say, a little more liberal on such things.
I have much information to sort through, including promotional materials from PEI to help me and three buddies plan our fall trip this year (10 rounds, 7 days!). Of course, this will complement the exceptional service and support we’ve already received from Golf PEI.
In closing, the show was a smashing success and I applaud the organizers for the decision to move to the International Centre. It was informative and exciting. And hey, do the right thing next year and get Triple Bogey Brewing back. If I’m searching for criticism, that would be it. But overall, the experience was positive.