I’m losing count but my guess would be that this is my 7th Toronto golf show in the past 8 years. My motivation for attending has changed considerably over the years. Gone are the days when I would show up early and line up to access the quality free golf giveaway (which still exists and creates significant buzz). Now, I am interested in building and maintain relationships. I have been fortunate to make friends in the golf industry in Canada and this event provides me a regular touch point to connect with key people in golf in Canada.
Meeting golf ball inventor and legend, Dean Snell.
Let’s not kid ourselves here…there is an energy and buzz to this show which gets any golfing enthusiast excited for the season ahead. Add to it exhibitors keen to share information on their products, courses, services and organizations and I was no different than the multitude of attendees. So as I reflect back on the Golf and Travel Show, here are my impressions:
- There is something for everyone.
There really is. Whether its discounted retail outlet shopping; numerous jurisdictions providing information on golf and travel escapes; access to local, national and international golf with strong promotional offers; chances to try new equipment; access to lessons from CPGA teaching professionals; draws and giveaways; speakers; and more. The Toronto International Centre is sufficiently big enough to host an event of this magnitude and organizers had things clearly marked inside.
Such a pleasure to meet and chat with Jim Burton. For those active on Twitter, you’ll know him as The Grateful Golfer (@TheGratefulGolf)
- Make time to meaningfully engage.
The crowds are such that some people feel they should only spend a brief moment and gather information. But I have learned that it is possible to strike up a conversation, ask questions and learn more about courses, organizations and golfing regions. Carve out the experience you want from the show. I appreciated the chance to meet The Grateful Golfer, a fellow golf blogger who does exceptional work (and possesses an exceptional golf game). I spent time with my friends at Snell Golf Canada. Highlighted here was the chance to meet Dean Snell, inventor of Snell golf balls and whom I most recently interviewed. The booth got busier as the afternoon went on and I was happy to share my positive experience with these golf balls with attendees.
It’s an annual tradition for me to head over and visit my good friends at Golf PEI. Appreciated that Mark McLane could take time to talk and share insight on new initiatives.
I spent some time talking with my friend Mark McLane from Golf PEI and learned about some of the new golf initiatives happening on the gentle island. It was a pleasure to meet Graham Hudson from Highlands Links who was at the Golf North booth. Graham was excited to share some of the great developments happening on the course. I met an old friend from grade school who heads up the On The Tee magazine. And I had a chance to connect briefly with Jay from the 36 Golf Company, an amazing golf apparel company based in Canada.
I met and networked with many others.
- Grab now, read later.
I like to learn about new getaway destinations but I also like to learn about what courses in my area – the western part of the Greater Toronto Area – offer in terms of early season specials and promotions. This approach of gathering as much information as possible truly helped me plan for my 2015 PEI golf trip and I find that once I am back in the quiet of my own home I can sift through the materials I have gathered and identify new courses to play, destinations to consider and products to learn about. Along with making a direct connection with someone, I love this part of the golf show.
As with any trophy, it’s only to be touched when you win it. The base of the RBC Canadian Open trophy is being extended to allow for more winners to be added.
4. Shopping for Golf Gear
This part appeals to me less than others listed above. The Golf and Travel Show has expanded over the years to include retailers offering discount product. Often models which are older, there is value to be had but people need to be discerning in looking at product. And if you can imagine it, they sell it. Carts, bags, training aids, clubs, balls and apparel are all available. I counted three separate discount retailers this year. I grabbed a new putter grip but that was all.
- Education and Youth Engagement
This part excites me as the Golf and Travel Show works to engage junior golfers. Being there on a Friday I did not see many kids (as they’d be in school) but understand that allowing kids to enter free and offering a real hands on experience in terms of contests, trying clubs, lessons and more, will provide people (kids of all ages) with a great opportunity to learn about the game and engage more within it.
I attended the Dean Snell talk and he provided a true master class on ball fitting which contradicts many approaches companies utilize today. I learned a great deal from Dean during his 30 minute talk, including Q & A. The speakers line up was diverse and impressive.
Crowds were large and lineups long. It moved steadily fortunately. Great to see this kind of excitement.
The timing of this show is perfect, as it happens late enough in winter and before the Masters to truly pique the interest of golfers. Based on the lineups and the large crowds on the first day, this is an event that just keeps growing and getting better and better.