It has become an annual tradition and an important step closer to the start of the golf season in southern Ontario. Having attended this show for almost 10 years now I have seen some significant changes over the years; mostly good. This years’ show was a favourite of mine and I feel the organizers are always working for a strong balance of exhibitors to reflect both the golf and the travel components.
My purpose for attending the show has changed over time. In my early days, before I was writing about golf, my sole intent was to seek as many free rounds of golf as possible and hoard information on courses in Ontario and destinations across Canada which I dreamed of playing. Those early days (for me) provided more significant giveaways. Today, there are less opportunities for free rounds but many more opportunities to win – rounds, trips and more. What is more important for me now is making and maintaining connections with people in the golf industry whom I have gotten to know.
I was surprised when I left that I had only been there less than three hours, but I could see the people I wanted, meet some new people, grab information which is still relevant to me and walk the floors and up and down each booth to get a feel for the energy and buzz of the show.
My first surprise was when I arrived; with less than an hour to opening I was about 100 in line. A cold rainy morning is likely to blame, but this was a far cry from years past where the line snaked around and went out the door. The line was so manageable that I queued up for free golf. A popular promotion, many Ontario courses offer up free twosomes early in the season. With a limit of 5000 rounds over the three days, this is a popular aspect of the show. With the time and a decent space in line I felt fortunate to get a course which while not on my bucket list has been of high interest for me to experience. Less than hour after opening the floors were packed with visitors so my good fortune was not at the expense of overall crowds for opening day.
The layout of the space – and it is expansive – is well thought out. Equipment manufacturers occupy a large area, complete with space to try the latest product. PGA Ontario offers, as they have for years, 10 minute lessons with certified teaching professionals. Golf Canada and Golf Ontario are prominent, as they have been for years as well. Travel destinations – local, national and international (and not all golf related) occupied significantly more space than past years and it is nice to see an increased balance to the Travel aspect of the show. Of course, golf courses and resorts, along with golf marketing bodies, are core business and these take up most of the space. Many exhibitors offer excellent specials which one can only access at the show. Regions are smart to provide package specials and stay and play offers to entice a Toronto audience away to experience golf further than they may normally go to play. The value options are outstanding. Friends I have gotten to know from Golf PEI, Golf North and Golf Cape Breton were all in attendance.
An influx in exhibitors in other areas of the game – apparel, history/memorabilia, nutrition, fitness, and even the official beer of 36aday, Triple Bogey Brewery – reflects the increased diversity and a more holistic approach to exhibiting options. There is a food court and a few high profile discounted golf retailers around too.
The show also profiles speakers and instructors throughout the weekend. You may recall last year I had an opportunity to meet Dean Snell who was a key presenter on the Friday and Saturday.
I left with less than a quarter of the information and swag I used to bring home from my early years. But I did get what I wanted from the show; a couple new business cards and important conversations with friends; two rounds of golf and some apparel options for the upcoming year. Most importantly, I left with a sense that this may have been the best Toronto Golf and Travel Show experience I have had in my 10 years of attendance. I can’t see how anyone would leave not feeling pleased, there really is something for everyone there.
Click here to read about my 2017 visit.
Click here to read about my 2015 visit.