Impressions of the 2018 Toronto Golf Show


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.


The rule has never changed – don’t touch a trophy unless you’ve won it.

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.


Friends may wonder why I didn’t spend my entire afternoon here.

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.


Always a pleasure to meet Jay from the Thirty 6ix Golf Co.

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.


Didn’t take long after opening for things to get busy.

Click here to read about my 2017 visit.

Click here to read about my 2015 visit.






Impressions of the 2015 Toronto Golf and Travel Show

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 healthy crowd for the noon opening


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.

Golf PEI Executive Director, Mark McLane and I at the Golf PEI booth

Golf PEI Executive Director, Mark McLane and I at the Golf PEI booth

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.

Posing with the RBC Canadian Open Trophy.  This pic won me the #rbcco prize pack for Friday!

Posing with the RBC Canadian Open Trophy. This pic won me the #rbcco prize pack for Friday!

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.