GIS Recap


I was quite fortunate to attend the Golf Industry Show (GIS) this year as a "corresponding" for turfhugger. I think the biggest thing I learned in this role is how terrible I would be as a journalist. 

My feeling on this year's show was that it has really become a microcosm of what I believe the golf industry is on its way to becoming. This year's GIS was lean and mean and provided tremendous bang for the buck of those who attended. Longtime industry vet Pat Jones points this out very well in his recent blog post. Pat mentions the idea of a "new normal" within the industry; something all of us must come to accept. This "new normal" was evident as soon as we entered the trade show. For the first time in my relatively small window of time attending the GIS, I could stand on the far end of the show and see the wall on the other end. The show presented quality over quantity and gave everyone present a very focused experience with very little energy directed towards things frivolous in nature.

I have always attended the GIS looking for vendors and products that fit with my interest in sustainability. In past years attending the GIS I felt like I really had to dig to find vendors and/or superintendents interested in sustainable turfgrass management. Even last year's show in San Diego it seemed the subject was still very much on the fringes. This year things changed and digging was no longer required. The large majority of the vendors I visited with seemed to have sustainability and managing for the stronger turf on their mind-one way or another. Many of the superintendents I met wanted to talk about what we are doing at Northland. Twitter, facebook and my own blog have opened up what we are doing at Northland to a good portion of the golf industry and there is a healthy appetite for the information. While I believe our management of turf at Northland is more reality than trend, it does seem that it is making its way through our industry much the same as trends do. About 10 years ago there were a relatively small number of superintendents who were rolling putting surfaces on a regular basis. Today you can hardly find a facility who doesn't roll their greens multiple times per week. It was a trend that started on the fringes and has now become mainstream. I suspect sustainability and managing for the stronger grasses will happen in a similar fashion. Some trends stay and some trends go but like rolling, I suspect once this management philosophy goes mainstream it will be here to stay.

My four days in Orlando featured a wonderful dinner with a number of individuals who believe managing for the stronger grasses is the right way to manage turf. The dinner was fun and eye opening. I spent a couple full days at the convention center, the first gleaning information from educational sessions including the always informative "Innovative Superintendents" session. My second full day involved a full eight hours walking the trade show floor. We walked onto the trade show floor 10 minutes after opening and left as they turned out the lights. Add to this a couple of nights networking at national and state hospitality events and the end result is a wonderful, fun and educational four days in Orlando.

I have a few more posts planned on what I saw and learned in Orlando, so stay tuned.