Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2011 Golf Industry Show

Winter is a time for reflection, renewal and planning for the upcoming golf season. Education is a large part of that process and learning something new that I can bring back to use on Bull's Eye has been rewarding and fulfilling throughout my career. You may think I know everything, but I know that not to be the case! There's always one more item I can cram into the recesses of my cranial cavity. As Einstein said, genius does not know it all but knowing where to find it is. Use it or lose it. If I didn't think I could add value to your golf course through my attendance I simply wouldn't go. I would invest your money elsewhere. I know there are those of you that would argue that you can conduct all learning you need online. True but I find that most questions are left unasked and body language is missed. Also I’ve learned more in conversation with others off subject than perhaps what the seminar taught. It is fool hardy to stop learning something new each and every day.

I couldn't help but staying awake at this years USGA Green Section Program.

I can't say the same for Andy.  He threatened me....so much for threats.
My schedule was abbreviated as I arrived mid day Tuesday and hustled to make the Research Update session.  The show was open through Thursday with one last day for education on Friday.  All totaled I spent six hours in educational sessions and another ten hours on the trade show floor where I sought out new products and tried to make new contacts with suppliers that could be of future use.  There were over 84 two day seminars at the start of the conference taught by University Professors from through out the world.  I wasn't able to partake in any this time as my "conference on the cheap" prevented an early arrival and later stay.

I caught up with University of Wisconsins "Bug Doctor" Dr. Chris Williamson in the Syngenta Booth.  He is best known for his work on the invading European Ash Borer.  He's an Ohio State grad, so I caught him smiling before the Badger beatdown of his Buckeyes.
The trade show floor is packed with new products from equipment to gadgets. Some form of technical advances always catches my eye to be placed on future needs or wants lists.

Here I found a weedeater with a centrifugal pump for head.  This would have come in handy draining bunkers after last years heavy frequent rains.

Not everything is new.  I hate to date my self, but I remember pulling one of those in my youth at the Nakoma Golf Club.
I've taken advantage of ordering products on the show floor, when my budget permitted saving the club thousands of dollars. I recall my delight at the thought of placing an order for two new fairway mowers at a show years ago only to discover a newer lighter fairway mower was brought into the market. I quickly changed plans and ordered the newer mower from a different vendor sight unseen, untested taking a huge chance and ended up on the leading curve of the lightweight fairway mowing revolution. And the real bonus to you the member was these two mowers had a price tag $40,000 LESS than the two mowers the board had given me permission to purchase! That savings paid for a lot of turf conferences.

The show offers great opportunity to discuss with local and national technical representatives regarding problems or issues with product or equipment.  It's a great venue to get questions answered under one roof.

Here are the boys from Reinders Brothers who outlined our options for the upcoming radio upgrade that will be forced down our budgetary throats by the FCC.  This comes as a result of society becoming a "totally wired wireless" world.  The upgrade BTW is not cheap. Arrrgh....
The Conferences Opening Session was always a highlight that featured many Nationally known figures from General Norman Schwarzkopf to former first lady Barbara Bush. (Just at the time she was featured dangling from a balcony in the “Naked Gun” series of movies. She had a great since of humor!) Motivational speakers, while not one of my genres featured the likes of Ken Blanchard the author of the “One Minute Manager” and Buzz Aldrin whose real life story told in “Lost Moon” was played on screen by Tom Hanks in “Apollo 13. Of course there are always sighting of famous professional golfers on the show floor as so many of them have moved into golf course architecture during latter stages of their playing careers. It was really interesting listening to Paul Azinger speak of his Ryder Cup team and telling our audience things that he wouldn’t tell the general press. I remember the time I rode with Arnold Palmer’s brother Jerry when he mentioned that Arnie’s wife Millie had breast cancer. This was before that fact was made public.

Nick Price informed our assemblage that he is the only Professional Golfer that doesn't boast that he's a golf course architect.

Here Monroe Miller gets his program autographed by Nick.  You may remember reading Monroe's articles in the Wisconsin Golfer Magazine.  A publication of the Wisconsin State Golf Association.
 For years I served the Wisconsin Golf Course Superintendent Association as its Chapter Delegate placing me directly in the cross hairs of association politics. It was during this period of my career that I met some of the most powerful men in the game of golf. From the USGA to Pete Dye. I was proud to represent Wisconsin when going head to head with large chapters as those found in Florida, Texas, California, Pennsylvania, and New York. Back then a simple phone call could have arranged for a round of golf on some of the nation’s premier golf courses. I couldn’t take them up because I had to work. Now my network serves more as a reunion of sorts as the song “Glory Days” runs through my head.

The Superintendent on the left Trevor Dargan is from Ireland whose budget is 650K Euro's!  That drawfs mine by several thousand dollars, but I've got his card and plan on giving him a call the first time I can get my clubs on the plane for a trip over the pond.   Steve Curry on the right is a former chapter delegate I bumped heads with time to time over the internet.  It was only after playing a round of golf together that he put my name with a face.  I knew when I saw the pairings who he was.  We still laugh about that to this day.
In recent times my budget paid my way to conference and show as a part of my contract benefit package. The recession largely pared that back to old days when I paid for the conference out of my own pocket, not by choice but by necessity. I'm a certified golf course superintendent and need to maintain continuing education credits that I can only earn by attending the conference and show. So when I was able to obtain a deal of deals, $477 per person to stay at a four star hotel right across the street from convention center for five nights AND included round trip airfare it was a “no-brainer.” I doubt if I’ll ever find that type of savings in the future so count on me placing the expense reimbursement in the budget annually. If you’ve read my blog this far, you can see that the expense is worth it.

And what a week it was.  It all started on Sunday with a Packers victory in Super Bowl 45 to ending with the Badgers beating then #1 Ohio State on Saturday.

Too bad the score doesn't show as the fans fill the court after victory!