Carolinas GCSA Conference and Show stays strong in changing times

Carolinas GCSA Conference and Show stays strong in changing times

Number of seminar seats falls just shy of record as new, old faces flock to Myrtle Beach.

November 22, 2022

Golf course superintendents in the Carolinas maintain their appetite for high-quality education. They filled more than 1,300 seminar seats at the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association’s annual Conference and Trade Show in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, November 14 to 16. The final tally of 1,356 participants in education seminars, presented in partnership with Syngenta, was just 10 seats shy of the record high set in 2019.

While superintendent participation in the event remains strong, association officials concede that the world is transforming for exhibiting companies.

“Across the board, the message was very positive leaving the beach,” Carolinas GCSA executive director Tim Kreger said. “But times are definitely changing, and in different ways for different elements of the industry. We must continually find ways to address those changes.”

The number of exhibiting companies this year of 186 was down six from last year and down 28 from the record of 214 set in 2018. Kreger said some of that decline was due to in part to industry consolidation and the fact that several distributors granted exhibit space to allied companies, where previously those companies purchased stand-alone space. He also cited inflation, which had “caused a spike in the cost of exhibiting,” though booth pricing was unchanged from 2021.

“And there is no doubt the traditional trade show model has been squeezed by the internet and the array of electronic communication options available today,” Kreger said. “If a customer wants to know what a company has to offer, they can find out in seconds no matter where they are. But our show remains popular and viable because of the human element. There is nowhere else in the Southeast where companies can get the opportunity to get face to face with so many customers and potential clients. And our members show they appreciate that by turning up year after year.”

Kreger said the association was “pleased” with overall numbers and remains “optimistic” about the show’s future. “Maybe it’s just me getting older, but it seemed like there were more young faces on the trade show floor this year,” he said. “For a generation that is supposed to be addicted to doing everything virtually, I think that is a great sign for them and the future of the show.”

Association staff clocked nearly 1,000 people — excluding exhibitors and their staff — attending the first Carolinas Night celebration held in conjunction with the trade show. The move to bring the annual celebration onto the trade show floor aimed to increase both the number of people and the time they spent at the trade show.

“Overall, folks on the trade show floor seemed very excited and happy with the changes,” Kreger said. “And that includes superintendents and exhibitors. People were certainly positive, and I even had one exhibitor ask who they needed to thank for the idea.”

Among the highlights of the week was Danny Allen of the Aero Short Course in Myrtle Beach receiving the Distinguished Service Award. The award caps an almost 50-year career, including nearly 40 at Camden Country Club in Camden, South Carolina, a term as association president and two separate stints on the board of directors. The award was presented by his brother, Randy, himself a past president and Distinguished Service Award winner.

Other highlights from this year’s Conference and Show include:

  • Chuck Connolly of Smithfields Country Club in Easley, South Carolina, became the association’s 49th president. Connolly will become director of golf maintenance at Savannah Lakes Village in McCormick, South Carolina, next month
  • Matt Smith of Wilmington Golf Course in Wilmington, North Carolina, was elected to the board of directors
  • Riley Boyette of Carolina Country Club in Raleigh won his fourth Carolinas GCSA golf championship, presented by Toro and Smith Turf and Irrigation, as one of nearly 340 golfers who teed it up across three courses
  • Charles Davis of Inland Greens in Wilmington, North Carolina, won the $3,000 grand prize in the 27-Hole Challenge, with more than $10,000 in cash and prizes, presented by John Deere Golf, Greenville Turf and Tractor and Revels Turf and Tractor
  • Horry Georgetown Technical College won the Student Turf Bowl presented by Precision Laboratories, completing a hat trick of wins that started in 2019
  • Past president Adam Charles of The Preserve at Verdae in Greenville, South Carolina, won his fourth sporting clay championship, presented by Bayer and Carolina Fresh Farms
  • Erin Miller of TPC Piper Glen in Charlotte became the first woman to win the Turf Equipment Technician of the Year Award presented by Turf Equipment Technician’s Association of the Carolinas