The Carolinas GCSA announced that close to 2,200 seminar “seats” were sold and more than $30,000 was mailed to industry professionals over the holidays as part of its Conference Comes to You alternative to its annual in-person Conference and Trade Show. The number of seats sold eclipses the traditional conference high of 1,379.
“Most importantly, we delivered on our mission statement despite the pandemic,” Carolinas GCSA executive director Tim Kreger said. “Our association exists, first and foremost, to provide educational opportunities for the continual advancement of the profession of the golf course superintendent in the Carolinas. We’re proud we were able to deliver.”
The cash giveaway on Monday, Dec. 21 was the culmination of the conference that began on Nov. 2. There was a weeklong break for Thanksgiving. Attendees who watched a series of brief promotional videos from conference partners were eligible for the drawing. Winners of prizes ranging from $100 to $2,500 were from as far afield as Hawaii and Ontario. In November, another $10,000 was given away among early registrants.
Mark Storby from Oneida Golf and Country Club in Green Bay, Wisconsin, didn’t learn of his $2,500-win until he received a call from the Carolinas GCSA. “Wow. That’s incredible,” Storby said. “I’ve never won anything that big. When it comes to anything with money involved, I usually don’t win a thing.”
Storby took four seminars and couldn’t have been happier with the experience. “You guys did really well with this,” he said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve taken any seminars, but you had a really good lineup with good topics. I was really impressed with the whole experience. I need to thank our own chapter leaders for taking part.”
The other $2,500 winner was Shannon Peterson, CGCS from Mountain Air Country Club in Burnsville, North Carolina. In all 82 prizes were awarded in the grand drawing.
“Believe me, nobody wanted to cancel our Conference and Show but there really was no choice, given the pandemic,” Kreger said. “What we did have a choice about was whether to take the easy path and do nothing or find a way to deliver on our mission. Thanks to our incredible industry partners, we did that, and we provided value to many.”
Nearly 40 companies stepped forward with financial support for the virtual conference. A similar number of superintendent chapters and the British International Golf Greenkeepers Association also signed on as partners to promote the event to their members. In return, they received a share of each seminar fee paid for by their members.
“That kind of support from industry partners and our allied chapters speaks volumes for the credibility the Carolinas GCSA has developed over decades,” said president, Brian Stiehler, CGCS, MG from Highlands Country Club in Highlands, North Carolina. “Conference Comes to You was an untried idea in the middle of extremely uncertain times, yet our partners stepped right up. The board is extremely proud of our staff for developing the concept then bringing together all the elements to make it a reality.”