This past Friday, I spent my afternoon and evening at the Michigan Golf Show at the Rock Financial Showcase in Novi, Michigan. The show bills itself as the world’s largest, and has 214,000 square feet of exhibit space. I’m sure the PGA Shows are larger, but perhaps the Michigan golf show has itself in a separate category.
The Michigan Golf show featured some 400 exhibitors, ranging from retailers, to courses offering deals, to regional travel associations. A few golf related internet startups had exhibits. And there also were a smattering of unrelated booths: jerky and sausage shops, perfume, chiropractors, Skoal snuff, and home improvement.
The retailers were anchored by Rock Bottom Golf—the deep discount internet retailer—and Michigan’s Maple Hill Golf. There were several dozen others whose names I can’t remember. Most had older stock, used clubs, and last year’s apparel. I got a wedge at Maple Hill, and a Mizuno stand bag for $49 at one of the others.
In addition to promoting play, a lot of the courses also brought along portions of their pro shops. The Boyne Resorts and St. Ives both had large exhibits. Most of the others had just a smattering of shirts, clubs and accessories.
A new local golf radio show, Golf Washtenaw, had a booth. The show will kick off Masters’s weekend on WTKA 1050 AM. Weekend Warrior Golfer is another Michigan internet startup that showed its face.
With the golf travel exhibits, there was an air of desperation. You couldn’t walk past a booth without someone jumping out and offering you a flyer, a brochure, or a large glossy booklet. Deep discounts were available at a large number of nice looking resorts. One Kentucky golf resort was offering a three day stay, with unlimited golf and food included for $300.
I managed to pick up quite a few coupons for Michigan golf courses offering 2 for 1 discounts. I also won a free golf lesson at Fox Hills.
I was impressed with the efforts made by Michigan golf courses to engage in group marketing. The Traverse City area had a marketing initiative that billed them as the “Golf Coast.” The Gaylord Area bills itself (justifiably, given the number of top quality, cheap courses) as America’s Summer Golf Mecca. Other areas have banded together to create Michigan Golf Trails, like the more famous ones in southern states.
Crystal Mountain had free lessons for junior golfers; Boyne had a large driving range facility. There also was a long drive competition and a couple of putt-for-dough booths.
Missing from this year’s show were golf simulators—there have been a couple in years past—and golf inventor/entrepreneurs. In previous shows,a fair number of booths were occupied by people showing off their golf inventions—glove holders, training gadgets books and the like. This year, it was down to just one or two. One I did notice was the Castle Ball Keeper, a startup from Jackson, Michigan.
The most impressive part of the show was a gorgeous landscaped putting green built by Greenskeeper Golf and Sinacori Landscaping. The greens are remarkly realistic in their play, and I discovered that you can even chip and hit wedges off the surface. Bill Green, the owner, is a scratch golfer and really loves his work. It is of course my dream to have such a green in my backyard. I’d need to get another job, though.
Finally, I wanted to mention that thanks to Greenskeeper and Sinacori, I had the chance to play around with an actual featherie. Ok. So it was homemade, and the stuffing was synthetic, but it sure felt like I imagined one would feel.