Friday night I made my annual pilgrimage to Michigan Golf Show. Billed as the largest of its kind in the United States, it’s a bit hard to describe to people who haven’t been there. The show consists of 400 exhibitors spread out over the 240,000 square feet of the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Michigan. About half the exhibitors are golf courses, resorts and area tourist and convention bureaus trying to drum up business—mostly in-state, but there also are consortiums of out of state resorts and golf trails, notably Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada, the Mid Atlantic, and the Southeast. The remainder are retailers of one sort or another: discount pro shops with clubs, shoes and clothing, specialty items, online services, and inventors with their wares. On the periphery there were hitting nets, and golf schools offering five minute lessons. There also was a smattering—though I thought much less than in previous years—of non golf related vendors: gutter and siding contractors, chiropractors, jerky and sausage shops, satellite television, and the like.
A growing category: magic plastic bracelets that when worn, instantly make you stronger and more flexible. I submitted to a demonstration by one of the vendors. He had me stand on one foot and extend my arm. He pushed on the arm, and I tipped over quickly. Then he had me wear the bracelet and repeat the one-foot test. This time, I stood up to him. That, the snake oil salesman said, was proof of concept. The trick though, was that in the first test, he pushed on my hand away from my body, and in the second further up the arm toward my center of gravity. Fraud.
I managed to get out of the show without buying anything, but noted that it was a pretty good place to save on last year’s equipment. Rock Bottom Golf was offering some particularly good deals, as was Michigan discounter Maple Hill Golf. Pro shops from various Michigan golf resorts had brought their wares, but generally weren’t at good discounts.
Virtually every booth was running some sort of giveaway—always with the goal of collecting email addresses for later marketing. To win the free rounds, free weekend, clubs, etc. you turned over your name and email address (a fake one wouldn’t do, since that’s how they notify you of potential winnings). Over the course of an evening, that requires a lot of writing, so the more savvy show attendees came equipped with pre filled labels, which they just stuck on the entry cards. I keep meaning to do that.
Even taking into consideration that it was Friday, I thought that attendance was a bit down from previous years. Hopefully, the place will be packed on the weekend. The show runs through Sunday at the Novi Expo Center.