The Pellucid Perspective - October 2013 - (Page 16)

THE LAST WORD The show must go on W ith many of us receiving early, early, early bird notices that registration is now open for next year’s round of golf industry conferences in Orlando (PGA Merchandise Show, Golf Industry Show and CMAA Global Conference), and having just returned from the Crittenden Golf Conference in Phoenix last week, the topic of golf conferences was on my mind. It appears that those gatherings, having weathered the last five years of golf industry gloom and doom, are alive and well and hoping for, if not a return to the glory days of packed houses, at least a renewed interest in networking and showing the corporate wares. A number of our readers are aware that I used to play a role in the Crittenden/ Golf Inc. Conferences during my years with Golf Inc. magazine. Attending the last two in Dallas last year and Phoenix this year as a member of the media was a unique perspective (no pun intended) and a chance to truly see the experience from an attendee point of view. When I returned from Phoenix, one of my colleagues at Pellucid Corp. wondered if people were still attending the annual Crittenden get—together, and if so, why? My answer was yes, people still go, albeit not in the same number of general attendees or exhibitors as a few years back, but there is still a good representation of many of the industry’s movers and shakers and subject matter experts. As to why people attend, the primary reasons are still pretty much what they always were — the chance to network with fellow industry stakeholders in person and perhaps cut or cement a new deal or two, and for the paying attendees (speakers get in free), the chance to perhaps learn a few tricks they can put to use at their course back home. Exhibitors show up knowing that virtually every sales prospect they know is attending the show will at least pass by or linger in the vicinity of their booths during the various breaks between sessions or the nightly cocktail receptions in the exhibit area, unlike the PGA, Golf Industry Show or CMAA with their much larger exhibit venues and attendance. 16 The Pellucid PersPecTive As is typically the case, this year’s opening keynote on The State of the Golf Industry, featuring OB Sports COO Phil Green as moderator and including Century Golf Partners CEO Jim Hinckley, KemperSports EVP Jim Stegall and CNL Financial Group SVP Gary Rosmarin as speakers, dropped no bombshells. They did present, for those who were blissfully unaware of them, the somewhat depressing state of the industry’s rounds, revenue and participation demographics, interwoven with a few optimistic notes, mostly along the lines of golf has survived another economic attack and will persevere, as long as we make it fun and run our businesses like businesses. Several sessions addressed one of our favorite topics here at Pellucid — third party tee time marketers. With folks like Kurt Albertson of EZLinks, Scott Merchant of Golf Pipeline and Brett Darrow of Quick 18 on various panels, there were numerous veiled references to “the elephant in the room” or “the largest tee time aggregator,” mentioning no name, of course. Finally Sunrise Golf CEO Mark Tansey, moderating a panel ominously entitled “The Biggest Mistakes Top Operators are Making,” halted the bush— beating, saying “Folks, it’s OK to say the name — it’s GolfNow,” to the amusement of the audience. In another session, Steven Ekovich, Managing Director of the National Golf & Resort Properties Group, probably the most prolific of the golf course sales brokerage firms, raised more than a few eyebrows (and blood pressures) when he made the statement “Golf devalues real estate.” Hands quickly went up in the audience at such blasphemy, and it was clarified in the ensuing discussion that what Ekovich really meant was that zoning and environmental restrictions permitting, land could typically be put to a more lucrative use than erecting a golf course on it, such as residential or commercial development. Once that was clarified, and the point was made that once built, golf courses tend to accelerate the value of the neighboring real estate, the villagers put down their torches and Ekovich escaped unscathed. While chance meetings at the PGA, Golf Industry Show or CMAA Conference on the floor or in the bar at the Peabody or the Rosen can lead to impromptu business discussions, it’s more likely at a smaller show like the Crittenden event. Last week, one of Ekovich’s fellow speakers on the Golf Course Finance panel was Ray Munoz, who has assembled most of his former executive team members at Textron Financial in his new Leisure Financial Group. After Munoz touched on some of the emerging alternative ways to finance golf course deals, he and Peter Nanula, the Chairman of Concert Golf Partners and one of the industry’s most active recent course buyers, were seen heading off together to talk a little business. As for the exhibitors, there are a certain core group of repeat exhibitors at that particular show, although like any show, there are other one—hit wonders who exhibit once, run the cost—benefit analysis afterward and decide to spend their marketing dollars elsewhere. The reason for the repeaters was probably summed up by one long—time exhibitor, who told me, “Every year I think about whether I should come back or not, but the bottom line is that I almost always get some worthwhile leads. This year, I’ve already talked with one company that looks like they’re going to turn into some business for us, so I’m glad we came.” All in all, while the PGA’s Fall event in Las Vegas has become a shell of its former self, and largely serves the apparel side of the business, the industry’s major shows seem to be holding their own. This year, the Orange County Convention Center will be the center of the golf industry for nearly 3 weeks, as the PGA Merchandise Show, Golf Industry Show and CMAA come and go one after the other. Depending upon how many attendees are able to wheedle free or reduced greens fees from their Orlando compatriots, it should be a banner start to the year for Orlando area courses. —Jim Dunlap October 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - October 2013

The Pellucid Perspective - October 2013
Are golf ’s nonprofit “emperors” fiddling while Rome burns?
Seniors in their golden years, but are you?
A new determinant on “weather” golfers play or not?
Golf needs a voice in the regulatory process
September golf weather impact: Positive month caps positive Q3
Established SF courses leap-frog larger markets
ClubCorp IPO shares priced lower than expected at opening, rise 10% in debut
The show must go on

The Pellucid Perspective - October 2013