NGCOA Concludes Golf Business Conference With Education Seminars, “Bright Ideas” Session

Thursday, Jan. 23
ICYMI — PGA Show Recap Section

         The National Golf Course Owners Association’s Golf Business Conference, co-located this year with the PGA Merchandise Show for the first time in history, concluded three days of educational sessions on the most critical areas of golf course operations, a fun-filled golf outing at Reunion Resort, numerous networking opportunities, an awards banquet to recognize some of the most significant contributors to the golf industry, and several other special events Wednesday at the Orange County Convention Center.

         The golf industry’s largest annual gathering of golf course owners was a huge hit with its “Bright Ideas Showcase” general session, which saw attendees and operators share their brightest ideas in front of hundreds of other attendees with the No. 1 bright idea winning an all-expenses-paid golf trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Kraig Kann, Managing Director of Kann Advisory Group and Golf Business Conference emcee, moderated the high-energy “Bright Ideas” panel on Wednesday, with Golf Business Conference attendees then encouraged to remain in Orlando for Thursday-Friday events associated with the PGA Merchandise Show.

         The Golf Business Conference also included a joint NGCOA/PGA of America innovation panel titled Driving Entrepreneurship in Golf on Thursday. Panelists Gideon Yu (Former CFO of Facebook and Youtube and Partner at Khosla Ventures), Joe Assell (CEO/Founder of GolfTec), Kris Hart (Founder of Nextgengolf) and Bill Troynoski (GM at Halfmoon Bay) discussed various aspects of recruiting and fostering the next generation of PGA and golf industry professionals. With the power of their combined experience and expertise, the panel examined managing rising facility costs and creating new revenue streams, trends in retail’s impact on golf, marketing to and retention of a new generation of golfers, and balancing preservation/tradition with innovation.

          “Being in the same place over the same week with PGA Professionals and their leadership allows for organic and planned opportunities for collaboration,” said NGCOA CEO Jay Karen. “The NGCOA is helping to promote to our audience the value that PGA members bring to their facilities, as well as some of the most important programs, such as PGA Junior League Golf. The more we can be in the same room together, talking about golf’s biggest issues and opportunities, the better off we will all be.” 

The NGCOA’s Golf Business Conference 2020 included more than 15 education sessions, comprised of industry and business experts, as well as peer panels. Education session topics included Online Tee Time Agencies/Bartering/Pricing; Hiring/Training/Employee Retention; Business-Affecting Legislation; Marketing/Social Media/Branding; Membership Growth; On-course and Clubhouse Technologies; Real Estate Valuations; Customer Experience Enhancement; Diversity and Inclusion; Event and Tournament Planning, and more.  

Among the insightful keynote speakers were Will Bowen, who uses the acronym GRIPE to make course operators mindful of chronic complainers and frequent facility complaints while motivating operators to approach complainers with new, simple and effective strategies. Scott Steinberg also showed course owners and operators how to create a competitive advantage to thrive in the new operating reality. And a panel of owners and operators shared stories of researching and adopting different forms of gamification and “golf entertainment technology” to their courses in a panel discussion titled “The Big Golf Technology Rush.” 

The Golf Business Conference began in Orlando on Monday with a Yamaha Golf Outing at the Jack Nicklaus course at Reunion Resort. An Opening Reception Monday night gave way to education seminars, keynote speeches, presentations and networking events on Tuesday and Wednesday. The schedule carved out time for NGCOA members to visit the PGA Show Demo Day Tuesday afternoon at Orange County National Golf Center, and to walk the PGA Merchandise Show floor on Wednesday. Attendees were invited to take advantage of all PGA Show activities on Thursday and Friday, after the Golf Business Conference had officially adjourned. 

“Starting this year, we redesigned our programming to allow our owner and operator attendees to have adequate time to participate in PGA Show Demo Day on Tuesday afternoon, and explore the PGA Merchandise Show floor on Wednesday’s opening day,” said Karen. “We also encouraged our attendees to extend their stay in Orlando through the week to have even more time to explore the hall and interact with exhibitors. The NGCOA and PGA have worked together for many years, and this is just an extension of that mutually beneficial partnership.”

The NGCOA Golf Business Conference will be held in concert with the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando for the next four years, according to Karen.