Since the PGA of America and the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) have been collaborating on important golf-industry issues for many years through intra-industry initiatives such as Golf 20/20 and WE ARE GOLF, it was a perfect fit for the NGCOA to co-locate its annual Golf Business Conference with the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando this week — and for the next four years.
The Golf Business Conference is not only NGCOA’s annual membership meeting, but it is the industry’s largest annual gathering of golf course owners and operators. The GBC, like the PGA Merchandise Show, offers relevant and timely education delivered by industry experts on the most critical areas of golf course operations, a timely education program anchored in the sharing of best practices, and countless opportunities for owners and operators to network with their peers. So it was a natural fit for the NGCOA’s annual convention to intersect with the PGA Merchandise Show.
“Bringing the Golf Business Conference to the PGA Merchandise Show is yet one more way in which we can bring ownership and golf management and operations together,” emphasizes NGCOA CEO Jay Karen (pictured). “The PGA Show is one of the biggest weeks of the year for the golf industry, and NGCOA members had often mentioned that there’s obvious synergy between their golf businesses and the PGA Show offerings. So it was logical to literally bring the two together. NGCOA members will find significant value and convenience in the co-location, and can supplement their GBC learning with additional education, programming and experiential opportunities from the PGA.”
The NGCOA also has participated in education and training of PGA Career Services staff, so they can understand what’s on owners’ minds when serving PGA Professionals looking to advance their careers. NGCOA leadership has been teaching several classes at PGA educational conferences and section meetings on the most pressing issues and opportunities for golf course operators. Karen, for example, presented a keynote at the 2019 conference on “How Thinking Like an Owner Will Lead to Your Success as a PGA Professional.”
The NGCOA led two panels at the 2019 PGA Fashion & Demo Experience in Las Vegas on how technology is improving efficiency and leading to more revenue for golf course operators.
“Being in the same place over the same week with PGA Professionals and their leadership allows for organic and planned opportunities for collaboration,” says 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 Jr. League. 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 includes more than 15 education sessions, comprised of industry and business experts, as well as peer panels. Education session topics include: 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 is 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 will show course owners and operators how to create a competitive advantage to thrive in the new operating reality. And a panel of owners and operators are slated to share 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 gives way to education seminars, keynote speeches, presentations and networking events on Tuesday and Wednesday. The schedule carves out time for NGCOA members to visit the PGA Show Demo Day on Tuesday afternoon at Orange County National Golf Center, and to walk the PGA Merchandise Show floor on Wednesday. Attendees are 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,” says Karen. “We’re also encouraging 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.”