Events and products to look for as GCSAA’s Conference and Trade Show returns to Arizona

By |  January 22, 2024 0 Comments

When the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s Conference and Trade Show rolls around, Jared Brewster, superintendent at Rolling Hills CC in Newburgh, Ind., tries to pack in as much education and trade show floor time as he can. But that isn’t the biggest part of the show for him, he says. It’s the community.

Photo: Sean Pavone /iStock–Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: Sean Pavone /iStock–Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

“It’s hard to walk the trade show floor and not have someone stop you and say hello,” Brewster says. “We’re a tight-knit community. Someone has always worked for someone else, or vice versa. Or you get dinner with superintendents who brought you up, who you interned for. There are so many mentors in our industry, you get everyone in the same area, it allows us to have conversations and look at past memories and just have a good time.”

Tee it up

GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans says that attendance for the show in Phoenix — the first time the show takes place there since 1987 — is looking to be an increase over what attendees saw in Orlando last year. When Golfdom spoke to Evans in early 2024, he said attendance was eight percent ahead of where it was at the same time last year for the Orlando show.

He attributes part of the success to the lure of a new city that many attendees might not have visited before.

“San Diego and Orlando have been consistent fixtures, and then we rotate that middle show, going back to San Antonio and Las Vegas,” Evans says. “We wanted to look at another West Coast city that could become a landing place that may be a little unique from San Diego. When we sent out a survey to members, Phoenix kept coming up high on the list.”

Ernie Pock, director of agronomy at Grayhawk Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., recalls the last time the conference was in Phoenix — when he was a kid.

“It’s been, gosh, my dad was a superintendent for 40-plus years and it was in the ’80s the last time it was in Phoenix,” he says. “I was kind of surprised to hear they were going to Phoenix but (the city) has done a really great job with the restaurants and the bars and they’ve cleaned up downtown — there are some pretty cool venues.”

Pock, president of the Cactus and Pine GCSA chapter, has helped the national association plan this show by lending his local knowledge.

“We’re trying to get creative,” he says. “We’re going to do a coffee kickoff before the first day of the trade show. We’ll have some parties planned during the week of the show where everybody can share stories of successes and failures in turf, and if you’ve got a beer in your hand, it just makes it better.”

A new city and convention center are great, but perhaps the most alluring thing about a new location is a slate of new golf courses for GCSAA’s various golf tournaments. Talking Stick GC, Whirlwind GC and Camelback GC will play host to superintendents from across the country.

“These are some really great tracks that are right there in the Phoenix Valley,” Evans says. “If you want an indication that people are excited to play these courses, the National Championship is sold out; the Classic is sold out; the Four-Ball is sold out. We’ve got more players than we’ve had in over a decade. We have close to a thousand playing slots filled. That’s over 600 unique players registered for the tournaments.”

Show stoppers

Along with the networking, educational opportunities, site visits and golf, another thing the GCSAA Conference and Trade Show offers is the chance to see new products and technologies in person.

“There are always new products from companies you know, but there are also products that you just don’t know, or aren’t familiar with, from the companies you don’t know,” Brewster says. “There are a lot of things for everyone.”

“We want people to leave a little stronger, a little smarter and better equipped to excel in their careers,” Evans says. “That’s the goal. It’s about education, networking and seeing the trade show floor and the new products.”

About the Author: Seth Jones

Seth Jones, a 25-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Jones can be reached at

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