Keeping up with the Jones: What I learned from the 20223 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show

By |  March 13, 2023 0 Comments

The 2023 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show in Orlando is a thing of the past, but before we put it in the rearview mirror for good, I want to share a few key takeaways from the show. These are the top three things I heard or observed:

3. Orlando should probably be, at a minimum, an every-other-year location. GCSAA reported an increase in attendance at this Orlando show from the San Diego show by a whopping 69 percent. Granted, San Diego had a few bad breaks going against it regarding the pandemic, as I wrote in my Q&A with GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans in the January issue. But Orlando is so successful every time the show goes there.

Trust me; I’d rather hang out in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter over the cookie-cutter bars on Orlando’s International Drive. And I might be the only guy who wishes San Antonio — and that food — would come back into the rotation.

However … the aisles in Orlando don’t lie. The show was packed. In the first few hours of the show, I found myself ducking out of the John Deere booth based on the overwhelming number of people there. I felt like I was at nearby Disney World fighting one of those crowds. I headed over to the USGA booth to see if I could check out the new GS3. I saw that crowd and told myself, ‘maybe later.’

Thursday afternoon quieted down, but every exhibitor I talked to agreed: there’s just no competing with Orlando as a show venue.

2. Maintenance budgets are enjoying the golf boom. For the last few years, my friends at FMC have asked me to moderate a panel discussion with about eight superintendents. It goes on for an hour, and we talk about the industry in general. The conversation is lively and fun.

I wish I could tell you it was conducted before a room of 500 people eagerly listening and learning, but let’s just say it’s more of an intimate panel.

One of the best discussions came when I opened it up to the floor for questions (because, as I’ve stated before, sometimes my common sense isn’t so common). The question was: based on the recent golf boom the industry has experienced, how does your maintenance budget look going into 2023?

The answer? Six of the eight panelists stated their budgets were up about 20 to 25 percent. One said it was up about 10 percent, and only one said it remained the same.

This came along with complaints of too much traffic on the golf course to get the work done, desperation to find people to fill out their crews and delays in equipment deliveries. But still, as I stood there and listened to these men talk about having more in the maintenance budget bottom line, I couldn’t help but think about how opportunistic this time is in our industry.

1: Most of you haven’t aged a day. After missing so many people in San Diego last year and the canceled show in 2021, it has been a few years since I saw many of the folks I saw in Orlando. What an interesting thing for someone like me, who regularly travels to chapter events and tournaments and sees a lot of people every year.

A commonly-shared feeling I had with people was shock over how old our kids have become.

“I heard Evey is old enough to drive now,” my old friend Anthony Williams said to me, incredulous. “Was it really that long ago that you were showing me baby photos?”

It was that long ago. Time is flying by. But though I hadn’t seen these folks in a few years, they still looked the same. Maybe it’s something in the irrigation systems. Or, more likely, it’s just great to be back.

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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