The leading ladies take the stage in San Diego

Returning are the familiar blazers over button-down shirts, meeting backslaps, the look of navel-level badges to reconfirm nicknames, and the pleasant, constant undercurrent of golf on the venue’s 114,000 square feet of floor of exposure.

Following a remote conference due to a pandemic last year, the GCSAA Conference and Trade Show has returned in-person for 2022, hosted by the idyllic weather and friendly, familiar confines of the San Diego Convention Center .

From exhibitors and superintendents to researchers and hosts, all parties seemed similar in the benefits of seeing colleagues face to face.

“We wanted to bring everyone back here; give everyone a chance to network again, give our vendors a chance to showcase their products again, give our members a chance to return to their education systems,” the GCSAA Field Representative said. Southwest. Jeff Jensen noted. “Superintendents are super excited to get together and learn about new industry trends.”

While acknowledging the function of virtual learning, the vast majority of the 6,500 attendees seemed enthusiastic about returning to face-to-face exchanges.

“For me, I love being in the in-person classes, having those interactions and meeting the other people in that class,” said Christopher Well, chief superintendent at Desert Willow Golf Resort in Palm Desert, Calif., and regional agronomist for KemperSports. “If you’re there (in a class) you probably have something in common with the other people in it, and that evolves into discussions and interactions and you just don’t get the same with a virtual classroom. “

In the showroom of more than 300 exhibitors, turf enthusiasts and beasts also enjoyed the interaction again.

“I think it’s great (to be back in person), and as normal as it gets, I guess,” said Josh Gibson of Flyaway Geese from North Carolina, holding the stand alongside Tom, a two-year-old border collie. “Everyone was jovial, and it feels like the good old days. We see a lot of guys who have bought dogs from us, and everyone likes to come to the booth and tell stories about dogs.

Between scratches at the head of a steady stream of stand visitors, Tom and his line apparently shared opinion.

“This is our fourth year here, and it’s been really good,” Gibson said. “My wife (owner Rebecca Gibson) and me, we started with just a small stand, and it became what you see now. The GCSAA has been great for us and the superintendents with their support and the purchase of dogs for goose control.

From poultry screening to quality control, the USGA booth was also buzzing with guests.

“It looks like the show is a little more spread out, but we’re seeing a lot of traffic. I can’t say how it is for everyone, but it’s been good for us,” said David Pierce, director of research at the USGA. “After talking a lot with people on the phone or exchanging e-mails, it was great to see people face to face. Nothing replaces face-to-face conversations. And then in the street after, different restaurants and bars, there is a lot of energy there. People are still wearing their badges, having conversations and having fun.

Although some attendees found a problem with a reworked slate of shows and education in 2022, criticism was washed away via an after-hours fraternity.

“You can tell; people are happy to hang out and see each other again,” Bien said. important place. Every conference for anything in the world should be held in San Diego. It was awesome. And, yes, it might be a little slower, but they also opened it up to do some virtual as well (after the in-person conference); so some people are taking lessons from home.

A good introduction, a toast, or a handshake just aren’t the same on a screen.

“There’s a great vibe in the Gaslamp Quarter, seeing people you know walking around and having a drink and dinner,” Jensen said. “The networking aspect of it all is huge for our industry. Seeing old friends, meeting new people. That might be the most underrated part of the show. educate, see new products, play our golf event – but you can come here, chat with people about how to run your business better, and meet people who can help further your career.

Judd Spicer is a Palm Desert, California-based writer and frequent contributor to the golf course industry.

Michael C. Ford