It was the last afternoon before winter again slapped us across the face and I made my way to the Minneapolis Convention Center, paid my $10 and spent a few hours at the golf show.
I think this is the second year since it moved to the convention center — good timing considering the state of the Metrodome these days — and really not a lot has changed. The biggest difference is that 2nd Swing is the primary sponsor instead of Nevada Bob’s. To me that isn’t that big of a difference.
As always the golf show is part flea market, part travel show, part driving range and part randomness. I don’t usually get a whole lot out of my time there, I don’t usually buy anything, but I do leave again excited about golf.
A few observations:
– The biggest thing I learned came from my guy at 2nd Swing who went to the recent PGA show in Orlando. He knows that I have a weakness for drivers so I asked him some questions. The biggest thing he said was that the TaylorMade R11 is pretty good and is at least worth trying.
– Travel is always a big thing at the golf show. Lots of courses and resorts looking to encourage golfers to visit their facilities and spend some cash money. Often times it is the usual suspects, but sometimes I’m surprised. A year ago, it was cool to talk for a couple of minutes with the folks from The Prairie Club in Nebraska. This year, the biggest surprise was seeing people from Erin Hills, the Wisconsin course that is hosting the 2011 US Amateur and the 2017 US Open. The course received some mixed reviews from people I know and a bunch of work was done recently to correct/improve (choose your term) parts of the initial design. It is a place I’m interested in seeing, but the $200 green fee freaks me out a little bit. I could certainly do it, but I am generally skeptical of triple-digit green fees.
– Where to go? I do have a significant/milestone birthday coming up early in the golf season. I have traditionally played golf on my birthday and sometimes I’ve made a day of it and gone somewhere new or different. So if I do that again this year, where should I go. There are a couple of places that interest me: Giants Ridge has some good early season rates, but going north in May is always risky. Along the same lines, I’m super interested in checking out a couple of the places in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The Greywall\’s course at Marquette Golf Club is supposed to be fantastic. There’s also the fairly new Sweetgrass Golf Club that has gotten pretty good reviews. If I go south, there are some Iowa options that could be good. The Preserve at Rathbun Lake looks pretty good and the weather south of Des Moines might be better.
– The biggest surprise from my standpoint was the complete lack of private club presence at the show. I did not see one. And I know that virtually every club in town is looking for members. Now I don’t expect that Interlachen, Hazeltine or Spring Hill is going to be looking for members at the golf show, but it does seem like there could be some value. According to my inbox and a quick look on the interview, there are at least six clubs in town where you can get in with essentially zero initiation fee. I think there is one more in that group. I know there are two clubs that once had initiation fees around $15,000 where entrance can be secured for $1,500 or less. There are others that I would expect are also running deals. I guess that’s why I’m surprised that there wasn’t a single club there. Maybe it is expensive to have a booth, but the opportunity to talk to golfers doesn’t seem like a horrible idea.
That’s about all I have at this point. Maybe I lost some great ideas while blowing snow earlier today.