When the 24th Annual ING Spring Conference closed on June 5 in Atlantic City, NJ, talk immediately turned to the excitement of the International Network of Golf’s 25th Anniversary coming in 2015
Before 2014 is packed away, however, it needs to be reported that this year’s conference was filled with excitement of its own.
The ING Spring Conference, an annual gathering of media and golf industry leaders from all aspects of the business, is conducted by the non-profit International Network of Golf. The most recent conference was held at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City.
“This was our first conference so we didn’t really know what to expect,” said Mark Zander of EyeLoc Golf. “By end of day four it became clear on how special an event it is. Everyone is there for everyone else. Sort of a golfing brotherhood. Smart interesting people from all corners of the golf community sharing their knowledge about all aspects of the sport we all love. And sharing freely. No one is selling…just sharing. And from it, true magic has happened. David (Wieder) and I have made great friends and important business connections with whom we are communicating daily. The atmosphere simply does that.”
The ING Conference schedule is a combination of educational sessions, networking opportunities, product testing and golf tournaments. Conference registrants provided a diverse, broad-brush of the industry.
“The connections we’ve made through ING have proven to be extremely beneficial,” said TheGolfDirector.com’s Jeff Gilder, another first-timer. “Just as satisfying are the opportunities to support other ING members with our services. Anyone in the golf industry could benefit as well by joining ING and becoming an active member.”
Here are some highlights from this year’s conference:
Jon Last from Sports & Leisure Marketing captivated his audience in the marketing trends seminar. He outlined a 12-point program that was based on how the industry identifies and treats its customers.
“There are those in the media who look at the industry with gloom and doom,” said Last. “I see it as an opportunity, but the approach by the industry has to be adaptive. The market shift has to be identified.”
Last’s seminar was followed by Social media Marketing breakouts, one for beginners, led by Charley Fitzwilliam of The Bramp Amp, and another for those with more expertise, conducted by Taylor Trusty of Blackstone Media.
Other educational sessions included a PR seminar by Jane Dally and Joe Wieczorek, a media roundtable by Jon Glozek, the Mentor-ING Breakfast Roundtables featuring LPGA legend Jan Stephenson, and a King For A Day session.
Several companies chose the ING stage to launch new products to the golf industry, including new drivers by Knuth Golf and STEP Golf. Included on that list was EyeLoc Golf Gear, a revolutionary eyewear designed as a training aid to help keep a player’s eye locked on the ball. It won ING Conference Best Product based on a vote by attendees, who appreciated the fact that a simple-to-use product can quickly provide perfect alignment to the target.
The Conference Best Publication Award went to Greg Wires and Golf Minnesota.
Professional golfer Jay Sigel won the ING Dennis Walters Courage Award. He rebounded from a major hand injury in college to carve out one of the great amateur golf records ever, followed by career on the Champions Tour that included multiple wins. He also is heavily involved in charitable fund-raising golf events in the Philadelphia area.
Biggs Tabler of Golf Marketing By Biggs and Those Weekend Golf Guys radio show, won the ING Plus One award by earning the most points recruiting new attendees to the conference. He wins a golf getaway for two to PGA Golf Village in Port St. Lucie, FL.
Greg Wires, Wayne Williams, Ed Travis, Tony Leodora and Mike Jamison won their flights in the World Golfers Championship National Finals Qualifier at Jaworski’s Blue Heron Pines on Monday. That earned each of them a spot in the WGC National Finals Sept. 25-27 at Mission Inn Resort & Club.
The 8th Annual Durland Cup Scramble, conducted on the Pines Course at Seaview Resort, was won by the team of Andy Mears, Mike Vandiver, Anders Bengtson and Marti Ramsey, the daughter of Larry Durland, for whom the event is named.
DEMO LAB LONG DRIVE
A long drive exhibition, conducted by TL Golf Services, was held during the popular Demo Lab at Atlantic City Country Club. It featured long drive professionals William Hinson and Brad Skupaka, and three competitors from the Para Long Drivers organization – Dean Jarvis, Brandon Jacks and Vince Biser.
Geno Withelder of the City of Mesquite City Council, host of the World Long Drive Championships, emceed the event.
ONE-ON-ONE APPOINTMENT SHOW
By far the most popular event at the conference, according to the post-event survey, once again was the ING One-On-One Appointment Show. Over two dozen exhibitors held 20-minute meetings with individual attendees during a five-hour show spread over two days.
“The One-On-One Appointment Show was particularly beneficial for us,” said Gilder of TheGolfDirector.Com.
GOLF AT NIGHT:
Two “under the stars” golf events were held. SNAG Golf created a four-hole course on the beach by Resorts Casino Hotel for a special Sunday night golf event Attendees used SNAG golf equipment on hole outlined by lights as the waves splashed ashore nearby.
Lite4Nite Golf Balls were introduced at the NiteLite Sports golf shootout at Blue Heron Pines following the golf tournaments on Monday. Course owner Ron Jaworski, former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst, was on hand and took part in the closest-to-the-pin contest, which featured the Lite4Nite golf balls, which have the feel and performance of premium golf balls.
It was announced that Mission Inn Resort & Club near Orlando will host the 25th Anniversary ING Spring Conference May 31-June 3, 2015. The announcement was made by Dawn Lafferty, Senior Sales Manager at Mission Inn, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.