Gary Smith is a walking testament to the physical and mental health benefits of playing golf, but his story goes well beyond the norm. And attendees at the 28th Annual ING Spring Conference will get to hear his story first-hand.
Smith will be a guest-speaker at this annual gathering of media and golf industry executives and companies, scheduled for May 20-23 at the IP Resort Casino Spa in Biloxi, MS.
Anyone in the media and golf industry is invited to attend the conference, conducted by the non-profit International Network of Golf. Register for the conference by calling 407-328-0500 or visiting www.inggolf.com.
Throughout most of his life Smith was an active athlete, playing basketball and baseball in high school and college. He remained active while building a counseling business that ran a 24-hour crisis hotline with seven employees. He was a skydiver for 20 years and para-glided off a 3,800-foot cliff in New Zealand. He was a surfer in his fifties and ran a marathon on his 55th birthday. He also played recreational golf.
Then in 2008 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and gradually spiraled downward both physically and mentally. He retired from his second career as a loan office in Naperville, IL, in 2014 and decided that he would start playing more golf. Little did he know that the decision to spend more time on the links would change his life.
He became obsessed with the game and hits balls every day – up to 1,000 balls a week – at Topgolf, which gave him a free membership. The result? His neurologist confirms that he has returned to pre-Parkinson’s conditions. And, by the way, his handicap has dropped from 25 to 10.
Smith, married and the father of three, will share his story to the ING attendees. In his words, he will explain how “golf is the best Par-scription to Parkinson’s.” His story was recently featured on Golf Channel.
The ING Spring Conference schedule is packed with networking, educational and golf events designed to help all attendees enhance their standing in the golf industry. Highlights include:
- APPOINTMENT SHOW: The ING One-On-One Appointment Show was created to place an emphasis on business relations between the media and golf companies, resorts, destinations and entrepreneurs. Participating companies set up tabletop displays and conduct private meetings held every 15 minutes. Media members use the time to gather story material, do interviews and nurture relationships.
- DEMO LAB: The ING Demo Lab will take place on Monday morning at Shell Landing Golf Club. Companies with golf equipment and training aids set up on the range and putting green where attendees try the products first hand.
- EDUCATION: Sessions include Marketing & PR, Social Media Marketing and more. Also, ING TALKS, structured like Ted Talks, returns.
- GOLF: The World Amateur Golfers Championship, USA National Qualifier will take place Monday on the Davis Love-designed Shell Landing Golf Club. This individual stroke play net competition will be divided into five flights. Winners of those flights will earn complimentary entry and accommodations in the World Amateur Golfers Championship, USA National Championship Aug. 2-4 at the Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis, MS. In recent years, ING Qualifiers John Duval and Jim Smith have won their flights in the National Championship and went on to represent the USA in the World Championship.
Also, the 11th Annual Durland Cup team scramble will take place The Oaks Golf Club on Wednesday.
- NETWORKING: Several networking sessions are planned, including the Opening Night Welcome Reception and the Tuesday Night Banquet.
To register for the ING Conference, or to find out more about ING, visit www.inggolf.com, or call 407-328-0500.