Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Opinion: This GIS speakers line-up needs some Monster energy drink

One of the most yawn-inspiring press releases of the new year hit my inbox yesterday, and that was the announcement of the two keynote speakers at the GIS: Tim Rosaforte and Brandel Chamblee.

Now I know why the GCSAA was so slow to release this news… because it wasn't news. The only way an announcement should be made about Rosaforte's presence at the show is if he accidentally left his reporter's notebook in the men's room and needed help finding it.

I know I sound bitter, and I hate to gripe about the GIS because it's my old colleagues who put on the show. I know they're doing all they can to make it a success. But I heard it said out loud over cocktails at last week's STMA show in Daytona Beach, Fla., in reference to the GIS; sometimes you need to be reminded that you have to spend money to make money.

I don't know that an A-list personality sells more tickets to the show, but in my opinion it helps (especially if you promote that celebrity). The person doesn't have to be an A-list celebrity, I'll take B- or C-list in a down economy. I think of all the GIS shows I've been to, and I always appreciated when they had a Norman Schwarzkopf or even a David Feherty (Feherty is two steps up the celebrity ladder from Rosaforte, in my book) to speak. It was an added bonus to being at the show, something to get people talking.

This year's GIS feels like the GIS that does not exist. If it weren't for the emails I'm getting from industry people requesting meetings, I'd believe they took the year off. I never received a GIS brochure this year (the GCSAA elected to go digital, and only print and mail hard copies upon request) so I know less about this show than any other year. Now I learn that there are no major personalities there to speak, so the San Diego GIS has even less of a face.

I want the GIS to do well, because I am a believer that the rising tide lifts all ships. I think you should get away from the course for a week to travel to San Diego because it’s the biggest meeting in the industry, the most educational opportunities, the largest selection of new products under one roof.

But the speakers? Yawn.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe Rosaforte’s Rowdies and Chamblee’s Champions are breaking out the face paint in anticipation of hearing their heroes speak. Let’s do a new poll – vote here and let me know your opinion on where these two rank in your book as keynote speakers at a national convention.

Here’s the press release from the GCSAA and the NGCOA. I feel sorry for the poor soul who had to write this one – it probably took three of those Monster energy drinks just to get through it. And I heard on the radio that those drinks could kill a person. So it’s possible someone risked their life writing this! --->

Insight. Opinions. Humor. Information.

You get all that and more when you are in the presence of Brandel Chamblee and Tim Rosaforte. Two of the most respected and authoritative members of the media who cover golf, they will serve as keynote panelists at the Golf Industry Show General Session, 8 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 7, in San Diego.

"The General Session has always been a highlight of the Golf Industry Show, and this year will be no exception," Golf Course Superintendents Association of America CEO Rhett Evans said. "You see Brandel Chamblee and Tim Rosaforte in many different settings because they are so good. The respect they have from their peers and the people they cover is unparalleled. We are excited to have them join us in San Diego."

Seen, heard and read across many media platforms, Chamblee and Rosaforte are best known for their work on NBC and the Golf Channel as they cover the game and business like nobody else. Their presentation at the Golf Industry Show will touch upon virtually every aspect of golf and will be certain to elicit a few chuckles and raise some eyebrows.

"I enjoy watching the attendees leave the General Session because the expressions are priceless," National Golf Course Owners Association CEO Mike Hughes said. "Our speakers continually hit the mark when it comes to eliciting emotion from the audience. I think Brandel and Tim will do the same. They are at the pinnacle of their profession, and to have the opportunity to hear them will be great."

Chamblee became a television analyst after a 15-year career on the PGA Tour, which saw him win more than $4 million. He is the lead analyst for the Golf Channel's PGA Tour coverage, and also serves as a studio analyst for "Golf Central," "Golf Central Pre Game" and the network's "Live From" telecasts during majors weeks. He owns wins at the 1998 Greater Vancouver Open on the PGA Tour and the 1990 Ben Hogan New England Classic on the Nationwide Tour. He was a first round leader at the 1999 Masters and a top 100 money winner for seven straight years. Chamblee is a 1986 graduate of the University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in communications, and earned All-America status three times as a member of the Longhorn golf team. He also writes a column for Golf Magazine.

Rosaforte added to his sterling resume in joining the Golf Channel in 2007 as a reporter. He has seen and done it all, also serving as a senior writer at Golf World magazine. His body of work includes covering 120 major professional championships and 14 Ryder Cups since the early 1980s. He also is the author of three books: "Raising the Bar: The Championship Years of Tiger Woods;" "Heartbreak Hill: The Anatomy of a Ryder Cup" and "Tiger Woods: The Making of a Champion." He has covered golf for Sports Illustrated, Golf Digest, Golf Illustrated and Links magazines, as well as several Florida newspapers. Rosaforte has extensive television experience, having served as a contributing analyst for USA Network's "PGA Tour Sunday" as well as "SportsCenter" and the "Today Show". He also lent his expertise to USA Network's early round coverage of PGA Tour events, The Masters and The Ryder Cup, and currently contributes to NBC's PGA Tour coverage. He is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island.

The Golf Industry Show will be held Feb. 6-7 at the San Diego Convention Center and features the largest exhibit floor in the industry. It combines education, networking and solutions for golf course superintendents, equipment managers, owners/operators, general managers, chief operating officers, architects and builders.

The Golf Industry Show is presented by GCSAA and NGCOA, along with participating partners the Golf Course Builders Association of America (GCBAA), the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), the National Golf Foundation (NGF), the United States Golf Association (USGA), the International Golf Course Equipment Managers Association (IGCEMA), and supporting partner the Society of Golf Appraisers (SGA). Visit www.golfindustryshow.com for more information.

The Golf Industry Show is held in conjunction with the respective education conferences of GCSAA (Feb. 4-8) and NGCOA (Feb. 3-8).


Jackson said...

Couldn't agree more. I've no interest in what these two have to say on television, so having them headline the GIS show is a real bummer. This is pretty much the equivilent of a long tenured superintendent and a golf maintenance trade publication writer headling the PGA show. In a show of support for the commissioned speakers, at least they're not Johnny Miller...

Jeff Bollig said...

It is appropriate to share GCSAA’s decision-making that has been questioned.
Attendees will hear a lineup of speakers at Conference and Show that will touch nearly every emotion. It includes an individual that has been honored by the White House, a hall of famer that has been named architect of the year, one that has 30 national writing awards, and one that Golfweek calls “golf’s best analyst.”
More on the speakers: Major Dan Rooney, an F-16 fighter pilot and creator of the Folds of Honor Foundation, speaks Tuesday. His selection was made after several GCSAA members saw him speak where the audience was moved to tears. Rooney’s commitment to our military, their families and our country is inspiring. Mike Hurdzan’s selection as the Old Tom Morris award winner has had the most positive reaction of our members in years. Superintendents and others in golf have flocked to hear Hurdzan speak because few match his passion and character. Tim Rosaforte’s selection was again based on feedback from GCSAA members who have seen him on multiple occasions, including a major regional turfgrass show. So to be clear, three of our speakers came at the recommendation of GCSAA members.
Brandel Chamblee’s selection is consistent with some “educated chance taking” GCSAA has employed in the past. Who in advance knew how good Jim Nantz, Johnny Miller, Paul Azinger and David Feherty would be BEFORE they spoke? We all quickly realized they were smash hits once they began. Chamblee has been hailed as a person at the top of his craft. A relative unknown a few years ago, his schedule is packed with speaking engagements. There's every reason to believe they will be solid speakers, as was the reasoning behind their selection.
The thought of ranking Chamblee and Rosaforte compared to other speakers prior to Conference and Show (as was suggested by the author) is akin to asking one how a steak tastes before they eat it.
As for the timing of the announcement, Rosaforte and Chamblee committed months ago. However, a snag developed with a Golf Channel event and potential conflict. Once we had the conflict addressed, the announcement was made.
We select speakers with the strategy that exposing them to us will help tell our stories beyond their time with us. There is no arguing that GCSAA and members have benefited from speakers such as Nantz, Feherty, Miller Nicklaus, Lopez and others who have been panelists such as NBC golf producer Tom Roy, CBS golf producer Lance Barrow, Golf Digest’s Ron Whitten, USGA’s Mike Davis and others. Having multi-platform media personalities such as Rosaforte and Chamblee will only help GCSAA down the road.
The blogpost also touched upon information sharing and the promotion of Conference and Show. Contrary to the above assertion, GCSAA did produce a brochure. This year, it was delivered as a stitched in section of GCM. This was done with the support of several GCSAA committees comprised of members and industry personnel. To date, we have had no more than a dozen requests for printed copies of the brochure.
In addition to the brochure, information about Conference and Show has actually been enhanced over recent years. At the risk of overkill, we have and pushed out information on dedicated conference and show websites, news releases, weekly newsletters, product spotlight email marketing, numerous videos, trade advertising, outbound direct calling campaign, various social media streams, collateral for chapters to share with members, postcards, field staff presentations, board and staff presentations, and other means.
GCSAA is committed to providing a positive experience for attendees and vendors alike. Each year we conduct a survey of attendees and vendors to see how we might improve the event. Along several measures, ratings have increased over the past several years. In fact, the ratings of last year’s Conference and Show were the highest in a decade.
We are looking forward to our visit to San Diego and you joining us.
Jeff Bollig, GCSAA Senior Communications Director

Jackson said...

I absolutely applaud Major Dan Rooney's inclusion, and also share in the enthusiasm for Hurdzan. It is entirely probable the GCSAA's post conference surveys show that my opinion of the value and impact of keynotes Rosaforte and Chamblee is shared by few else.

Jeff said...


You might be right in the end, but the process for selection is one that has yielded positive results in the past. We were questioned about Nantz, Azinger and Feherty --before they spoke and the results were quite positive. I ask you and other members to keep an open mind. Remember, several of your peers recommended Rosaforte.