Chicago Golf Show marks start of spring season

By Dave Berner, Senior Contributor

ROSEMONT, Ill. - What an absolute tease! She flirts and she flaunts and she gives you those come-hither looks. She beckons you with her beauty and warms you with her touch. She's right before your eyes calling out your name. How in the world can you ever resist?

For every Chicago golfer, spring is a gorgeous girl. (Or a gorgeous guy, for you ladies) A lady, a season, so stunningly attractive you can't take your eyes of her. Certainly no winter-weary golfer can shake the longing gaze he has on the upcoming season. In just days, courses will be opening for spring, and the muted brown fairways and greens of the winter months will be begin to turn emerald. The Chicago golfer will again be reunited with his lover.

But for now, a cold shower will have to do.

Get control of yourself, man. Dry off, brush your teeth, put on your best khakis and golf shirt, and head for Rosemont, Ill. It's not quite as lovely as your springtime mistress, but it may be the next best thing. It's time for the longest running consumer golf show in the nation - The Chicago Golf Show.

More than a garage sale

Consumer golf shows of all sizes and shapes take place all around the country, and frankly many of them are not much more than overgrown garage sales. Even though The Chicago Golf Show has its garage sale element, that's not at all the overall impression one gets from the show.

This is the 20th year The Chicago Golf Show has been operating and even though it has had its ups and downs, the show has improved and grown each year. More and more manufacturers like Wilson, Mizuno, and Tour Edge show off their latest equipment and allow attendees to try them out.

The Illinois PGA is linked to the show, and it brings in dozens of instructors for complementary lessons. The show stage, where you'll see tips, lessons, and golf entertainment including trick-shot artists, has expanded each year. Plus there are dozens and dozens of representatives of resorts, golf courses and golf trip planning companies from all over the country. There are more than 300 exhibitor booths at the annual show.

Incredible Technologies is also a big part of the experience this year. This is the Chicago-area company that makes the Golden Tee arcade game, the world famous golf game that has spawned global competition and sparked a few friendly wagers at local taverns. The company sets up about a dozen Golden Tee games at the show for patrons to play.

The time and the place

Each year the number of people who come out to the Chicago Golf Show has grown. Close to 20,000 people are expected this year. The show is a good break from winter's grip on the golfer and the consumer has apparently liked what he's seen over the years.

That said, the show's continued success will ultimately be linked to two main elements - where and when it takes place.

For years the Chicago Golf Show was held around Valentine's Day in the heart of winter. This year the new dates are March 19-21. A show closer to the actual start of the golf season might generate even more interest.

The second element is the venue. The Chicago Golf Show continues to be held at the Robert E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, a Chicago suburb near O'Hare Airport. This is one of the lousiest places to hold any local event. It's hard to drive to, the parking is outrageously expensive, the walk from your car to the front door is ridiculous, and the building is old and tired. A new place to call home would be a welcome change.

What to look for

The 2004 show is three days long and you need every minute if you're planning to check out all the booths and watch every event on the show's stage. But if your time is short, here's what you shouldn't miss.

PGA Tour pro Chip Beck will join Dr. Jim Suttie, one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers, on the main stage Saturday afternoon to give tips, lessons and answer questions about the Tour.

Todd Sones, another one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers, will be giving tips and lessons each day on the main stage.

Stefan Carlsmith, of the Dave Pelz Scoring Game School, will talk to golfers and offer tips during his time on the main stage Friday and Saturday afternoons.

Long drive champion and golf trick shot artist Marty "Long Ball" Joyce will be back again this year to entertain. And this time he's bringing along his 13-year old daughter, Lisa, who recently won the Remax World Long Drive Championship smacking tee shots averaging nearly 300 yards.

Plus, there's the annual Long Drive Contest and the Longest Putt Contest. Both generate a hundreds of contestants and spectators.

For more information on the Chicago Golf Show, click here.

Dave BernerDave Berner, Senior Contributor

Dave Berner is a long-time journalist for CBS radio in Chicago and has freelanced for CNN, National Public Radio, and ABC news. He created and produced the popular radio feature "The Golf Minute" for CBS-owned radio station WMAQ in Chicago along with writing a regular column for Golf Chicago Magazine. He is also author of "Any Road Will Take You There: A journey of fathers and sons" and "Accidental Lessons: A Memoir of a Rookie Teacher and a Life Renewed." Follow Berner on Twitter @DavidWBerner

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