About a year ago, I wrote an article about FAIRWAYiQ’s experience at the Golfdom Summit in 2018. It was the first time we had committed ourselves to an ‘event’ like the Golfdom Summit and thought that documenting our experience was valuable. Prior to committing to the Summit that year in 2018, the FAIRWAYiQ team decided that we needed to adopt a few principles in order to meet Golf’s operators where they were at; and in turn, we would listen to the market and develop a product that would help them manage their labor and equipment more efficiently. Among the many things we discussed that Summer in 2018, we agreed and believe that Golf is a “handshake” industry. Meaning, it is an industry built from durable and tested relationships that begin with meeting individuals in person. Or, at the very least, strengthened as a result of eventually meeting in person if not at first. As a result, we sought out opportunities that fostered that “handshake” interaction and would help us build strong relationships along the way. To us, it felt like the right thing to do.
Unlike the major trade shows like GIS or the Carolina Show, the Golfdom Summit invites roughly 45 Superintendents from across the United States to meet for 3 days at Reunion Resort in Florida. Among the activities throughout the 3 days, like the annual round of golf or the morning breakfast presentations, Superintendents are paired in twos and meet with 20 different companies which are selected by Golfdom. As I wrote in the article last year, “The format of the Summit is simple — Golfdom invites some of golf’s most skilled and influential superintendents to meet with each other and with golf-focused businesses to learn about the products and service that can make their properties and their teams better.”
In an effort to continue last year’s documentation of the Summit, I wanted to shed light on the major findings I felt were relevant about this year’s event. There were two major takeaways I felt worth sharing from this year’s Summit:
- Maturity of Technology working for Superintendents. Throughout the 3 days at Reunion Resort, there seemed to be an evolution in the acceptance of technology by the guys we spoke with that was not felt during our first year. One conclusion I have drawn from this observation is that technological products and services are finally maturing for Superintendents. Technology is finally starting to work for Superintendents rather than against them. I say this because every conversation we had with Superintendents about FAIRWAYiQ (and technology in general) was positive and productive. I can certainly say that there was far more hesitation and pause towards technology during 2018’s Summit. This difference from year to year was profound to me and that change in acceptance and adoption was prevalent throughout the Summit.
- It is expected that with any introduction of new products and services in a market that there will inevitably be some kickback by the market itself. This has been known for as long as capitalism has existed and is illustrated by the Diffusion of Innovation model. But what the model doesn’t describe is how long that process will take. As an industry, it is important to highlight the markers that would indicate that adoption progress. It is my take that the adoption of technology by golf’s leaders is well on its way and that is in part because the market is demanding better products and services. And thus, Golf is getting just that—better products and services.
- The ‘Do-it-yourselfers”. This takeaway is in relation to the first takeaway and a reflection of the industry’s creative nature and willingness to seek out solutions. Many of the Superintendents we spoke to had already created some form of management tool to help manage their labor and equipment. For example, a healthy number of Superintendents we spoke to have already created their own variation of a digital job board through Google Sheets. Others are keeping track of equipment and the hours spent on machines through QR codes. I was encouraged to see so many individuals taking it upon themselves to find ways to optimize their operations. It showed me that there is no level of complacency from the people who care about their craft—there is only improvement.
The Superintendents at this year’s Golfdom Summit were a great reminder of how far this industry has progressed in just one year. With the Golf Industry Show right around the corner in Orlando, I expect to hear about some incredible advancements in technology by golf’s leading businesses and ones we might be hearing about for the first time. As always, thank you to Golfdom and their team for coordinating such an incredible experience and also to Reunion Resort for their amazing hospitality.