Previewing the 2024 GCSAA trade show

A noteworthy grand opening celebration will set the stage for a trade show unlike any other in Phoenix.


Aerial view of Ghost Creek golf course
In addition to hundreds of exhibitors on the trade show floor, the popular Power Hours that in the past happened in education rooms will be staged on both ends of the trade show floor. Photo by Montana Pritchard

If timing is everything, make a note of what is going down at 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31, in Phoenix.

At that time and date, what promises to be arguably the most exciting grand opening to the trade show at the GCSAA Conference and Trade Show will take place outdoors at Canyon on Third, which is the city street in downtown Phoenix that will be transformed into GCSAA country during the association’s visit there.

“There are grand openings, and then there are grand openings. You won’t want to miss this year’s grand opening,” says GCSAA Chief Marketing Officer Ed Several. “It’s going to be spectacular.”

Yes, this definitely isn’t your traditional trade show grand opening.

And the excitement for that event is spilling over to the trade show floor itself inside the Phoenix Convention Center. At press time for this issue of GCM in mid-December 2023, the trade show floor was nearly sold out of exhibit space.

“We’re excited because it shows the commitment from our vendors and exhibitors, and it also says to us that the show is growing,” says Matt Brown, GCSAA director of corporate sales.

The best and brightest

The trade show grand opening kicks off two valuable days inside the Phoenix Convention Center featuring all the latest products and services to power turfgrass management. 

The trade show floor will be bustling. The square footage sold for exhibitor space had reached 97% of capacity by mid-December, exceeding the numbers from the same time a year earlier in advance of the conference and trade show in Orlando. 

Here is a quick synopsis of what attendees will find on the trade show floor in Phoenix: First, expect to see an L-shaped footprint that creates a natural path around the exhibition. “No matter where you come into the building, you’ll have less walking. It will be easier to navigate with fewer steps,” Brown says. “It is going to make for a more condensed, efficient path for exhibitors to network and interact with attendees.”

Some of the most popular traditional attractions on the trade show floor will be in new locations in Phoenix, while others will be right where you remember them. The GCSAA Member Services area that has traditionally been located on the show floor, for example, will be located near registration in Phoenix.

Many other stops throughout the trade show floor that you have come to expect are back. Among them are Hector’s Shop featuring equipment manager Hector Velazquez; an area featuring the precious dogs from Flyaway Geese; and the GCSAA TV stage. The International Resource Center, by the way, will be prominently staged at the bottom of an escalator, making it easily visible for those who want to make a stop there.

Speaking of making a stop ... “Based on feedback, we will again have food courts throughout the show floor,” says Several. “You can have conversations with colleagues, network, see the newest products and services, and never have to leave the show floor.”

Inside and out

While the trade show floor will be a beehive of activity, Canyon on Third is another spot that should be popular with attendees, a space where you can interact with product displays and view the centerpiece of activity there, Golf’s Sustainability Showcase.

It has taken a team to conceive and create the showcase, a collaboration between GCSAA, the Golf Course Builders Association of America, the USGA and the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Golf’s Sustainability Showcase has been designed to share the innovations superintendents, builders, architects and the USGA and the USGA Green Section continue to develop and implement to drive golf’s sustainability. This interactive area will feature a tee box, fairway and green with a variety of interactive stations sharing best practices, innovations and ideas.

“The essence of this project aligns seamlessly with the core values of our members, who are inherently adaptable problem-solvers,” says Justin Apel, GCBAA executive director. “While site visits posed challenges regarding trade show space, the prospect of utilizing Canyon on Third injected enthusiasm into our collective efforts. This venue not only promises a unique setting but also underscores the evolution of the industry over the past two decades.”

Some exhibitors will display their products not just on the trade show floor in the convention center, but also on Canyon on Third. They include Dell, HCT LLC, Heritage Landscape Supply Group, and Sand Saver. 

It will be hard to miss HLSG, which will roll in on its Xtreme Tailgate Vehicle. The company is a distributor of a wide range of products including agronomic, greenhouse, vegetative management, irrigation and lighting. “We’re geared toward sustainability. It’s a big pillar of ours, whether it’s on the agronomic side or the irrigation side,” says Rachel Mohorn, director of marketing for HLSG. “This is a great time to show the breadth of what we can do for sustainability.”

Ted Fist of Sand Saver is a 22-year GCSAA member and was a superintendent before his current role, so he gets what those who are in that field may need to enhance their facilities. He cannot wait to do his demonstrations at Canyon on Third.

“My parent company always wanted to have an additional part of the business that would wash the sand and gravel. We can make topdressing sand on-site at the golf course. Dirt goes in, we remove it, and you get clean sand. It’s like magic,” Fist says. “We’ll still have a booth inside (the convention center), but to also do something outside should be pretty good. I’m proud of the machine. It’s an opportunity for people to see it and know what it means to me.”

Another former superintendent, Steve Dorer, Syngenta’s head of digital platforms, is excited about what is on the horizon for his company in Phoenix. The company recently  announced a collaboration with Spiio to bring sustainable innovations  to golf course management that will be on display at CTS 2024. He also championed what this annual gathering means. 

“Having been a superintendent a long time ago (it’s been more than 20 years), I’m really proud of GCSAA for its initiatives and bringing people together in the golf industry,” Dorer says. “Syngenta serves the golf course superintendents by helping them reach their standards, and we’re happy to be part of it and part of what’s happening in Arizona.”

Howard Richman is GCM's associate editor