Harris Kalinka

Imagery + Animation Golf + Architecture

Wednesday 4th April 2018

GIS, ASGCA and a lot of Top Golf

If you’ve ever wondered if it’s worth attending trade shows like the Golf Industry Show (GIS), then the fact it’s taken me almost three weeks to get around to writing this post is proof that such exhibitions are a great place to meet potential clients, catch up with old friends and pick up new projects.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been to the GIS, but it was our first time attending the show in San Antonio. It was also the first time we’ve had the opportunity to be part of the Educational Session held by the American Society of Golf Couse Architects (ASGCA), which happened the day before the trade show.

The ASGCA members certainly made our life easier by wearing their eye-catching red plaid jackets, which made them easy to spot on the trade show floor. And the educational session gave me the opportunity to present to a room full of plaid jackets and talk about how our work with virtual reality (VR) is helping the golf industry. Just like at the APGS in Da Nang, it was difficult to describe the experience of VR, so we had a headset with us to allow ASGCA members to give it a go. For many, it was their first time experiencing VR, which is always fun to watch, although this year we refrained from scaring anyone with alligators like we did in Orlando last year.

ASGCA members experiencing VR. Clockwise from top left: Greg Muirhead, Art Schaupeter, David Johnson, Bruce Charlton, Todd Quitno and Jim Lipe

In the ASGCA session, it was fascinating to hear Lester George recount the time that former US President Barack Obama and his entourage of secret service agents visited his local course; to see David Johnson’s collection of childhood drawings submitted by other ASGCA members, depicting their early ideas for golf course designs; and to witness golf course photographer Dave Samson savage the industry for their use of poor photography and suggest how to improve it.

The nature of our work means we rarely leave our offices in the UK and Latvia. So, a trade show like GIS, which is attended by industry professionals from around the world, is an opportunity for us to meet many of our clients, some whom we’ve only ever communicated with by email or phone. This year, amongst others, we got to meet Ashley Mead and Mike Cocking from Australian golf course architects OCCM, who we had worked with on Bangpra Golf Club and Lan Hai International. We also met one of our Instagram followers, a course developer from Uganda. (It was pleasing to find out that our social media strategy is working.)

Whilst it’s nice to pick up new projects at a trade show, even more important is the opportunity it gives us to learn about our business and how we can improve. To be able to speak with our clients at length is invaluable; to learn what’s important to them and what isn’t. Without talking to our clients, we wouldn’t have developed new services such as the ‘trailer’ style animation, which offers a more affordable alternative to traditional hole flyovers. We always return from trade shows full of energy and ideas because we’ve had this chance to talk to others in the industry. At the top of the list of what we learnt was the realisation that we need to update our website, so watch this space.

Our booth at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio.

This trip was also an opportunity to play Topgolf for the first time and see what all the fuss was about. Now we understand! It’s a lot of fun, and I can definitely see why it’s considered to be one of the best ways to grow the game. We hadn’t played any golf this season because of the Latvian winter, so we took the opportunity to hit some balls and immediately caught the Topgolf bug. We even risked missing our flight home by trying to squeeze in a quick game before going to the airport.

Andrew taking a break from the Golf Industry Show and playing Top Golf

We’re already looking forward to next year’s GIS in San Diego, so if you’re reading this, we hope to see you there.