Friday, March 11, 2011

A Day at the New England Regional Turfgrass Conference and Show

Spent Wednesday at the 14th annual New England Regional Turfgrass Conference and Show held at the Rhode Island Convention Center. It ran from March 7-10.

I've attended every year since 2000 and I thought attendance was down from last year. Superintendents and exhibitors I talked to agreed with me. Wednesday was the first day the exhibition hall was open the entire day.

There appears to be three reasons for the lower attendance.

First, superintendents continue to feel the pinch of the sluggish economy on their budgets and are not making purchases beyond necessary items.

Second, the Golf Industry Show was held Feb. 7-11 in O
rlando, Fla. An East Coast venue for that event always means New England superintendents are more likely to attend than when the GIS is held in California. In 2012, the national is scheduled for Las Vegas and falls after the NERTCS.

The third likely reason was the fact that rains and warm temperatures in the days leading up to the NERTCS wiped away large amounts of snow on many layouts. Superintendents that weren't sure when they would be calling seasonal help back to work just last week now had had a contingent of workers out on the course that needed directing.

The NERTCS is not just for the golf industry. Education classes and products are also offered for sports and grounds, landscape and equipment technicians.

I don't think shrinking attendance is indicative of the value superintendents see in regional shows. In fact, I would not be surprised to see attendance at the GIS decline over the next few years as regional shows entice superintendents with an increased number of exhibitors while provide more and better education seminars, all for a much lower cost. There also appears to be much more business done of the show floor of the regional events than at the national.

This year in Providence lecturers carme from universities in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, Ohio, Tennessee and North Carolina.

Two superintendents also spoke: Jeff Carlson of the Vineyard Golf Club in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., and John Garcia of the Patterson Club in Fairfield, Conn.

The USGA Green Section was represented by Director David Oatis and Northeast Regional Agronomist Jim Skorulski.

This year's keynote address was delivered Tuesday by Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team.

The highlight of my day in Providence is always the chance to talk with people from around the Northeast that I only see at this show or when I play their golf courses. This year was no exception.

My second favorite part of the day this year was lunch at Eddie and Son on Dorrance Street in the Financial District. Rather than eat at one of the many establishments around the convention center, Keith Angilly and I decided to wander downtown. Keith is a Rhode Island native and superintendent at Mill River Country Club in Stratford, Conn.

We hit the jackpot with Eddie and Son, which as you can see from this link gets rave reviews.

I opted for meatballs and American cheese on a torpedo role with a side of fries while Keith went for sausage, peppers and provolone on a torpedo role, also with fries.

Eddie's has been around for over 65 years. It seats perhaps 30 at both counter and tables. The food was fantastic; some of the best marinara that I've had in a long time. The service was quick and pleasant. We had our meals less than two minutes after ordering. Eddie and Son is really worth a visit if you are in downtown Providence looking for breakfast or lunch. If I'm at the NERTFCS next year, I'll be back at Eddie and Son.

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