That’s a wrap: Closing Celebration focuses on future

Turf Bowl winners, motivational speaker Carey Lohrenz buttress theme of moving forward.


Closing Ceremony Rhett

GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans addresses the crowd at the Closing Celebration wrapping up the 2020 Golf Industry Show in Orlando. Photos by Montana Pritchard

Normally, the Closing Celebration that wraps up the Golf Industry Show is mostly about looking back.

The ultimate act of GIS 2020 seemed more keen on locking eyes with the future.

Oh, there was a recap of the previous days’ events in words and images, but the focus was on the future for most of the finale on Thursday afternoon at the Orange County Convention Center.

The event, emceed by Golf Channel and NBC host Lauren Thompson, started with a brief address by GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans, who quickly ran down the numbers:

  • 6,187 sessions seats and more than 37,000 hours of education.
  • 432 tournament golfers.
  • 500 exhibitors over 450,000 gross floor square feet.
  • Nearly 200 runners in the Health in Action 5K, presented in partnership with Syngenta.
  • And 56 teams, with 214 students from 31 schools, in the annual GCSAA Collegiate Turf Bowl competition, presented in partnership with John Deere Golf.

Since the Turf Bowl often is considered at least some measure of the future of the golf maintenance industry, it’s worth noting the 2020 winners broke new ground — in geography and gender.

Closing Ceremony Turf Bowl

The winning Turf Bowl team from Cal Poly Pomona, flanked by 2019 GCSAA President Rafael Barajas, CGCS, (left) and Golf Channel and NBC host Lauren Thompson (right).

Cal Poly Pomona Team No. 44 — Phuc Nguyen, Stephen Espinosa, Julissa Gomez and Hailey Taniguchi, plus adviser Priti Saxena — won that school’s first Turf Bowl title. It’s the first Turf Bowl winner to have a woman on the team, and it had three of them — and that’s not even counting its adviser. It’s also the first team from the West Coast to win the event.

The cheers for Pomona had barely faded when another groundbreaker took to the main stage. Motivational speaker Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 Tomcat pilot in the U.S. Navy, spoke about her career as a combat-mission-ready pilot and her struggle to become one. But her address was more than just a recap of her fight to earn a spot on the flight line.

Instead, she provided the crowd practical ways to practice her brand of “fearless leadership” to move forward personally and professionally.

Lohrenz’s old office was more tumultuous than most. She described the deck of an aircraft carrier as the “world’s most dangerous industrial worksite” that had half its crew turned over every nine months. Further, the average age of that crew, she said, was 19 1/2 years old, yet it is held to exacting standards.

“We’re able to do this even with that rapid rate of turnover and a very diverse demographic just with solid leadership,” Lohrenz said.

To that end, Lohrenz suggested golf maintenance leaders:

  • Define their purpose, determine their focus and maintain discipline: “When you understand what your purpose is and you focus on what matters and then execute with discipline,” she said, “you will move that needle faster than anyone else in the industry. But you can’t skip any one of those steps.”
  • Plan ahead and debrief afterward: “One hour of planning can eliminate 200 execution errors,” she said. “That’s where you get margin back in your day. … (And) if you’re not debriefing with your team right, it’s something you need to do, so you don’t leave success to chance. You want to be able to replicate when things go well.”
  • Don’t let the pursuit of perfection stand in the way of innovation: “As you’re moving through a new environment with new technology or science where the expectation of perfection is in place,” she said, “I want you to consider as you’re maybe adapting a few new ways of doing work or maybe new features or new equipment, I want you to consider that 80% is good enough. … Eighty percent is a pretty solid metric to hit 100% of your goals.”
Closing Ceremony Lohrenz

Andrew Hartsock is GCM's managing editor.