GCSAA Conference and Trade Show Experience

Posted on Wednesday, March 1st, 2023

Written by Matty Rodrigue

Matt stands in the lobby of the GCSAA Conference

The GCSAA Conference and Trade Show, the biggest turf industry event in the world, was held in sunny Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center, and what an amazing experience it was! I was able to attend this conference from Tuesday February 7th - Thursday Feb 9th, 2023 thanks to a generous (and anonymous) sponsor. 

The GCSAA conference and trade show is an event that revolves around people working in the turf industry. The conference side of things allows for opportunities to learn about new things happening in the industry through attending facility tours, seminars, and more. The trade show allows for showcasing new products and promoting brands. Networking is also a large part of the conference too.

Throughout my time in Orlando, I had many great opportunities to network with colleagues. I was able to further my relationship with the team at The Pulpit Club, where I’ll be doing my summer internship this upcoming summer. The University of Guelph Diploma in Turfgrass Management (DTM) program had three teams in the Turf Bowl academic competition. All three teams did very well by placing 14th, 20th, and 21st. It was a great performance from the students, and it was nice to be there to support them.

I attended a seminar held by Matthew Gourlay about Gen Z’s, which focused on how the industry needs to adapt and accommodate their ways of wanting work. Matt touched on the difference between managers and leaders. A manager administers, maintains control and views things in a short-term perspective, whereas a leader will innovate, develop, and inspire while looking at new ideas with a long-term perspective. Being a leader will better organizations and help people to grow, while a manager’s greatest accomplishment comes from making work processes more effective. Leadership breeds loyalty, dedication, and accountability. Another point he highlighted was the flexible schedule of working non-traditional hours and instead allowing half days, different start times, and shorter work weeks. Gen Z seems to be more willing to work with these changes compared to the traditional ways. From my point of view as a student, I think this a good thing to consider making these changes. For example, this past fall I was able to work part time at a golf course on the weekend which allowed me to still work but did not interfere with school doing the week. I think, in that scenario, it works well but could be a challenge in an industry like golf which runs 7 days/week. In the summer, when an employee says they only want to work 8 hours over two days, does that really make sense to have them there and spend the time and resources to train them? Things are changing and with the current labour availability issues, it might just be worth it if they are a good worker. These are challenging times that the industry will need to adapt to in the future.

On the Tuesday night, Syngenta held an international attendees night where I ran into Derrick Powers from OJ Compagnie who supplies Petawawa Golf Club with seed and fertilizers. Petawawa is where I started my career in turf! All of the Guelph students went to Top Golf after the Syngenta evening where I was able to meet up with Adam who runs the Turf Today social media pages. I had been in contact with him here and there over the last few years throughTikTok, where I post golf course related content. He had reposted a few on my TikTok’s and promoted my page. It was nice to finally meet him in person.

During my rounds at the trade show, I came across a couple of products that caught my eye. One being Toro’s GeoLink Solutions Autonomous Fairway Mower. With the current labour issues, I think this will be one of the solutions that will help alleviate the staff shortage. Maredo is a company that develops unique and innovative machine attachments for turfgrass maintenance to help maintaining turfgrass easier and more efficiently. I got to have a look at some of the attachments for tri-flexes on display at the trade show and there was one that really stuck out to me. It was the GT230 HiSpeed-Corer. The GT230 HiSpeed-Corer is an attachment on a tri-flex that swaps out the cutting units and is installed in place. It will pull small shallow cores to remove thatch. This seemed to be very quick and simple in the video demo. 

In conclusion, I am very grateful for this opportunity of attending the GCSAA conference and trade show. It was truly an amazing experience seeing how big this event is and all that goes into it. Based on the GCSAA's blog, this event was attended by 69% more people than the 2022 event in San Diego. I came back from Orlando with much more knowledge an experience from talking with people from the industry about so many different things. I can’t wait to attend again in the future.

I’d like to especially thank the anonymous donors that provided this amazing opportunity for myself and my future career in the turf industry.

Written by Matty Rodrigue
First-Year Diploma in Turfgrass Management student

Follow Matty on Twitter @MattyRodrigue04


The lobby of the GCSAA conference, which is decorated to look like a golf course GT230 HiSpeed-Corer
Arrival at the GCSAA Conference main lobby The GT230 HiSpeed-Corer seen at the Trade Show
University of Guelph Diploma in Turf Management students, alumni, and staff three DTM students pose with the creator of Turf Today


The University of Guelph Diploma in Turf Management students, alumni, and staff

At Top Golf, from left: Matty Rodrigues (U of G), Connor Brown (U of G),
Adam Courchaine (Turf Today) and Brooks Schaefer(U of G)


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