That was the message delivered by a buoyant Ross Broadstock, managing director of RB Exhibitions, following overwhelming public and industry support for the inaugural show, which closed last night after four hectic days. Broadstock announced the London Golf Show would return to ExCel in 2006 from 20-23 April.
He explained, “The response to the show has been absolutely fantastic. Everybody has bought into the concept with vigour and enthusiasm – and we would like to thank them all for their support. It demonstrates how much a show like this has been needed in the UK.
“We didn‘t take too long to reach the decision to carry on with the show. Some of this year’s exhibitors have already asked about booking again for 2006. The London Golf Show 2006 will be at ExCeL from April 20-23, 2006 and exhibitor bookings can be made anytime from now onwards.”
Broadstock added, “The basis for the show in 2006 will be similar to that which has proved so popular this year – an unrivalled mixture of products, innovation and interactive attractions. Though we already have one or two ideas for new interactive events for 2006.
“Somebody said to me this week, when they were looking around as all the stands were going up, that ‘the London Golf Show is like a golfing theme park‘. I don‘t think that’s a bad analogy. It’s certainly been a fantastic ride for everybody involved. And we‘re all keen to get on and have another go.”
The exhibitors themselves were also full of praise for the inaugural event. John Andrew, owner of Direct Golf UK, was full of praise. “This is without doubt the best golf show in the world,” enthused Andrew, whose golf shop was swamped by thousands of visitors within hours of Thursday’s official opening.
Such was the demand for products of all kinds that the Huddersfield-based company, which plans to open five new Direct Golf stores around London in the next two years, was forced to restock, with its lorries making 450-mile round trips.
“It’s been an absolutely frenzy,” said Andrew. “We truly didn‘t expect that many people to come to the show. It’s completely taken us by surprise. Our 60-strong team has been rushed off their feet. It’s great for me and its great for the brand, and it’s certainly great news for the London Golf Show.”
Rob Jackson, UK marketing manager for leading club manufacturer Mizuno, echoed Andrew’s sentiments. “It’s been the perfect event for us,” he said. “We get the chance to speak to the public directly. They are, after all, the people who use our gear on the golf course. Trade shows simply don‘t offer that kind of interaction.
“People can try our clubs on the driving range, have a demonstration and then buy if they like it. No other show offers anything like that. There’s real variety and the show is attracting visitors from all over the world, young and old.”
“We committed to the show last July,” said Jackson. “We were one of the first exhibitors to sign up and we know we made the right decision. Next year we will be looking at getting more bays as the volume of people queuing up to try our clubs has been phenomenal.”
Philip Gazeley from 2 Thumb Grip Ltd said, “The Show has been absolutely fantastic, unbelievable. We‘ve virtually sold out. This is just what the industry needs.”
Many celebrity guests were also unstinting in their praise. Ryder Cup-winning captain Sam Torrance backed the Show. “It’s fantastic for anyone who loves golf,” he said. “There is so much to see and do. It really is a great show.” He felt the show could only help nurture the prospects of an ever-growing army of big-name British players.
Former women’s British and US Open champion Alison Nicholas also added her support to the show for ‘involving the public‘. Nicholas was at the show on behalf of the McSport Group, which produces golf gloves.
Football legend Jimmy Hill was ‘mesmerised‘ by the London Golf Show. Appearing on behalf of Sparks along with TV presenter Des Lynam, golf-mad Jimmy was stunned by the sheer size, set-up and exuberance of the event. “The only word that properly describes it is ‘mesmeric‘,” said Hill, who plays off 18.
“People who live in and around London really don‘t know how lucky they are to have something as wonderful as the London Golf Show on their doorstep.”
TV presenter Des Lynam, who plays off 15, added: “It’s a very impressive show and looks great. There really is something here for everyone.”
Final attendance figures will not be released until they have been audited and the results of the visitor research exercise will also be keenly awaited.