The inaugural London Golf & Tennis Show was hailed a success as exhibitors exceeded their expectations for the event.
The addition of tennis to the established London Golf Show format opened the show up to a new audience and they were not disappointed.
The show’s tennis court was in action constantly with demonstrations and coaching sessions taking place non-stop for the duration of the three-day event. And with free coaching from PGA coaches – and a free round of golf for every visitor – there was also constant activity and plenty to distract the visiting golfer.
Consequently the golf driving nets were busy on a daily basis, from the opening of the show through to its close seven hours later.
Colin Brunton, the Golf Show Group’s CEO, said: “Exhibitors I have spoken to have been delighted with the quality of the visitors to the show – and likewise, when speaking to visitors they have enthused about the depth and diversity of our exhibitor base. Everyone had a good time.”
The show was underpinned by a host of well-known brands from both golf and tennis, with Wilson, Yonex, Taylormade, Callaway, Adidas, Babolat, Head, Prince, Fila and Volkl having stands at the show, with supporting retail operations from the Fitco for tennis and Nevada Bob’s for golf.
In addition, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) stand, Tennis Industry Association (TIA) stand and the PGA-manned stands for the England Golf Partnership, showed the support the event had from the governing bodies in both sports.
There was also support for the show from the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), which was offering tickets to Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 arena in November.
And Ryder Cup-branded goods and Ryder Cup tickets comprised part of the competition prizes offered by the European Tour from its stand at the show.
Brunton added: “Much has been made in recent weeks, in the lead up to the General Election, of people who are like cappuccino coffee: all froth and no substance.
“And that is exactly what we did not want to be. We rely purely on substance: the quality of our exhibitors and the depth of knowledge of our visiting public.
“The weather over the weekend has not been conducive to playing golf and the increasing attendance as the three-day show has gone on once again justified our view that an event such as this must be hosted by a specialist exhibition centre that is not a hostage to the vagaries of the British weather.
“Any outdoor golf event puts exhibitors’ investment at risk and we are happy to pay the price for ExCeL, which is Europe’s most modern and up-to-date event location.
“Visitors to our show know they can enjoy a day out comfortable in the knowledge they can indulge in their sporting passion without worrying about the weather.”
That view was echoed by Rob Dickens, of Urban Golf Gear, whose company was launching a new energy drink for golfers.
He said: “The quality of the customer we’ve had through the door has been very high. For the product and brand awareness the show has been good for us.
“This is the first time the drinks have been available. We made them specifically for the launch at the London Golf Show as we believed that’s where our target market would be.”
Tony Q’aja, designer and eponymous owner of Q’aja Couture added: “It’s been great for us. There was a good attendance on Friday – it was a bit quieter on Saturday, but obviously the transport issue hasn’t helped. But the quality of people has been good and as far as I’m concerned that’s our client base, which is good.”
As Q’aja intimated, problems with the Tube in the capital had not made it easy for people to get to ExCeL over the weekend.
But golfers and tennis players are hardy souls and, encouraged by weather which deters only the staunchest of sports people from outdoor pursuits, they trekked in their thousands to East London to see what the tennis and golf industries had to offer as the season for both sports begins in earnest.
Those who did defy the problems were rewarded with a wealth of new equipment and gadgets on show from companies at both ends of the sporting spectrum from major tennis and golf manufacturers, to unique start-up companies such as Kangarila Golf, which offers a new way to play the game, or Golfing Noses, from Optipets, a quirky way to hold glasses when not in use.
Colin Harper, 43, from Essex, was at the show with two friends from his regular weekly fourball.
He said: “We all enjoy hitting golf balls – particularly with top-of-the-range gear. I didn’t pick up any clubs but there were some bargains there if you wanted them.
“I came away with some new gear and I’m looking forward to looking the ‘biz’ on the tee next week. One of my mates picked up a new driver and the other one is thinking of taking up tennis again as a result of coming here!”
Lorraine Travis, 39, travelled to the show from her home in Kent, with her two sons, Tom, 11, and Rob, 14 – and all three enjoy playing both sports.
She said: “It was a great day out for us as there was so much for us to see from both sports. And as we are club members it didn’t cost us to get in.
“There were quite a lot of quirky things on offer which surprised me: some were interesting others were just bizarre,” she laughed. “But I think there’s definitely a place for this sort of joint event and I hope it continues to grow.”
Reaction from exhibitors and visitors alike suggest that it will and the London Golf & tennis Show will return to ExCeL in April next year.