After a year in Franklin, the Greater Milwaukee Golf Show returns to Wisconsin State Fair Park to better accommodate a growing crowd and ease parking concerns.
This marks the second year that Jay Royle owns is operating the show after he bought it from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and he hopes returning the show to State Fair will help the three-day event draw more than the 10,000 visitors that came through the door last year at the Sports Complex in Franklin.
"That was an increase over previous years, and our goal every year is to get over 10,000," he said. "It’s a good timing for the show. After the show’s over – nobody can predict the weather – but usually most courses tend to open at the end of March or early April, so a lot of people have the itch and are getting ready for the season.
"During the winter months people are always looking for something to do and golfers are certainly ones that will want to come check out the expo."
Royle, who has operated the Greater Madison Golf Show for the last eight years and owns and publishes Midwest Golfing Magazine, bought the Greater Milwaukee show on a whim and a phone call two years ago.
"We had a meeting for our Madison golf show and my salesman says to me in the car, ‘We should call the Journal Sentinel and see if they want to sell.’ That was it," he said with a chuckle.
"I think it was kind of a ‘right time’ kind of thing. It just kind of fell into place. It wasn’t real complicated and I’m glad it worked out. We had a great show last year and are looking to improve on it this year."
Tickets are only $10 for adults and kids under 12 get in free while all members of the military, active or inactive, are welcomed free of charge.
Each visitor will receive one free round of golf from one of seven participating Milwaukee County Golf Course. The first 1,000 people through the door on each day will also receive a free sleeve of balls from Wilson Golf.
"The County Parks has been a great sponsor and has been a wonderful partner the last two years," Royle said. "Between the free round of golf and the free balls by Wilson, there’s more than enough reason to come out."
The show begins Friday and runs for seven hours between 1 to 8 p.m. The doors are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Royle brought in some different contests than in years past as well to help entice visitors. Jack Safro Lexus is offering up a two-year lease as a prize in a hole-in-one competition. There is also a simulated hole-in-one competition as well as a putting contest.
Equipment vendors, golf course operators and PGA professionals from around the state will be on hand as well.
"There’s only so much you can do with golf indoors and we’ve got about everything you could possibly do," Royle said.
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.