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If You Go
What: Northern Indiana Golf Show
When: March 9-10
Where: Memorial Coliseum
Times: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. March 9, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 10
Cost: $6, available the day of the show at the Coliseum
Courtesy photos
Northern Indiana Golf Show attendees will have a chance to win door prizes and prizes at various skills competitions.

Weather key to Golf Show

Warm, sunny day could hold down attendance at annual Coliseum event

The latest clubs will be on sale at the Northern Indiana Golf Show.

– George Hays frets about the weather in February, too. Who doesn’t, when they’re tied by the heartstrings to slam-dunk birdies, road-map pars and all the manicured green-ness of a golf course?

Here’s the difference, though, at least right now: Hays frets that the weather might be too good.

“You know, it’s all about the weather when it comes to our event, because we’re so close to the start of the season,” says Hays, director of the annual Northern Indiana Golf Show, which comes to Memorial Coliseum on March 9-10.

“Last year we had inclement weather on Saturday and then it warmed up and the winds died down on Sunday, and that hurt our attendance on Sunday.”

That’s because, presumably, golfers chose to play golf instead of shop golf. Which, of course, is the ultimate goal of the Golf Show, which is presented by Fort Wayne Newspapers and Fort Wayne Monthly Magazine, and is sponsored by Bobick’s Golf Headquarters, Swan Lake Resort, the Northern Indiana Ohio Chevy Dealers Association, Back Nine Driving Range and Rock 104.

Weather or no weather, attendance usually isn’t a problem.

Typically, Hays says, the show draws between 4,000 and 5,000 visitors, and the numbers have been going up for the last three years. What they’ll get this year are representatives from more than 70 vendors – among them Cleveland, Srixon, Mizuno, Callaway and Nike, who’ll be showing off their new drivers and irons on the demo range. There will also be three skills contests, plus presentations by top area professionals.

Featured pros this year include Rick Hemsoth, director of golf for Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation; noted ladies instructor Suzanne Noblett; and former Bishop Luers and IUPUI standout Kristi O’Brien, who just turned pro. Hemsoth and O’Brien will appear at 12:15 p.m. March 9.

O’Brien, a two-time all-state player at Luers, graduated from IUPUI last year as the school’s all-time leader in rounds played (93) and stroke average (80). She was a second-team All-Summit League selection as a senior.

In the skills competition, meanwhile, visitors can vie for value prize packages in the Cobblestone Golf Longest and Straightest Drive Contest, a closest-to-the-pin contest sponsored by Golf Etc. of Fort Wayne, and a longest-putt contest sponsored by Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation. Proceeds from the latter will go to the Fort Wayne Youth Golf programs.

“The skills competition has definitely been ramped up a little bit,” Hays says.

So have the prize packages. This year, the Golf Show has partnered with the Tour Hotel Fitness Championship to provide the first 100 attendees each day with a one-day practice-round ticket for the 2013 Hotel Fitness Championship at Sycamore Hills on Aug. 26-Sept. 1. In addition, thousands of dollars worth of door prizes will be given away, including golf getaways, merchandise, equipment, rounds of golf and a one-year membership good for both Cherry Hill and Autumn Ridge golf clubs.

Now if only the weather doesn’t hold.

“Yeah, if we have two days of 40 or below with high winds, we’re in good shape,” Hays says. “If we have two days of sunshine and 60, we’re going to be in trouble.”