Another Step Up

Attendance at Golf Expo surpasses 9,000 for the first time since 2019; owner Kevin Morton says he’ll continue to ‘refresh’ the show year by year

By Gary Baines – 2/19/2024

Kevin Morton, the second-year owner/operator of the Colorado Golf Expo, didn’t shy away from setting a goal of attracting 10,000 people to the three-day show this year, which would have been its high-water mark since 2012.

And while the Expo fell short of that milestone, attendance over the weekend surpassed 9,000 for the first time since 2019 and just the third time in the last decade.

Morton reported preliminary figures that show the 2024 Colorado Golf Expo drew 9,015 people to the Colorado Convention Center. And he said that while that number might change slightly when the figures are double-checked, it shows progress. 

Indeed, the Expo has attracted more people for each in-person show it’s held in the 2020s, going from 7,806 in 2020 to 7,928 in 2022 to 8,535 in 2023 to 9,015 this year. (There was no in-person show in 2021 because of health-related concerns due to Covid-19.)

“We’re looking positive (relative to) last year, which is fantastic,” Morton said on Monday morning while finishing the “load out” following the show. “The crowd, I thought, was great. There was a little bit of weather (snow) on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, but overall it only affected a few hours in the morning and evening. In general, it was really a good show, with a lot of happy people.

“I’m thrilled with that number (over 9,000). The fact that we’re still continuing to grow from two years ago and three years ago, that’s the direction that I want.”

People of all ages took aim at having fun at the Golf Expo over the weekend.

The Golf Expo — then known at the Denver Golf Expo and held at the Denver Mart at I-25 and 58th Ave. — drew its highest attendance ever in 2008, with 11,202. Since then, the numbers have fluctuated from a low of 7,195 (2015) to a little shy of 11,000. 

This year, Morton expanded the footprint of the show by 40 percent — from 100,000 to 140,000 square feet, with around 100 exhibitors, ranging from small spots in Hall C to extra-large ones, most notably Lenny’s Golf and the nearby driving range/demo area.

With the expansion, the Expo moved from Hall F last year to Hall C in the Convention Center. But that meant going from close to the CCC’s main entrance on 14th St., to considerably further away.

That was one of the few drawbacks from this year’s show Morton mentioned on Monday, as many attendees had an extended walk to Hall C. To help, Morton ran a shuttle back and forth from the 14th St. entrance to the Golf Expo hall. “I would always want to be in the front halls,” Morton said.  “Unfortunately that’s not a choice we get to make; that’s a choice the city gets to make.”

A customer looks over the merchandise at Lenny’s Golf on Friday.

As for the footprint size of the Expo going forward, Morton will review how things worked this year before deciding on an exact number, but the show will stay in the 100,000 to 140,000 square-foot range.

Among the highlights of this past weekend’s show, which concluded on Sunday, from Morton’s perspective:

— The donation of 10 sets of golf clubs by Callaway and a golf simulator by GOLFTEC to the Aurora-based Rangeview High School golf team, with the help of a foundation established in part by Ryan French of Monday Q Info. Colorado Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera and sports TV/radio personality Vic Lombardi also participated in the presentation.

“We told (the team beforehand) about the sets of golf clubs, but we didn’t tell them about the simulator,” Morton said. “When we said, ‘And we’re giving you a simulator’, those kids just went crazy.”

As has long been the case at the Expo, Colorado PGA professionals gave free 10-minute lessons to attendees.

— Morton also said a presentation by former CGA Player of the Year Jake Staiano and French — about promising players trying to climb the ladder to the top echelons of competitive golf — was also well-received, with a significant turnout. Likewise was the case for an autograph session conducted by former Denver Broncos kicker Rich Karlis.

— One area at the Expo that generated more than its share of energy and buzz was the 90-foot putt, with a crew from “Hole Hecklers” chiming in with some chuckle-worth commentary as attendees took their shots. 

“I think people were having a great time” there, Morton said. “The Hole Heckler guys brought up the energy level to a level I’ve never seen at the show before. … We had a lot more (people) sink putts than we had thought. I’ve never seen, at this show, people lining up at a fence line to watch the putt before. We had people all the way around (the area), hanging out watching. And It’s always fun when people are cheering for you.”

Business was brisk at times over the weekend at the Colorado Convention Center.

— But asked the most notable feedback from attendees he received, Morton mentioned the show-long live music that was added to the Expo plan this year. 

“The majority of people said having live music changed the dynamic of the show,” Morton said. “It was exciting, happy, a great place to sit down and relax. It’s a big floor and people have to walk a lot. To be able to sit down and have some lunch (at the Links & Drinks area), hang out, listen to music for a while then walk around a little more, people loved it.”

Overall, Morton is as confident as ever that the tweaking he’s doing with the Golf Expo will serve it well in coming years. He’s prioritizing getting younger people coming to the show with more interactive events and more nationally recognized people conducting seminars, and adding elements such as Q and A’s and autograph sessions.

The CGA was among those from the Colorado golf industry that was spreading the word at the Expo.

“The goal that I had last year and that I’m going to continue with is refreshing everything, revisiting every section of the floor, seeing what we can do better,” Morton said. “The (90-foot) long putt was new for this year. Now we’ll look at a different area and see what else that’s new for next year. I want to continue to grow it, refresh it — make it to where people want to see what’s new. I don’t want it to be the same every year. I want to add things as we go.”

About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for since 2009. He was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates

Among the target audiences for the Expo organizers is younger people.

Ryan French of Monday Q Info did presentations all weekend at the Expo.