Chicago Golf Show – The Complete History

For the second straight year, Chicago-area golfers miss out on the Chicago Golf Show, which was unfortunately cancelled due to supply chain and issues related to the pandemic. Hopefully we can look forward to revisiting one of the great traditions in Chicago golf once again in 2023.

The Chicago Golf Show historically serves as the first indication that winter can’t last forever and spring is near. It’s the combination of this eternal boost of optimism plus a chance to see what’s new in golf that has attracted thousands of hopeful golfers to the Chicago Golf Show since 1984.

However, some veteran fans of Chicago golf may remember an earlier version of The Chicago Golf Show, which ran from 1962 until 1971. The first few Chicago Golf Shows from this era were presented by the Illinois section of the PGA and took place at the Chicago Hilton Hotel Exposition Hall, McCormick Place and Arlington Park before finishing at the newly rebuilt McCormick Place in 1971.

The current Chicago Golf Show was first hosted at the Hamilton Hotel Itasca, then the Arlington Park Hilton followed by Harper College in Palatine before moving to its current location at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.

Here are some highlights from The Chicago Show(s), beginning in 1962:

The Chicago Golf Show circa 1960s and 70s

1962 Chicago Golf Show HILTON_HOTEL
Chicago Hilton Hotel Exposition Hall
April 17-18, 1962
1957 Masters Champion Doug Ford lectured an audience of more than 1,000 on chipping, putting and the scoring area.

1964 Chicago Golf Show
McCormick Place
April 3-5, 1964MCCORMICK_PLACE
Billed as the world’s largest golf exposition, the 1964 Chicago Golf Show featured a hole-in-one contest on a 65-yard hole built inside the hall. More than 100 exhibits of golf equipment and merchandise were available at the 1964 Show. Top players such as Jack Fleck, Bobby Brue, Bob Toski, Erie Ball, Bill Ogden, Johnny Revolta, Chandler Harper and Bob Harris were on hand to give free golf instruction to the patrons. The show ran from 5:30 – 11PM on Friday and from noon until 11PM over the weekend.

1970 Chicago Golf ShowARLINGTON_PARK
Arlington Park
April 18-19, 1970
The 1970 Chicago Golf Show took place in the grandstand exhibit area at Arlington Park and featured the legendary Sam Snead. Snead conducted three 90 minute clinics on Saturday and Sunday at the event. The 1970 Show also featured a 100-yard fairway and green for a hole-in-one contest.

1971 Chicago Golf ShowMCCORMICK_PLACE_1971
McCormick Place
April 24-25, 1971
The tenth and final installment of the first Chicago Golf Show took place at McCormick Place for the first time since 1967. The event was configured on a 75,000 square-foot section of the recently re-opened convention center and included more than 50 Illinois PGA professionals. Despite the new initiatives in 1971, the 1972 Chicago Golf Show was cancelled due to lack of interest on the part of major golf manufacturers.

The Chicago Golf Show since 1984

1984 Chicago Golf Showhamilton_lakes
Hamilton Hotel Itasca
February 18, 1984
The first edition of the “new” Chicago Golf Show offered the opportunity to check out new and used golf clubs as well as golf memorabilia. This free event benefited the Evans Scholars Foundation and junior golf.

1985 Chicago Golf Show
Hamilton Hotel Itasca
February 24, 1985

1986 Chicago Golf ShowSHERATON
Arlington Park Hilton
February 15-16, 1986
The Chicago Golf Show had outgrown the Hamilton Hotel, according to organizer Steve Sidari, and was moved to two large halls at the Arlington Hilton. 1986 also was the first two-day event for the “new” Chicago Golf Show.

1987 Chicago Golf Showharper_college
Harper College in Palatine
February 21-22, 1987
The 1987 show at Harper College featured 120 exhibitors. “(This show) is big enough for McCormick Place, but my exhibitors couldn’t afford it” said organizer Sidari. “The question is where do we go next year? Harper College is 30,000 square feet. We don`t want to go to Chicago. Most of our people are from the suburbs and want to stay here. I think this is the right area.”

1988 Chicago Golf Show
Harper College in Palatine
February 20-21, 1988

1989 Chicago Golf Show
Harper College in Palatine
February 18-19, 1989
Event attendance for the two-day 1989 Chicago Golf Show was expected eclipse 20,000. The show was open from 9AM until 6PM Saturday and from 9AM until 5PM on Sunday. With 150 exhibitors, this was the biggest show yet. Exhibitors included major golf manufacturers Titleist, Taylor Made, Ram, Tommy Armour, Spalding, Power Bilt, Cobra, Mizuno and Yamaha.

The 1989 show included some non golf-related celebrities including WGN radio personality Spike O’Dell and Dennis McKinnon from the Chicago Bears.

1990 Chicago Golf ShowSTEPHENS_CENTER
O’Hare Expo Center – Rosemont
February 16-17-18, 1990
To accommodate the growing audience, The 1990 Chicago Golf Show moved to a 100,00 square-foot space at the O’Hare Expo Center in Rosemont and expanded to three days. The show featured all types of golf collectibles and memorabilia as well as free appraisals.

1991 Chicago Golf Show
O’Hare Expo Center – Rosemont
February 22-23-24, 1991
Now the largest consumer golf show in the country, the 8th annual Chicago Golf Show hosted more than 250 exhibitors and more than 30,000 golf-starved Chicagoans. With the Western Golf Association’s Western Open moving from Butler National to Cog Hill’s Dubsdread, Cog Hill owner Joe Jemsek was a featured guest speaker.

1992 Chicago Golf Show
O’Hare Expo Center – Rosemont
February 21-22-23, 1992
Representatives from The Western Open, the Ameritech Senior Open and the Chicago LPGA Challenge were on hand in 1992. Two-time Western champion Mark McCumber was a featured guest at the Western Open booth on Saturday.

1993 Chicago Golf Show
O’Hare Expo Center – Rosemont
February 19-20-21, 1993
The 10th annual Show included major golf equipment companies Wilson Golf , Ping, Spalding, Head, Tommy Armour and Cleveland. “There are more training aids than ever,” said event organizer Steve Sidari. “It seems like marketing is more into training aids now. There are putting aids, swing trainers, body aids, more stuff than I’ve ever seen. Our show is 95 percent sales. We’re the only major golf show that is consumer-oriented. The rest are trade shows.”

1994 Chicago Golf Show
Rosemont Convention Center
February 11-12-13, 1994
More than 300 exhibitors took part in the 1994 Chicago Golf Show, the most in the history of the event. The show featured 1993 LPGA Teacher of the Year DeDe Owens of Cog Hill and Paul Calloway, former physical therapist with the PGA Tour.

1995 Chicago Golf Show
Rosemont Convention Center
February 24-25-26, 1995

1996 Chicago Golf Show
Rosemont Convention Center
February 9-10-11, 1996
The 1996 Chicago Golf Show in Rosemont had to contended with a new show, Golf Illinois ’96, which was making its debut at Arlington International Race Course on the same dates in February. The focus of Golf Illinois ’96 was on golf equipment, celebrity instructors such as David Leadbetter, a golf fashion show and demonstrations relating to fitness and collectibles. The Chicago Golf Show included golf resorts, guest instructor Jimmy Ballard and local trick-shot artist Glenn Pratt.

1997 Chicago Golf Show
Rosemont Convention Center
February 7-8-9, 1997
Corcoran Expositions, Inc purchased the show from Steve Sidari in 1997. The Chicago Golf Show and Golf Illinois took place on different weekends that year, with the latter running February 21-23 at Arlington International Race Course.

1998 Chicago Golf Show
Rosemont Convention Center
February 13-14-15, 1998
The 15th annual Chicago Golf Show highlighted new equipment and more than 100 golf-vacation destinations.

1999 Chicago Golf Show
Rosemont Convention Center
February 5-6-7, 1999
A new free Golf Academy was introduced in 1999 and offered interactive golf advice on everything from exercises to demonstrations of long driving skills. More than 350 exhibiting companies showcased golf equipment, golf vacations and a collectors’ pavilion.

2000 Chicago Golf Show
Rosemont Convention Center
February 11-12-13, 2000
2000 offered an expanded New Club Swing Area with the latest equipment from top club manufacturers.

2001 Chicago Golf Show
Rosemont Convention Center
February 2-3-4, 2001
After having two competing golf shows in recent years, The Chicago Golf Show was alone in 2001. More than 20,000 golfers attended to see top instructors Jim Suttie, John Green, Emil Esposito, Gary Pinns and Chip Beck.

2002 Chicago Golf Show
Rosemont Convention Center
February 15-16-17, 2002

2003 Chicago Golf Show
Rosemont Convention Center
February 14-15-16, 2003

2004 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
March 19-20-21, 2004
The 2004 Chicago Golf Show was moved to late March for the first time in event history and included Golf Magazine “Top 100 Teachers” Dr. Jim Suttie and Todd Sones as well as Illinois PGA 2003 Teacher of the Year Lou Solarte. Long drive champion and ultimate golf showman Marty Joyce brought along his 13-year-old daughter, Lisa Joyce, who recently won the Remax World Long Drive Championship in the girls division over more than 14,000 competitors, averaging 273 yards per drive.

2005 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
March 18-19-20, 2005
Prominent golf associations and tournaments in attendance at the 2005 Chicago Golf Show included the Illinois PGA, the Western Golf Association, the Chicago District Golf Association; the Illinois Junior Golf Association and the LaSalle Bank Open.

2006 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
February 17-18-19, 2006

2007 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
March 16-17-18, 2007

2008 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
February 29, March 1-2, 2008
John Daly was the featured guest at the 25th annual Chicago Golf Show. “We are bringing John Daly to the 2008 Chicago Golf Show as a very special way to celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary,” said show organizer Tom Corcoran. “Not only is John Daly a major championship winner, he is one of golf’s biggest personalities and a fan favorite. We are really looking forward to having him with us.”

“Chicago is a fantastic golf town with a lot of great golf fans” said Daly. “I can’t wait to get a chance to meet my fans at the Chicago Golf Show.”

2009 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
February 27,28, March 1, 2009
The 2009 Chicago Golf Show offered a Recession Special, reducing the price of adult admission by 10 percent to $9 – except on “Five Dollar Friday” when the Golf Show celebrated Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday by admitting everyone in for $5.

2009 U.S. Solheim Cup Captain and LPGA Hall of Fame member Beth Daniel provided golf tips and talked about the battle between women from the U.S. and Europe that would take place later that summer at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove. Other golf celebrities included former PGA Tour player Charlie Rymer and LPGA Hall of Fame member Nancy Lopez, captain of the 2009 U.S. Junior Solheim Cup team.

2010 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
February 26-28, 2010

2011 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
February 25-27, 2011
Attendees at the 2011 Chicago Golf Show received a free 18-hole round of golf courtesy of GolfVisions Management and the first 500 patrons each received a free sleeve of Wilson Staff golf balls courtesy of Wilson Golf. Over 300 exhibitors were in attendance from 17 states, Puerto Rico, Italy and New Zealand.

2012 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
February 25-27, 2012
1982 Masters champion Craig Stadler was the featured speaker in 2012

2013 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
February 22-24, 2013
World Golf Hall of Fame member and 21-time PGA Tour winner Lanny Wadkins was the featured guest at the 2013 Chicago Golf Show. The first 200 patrons to attend the golf show each day received complimentary admission for a BMW Championship practice round at Conway Farms in Lake Forest.

2014 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
February 21-23, 2014
The presenting sponsor for 2014 was The Encompass Championship, which offered show attendees half-price general admission tickets to the tournament, which took place at North Shore Country Club in Glenview.

2015 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
February 27-28, March 1, 2015
All attendees at the 2015 Chicago Golf Show received a free round of golf from Billy Casper Golf.

2016 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
February 26-28, 2016
Three members of the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl championship team were on hand to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their championship.

2017 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
February 24-26, 2017
Baseball legends Tim Raines and Ryne Sandberg will highlight a Hall-of-Fame Weekend at the Chicago Golf Show.

2018 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
February 23-25, 2018
All attendees at the 2018 Chicago Golf Show received a free round of golf from GolfVisions.

2019 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
February 22-24, 2019
All attendees at the 2019 Chicago Golf Show received a free round of golf from GolfVisions.

2020 Chicago Golf Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
February 28- March 1, 2020
Main Stage special guests included Robbie Gould, Patrick Mannelly, Cliff Levingston, Emery Moorehead, Otis Wilson and Jay Hilgenberg.

2021 Chicago Golf Show
Cancelled

2022 Chicago Golf Show
Cancelled

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Walter Lis

Walter Lis is the managing editor of Chicago Golf Report, which launched in 2010.

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