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February 2024 - Golf Season Begins with the Chicago Golf Show

CDGA expands its presence, adds second Longest Putt competition and Break the Glass Challenge

This article appeared in the February 2024 edition of Chicago District Golfer.
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Untitled design (7)Native Chicagoan Nick Anderson (left), a retired Orlando Magic star and member of the University of Illinois’ 1989 “Flyin’ Illini” Final Four basketball team, will appear on stage Saturday and Sunday. He also will be present in CDGA Town Square to promote his Flight 25 Foundation partnership with the CDGA Foundation. Former Chicago Bear star Robbie Gould (right), a CDGA Brand Ambassador, also will be featured on the Main Stage.

Local golfers are expected to gather by the thousands later this month when the 39th Chicago Golf Show presented by the Chicago District Golf Association (CDGA) kicks off the season, Feb. 23-25, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.

There, they will find free rounds of golf, free lessons and the opportunity to swing the newest clubs from top manufacturers at the Demo Day indoor range. In addition, they’ll find incredible deals on golf equipment, apparel, shoes, bags, range finders and balls (among other things) as well as the ability to learn about golf travel destinations from local and regional resorts to international destinations. (For tickets visit Some 300 booths are expected this year.

“There’s no doubt the Chicago Golf Show is the unofficial kick-off to the Chicago golf season,” said Carrie Williams, executive director of the Illinois PGA, a decades-long supporter of the show. “By late February people get ‘Cabin Fever.’ Everyone’s eager to get the season going.”

This year, attendees will notice that the Show has a somewhat different “look” thanks to innovations initiated by the CDGA, now in its third year as presenting sponsor. Upon entering attendees will get a panoramic view of a new CDGA Town Square that will cover 11,000 square feet and encompass two side-by-side Longest Putt competitions, an expanded walk-in CDGA Member Golf Shop, a media studio, CDGA corporate partner booths and a new Foundation Park area featuring beneficiary groups of the CDGA Foundation.

“The purpose of the CDGA’s expanded role at the Chicago Golf Show is to reach out to golfers, let them know how the CDGA serves the area’s golf community and communicate the benefits of CDGA membership,” said Mike Gilligan, senior managing director of business development, who is spearheading the CDGA’s activities. “Golfers also will have an opportunity to join the CDGA or renew their memberships. They and existing members all will receive gifts in appreciation.”

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Mainstays of the Chicago Golf Show include a free round of golf, deals on equipment, complimentary lessons from IPGA professionals, a demo area and more.

The CDGA Golf Show presented by Glenview Park Golf Club – co-hosted by Gilligan and ESPN’'s Tyler Aki – will be broadcast live from 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 24. Separately, the CDGA also will use the area to conduct interviews for its social media platforms. The retail area has been doubled in size and shoppers will be able to find an increased selection of CDGA-logoed merchandise.

The CDGA also is partnering with its corporate partner Best Hole-in-One to present a new “Break the Glass Challenge” that will take place in the new club Demo Day area. Attendees will be able to win prizes if their ball breaks the glass.

“We’re extremely excited that the CDGA has increased its physical presence at the show as well as its programming for our attendees,” said show operator Tom Corcoran.

Attendees are entitled to such benefits as:
• A free round of golf courtesy of GolfVisions, which operates 14 courses around the Chicago area.
• Any new, active or renewing CDGA members will receive a free personalized CDGA bag tag and a Zero Friction SuperTube, which includes three balls, tees and a golf glove, all with CDGA logos.
• Free lessons for both adults and youngsters courtesy of Illinois PGA pros.

In addition to the Illinois PGA and the CDGA, other major golf organizations from the area will be participating, too, including the Western Golf Association/ Evans Scholars Foundation, the Illinois Junior Golf Association (IJGA) and the First Tee of Greater Chicago.

“For years, golfers have lined up to get into the Show right when the doors open,” Corcoran said. “That has been happening for many years and we don’t expect any changes this year. We’re just happy and thankful that the Golf Show can continue to be part of the Chicago golf community.”

Untitled design (9)The Chicago Golf Show returns to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Feb. 23-25. Tickets are available at

Here’s a partial rundown of what will be going on at the show this year:

Illinois PGA
In keeping with one of the Golf Show’s traditions, five dozen volunteer golf instructors from the IPGA will provide attendees with free full swing and putting lessons. The full-swing lessons take place at the Show’s indoor driving range while instruction on putting is available at the IPGA Village, which features a large putting green. Attendees can request a teaching professional who works in their own community so as to make follow-up lessons more convenient.

Leading instructors from the IPGA are featured on the Main Stage, providing attendees insights from teachers they might not otherwise be exposed to. At the IPGA Village is a golf simulator where attendees can play famous courses from around the world.

Meanwhile, children and junior golfers can get free lessons and obtain information on the highly successful PGA Junior League, a team concept for youngsters accustomed to playing on little league baseball or soccer leagues.

Illinois Junior Golf Association
IJGA members can get in free if they’re registered for 2024. Free admission is for the junior golfer only.

The IJGA also is reprising its popular Scavenger Hunt. Started in 2010, the Scavenger Hunt is intended to help youngsters learn more about the Golf Show. Prizes include free golf, apparel, golf towels, hats and other golf-related items. The IJGA conducts approximately 140 golf competitions from April through August and staff members will be at the Golf Show to provide information about tournament schedules and membership.

First Tee - Greater Chicago
At its always-busy exhibit area, the First Tee - Greater Chicago will feature putting and chipping for youngsters along with giveaways and information about how children and parents can get involved.

Barry Cronin is the editor of Chicago District Golfer magazine.