Q&A: Samantha Porter, Golf Course Builders Association of America

By Mari Shirley, October 17, 2013

Planner: Samantha Porter, Program and Planning Manager, Golf Course Builders Association of America

Events: Twice a year, Golf Course Builders Association of America holds a meeting for attendees nationwide. While the winter meeting has more participants than the summer meeting, the two are equally challenging for Porter. “Our winter meeting is five times larger than our summer meeting, but the number of events that we offer at the winter event pales in comparison to what we offer at the summer meeting,” she explains. Both shows have education, networking events and a Harley-Davidson raffle fundraiser, but they also include creative experiences. “We were in Monterey [for our last meeting] and wanted to incorporate some local flavor to the event,” Porter recalls. “We brought in the raptors that are used at Pebble Beach to scare off the unwanted seagulls. Their trainers led the discussion, but and the members were fascinated by the raptors they showcased. It was so captivating and something I’ll remember for years and years to come.”

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Showing Thanks: Porter says GCBAA is making a conscious effort to bring additional visibility to its sponsors at events. “It’s no secret that the success of our events is contingent upon their support,” she explains. “At our last meeting, each sponsor had a disk displaying their logos on the high-top tables. Not only did it prove to be a great advertising opportunity, but our sponsors were thrilled with the visibility they received at each reception.”

Return on Investment: “I live and die by our online surveys through Constant Contact,” Porter says. GCBAA sends them to meeting attendees within an hour of an event wrapping up so it can get the most substantial feedback for future planning. “It’s critical we have our members’ initial reactions and opinions on every component of the meeting.”

Getting in the Game: In college, Porter interned with The Cox Classic, which at the time was a stop on the PGA Nationwide Tour. “That’s when I was first formally introduced to the craziness we know as event planning,” she says. “Though it carried many challenges, it was one of the best experiences I ever had. Once the tournament wrapped and I was back at my desk in school, I realized event planning was the career path best suited for me.”

Staying in the Game: In the future, Porter still sees herself in the golfing world. “On a professional level, I would love to be promoting the game of golf in some way, shape or form. I really enjoy working with those individuals and organizations that share the same interest—I love association work, the event planning side of it and the game of golf. For me it’s a win-win-win.”

Dream Event to Attend: Porter says The Ryder Cup is her choice because it encompasses so many things she’s passionate about—this country, golf and competition. “The event is just so ridiculously intense because once it’s over, the defeated country sits idle for two years until they get a chance at redemption.”

Dream Speaker: Pat Summitt, former women’s basketball coach at the University of Tennessee. “More importantly though, she is battling Alzheimer’s disease and is just a great testament of determination and hard work.”

Planning Advice: “Empower your meeting attendees and get them involved. Regardless of the event you’re planning, everyone wants to be involved and have a sense of ownership. On a lighter note, never underestimate the power of an open bar.”

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