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Timing for 25th annual Pittsburgh Golf Show fits to a tee

| Friday, March 8, 2013, 5:45 p.m.
A golfer at a North Coast Golf Shows events tests his skill at this replica of the 17th hole at Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., for the event's Closest-to-the-Pin contest. The grand prize is a golf weekend in Myrtle Beach, S.C. North Coast Golf Shows is producing the Pittsburgh Golf Show, which will be March 8 to 10, 2013, at the Monroeville Convention Center. Courtesy of North Coast Golf Shows
Visitors to events produced by North Coast Golf Shows can try out a variety of the newest clubs to find out which ones they like. North Coast Golf Shows is producing the Pittsburgh Golf Show, which will be March 8 to 10, 2013, at the Monroeville Convention Center. Courtesy of North Coast Golf Shows
This is the putting green for the Long Putt Challenge at shows put on by North Coast Golf Shows. North Coast Golf Shows is producing the Pittsburgh Golf Show, which will be March 8 to 10, 2013, at the Monroeville Convention Center. Courtesy of North Coast Golf Shows
The TaylorMade Long Drive Championship at North Coast Golf Shows events uses a radar gun that calculates how far someone's drive would go. The contest is a crowd favorite. North Coast Golf Shows is producing the Pittsburgh Golf Show, which will be March 8 to 10, 2013, at the Monroeville Convention Center. Courtesy of North Coast Golf Shows

With months of snow and weather too cold for playing, golfers finally can get a chance to see some green at the 25th annual Pittsburgh Golf Show, which will be Friday through Sunday at the Monroeville Convention Center.

Some of the year's best deals can be found at the event, which will feature more than 125 vendors, as well as a variety of speakers and demonstrators who know the sport, said Joe Stegh, president of the North Coast Golf Shows, based in Twinsburg, Ohio, which produces the event in seven cities.

Pittsburgh is the tour's final stop, but that's not to say it's the least.

The large number of courses in the area indicates there are a ton of golfers in western Pennsylvania, Stegh said. “The sport of golf is definitely popular,” he said.

Tickets cost $9 and are good for all three days of the event. Children younger than 12 are admitted for free. Show hours are noon to 7 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

The show will feature the latest in golf equipment, clothing, accessories and information on where to play locally and nationally.

Stegh said he expects the show to draw more than 15,000 people over the three days. Because it's too cold for golfers to be out on the course during the winter in this part of the country, he said, they are looking for ways to stay involved with the sport before the weather breaks.

Stegh, 49, of Cleveland, said many golfers take advantage of the great deals vendors traditionally offer at the show.

To help out with choices, a manufacturer's demonstration range will be set up at the show where golfers can try out a large variety of clubs, including the latest gear for 2013, and if they like what they swing, they probably can buy it at the show from a floor vendor, Stegh said.

There also will be plenty of travel-related exhibitors on the floor giving on-the-go golfers the chance to book a golf vacation right there at the event, he said.

Those who are looking for more wintertime swing practice can try out the show's popular indoor course challenges, Stegh said.

The TaylorMade Long Drive Championship will have prizes awarded daily for both the open and seniors divisions. The women's division and junior division, reserved for golfers ages 14 and younger, will have one prize awarded each over the weekend because there are fewer participants in those categories.

Visitors also can try the Long Putt Challenge, which awards $10 for making one putt, $100 for making two, $250 for three and $500 if someone makes all four putts.

One big prize for the weekend goes to the person who wins the Closest-to-the-Pin contest. That person will receive a golf weekend for two in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Stegh said golfing celebrities will be at the event, including world long-drive champion Jamie Sadlowski, national long-drive champion Brian Pavlet and trick-shot golfer Chuck “The Hit Man” Hiter.

“He'll amaze you with his shots. The guy's just incredible,” Stegh said about Hiter.

The show also is a place where people can get pointers from professional golf instructors.

“There's always something to learn. It's one of these sports where you never find perfection,” Stegh said.

Representatives of The Beeler Institute of Golf will offer instruction to golfers looking for play advice, said Tom Beeler, a Professional Golfers' Association professional and director of golf at the Grand View Golf Club in North Braddock.

“It's good for anybody,” said Beeler, of Elizabeth Township. “We try and find something to help them play a little bit better.”

He said some golfers might need help with setup, balance, swing or even grip. He'll be assisted by fellow PGA golf instructors Bob Salera, who is director of instruction at Cool Springs Golf Center, located south of Pittsburgh, on Friday; Steve Kusenko, an instructor at the Monongahela Valley Country Club in Monongahela, on Saturday; and Carmen Costa Jr., who is a lead instructor at Cool Springs Golf Center, on Sunday. Those interested can sign up at the exhibition space, and they'll be provided with a time for their approximately 10-minute lesson.

As co-host of the “Tom & Tom Golf Show” radio show on WBGG, 970 AM, Beeler, 52, said he also will provide stage presentations throughout the show discussing golf-related topics and news.

Jeff Rivard, executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association, will return to the Pittsburgh Golf Show to offer information about the association and its activities. It helps bring together golf clubs and their individual members and covers an area with more than 125 clubs and 30,000 members, Rivard said.

“We do member services, scholarship funds, championships and handicapping,” said Rivard, of O'Hara Township.

The Blawnox-based organization has been around for more than 100 years, and membership has been holding steady despite the recent economic downturn, Rivard said.

Stegh said the Pittsburgh Golf Show is a good fit for golfers of all ages and all types, including women. Along with practicing their swing at the demo range and sampling the latest in golf equipment, they can check out a variety of vendors featuring women's golf gear.

Girls Gone Golfing, an online clothing and accessories store, is returning for its fifth year, said Mary Louise Kaminski, who runs the business with Maddie Caperell, both of North Huntingdon.

The show is gives potential customers of the Internet-based business a chance to check out items before they buy.

“A lot of women like to touch and feel and see the product,” Kaminski said.

The business will have clothes, socks, visors and other items on display, including a lot of “bling” products, which, Kaminski said, always are popular. Purses, glasses and other accessories feature “lots of sparkles” to create that “bling” effect.

A color trend this year is lime green, and hot pink also is a favorite, Kaminski said. Golfers can purchase velour-like golf towels in a variety of vibrant colors featuring the Girls Gone Golfing logo.

The cleavage cooler comfort item also is a popular seller, Kaminski said. When the weather is too warm on the course, the fabric-wrapped gel pack can be slipped discreetly into a bra.

“It really cools, and no one knows it's there,” Kaminski said.

This might be one of the items men at the golf show can add to their list of gifts for their significant other.

“Always pick something up for your wife,” Kaminski said.

The show will provide fun for the whole family, Stegh said, as golf generally does. He said golf is one of the few sports that one can start as a child and play through retirement.

“It's a game of a lifetime,” Stegh said.

Natalie Beneviat is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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