It’s never been a secret that many, if not most, of the world’s biggest business deals, are contrived, cemented, and celebrated on the golf course, a rarified place where executives go to relax and relate away from the noise. In yet another sign the cannabis industry is mainstreaming, boutique events company Lemonhaze just pulled off the largest gathering of cannabis industry C-suite executives and thought leaders ever assembled in one place—for an elite golf invitational.
As the industry set up for MJBizCon and MJ Unleashed on October 19, dealmakers and thought-leaders, including Curaleaf (OTC: CURLF) CEO Joe Bayern, ROVE CEO Phil Hon, 4Front CEO Leo Gontmakher, and MJ Holdings CEO Roger Bloss, were chauffeured in limousine buses to the Lemonhaze Cannabis Industry Executive Golf Invitational at the prestigious Cascata Golf Club in Boulder City, Nevada, where they joined into foursomes for a full caddied scramble. A quartet made up of Bloss, CBD.io President Robb Hackett, CBD.io CMO Mike McNeely, and Coachilln’ Holding CTO Michael Dickerson took first place.
A half-hour—and many worlds away—from the convention center and the Vegas Strip, Cascata is a challenging par-72 course designed by renowned architect Rees Jones, who calls it “the eighth wonder of the golfing world.” The course meanders through the scenic River Mountain Range foothills with stunning views of a 418-foot waterfall with rolling vistas teeming with desert wildlife. One might encounter majestic bighorn sheep on the lush practice green or a curious coyote meandering from the bushes of the craggy red desert valley. Cascata’s rambling Tuscan-style clubhouse has a Class A PGA pro shop and a cigar lounge stocked with fine, rare tobacco.
“I’m proud that Lemonhaze was able to construct an opportunity for executive decision-makers of legalized cannabis to gather so they could build relationships and bond over the unique challenges that operating in the industry presents, and this became even more urgent after the pandemic,” said Lemonhaze CEO Brian Yauger. “Lemonhaze was in a unique position to fill this need, and we knew whatever we produced had to be above and beyond.”
Lemonhaze made its name producing budtender parties and cannabis industry conferences—a great strategy until Covid hit. In 2020, the company pivoted to facilitating digital connections between cannabis brands and dispensary buyers through Lemonhaze Virtual Up Fronts, described as “speed dating for cannabis buying,” and are spreading like wildfire through legal states. With the Lemonhaze Invitational, the company has earned a reputation as “the Allen and Co. of the cannabis industry,” a comparison to the investment firm’s annual gathering of tech and media moguls, where some of the biggest deals in history were devised.
“We were thrilled with how the first-ever Lemonhaze Golf Invitational turned out,” said FoHSE CEO Brett Stevens. “We took it as an extremely positive sign of how the cannabis industry is maturing. Golf networking is a longstanding tradition in established business sectors, and it was encouraging to see how eagerly the titans of the industry adopted it. Brian and his team are definitely onto something big with these events.”
The first Lemonhaze Cannabis Industry Golf Classic was held in Las Vegas on April 28th, followed by Arizona, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, Southern California, Florida, and the Northeast. Lemonhaze’s 2022 roster of golf classics will add Northern California, Colorado, Ohio, Detroit, Chicago, and Missouri to the schedule, with a second annual invitational in Nevada, in 2022.