Washington, United States: With a focus on environmental issues and proposed changes to the Clean Water Act, members and staff from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) joined with other golf leaders for the seventh annual National Golf Day.
National Golf Day is a broad industry effort under the auspice of We Are Golf – a coalition of the game’s leading associations and industry partners – designed to showcase golf’s nearly US$70 billion economy, US$4 billion annual charitable impact, environmental value to local communities and fitness benefits.
Golf’s leaders met with members of Congress throughout the day to share stories about the game’s almost 15,000 diverse small businesses, which employ more than two million people and provide US$55.6 billion in annual wage income. In addition, industry executives discussed golf courses’ positive influences on ecology, tax revenues and tourism.
For GCSAA, the day brought members of its Board of Directors, Government Relations Committee and select staff to Washington for more than 85 individual meetings with lawmakers and their staffs – meetings that focused as much on the broader messages of National Golf Day as on issues of specific interest to golf course superintendents and the golf course management industry.
GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans said: “National Golf Day presents a unique opportunity not only for the golf industry, but also for GCSAA and its members, to make personal connections with members of Congress and to help them understand the role the game plays in the economic, environmental and charitable life of our communities.
“The opportunity to educate lawmakers on issues of importance to our members and the stewardship role superintendents play every day is one we embrace. We are proud of our association with We Are Golf and our participation in National Golf Day.”
One of GCSAA’s key messages to lawmakers focused on the Clean Water Act and proposed changes to how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines ‘waters of the United States’, a key pillar of the act. If changed, the rule could greatly expand what water bodies falls under federal jurisdiction and, ultimately, negatively impact superintendent’s ability to maintain their golf courses.
Chava McKeel, GCSAA’s Associate Director, Government Relations, said: “This proposed change has the potential to greatly affect almost every golf facility in the country and many maintenance practices that takes place on a golf course.
“Our members coming to Capitol Hill and communicating about this important issue, along with many more, sends a strong message and helps strengthen the overall position of both the profession and the association in matters of advocacy and government relations.”
National Golf Day also featured a day-long exhibit in the Cannon Caucus Room with a host of golf exhibits, including a section that was dedicated to golf course maintenance and its tools manned by members of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Golf Course Superintendents, and a display featuring the soon-to-be-opened Grass Roots exhibit at the US National Arboretum.
In addition, live golf lessons for members of Congress and staff were provided by 2012 PGA Teacher of the Year Michael Breed and LPGA professional Dana Rader.
Other special exhibits and activities included a ‘Closest to the Pin’ contest utilising an aboutGolf simulator; state-of-the-art swing analysis from GolfTEC; Birdie Ball, the latest at-home training technology; and a Republican v Democrat ‘Putting Challenge’.
In addition to GCSAA, organisations participating in National Golf Day included the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA), Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA), PGA of America (PGA), PGA Tour, United States Golf Association (USGA), United States Golf Manufacturers Council and the World Golf Foundation.
“Today, we stood together in DC to represent the two million men and women whose livelihoods depend on the golf industry,” said Steve Mona, CEO of World Golf Foundation and administrator of We Are Golf. “Our unified voice helps Congressional members better understand the profound influence golf has on the American economy.”