Unfortunately, it's too long to run in its entirety in the next issue... but that's one good use of the blog -- No space restrictions here! So here is part one (of three) of Tim's report on National Golf Day in Washington, D.C. Look for parts two and three on Wednesday and Thursday.
Superintendents Serve their Profession at National Golf Day 2011
By Tim Connolly, TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Spring is the best time to visit Washington D.C., when a sea of cherry blossoms adorns the city with optimism. That positive energy was palpable during the National Golf Day activities on Capitol Hill, when golf’s main organizations converged to engage members of Congress with powerful messages of the game’s impact on their constituents.
The activities, which included putting lessons, swing analysis, golf simulators, and displays that narrated the successes of golf in the United States, took place in the Rayburn House Building, across Independence Avenue from the Capitol Building. We Are Golf, a coalition of the industry’s top organizations including the GCSAA, CMAA, NGCOA, PGA of America and the World Golf Foundation, is determined to put a face on the game that’s so often reviled by politicians as an elitist pastime. According to We Are Golf, the U.S. golf industry employs 2 million people and has a $76 billion economic impact nationally. Many familiar faces from GCSAA’s Board of Directors, including President Robert Randquist, CGCS and Vice President Sandy Queen, CGCS were there with CEO Rhett Evans to open the lines of communication with Congress and push legislation that helps superintendents and the golf industry.
Before heading upstairs for a series of meetings with members of Congress, Rhett Evans clarified the mission of the day. “We’re trying to let Congress know that when they make decisions on golf, to use us as a resource so we can provide them the necessary information so that they’re not just making a decision in a vacuum. What started this was the law that went into effect regarding economic stimulus and the fact that golf was excluded and that golf was placed in a category that just was not right. We were lumped in with massage parlors and tanning salons and casinos, and that’s disappointing. Now that it’s happened, we need to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. Our No. 1 goal is that this piece of legislation doesn’t get cut-and-pasted when the next disaster relief bill comes.”
For Jay Goughnour, owner and superintendent of Raccoon Valley Golf Course in Jefferson, Iowa, disaster relief is a topic that hits very close to home. His nine-hole course, located northwest of Des Moines, was devastated by flooding in May of 2008. The flood waters affected over 60 percent of the 65-acre property with two greens completely submerged. The Goughnour family survived the disaster through dogged determination and incredible will. “When natural disasters affect golf courses, and it does happen, golf courses should be treated like other small businesses and placed in the same playing field,” said Goughnour. “Maybe aid won’t be available to those golf courses, maybe it will. But they should at least have the opportunity to apply and not be excluded for whatever reason.” He wants Congress to know that golf faces the same hardships as any other business in this economy. “There are a lot of courses that just struggle to make ends meet; there are small courses that are run like small businesses. They employ a few people and they’re great meeting places and valuable assets to the community but they’re not rich people. I own a nine-hole golf course and I can promise you I’m not rich. I’m just a hard working individual.” Indeed, the National Golf Foundation estimates that over 90 percent of golf courses in the United States can be classified as small businesses.