GCSAA represents in Washington for National Golf Day

Capitol Hill Golf is so much more than a game - it's an industry that contributes billions each year to local, state and national economics, and employs more than 2 million people nationwide. This is the story that was told on Capitol Hill on April 13, National Golf Day, by members of GCSAA's Board of Directors, Government Relations Committee and staff, as well as allied golf organizations CMAA, NGCOA and the PGA of America. For the initiative, which is part of the We Are Golf coalition, GCSAA educated lawmakers about the U.S. golf industry's economic, environmental and social contributions.

GCSAA's storyteller

Jay Goughnour, Class A member

As part of the GCSAA delegation, President Robert M. Randquist, CGCS; CEO Rhett Evans; and Jay Goughnour, Class A GCSAA member, joined other association leaders to represent the industry in meetings with Democratic and Republican leadership, the Congressional Golf Task Force as well as the Congressional Black Caucus, and shared quantifiable data that demonstrates the economic contributions golf makes.

In 2008, Goughnour bought Raccoon Valley Golf Course in his hometown of Jefferson, Iowa. He would continue to serve as the golf course superintendent, while his wife, Nikki, tended to the pro shop and office. But just months after purchasing the golf facility, Mother Nature unleashed her fury as water overflowed the banks of the adjacent Raccoon Creek. The Goughners would close their course for more than a month, losing $40,000 in revenue during the height of the golf season (accounting for just under 25 percent of annual revenues). Furthermore, the couple took out a loan for $60,000 to repair the damage.

Flooding at Raccoon Valley Golf Course

Working diligently – while taking second jobs to cover the bills – the Goughnours slowly returned the course back to where it was with the intent on improving it. “It is the American dream to be a business owner,” Jay Goughnour says. "Then, through no fault of your own, it gets wiped away by a freak of nature. We are working hard to restore what we had and improve upon it. It would have been nice to be on the same footing as other small businesses to be eligible for government aid."

Also representing GCSAA at National Golf Day events were: Vice President Sandy G. Queen, CGCS; Past President James R. Fitzroy, CGCS; Directors Rafael Barajas, CGCS, and Peter J. Grass, CGCS; and members of the GCSAA Government Relations Committee (Patrick Finlen, CGCS, chairman; John O’Keefe, CGCS, vice chairman; Charles Wolsborn; Robert Ehrler, CGCS; David Coote; Robert Raley; Mark F. Jordan, CGCS; Joseph McCleary, CGCS; John Ekstrom; and Robert Nielsen, Jr., CGCS). Carrie Riordan, GCSAA’s senior director of member programs; Chava McKeel, GCSAA's senior manager of information and public policy; and Jeff Bollig, GCSAA’s senior director of communications.

A nonstop agenda

Additional NGD activities included a First Tee Congressional Breakfast featuring First Tee scholars, Jim Nantz, and representatives of allied golf. Additionally, We Are Golf's initiative was presented to members of Congress, their staffs and the media with a live session featuring PGA teaching pro Jim Estes and Ramon Padilla of the Salute Military Golf Association. GCSAA Class A members Teddy Blauvelt and Jon Lobenstine also participated in a display for members of Congress and their staffs of how golf courses are compatible with the environment.

The government relations committee held its annual meeting while in Washington, addressing a briefing on priority issues; as well as updates on GCSAA public policy concerning general permits for pesticide applications, H-2B rules, ADA accessibility guidelines, Endangered Species Act litigation and more. Members also discussed coordination strategies with chapter government relations committees and local resources regarding pesticide and fertilizer advocacy efforts. Michael O’Brien from Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE) provided members with an update on RISE’s consumer outreach campaign, Debug the Myth.

The We Are Golf coalition retained the Podesta Group, a Washington, D.C.-based government and public affairs firm, to coordinate the initiative’s unprecedented legislative efforts concerning small business, labor, tax and environmental goals. Its objective is to assist the coalition in getting the golf industry a seat at the table when important and relevant legislation is being developed. Visit We Are Golf for more information on the coalition and its strategic progress.