Advocacy Success Stories

GCSAA works year-round advocating and lobbying to ensure that lawmakers are informed about legislative and regulatory issues impacting golf facilities. Through the Grassroots Ambassador Program and GCSAAPAC, GCSAA is able to educate lawmakers and support those who support its Priority Issues Agenda. Find out more through GCSAA advocacy success stories.

WOTUS Rule Replacement

On Jan. 23, 2020, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers released the final Navigable Waters Protection Rule, redefining WOTUS.

On April 21, 2020, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule was published in the Federal Register, the new rule will go into effect on June 20, 2020.


Georgia Senate Applauds Superintendents

The Georgia Senate praised the Georgia GCSA for developing a manual detailing maintenance practices that serve golf’s environmental compatibility.

New Hampshire Bill HB 646

New Hampshire House Bill 646, “relative to labeling, signage, and restrictions on the sales and use of bee-toxic pesticides”, defines and restricts the use of bee-toxic pesticides which affect all species of pollinators and requires certain state agencies to publish best practices for transitioning away from these pesticides. After a 13-6 vote in the Environment and Agriculture Committee, New Hampshire will complete a 2020 study before taking further action on the bill. This comes after a coordinated effort from GCSAA members in New Hampshire and RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment). While the bill is still live, the study will allow lawmakers to be properly informed.

Cactus and Pine GCSA Water Summit

The Cactus & Pine GCSA held their fifth annual Water Summit in August of 2020 at Phoenix Country Club in Phoenix, Arizona. The event provided water- related education to Cactus & Pine Superintendents as well as highlighting water conservation efforts of the golf industry to Arizona politicians, government agencies, municipalities, and allied golf organizations.

Speakers included Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers (R-25) as well as many other representatives of the Arizona lawmaking, regulatory, and trade bodies. A major focus of the event was a plan proposed by the Arizona Department of Water Resources to reduce water use on courses.

Letter to Arizona Department of Water Resources

In fall of 2019, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) proposed a series of plans aimed at reducing water use by golf courses. The fourth plan of this series proposed a reduction of water use by 6 percent with the fifth plan proposing even larger cuts. In response, Grassroots Ambassadors partnered with Troon Golf and other allied associations as well as industrial leaders such as Ewing irrigation, Stotz Equipment and John Deere in Arizona met with leaders – including the Office of the Gov. Doug Ducey – in state and water agencies concerning these proposals and their devastating impact on golf.

The result was this letter from Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers to ADWR Director Thomas Buschatzke on behalf of the Arizona golf industry encouraging the ADWR to work with the golf industry on future plans as its “crucial that we find a balance between environmental sustainability and economic output.”

Sen. McSally (R-AZ) Recognizes Arizona Golf Industry

In support of the environmental stewardship demonstrated by golf course superintendents, Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) recorded this videoto be shown at the fifth annual Cactus and Pine GCSA Water Summit on Aug. 20, 2019, at Phoenix (Ariz.) Country Club.

Illinois Grassroots Effort Eases Restrictions

As Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker took steps to reopen businesses shut down by the coronavirus pandemic, golf courses that had been closed for almost two months, could open for play under some restrictive measures. Facing restrictions like twosomes only spaced in 15-minute tee times, no carts, no practice facilities and no carry out food on the course, Illinois courses found reopening under these harsh restrictions would result in only eight rounds an hour and little to no other revenue.

Determined to make the voice of the golf industry heard, Luke Cella, CGCS, chapter executive for the Midwest Association of GCS, proposed creating an action alert for members of allied associations urging them to work with the governor and Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to amend their restrictions on golf.>

In the span of 24 hours, 176 of 177 state legislators were contacted by more than 7,000 individuals resulting in more than 15,000 messages sent. The following day, Pritzker announced his administration would be allowing foursomes in single rider carts with more updates to follow. Read more about the effort in Illinois.

Hawaii Bill 101

When the Hawaii County Council drafted a bill to ban the county’s use of herbicides, superintendents on the Big Island made comments on the bill noting a variety of regulatory, operational, and language concerns. Shortly thereafter, Mayor Harry Kim vetoed Bill 101 and echoed the comments in a letter to the council explaining his concerns.

In a failed attempt to override Kim’s veto, the council convened a January hearing, which included almost six hours of testimony and debate from both sides, including Kim, who further explained his reasons for vetoing the bill and Lukas Kambic, a biologist with the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii, who said, “There is no evidence of any harm when used as directed.”

Six “yes’ votes were required by the nine-member council to override Kim’s veto. This supermajority failed when Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz changed her original vote – yes, with reservations – to a no vote, explaining her initial concerns about the language of the bill were underlined in Kim’s letter.

Phipps Chosen To Serve On Oregon Department of Agriculture Workgroup

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) has organized a workgroup charged with helping the ODA evaluate the uses and potential restrictions on the pesticide product Chlorpyrifos. The ODA has considered further restricting use in the state beyond the limitations specified on product labels. Chlorpyrifos is one of the most widely used active ingredients in agricultural insect control products in the world and is used in Oregon to control pests on crops like alfalfa, grass fields, and wheat. GCSAA is proud to have one of its own, Northwest Field Staff Representative Dave Phipps, selected as a member of this advisory committee. As a former superintendent with more than two decades of experience in the golf course management industry, Dave offers invaluable knowledge on pesticide best practices.

Ambassador Academy with Speaker Boehner

John Boehner, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Michael Lee, GCSAA manager, government affairs, trained more than 150 GCSAA Grassroots Ambassadors at Ambassador Academy, Part 1, during the 2020 Golf Industry Show in Orlando. At the ambassador-only event, Boehner shared stories and answered questions ranging from his time in politics to his love for golf.

Rep. Gosar (R-AZ) Hosts Golf Business Roundtable

In December 2019, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) hosted a Golf Business Roundtable. This event allowed for state officials to discuss issues impacting golf course management and the Arizona Golf industry. At the roundtable, Grassroots Ambassador Rory Van Pouckewas joined by representatives from Arizona water agencies, tourism sectors, the Chamber of Commerce and state representatives.

Kyle Barton Hosts Rep. Stevens for Course Tour

Kyle Barton, superintendent at Tam O’Shanter Country Club in West Bloomfield, Michigan and 2019 GAL Award recipient, has been an outstanding advocate for the industry since he joined the Ambassador program just two years ago. In his home and facility congressional district, MI-11, Barton has worked hard to form a working relationship with his Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI).

Kyle’s hard work paid off in early September when he hosted Stevens at his facility as part of her “24 Towns in 24 Days” event series. Joined by staffer Eli Isaguirre and GCSAA Great Lakes Field Staff Representative Shane Conroy, Barton led the group on a tour of the course and explained what goes into maintaining the property. The group discussed several issues facing the golf course management industry as well as the environmental programs and conservations efforts being made by superintendents.

Impressed by the course tour and environmental stewardship, Stevens said, “As a Member of Congress, I appreciate hearing from constituents like Kyle who are engaged in advocacy and are a resource for me and my staff in the district. With the third highest amount of golf courses in the country, the Michigan golf industry continues to play a critical role in the state’s economy, and I was excited to learn more about golf course management.”

Stevens also tweeted a thank youto Barton, Conroy and the Michigan GCSA for their preservation efforts.

Read Conroy’s field staff report of the meeting.