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.

Responding to COVID-19: Resources and Outreach

Lives and businesses all over the world have been deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In an effort to help GCSAA members and allied organizations navigate these challenging times, GCSAA created a COVID-19 Pandemic Resources page with information specific to golf and business operations. In addition, GCSAA has added a COVID-19 Advocacy page detailing the pandemic’s effect on politics and policy as well as efforts to support and defend the golf industry in the face of the pandemic.

Arizona’s Allied Golf Associations Hold Virtual Meeting

On Aug.17, 2020, Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers (AZ-25) spoke with members of Arizona’s allied golf associations. The call’s topics centered around the economic impact of the golf industry in Arizona as well as impacts of the current coronavirus pandemic and impending water crisis. The golf industry was represented by Desert Mountain Director of Agronomy Shawn Emerson; Ping Golf Corporate Counsel Dawn Grove; GCSAA Southwest Field Representative Jeff Jensen; Troon Golf Manager of Environmental Science Bri Kenny; GCSAA Manager, Government Affairs Michael Lee; Grayhawk Golf Club Superintendent Ernie Pock; Desert Mountain Superintendent Marc Snyder: Apache Sun Superintendent and General Manager Rory Van Poucke; and Cactus & Pine GCSA President and Whispering Rock Superintendent Mark Woodward, CGCS.

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.

Arizona Sports Radio Interview with Rory Van Poucke

Rory Van Poucke was recently interviewed on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM where he spoke about water challenges facing the golf industry and the numerous advocacy efforts undertaken by superintendents to secure golf’s future in Ariz.

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.

Georgia GCSA Recognized for BMPs

On March 3, 2020, the Georgia State Senate read and adopted a resolution “commending the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association for the development of the Best Management Practices for Georgia Golf Courses and recognizing March 9, 2020, as Georgia Golf Day at the state capitol”.

In addition to their work on Georgia BMPs, the state senate applauded superintendents for their extensive training and specialized backgrounds: “today’s superintendents draw on more environmental science than any generation before them; their training included biological sciences, chemistry, horticulture, soils, environmental sciences, and many related disciplines, uniquely, qualifying them for their duties”.

The resolution also recognized turfgrass scientists at the University of Georgia, GCSAA, the EIFG and the USGA for contributions to developing and publishing the "Best Management Practices for Georgia Golf Courses".

Georgia Golf Day

After being recognized for their work on the Georgia BMPs, Georgia GCSA members attended their state capitol for Georgia Golf Day on March 9. Georgia GCSA was joined by leaders of each of the associations serving on the Georgia Allied Golf Council as they met with legislators and staff members to discuss the environmental and economic benefits of golf in Georgia.

Cactus & Pine GCSA Holds Virtual Meeting with Sen. McSally

The Cactus & Pine GCSA hosted a virtual meeting with Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) on Aug. 5 to provide updates and discuss issues facing the golf industry in Arizona. The virtual meeting was the latest in a series of meetings and calls that Cactus & Pine GCSA has held this summer to promote golf in the state. Topics on the call ranged from the state of the golf industry to pandemic relief and water. On the call were Shawn Emerson, director of agronomy at Desert Mountain; Jeff Jensen; GCSAA southwest regional field representative; Don Rea, owner and PGA professional at Augusta Ranch Golf Club; Marc Snyder, superintendent at Sesert Mountain; and and PGA Professional Don Rea, Desert Mountain superintendent Marc Snyder; and Rory Van Poucke, general manager/superintendent at Apache Sun Golf Club.

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.

Grassroots Ambassador JD Boyce hosts Mississippi’s 1st District Director

In January, Grassroots Ambassador and Tupelo Country Club Superintendent JD Boyce met with Darren Herring, district director for Rep. Trent Kelly (R-0MS-01). The two discussed labor and immigration’s impact on the golf industry, specifically a letter circulating Congress asking the Department of Homeland Security to release H-2B visas. Upon asking for Kelly’s support, Herring ensured he would reach out to staff in Washington and get eyes on the letter. Just weeks later, the letter made its way to the DHS with Kelly included as a signatory.

Grassroots Ambassador John Hoyle Hosts New York’s 23rd District Director for Course Tour

In August 2019, Grassroots Ambassador and Corning Country Club Superintendent John Hoyle hosted District Director Alison Hunt for a visit to his facility. Joined by GCSAA Northeast Field Staff Representative Kevin Doyle, the trio discussed policy issues relevant to the golf industry such as the H-2B program. Hunt, who serves as district director for Rep. Tom Reed (R_NY-23), was led on a tour of the facility and received a tutorial in moisture meter use as Hoyle discussed the renovation work in progress at CCC.

Responding to COVID-19: GCSAA Members Join the Movement

In these unprecedented times, GCSAA is thankful for its Grassroots Ambassadors and the work they are doing to help preserve and protect the golf course management profession in their states. The newest ambassadors who signed up during the pandemic are: Andrew Hitchcock, Brett Grams, Brian Cloud, Charles Sheffield, Charley Crell, Clint Goold, Craig Levitsky, Garrett Schultz, Jame Boge, Michael Stern, Mike Brownsberger, Nathan James, Phillip Gill, Ryan Gordon, Steve Story and Tyler Schulz.

Grassroots Ambassador Greg Brandriet Brings Advocacy to South Dakota

Greg Brandriet, CGCS, superintendent at Elkhorn Ridge Golf Club in Spearfish, S.D., and 2019 GAL Award recipient has been an active advocate for the golf course industry in South Dakota since joining the ambassador program in 2016. Brandriet is paired with Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who is Senate majority whip and has become a resource for Thune on issues affecting the golf industry such as the H-2B visa program.

Grassroots Ambassador Anthony Williams, CGCS Advocates in Two States

Anthony Williams, CGCS, is a 24-year GCSAA member and director of golf course operations at the Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club in Irving, Texas. Before relocating to Texas, Williams was a member of the inaugural Grassroots Ambassador class and was paired with Rep. Hanks Johnson (D-GA), who he hosted for a course tour. Restarting his advocacy journey in Texas, Williams acted as a mentor to one of his assistant superintendents, Mitch O’Brey, and the two connected with Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX). Together, they met with Marchant. In 2018, Williams won the inaugural GAL Award for his dedication to advocacy work in both Georgia and Texas. Read what Williams had to say about his cross-country commitment to advocacy. 

Cactus & Pine Water Task Force

The Cactus & Pine Water Task Force exists to promote the water conservation and management goals of the Arizona golf industry and Arizona Department of Water Resources while educating stakeholders on the importance of golf’s beneficial use of natural resources.

Members of the task force work actively with the Arizona Department of Water Resources on their 5th Management Plan as well as turf allotment calculations, reclaimed water credits and rolling flexibility accounts for courses in Actively Managed Areas. The task force is currently co-chaired by Shawn Emerson, Jeff Jensen, Ernie Pock, Rory Van Poucke and Mark Woodward, CGCS.

Coachella Valley Golf and Water Conservation Task Force

The Coachella Valley Golf and Water Conservation Task Force is tasked with aligning the Coachella Valley (California) golf industry with the organizing principle of the Coachella Valley Water Management Plan to restore the aquifer beneath the desert to a state of equilibrium by the end of 2020. To reach this goal, the golf industry is tasked with reducing water use by 10 percent and utilizing non-potable water sources in place of groundwater extraction. Since the creation of the task force, more than half of Coachella Valley's courses now use recycled water, canal water or a mix of the two.

GCSAA is proud to have the following members and staff working to reduce golf’s water footprint in Southern California on the task force: Bryan Riek, Chris Hoyer, Chris May, Jared Stanek, Jeff Jensen, Jim Schmid, Jonas Conlan, Michael Magnani, Patrick Truchan, Rick Sall, Stu Rowland and Tyler Truman.

Model Water Efficiency Landscape Ordinance Task Force

The Model Water Efficiency Landscape Ordinance Task Force is charged with writing a golf chapter for the California Department of Water Resources Model Water Efficiency Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) update. The MWELO governs new development and retrofitted landscape water efficiency standards in California where about half of the urban water is used for landscape irrigation.

The task force has encouraged increased water efficiency standards through the use of graywater usage, onsite storm water capture, and more efficient irrigation systems. Among those driving the water conservation efforts of this task force are the following GCSAA members and staff: Andy Staples, Chris Hoyer, Gary Ingram, Jeff Jensen, Marc Connerly, Mike Huck, Scott Dickson, Sean Tully, Steve Showers, Terry Vassey and Todd Kochanowski.

Panhandle Regional Solid Waste Management Advisory Committee

GCSAA member Chris Douglas, superintendent of Hansford Golf Club in Spearman, Texas, serves as a member of the Panhandle Regional Solid Waste Management Advisory Committee. The RSWMAC has the duty of overseeing the Panhandle Regional Solid Waste Management Program and is appointed by the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission Board of Directors. Among other responsibilities, the RSWMAC approves grant funding; allocates funding to regional counties and municipalities throughout the panhandle; and sets recycling guidelines and assists municipalities with the implementation of the solid waste programs.

Southwest Florida Water Management District – Agricultural and Green Industry Advisory Committee

The Agricultural and Green Industry Advisory Committee (AGIAC) serves as a liaison between the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFW) and the agricultural and green industries. Members of the AGIAC provide professional and technical input into SWFW programs and activities such as regulatory programs, rule revisions and water conservation activities.

As a chapter, the Florida GCSA serves as a committee member and the voice of the golf industry on Southwest Florida Water Management issues.

Southwest Florida Water Management District – Green Industry Advisory Committee

The Green Industry Advisory Committee provides input and expertise on water resource management projects that relate to Florida’s green industry such as water resource and supply development projects, research and water resource planning. The GIAC also acts as an education extension of the Southwest Florida Water Management District by advising the district on education programs and aiding in their development.

Florida GCSA board member Eric Dixon, superintendent at Chi Chi Rodriguez Golf Club, serves as a member on the GIAC and is joined by fellow GCSAA member and retired superintendent, George Cook, who serves as vice chairman.