Efforts to establish a water committee and better communicate golf’s economic impact and community benefits recognized as outstanding examples of regional advocacy
Lawrence, Kan. (Dec. 14, 2021) – The Cactus and Pine Golf Course Superintendents Association in Arizona has earned the 2022 Excellence in Government Affairs Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). The Cactus and Pine GCSA is being honored for its efforts in establishing a water committee, teaming up with the Arizona Alliance for Golf (AAG) coalition to participate in Arizona’s water planning, and communicating the economic impact and community benefits of golf courses in the region.
The Excellence in Government Affairs Award recognizes a chapter, coalition or GCSAA member for outstanding advocacy or compliance efforts in government affairs.
This award praised the overall work of the Cactus and Pine GCSA, which worked closely with the AAG, to ensure the Arizona golf industry’s voice was heard. With help from the AAG, the Cactus and Pine Water Committee met with the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) for more than a year to develop a data-driven water conservation plan that utilized a science-based approach to guide water use for golf courses. Their combined efforts with industry experts like Dr. Paul Brown, Dr. Chip Howard and USGA agronomist Brian Whitlark were successful in creating a proposal that will support the long-term sustainability of Arizona’s golf industry.
“We were excited, surprised and honored to be recognized by GCSAA with this award. It reflects not only our efforts but those of our golf industry partners, consultants and other stakeholders who want to protect the future of the game of golf in Arizona,” said Mark Woodward, CGCS, current president of the Cactus and Pine GCSA and a past president of GCSAA. “It’s been a true team effort. We were grateful for the opportunity to have productive, substantive discussions with the Arizona Department of Water Resources for the past year and work together on a conservation plan.”
The Cactus and Pine Water Committee was able to leverage its significant and engaged membership by deploying expert voices and experienced superintendents during an April public meeting. More than 400 people, including members from other allied golf associations, were on the virtual call to communicate how impactful some of the provisions of the water management plan would be.
“The ADWR said this was the largest number of people they’ve seen on a call,” Woodward said. “The number of people on the call showed how serious the industry was taking this situation, and it truly made a difference in the development of a plan that will keep golf thriving in our state.”
The AAG and the Cactus and Pine GCSA also played a role in updating an economic impact study that underscores just how important golf is to the state. Golf represents only 2% of Arizona's water consumption, but it drives $4.6 billion of annual economic impact, supporting the state's tourism industry, employing more than 50,000 Arizonans and allowing more than 500,000 active Arizona golfers to enjoy the sport.
“The Cactus and Pine GCSA has demonstrated that strength in numbers can be successful when working together as environmental stewards and striving to achieve the same goal," GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans said. “I congratulate the Cactus and Pine GCSA on this award, which is a reflection of their dedication and passion that has undoubtably made a difference in the future of Arizona’s golf industry and ensured that the industry’s voice was heard.”
The chapter will be formally recognized at the Opening Session of the 2022 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show in San Diego Feb. 7. Speakers from the Cactus and Pine GCSA will be featured at the Government Affairs: State of Policy and Politics in 2022 session on the trade show floor Feb. 9. The Cactus and Pine GCSA will also be featured in an upcoming issue of GCSAA's official monthly publication, Golf Course Management magazine.