Advocacy Toolkit

The advocacy toolkit provides a guide to strengthening advocacy at the chapter level. These best practices and tips can be used to build advocacy skills, learn more about Congress, and prompt members to get involved. The advocacy toolkit presentation offers context and additional resources for members new to advocacy.

Monitoring your state and local legislation is a low-cost, low-effort way to begin getting involved in advocacy at the state and local levels. It allows chapters to be proactive rather than reactive in legislation and its positive and negative consequences for golf.

Take Action is a great place to start with tools to find your elected officials and stay up to date on legislative issues impacting golf. You can also follow issues GCSAA is tracking in the Advocacy Hub.

You can also track the activities of the federal government on congress.gov, which is maintained by the Library of Congress. THOMAS features information on all aspects of Congressional activity including legislation and committee information.

Official notices of proposed and final rules and official notices of meetings and hearings by regulatory agencies like the EPA and OSHA are posted daily in the Federal Register.

Your local library is a great place to look for comprehensive information on your state legislature. Many state legislators have created personal web pages that provide their constituents with contact information including a direct link to their e-mail. Most state legislative committees publish schedules or news bulletins. You can ask to be put on the mailing list of committees that work on your issues. State legislatures also have hotlines for the status of bills, committee meetings and legislative activity.

State bill status resources

Legislative process overview

Resource: Bob Searle, past president of Maine GCSA, superintendent at Abenakee Club in Biddeford Pool, Maine

Including an advocacy section in a chapter newsletter can help to disseminate advocacy opportunities and legislative issues that matter to your chapter members. A government affairs newsletter can help protect, enhance, and inform the membership. It can also update chapter members and other interested parties. It can provide a sense of ownership for your chapters, focus the chapter direction, and, however small or large, influence the issues at hand.

Newsletter examples

Minnesota GCSA

Mid-Atlantic AGCS

GCSA of Cape Cod

Resources: Ed Nash, GCSA of Cape Cod government relations committee;
Jack MacKenzie, CGCS Retired, Minnesota GCSA chapter executive director

Inviting an elected official, or their staff, to a chapter meeting is a great way to introduce legislators to golf’s story, and for chapter members to explain their profession and environmental stewardship, as well as the philanthropic and health benefits of golf. This is an opportunity for chapters to talk with legislators about issues that most concern them. It is important to plan carefully and follow these steps:

  • Send a written invitation.
  • Develop a schedule.
  • Share information about the group. This includes the size, what population they serve, any community or philanthropic involvement, and the kinds of specialized services they provide.
  • Send a thank you note and any photos from the event to the legislator.

Personal visits with lawmakers

Templates for elected official visits

Resource: Ed Nash, GCSA of Cape Cod government relations committee

Joining a coalition can benefit a chapter in numerous ways, most significantly by giving the chapter a larger platform to voice their issues. Coalitions can also bring together a wider viewpoint and strengthen a position to lawmakers. For chapters, joining a coalition can also mean a larger access to resources, whether it be administrative, legislative experience, political contacts, money, or time. If joining a coalition sounds beneficial to your chapter, also consider:

  • Driving force: what is the primary voice or the driving organization in each coalition? Does it align with your goals and interests?
  • Coalition goals: Do the short and long-term goals of the coalition align closely with the goals of the chapter? If this group accomplished everything in its mission statement, how would the chapter board and membership feel?
  • Coalition membership: Are the other members of the coalition reputable and credible organizations? How would they affect your chapter reputation?
  • Business operations: Get a thorough understanding of how business is done before joining a coalition. How do approval of printed materials or allocation of votes work?
  • Resources: What resources do you gain access to by joining (e.g., staff, lobbyist, a meeting location, etc.)? What resources will you be expected to contribute?
  • Credibility: What is the reputation of the coalition? What issues have they dealt with before, and how did they handle them?

Coalitions and alliances

Resource: Reach out to a chapter that belongs to a coalition.

Chapters that belong to a coalition

  • California chapters — California Alliance for Golf (California GCSA, GCSA of Central California, Hi-Lo Desert GCSA, GCSA of Northern California, San Diego GCSA, Sierra Nevada GCSA and GCSA of Southern California)
  • Connecticut Association of GCS &mdashConnecticut Environment Council
  • Florida chapters — Florida Golf Alliance (Calusa GCSA, Central Florida GCSA, Everglades GCSA, Florida GCSA, Florida West Coast GCSA, Gulf Coast GCSA, North Florida GCSA, Palm Beach GCSA, Ridge GCSA, South Florida GCSA, Sun Coast GCSA and Treasure Coast)
  • GCSA of New Jersey — Green Industry Alliance
  • Georgia GCSA — Georgia Golf Alliance
  • Hawaii GCSA — Hawaii Golf Alliance
  • Maine GCSA — Mainers for Greener Communities
  • Michigan GCSA — Michigan Golf Alliance
  • Mid-Atlantic Association of GCS — Mid Atlantic Golf Council
  • New York chapters — New York State Turfgrass Association (Central New York GCSA, Finger Lakes Association of GCS, Hudson Valley, Long Island GCSA, Metropolitan GCSA, Northeastern GCSA, Western New York GCSA)
  • Ohio chapters — Ohio Pesticide Applicators for Responsible Regulation (Central Ohio GCSA, Greater Cincinnati GCSA, Miami Valley GCSA, Northern Ohio GCSA, Northwestern Ohio GCSA)
  • Ontario GSA — National Allied Golf Associations
  • Oregon GCSA — Golf Alliance of Oregon
  • Philadelphia Association of GCS — Golf coalition with GAP, WGAP, CMAA, PGA, USGA
  • Rocky Mountain GCSA — Colorado G4
  • Southern Nevada GCSA — Nevada Golf Alliance
  • Texas chapters — Texas Association of Recreation Organizations (Central Texas GCSA, Lone Star GCSA, North Texas GCSA, South Texas GCSA, Texas Gulf Coast Superintendents Association, West Texas GCSA)
  • Utah GCSA — Utah Golf Alliance
  • Virginia GCSA — Mid Atlantic Golf Council
  • Western Washington GCSA — Washington Golf Alliance

Hosting a site visit for your legislator involves preparation that is similar to inviting officials to a chapter meeting but entails slightly more preparation. Site visits are more in depth than attending chapter meetings and can offer the potential for the legislator or their staff to develop a key contact, rather than hearing from an entire constituent group.

Building relationships

Personal visits with lawmakers

Resource: Rory Van Pouke, superintendent at Apache Sun Golf Club in San Tan Valley, Ariz.

Action alerts can be very useful if you need to mobilize your chapter quickly for urgent efforts. These are typically for vital pieces of legislation and require members to have at least some familiarity with the issues. Action alerts should be used sparingly; three or four per year is the maximum recommended amount in order to uphold the sense of importance.

Giving testimony can feel like a daunting task but can benefit a chapter and profession immensely. As an expert in the superintendent profession, a chapter member can enlighten legislators and offer technical assistance to them while forming policy.

Testifying at hearings

Resources: Mid-Atlantic AGCS has experience testifying at the Connecticut statehouse, Scott Ramsay, CGCS, The Course at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

A chapter government affairs committee can be a key aspect of elevating your advocacy presence at the state level. The purpose of a government affairs committee at the chapter level is to recommend policy to the chapter on legislative, regulatory and legal issues. A committee can analyze issues, address technical components, and educate its members on the effects of the current legislation. The committee chairperson will be responsible for planning, conducting meetings, maintaining records and information, getting action and evaluating results. GCSAA''s government affairs teams can serve as a resource for national legislative and regulatory issues and provide guidance for state issues.

Chapter government affairs committees come in many different forms. In Florida, the Florida GCSA hosts the government affairs committee, and one member from each of the Florida chapters serves on it.

Resource: Greg Pheneger, superintendent at John’s Island Club in Vero Beach, Fla.

Chapter with a government affairs committee

  • California chapters (California GCSA, GCSA of Central California, Hi-Lo Desert GCSA, GCSA of Northern California, San Diego GCSA, Sierra Nevada GCSA, GCSA of Southern California)
  • Cactus and Pine GCSA
  • Carolinas GCSA
  • Connecticut Association of GCS
  • Eastern Shore Association of GCS
  • Florida chapters (Florida GCSA, Calusa, Central Florida, Everglades, Florida West Coast, Gulf Coast, North Florida, Palm Beach, Ridge, South Florida, Sun Coast, Treasure Coast)
  • GCSA of New England
  • Georgia GCSA
  • Hawaii GCSA
  • Heart of America GCSA
  • Iowa GCSA
  • Long Island GCSA
  • Metropolitan GCSA
  • Michigan GCSA
  • Mid-Atlantic Association of GCS
  • Midwest Association of GCS
  • Minnesota GCSA
  • Ontario GSA
  • Pennsylvania chapters (Greater Pittsburgh GCSA, Philadelphia Association of GCS)
  • Rhode Island GCSA
  • Rocky Mountain GCSA
  • Virginia GCSA

A contract lobbyist can help chapters advocate through direct lobbying to legislators. Contract lobbyists are independent professionals who advocate for multiple clients and issues to legislative and executive branches of state and national government. Some state chapters keep contact lobbyists on retainer for special annual events or in case of immediate action that needs taken on an issue.

Resource: Reach out to a chapter with a lobbyist.

Chapters with a lobbyist

  • California chapters (California GCSA, GCSA of Central California, Hi-Lo Desert GCSA, GCSA of Northern California, San Diego GCSA, Sierra Nevada GCSA, GCSA of Southern California)
  • Carolinas GCSA
  • Georgia GCSA
  • Maine GCSA
  • Mid-Atlantic Association of GCS
  • Minnesota GCSA
  • Ohio chapters (Central Ohio GCSA, Greater Cincinnati GCSA, Miami Valley GCSA, Northern Ohio GCSA, Northwestern Ohio GCSA)
  • Oregon GCSA
  • Pennsylvania chapters (Central Pennsylvania GCSA, Greater Pittsburgh GCSA, Mountain and Valley GCSA, Northwestern Pennsylvania GCSA, Philadelphia Association of GCS, Pocono GCSA)
  • Rocky Mountain GCSA
  • Southern Nevada GCSA
  • Texas chapters (Central Texas GCSA, Lone Star GCSA, North Texas GCSA, South Texas GCSA, Texas Gulf Coast SA, West Texas GCSA)
  • Intermountain GCSA
  • Virginia GCSA
  • Western Washington GCSA

Hosting a state lobby day gives chapters an opportunity to influence state legislation and promote their key policy objectives. At the state level, chapters can likely attain a sit-down meeting with legislators and directly communicate the benefits or consequences for the profession relating to specific bills or regulation.

Resource: Reach out to a chapter that participates in a state lobby day.

Chapters with a state lobby day

  • California chapters — annual in April (California GCSA, GCSA of Central California, Hi-Lo Desert GCSA, GCSA of Northern California, San Diego GCSA, Sierra Nevada GCSA, GCSA of Southern California)
  • Carolinas GCSA — annual
  • Connecticut Association of GCS — annual
  • Florida chapters — annual (Florida GCSA, Calusa, Central Florida, Everglades, Florida West Coast, Gulf Coast, North Florida, Palm Beach, Ridge, South Florida, Sun Coast, Treasure Coast)
  • GCSA of New Jersey — Golf Day 2015, participate in ag day annual
  • Georgia GCSA — biannual
  • Michigan GCSA — Michigan Golf Day at the Capitol, annual in June
  • Minnesota GCSA — annual
  • Nebraska GCSA — biannual
  • New York chapters — annual, NYSTA lobby day (Central New York GCSA, Finger Lakes Association of GCS, Hudson Valley, Long Island GCSA, Metropolitan GCSA, Northeastern GCSA, Western New York GCSA)
  • Ohio chapters — Ohio Turfgrass Week, last week in May (Central Ohio GCSA, Greater Cincinnati GCSA, Miami Valley GCSA, Northern Ohio GCSA, Northwestern Ohio GCSA)
  • Ontario GSA — annual
  • Oregon GCSA — annual in May
  • Rocky Mountain GCSA — annual in May
  • Southern Nevada GCSA — biannual if issues are affecting industry
  • Virginia GCSA — annual