WASHINGTON, D.C. — WE ARE GOLF, a new coalition led by four of the game’s leading associations and supported by other small businesses, met with key members of Congress today — in conjunction with the 3rd annual National Golf Day — to promote the true face of golf, one that better reflects the economic, human, health and environmental benefits of the industry across the nation.
Founded by the Club Managers Association of America, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, National Golf Course Owners Association, and The PGA of America, WE ARE GOLF has been created as a broad-based coalition to maximize the industry’s synergy and reduce redundancy. Its growing membership includes participation from association members, multi-course owners, manufacturers and golf facilities.
“The solidarity the industry showed today on Capitol Hill is critically important,” said Mike Hughes, CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association. “Securing a seat at the policy table in Washington, D.C. and throughout the country requires us all to better define and illustrate the ‘we’ in WE ARE GOLF — that golf is more than just a game, it’s one in 75 jobs, the monthly mortgage or car payment.”
Beyond better demonstrating golf’s profound economic clout, WE ARE GOLF will illustrate the industry’s environmental sustainability initiatives, its health and wellness benefits, and its unparalleled charitable giving. First and foremost, the goal of WE ARE GOLF is to get members of Congress to understand golf’s contributions to communities across the country when they’re developing and advancing important legislation — just as all small businesses want. WE ARE GOLF will work to share information, case studies and articles with media, elected officials, regulators and other key constituents so they are better informed on issues of concern. www.WeAreGolf.org, the coalition Web site also launched today, will play an integral role in information and advocacy efforts.
For example, WeAreGolf.org will introduce policymakers to the true “faces of golf,” the men and women whose quality of life depends on golf; people such as Rafael Barajas, GCSAA certified golf course superintendent at Hacienda Golf Club in La Habra Heights, Calif. At the tender age of 14, Rafael moved with his family from Colima, Mexico to southern California. He was attracted by the beauty and serenity of a local golf course and was fortunate enough to land a position as a member of the golf course management staff, working after school, on weekends and the summer. He steadily advanced, gaining experience as an assistant superintendent, golf course construction superintendent, golf course owner and head superintendent.
With no formal college education, Barajas ultimately achieved the status of certified golf course superintendent at the age of 27. That accomplishment signifies the highest level of professional development for that position and verifies extensive continuing education and job experience. Today, Barajas oversees a staff of 28 on the golf course management staff.
“I am not sure where I would be without the golf industry. I know many other individuals who feel the same way,” Barajas told members of Congress today. “When I moved here, I needed a job. I didn’t want to work indoors. So, I went to a nearby golf course when I was 16 and some 30 years later I am still working on a golf course. That industry has provided me a career and a means to provide a college education for four children.”
The 2 million U.S. jobs generated by the multi-billion-dollar industry (based on 2005 data), and its vast economic reach, are at the core of the coalition’s message. Given the scope and pace of federal government activity and the impact on small businesses, the golf industry believes it can play a vital role as policymakers continue their efforts to boost employment and get the nation’s economy back on track.
“WE ARE GOLF allows our industry to work as one with lawmakers on a wide range of issues that affect small business. We have important insights and experiences to offer, and WE ARE GOLF gives us the platform to offer them,” said PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka. “Today we began a new era in golf’s collaborative dialogue with federal policymakers.”