We Are Golf seeks relief for devastated courses

Joe Steranka, CEO of the PGA of America, is interviewed during a press conference prior to the start of the 92nd PGA Championship.

Joe Steranka, CEO of the PGA of America, is interviewed during a press conference prior to the start of the 92nd PGA Championship.

With Congress contemplating federal tax relief for businesses devastated by natural disasters this year, the golf industry is launching a grassroots campaign to ensure that it receives a share.

We Are Golf, the game’s lobbying initiative, is urging golf supporters and industry professionals to contact their congressional leaders to support legislation introduced by Rep. Spencer Bachus and Sen. Richard Shelby, both Republicans from Alabama.

Most importantly, We Are Golf is seeking golf’s inclusion in the bill, which calls for providing temporary tax relief to businesses ravaged by various storms. The golf industry organized We Are Golf after a similar relief bill, passed in the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, excluded golf – along with massage parlors, tanning salons and liquor stores – from receiving such aid.

The latest bill mirrors existing legislation such as the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005. Without a revision, it again would exclude golf courses and related businesses from federal aid. Golf facilities in the Southeast and Midwest have been hardest hit.

Many of golf’s leading organizations already have contacted Congress. A jointly drafted letter from such groups states that golf is “a $76 billion industry nationwide. It’s time to level the playing field and repeal a provision that never made sense in the first place. Let’s give back the recovery advantage that small golf course owners were so unfairly and illogically denied.

“In coming weeks, members of Congress will be hearing from constituents – course owners, operators, employees – reiterating this request that their small business have access to the same disaster relief afforded others. We hope you will hear them out – because for millions of Americans, golf is more than just a game.”

The letter is signed by: Rhett Evans, CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America; Michael Hughes, CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association; Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation; Jim Singerling, CEO of the Club Managers Association of America; and Joe Steranka, CEO of the PGA of America.

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