Coalition touts golf’s impact before Congress

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.

Calling We Are Golf’s Capitol Hill presentation a “data overload” may be a stretch, but only by a little bit.

Suffice to say, the delegation of golf industry ambassadors who trekked last week to Washington for a meeting with congressional leaders wanted to be well prepared to make their case: The business of golf contributes to our nation’s welfare in myriad ways.

What began five years ago as an urgent effort to address legislators – who had omitted the golf industry from receiving benefits under federal relief bills – now has become a continuing-education session to keep golf’s contributions “top of mind.” Among them: generating jobs and tax revenue; promoting tourism; making charitable contribution and providing environmental leadership.

Over the years, We Are Golf routinely has underscored golf’s economic clout: At $76 billion, it’s bigger than the motion picture industry. And it’s a major employment engine for several states, including Florida and California, which boast 167,000 and 160,000 people in the golf workforce, respectively. Nationwide, nearly 2 million jobs are attributable to golf business.

In addition to its economic impact, We Are Golf made a point at this year’s “National Golf Day” to emphasize the industry’s progress on the environmental front and its “green” contributions:

• 65 percent of golf courses in the United States have upgraded their irrigation systems in the past 10 years.

• Fewer than 15 percent use municipal water supplies.

• Golf courses account for 2,020,060 acres of green space in the U.S.

• Nearly 6 billion tons of soil erode each year, costing $6 to $16 billion. Turfgrass prevents erosion by binding soil through its network of roots.

• 2,500 square feet of turfgrass releases enough oxygen for a family of four to breathe.

This year’s participating organizations included: PGA of America, World Golf Foundation, Club Managers Association of America, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and National Golf Course Owners Association.

Said Joe Steranka, chief executive of the PGA of America and board chairman for We Are Golf: “(The coalition) was formed because it had become clear golf was misunderstood by too many of our nation’s policymakers. Long-standing perceptions of the game simply didn’t square with the facts. We set out to do a better job explaining the profound impact on communities around the country. By showcasing that impact, we are aiming to level the playing field for the thousands of small businesses that make up our industry and their employees.”

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