The California Alliance for Golf (CAG) is a non-profit mutual benefit corporation composed of the industry’s key organizations and institutions. As defined in its BYLAWS its function is fourfold:
- To identify the public policy interests of the members of the “Alliance” and represent and advocate on behalf of them before the various legislative and regulatory bodies that affect their common interests in the game and the industry of golf;
- To act as an educational clearinghouse and facilitate the exchange of information among the members;
- To distill those common efforts into a set of broadly based themes for positive projection to the community beyond golf’s confines, e.g., the general public, media, business community, non-profits, community/civic organizations, and environmental groups; and
- To take action as the Board of Directors may authorize to protect, defend and further the common interests of the members and the game and industry of golf.
In short, CAG is the advocacy arm of the game in the State of California.
The SCGA is actively engaged in the institution. SCGA Executive Director Kevin Heaney is Secretary. SCGA Director of Governmental Affairs Craig Kessler performs much of the staff work for it.
The most recent meeting of the CAG (June 22) covered a myriad of subjects, the chief one being the ratification of a new set of BYLAWS created to get the institution back on track and back in sync with the expectations of the statewide constituencies that comprise the Alliance.
Three subjects in particular stood out – an update from CAG Sacramento lobbyist Steve Baker, a presentation from California Turfgrass and Landscape Foundation (CTLF) Executive Director Bruce Williams, and a report from San Francisco Public Golf Alliance (SFPGA) co-founder Bo Links.
They all stood out for the same reason. They echoed the root of golf’s problem as it tries to position itself in the public policy arena. That is, when the game was financially healthier, it failed to demonstrate the wisdom and foresight necessary to create the same kind of legislative advocacy presence now enjoyed by virtually every other industry and activity in the state. It must now play catch-up and do so without the ample resources of yesterday.
Steve Baker of Aaron Read & Associates informed the attendees that the Girl Scouts of America have retained a paid Sacramento lobbyist for years – no doubt to deal with the issues surrounding the business related income of non-profit associations, the use of underage independent contractors, the publication of the fat/calorie contents of cookies, and other matters directly related to the organization’s famous fund raising program. The point: Fund raising through cookie sales has been represented in the State Capitol for years, while golf’s multi-billion dollar, environmentally sensitive interests have been represented just these last few years – and not particularly aggressively or comprehensively at that.
Williams described in some detail the ways in which the colleges and universities in Eastern and Midwestern states, particularly public universities, are employed to perform research vital to Turfgrass and landscape industries, while in California, unless the CTLF gains a small measure of traction, golf in California will have practically zero access to the basic research routinely available to its counterparts in other parts of the country.
SFPGA’s Bo Links explained that as much as their organization appreciated the financial contributions of SCGA, SCPGA and NCPGA, without the pro bono efforts of various local law firms whose love for golf trumps common sense, their successful Intervention in the Center for Biological Diversity’s Endangered Species lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco and their thus far successful political efforts to keep the Allister MacKenzie designed Sharp Park Municipal Golf Course open would not be gaining the traction necessary to succeed.
The common thread in all three (3) stories: CAG has a lot of work to do, perhaps the most important component of which is the persuasion of the industry of the acute need to get up to speed with respect to organizing and advocating!
It isn’t going to be easy. The cupboards are not full, and the times aren’t great. But the reconstituted CAG gives the industry the tools it needs to do the job – one step, one day at a time.
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