Golf participation is up 30% and holding, even as competing recreational and entertainment activities reenter our lives. Nothing to worry about – other than getting that precious tee time; right?
Not so fast. The game may be booming, but threats are looming. No threat greater than a bill filed in the California Assembly this year (AB 672) that proposes to remove all of California’s municipal golf courses (22% of golf courses in the state) from the protections of the Parkland Preservation Act, along with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemptions and zoning short-cuts, all in an effort to fast track them into housing tracts. Were that bill become law, your favorite course could be forced to close it’s doors forever, not to mention it would be that much harder and more expensive to get that precious tee time at the courses that remain. Something about steady demand in search of limited supply the economists tell us.
But AB 672 is hardly the only threat. The thinking behind that bill – that golf courses don’t merit the acreage it uses in the same way as other recreational and open space activities (e.g., soccer, baseball, football, hiking, biking, trails, equestrian, tennis, pickleball, land trusts/conservancies) – has found its way into various one-off public golf course closure efforts in recent years (e.g., Mile Square, Willowick, Mission Bay, Links @ Victoria, Eaton Canyon, Marshall Canyon, Arcadia 3-par, Pico Rivera – a partial list).
The good news is, thanks to leadership from organizations like the SCGA and golfers throughout the state making their voices heard, AB 672 died in committee in the 2021 legislative session. In almost every municipal closure case something much less than closure has been the final result – in some cases 100% preservation, in others partial preservation, but in no case zero preservation.
The better news is that among SCGA’s membership services is a robust Governmental Affairs Department that devotes 100% attention to bills like AB 672 and various closure efforts, making the public policy case for the value golf courses bring to the communities in which they reside and the residents who live in those communities – the recreational, financial, aesthetic, environmental, and social benefits. The SCGA’s undisputed leadership in this space doesn’t just produce good arguments; it produces wins for golf. Wins for its members to be sure, but also wins for all who play and love the game.
However, AB 672 goes live again in January 2022, more closure schemes are in the offing, and the thinking underlying both threatens to spawn more bad news for those who love and play golf in Southern California. When that time comes, golfers everywhere will be called up to protect the game we love. You can stand assured that SCGA will be right there alongside you in the middle of every one of these battles, fighting the good fight, and more often than not, winning.
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