SCGA Public Affairs


Thursday, August 25, 2022

Water has been the subject of myriad forums and symposiums over the years. It is a staple of GCSAA Chapter meetings. It is the subject of multiple research and academic studies. University and college “Field Days” are dedicated to it. Magazine articles about it abound. And for good reason. Mother Nature may provide enough of it in much of the nation, but irrigation is the lifeblood of the game in California and the Southwest.

For much of the region that irrigation is dependent upon imports; local supplies don’t suffice. And with both main sources of those imports – California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack and the Colorado River Basin – producing less precipitation, that less precipitation coming more in the form of rain instead of snow and that less snow yielding less runoff for transportation to the population centers, it’s clear that instead of dealing with periodic drought, we may well be dealing with permanent drought.

With all of that in mind, the game’s alphabet soup of leadership organizations determined that the time had come to combine forces to produce something more comprehensive than another focused forum or symposium. They decided to produce something genuinely meriting the appellation, “summit” – less educational conference than blueprint for golf continuing to be a robust part of California’s recreational tapestry.

Some might call that an existential challenge. And they’d be right. As much as golf has done to reduce its potable water footprint, it must do that much more to remain viable in this land of permanent drought.

Click here to be taken to a set of pages on the SCGA website that links you to everything you need to know about what transpired at Los Serranos GC in Chino Hills last Thursday, including all the presentations from a very eclectic group of speakers that addressed an equally eclectic audience of 220 persons from water districts/public utilities, golf leadership organizations, golf course superintendents, PGA golf professionals, general managers, and industry leaders.

Again, click here to access everything.

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While Southern California’s allied golf community was putting on the Golf & Water Summit, the City of Los Angeles’ Board of Recreation & Park Commissioners approved a staff recommendation to completely revamp the way that city’s golf enterprise fund dedicates funds to ensure that the system can continually fund the expensive infrastructure projects that are critical to the long-term sustainability of all golf courses. In short, that co-terminus action transferred enough money from extant operational accounts to create a $17 million reserve fund that will be added to every day moving forward by contributing 10% of gross greens fees, cart rental fees, and driving range receipts thereto. Those of you familiar with how big governments operate understand that last week's action was the result of not only years of effort, but a sequence of efforts that had to be made to happen before this final piece could be put into place and a sequence of efforts only made possible by an even earlier sequence of efforts to give golfers, golf clubs, and golf interests institutionalized seats of influence within Los Angeles’ Recreation & Park Department.

There’s more to this story, and we could author an instructive book about it, but we’ll save that level of detail for another day and time. Nonetheless, it’s precisely “that level of detail” that spells the difference between success and failure in these kinds of things. And by “these kinds of things,” we mean those much harder things of creating sustainability predicated not upon charity or one-off efforts, but sustainability as a function of how a municipal system operates on a day-to-day basis – a systemic solution capable of functioning without further intervention. It’s the opposite of the “bright shiny object” syndrome that affects not just golf, but so many other things. It just seems to be central to human nature to favor the grandiose over the mundane, even though it’s almost always the mundane that provides the much greater benefit to the much greater number.

We work these kinds of things patiently and painstakingly behind the scenes every day. Breakthroughs like last week’s Los Angeles action (it passed with great praise from the Commissioners) aren’t breakthroughs so much as culminations of months of work if you’re lucky and years of work otherwise. This one took some years. It always does when you must convince persons with control of millions of dollars to relinquish that control in favor of where you think that control ought to be reposed.

Last week’s golf & water summit will get the headlines, as it should; water is front and center on golf’s plate in Southern California and by partnering with the Southern California Metropolitan Water District, attracting water officials from throughout the region, and packing the room with 200 plus persons many of whom were policymakers, this summit hit every mark it intended when its planners first scoped it out. But last week’s action in Los Angeles was just as important for the long-term health of public golf in California’s largest city and the nation’s largest golf market.

Click here to read that approved staff recommendation. It’s an instructive read; we highly recommend it. With it, the City of Los Angeles joins similarly situated municipal programs in the Southern California market that have long set aside 10-15% of gross revenues into the capital reserve accounts.

It is true that municipal systems in population rich, weather blessed areas like Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties have certain advantages that many places in the nation as well as other areas of California do not have with respect to net revenue generation. But that doesn’t obviate their need to develop mechanisms capable of some degree of infrastructure replenishment – mechanisms that may not be as robust but are capable of at least performing that minimum measure of capital reinvestment required to remain competitive in their respective markets.

Archived Updates

Opposition to Assembly Bill 1910

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CGCOA Golf is Good Ambassador Program

Are you interested in becoming an advocate for golf in California? The CGCOA is seeking amateur golfers who are passionate about protecting the game of golf and promoting public policies that enable golf to flourish in California. Take the next step to becoming an advocate for golf by completing the attached Golf is Good Ambassador Application.

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FORE - Public Affairs

FORE - The magazine of the SCGA. Find archived Public Affairs articles on the website of the SCGA's award winning quarterly publication.

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Charles Dickens’ famous opening of “A Tale of Two Cities” comes to mind as a good descriptor of where California’s water situation and golf’s place in it stands after back-to-back record precipitation years: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...".

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Four Los Angeles City Council members introduced a motion yesterday that seeks to crack down on what the motion describes as “black-market tee time brokers” who book and resell city golf course tee times for profit.

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When introduced by Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) February 16, AB 3192 contained a provision that would have banned the use of all nonorganic pesticides and fertilizers on golf resorts in California’s Coastal Zone.

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A cautionary tale from semi-rural Santa Barbara County to remind you that the pressure to repurpose golf courses is not just a phenomenon in California’s densely packed urban cores.

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The National Golf Course Owners Association’s (NGCOA) Harvey Silverman may have characterized the City of Los Angeles’ uncommonly quick reaction to intense media scrutiny (five separate Los Angeles Times stories including a Sunday lead editorial) of the depredations of tee time brokering with his quip in the organization’s “Golf Business Weekly” about the city having reacted “faster than fixing potholes.”

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Every year there seems to be one bill filed in one house of the California Legislature that keeps the California golf community up at night.

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Here's the difference this last week made, and it’s a difference not just in terms of the alacrity with which we can expect the major municipal golf systems to begin implementing mitigations, but also in terms of what the week means in terms of disabusing all notions of golf somehow being underutilized and golfers not as passionate about the object of their affection as others are about theirs.

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