SCGA Public Affairs


Thursday, December 15, 2022

As we suggested a few months ago, it was not a matter of whether but only of when the Metropolitan Water District’s (MWD) emergency drought order would be extended beyond the original 6 million state water project dependent customers that have been under severe restrictions since June 1 to the 13 million MWD customers with access to imports from both the state water project and the Colorado River Basin.

That hammer fell yesterday. Now, all 19 million of those whose water retailers make purchases from the MWD are under the same mandate as the 6 million in Ventura and Los Angeles County (primarily Los Angeles Water & Power) that have been under restrictions since the summer. For now, the call for conservation for the 13 million newly affected is voluntary. However, the MWD made clear that if drought conditions persist through the 1st three months of 2023, that call would become mandatory along with fines for those districts and providers that fail to meet specified conservation goals.

From the golf communities that have been under serious mandatory restrictions since June 1 to the newly affected golf communities: Golf is sufficiently resilient to thrive under the Level 3 and 4 drought declarations that have been called to meet those “serious restrictions.” Where we need to keep fingers crossed involves just how much precipitation, particularly in the form of snow, the Sierra Nevada and Colorado Basin receive the first 4 months of 2023. A 4th straight year of severe drought, and those drought declarations move from Levels 3 and 4 to Levels 5 and 6. For the most part, that means golf course irrigation becomes tees and greens and nothing in between.


The Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) may not be a customer/member of the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), but it and the 100 + golf courses in its service area are very much dependent upon the same Colorado River Basin that just caused MWD to extend its drought emergency to all of its 19 million customers. Thus, the timing for a 3rd golf & water summit in the Coachella Valley could not have been better.

January 11 at Mission Hills CC in Rancho Mirage the Hi-Lo Chapter GCSAA, USGA Green Section, Desert Chapter PGA, CVWD Golf & Water Task Force, and SCGA will conduct not so much a traditional “golf & water summit,” but rather a very desert specific half-day session focused on a water supply situation affected by the drying up of the Colorado Basin and the consequent need for the desert water agencies to cede what has long been a very generous allocation. Given the direct connection between raw water draws off the Colorado River and the 120 golf courses in the region, this will be the 1st time in recent memory that the desert golf community will be substantively affected by curtailments as opposed to politically affected by others’ curtailments.

Peter Nelson and Dr. Robert Cheng are the featured speakers. Peter Nelson is in his 22nd year of consecutive service on the CVWD Board of Directors and a long-time member of the Colorado River Board and the California Farm Water Coalition. Dr. Robert Cheng is Assistant Director of CVWD, where he serves as that water district’s chief negotiator with the other agencies in the Colorado River Compact. Both can present with great authority regarding exactly where the Coachella Valley region stands regarding water supply and exactly what this portends for the largest concentration of golf courses not just in California, but the nation.

Dr. Jim Baird (UC Riverside) will bring the desert golf community up to date regarding some of the new drought tolerant Bermuda strains ready to hit the market in late 2023/early 2024 along with other research projects/trials of desert specific interest.

Brian Whitlark and Dr. Matteo Serena (USGA Green Section) will make a joint presentation regarding new technologies, products, and practices capable of assisting desert golf courses further reduce water consumption.

The main message of the two previous “golf & water summits” (August 18 in Chino Hills and December 7 in Walnut Creek) involved the game’s deep commitment to parlaying a solid record in water footprint reduction over the last 20 years into an even much more impressive record the next 20 years – a foundation upon which both golf and non-golf communities can credibly repose confidence in the game’s ability to thrive in a severely water curtailed environment.

The message of the Coachella Valley mini summit is more about communicating to a golf community that has long relied upon the beneficence of an incredibly fecund aquifer and a generous allotment from the Colorado River that the 2nd part of that beneficent equation is about to come to an end. And with that end is sure to come some of the same pressures that golf communities elsewhere in Southern California have been enduring for some time. Those “pressures” promise to be much less onerous than most, but there will be “pressures” nonetheless. And as golf has come to understand on so many fronts in recent years, whenever given the opportunity to get out in front of a problem, take it. Things will go better as a result.

SCGA’s desert club delegates received invitations today. The region’s golf course superintendents, PGA golf professionals, and general managers have also received invitations. Officials from CVWD, local government, and members of the local media will be invited separately.


The final tally in the 47th Assembly District gave Greg Wallis (R-Bermuda Dunes) 87 more votes than Palm Springs Council Member Christy Holstege. Ms. Holstege has conceded the race. The final tally in the one other legislative race not 100% decided yielded a 20-vote margin for Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger), and it remains to be seen whether the Republican in the race will seek a recount. Assuming that no recount is requested, the partisan makeup of the 2023-2024 California legislature looks like this. Assembly – 62 Democrats and 18 Republicans. State Senate – 32 Democrats and 8 Republicans. What this means is that no Republican votes will be necessary to write the 2023-2024 state budget or any of the other decisions requiring a 2/3 approval margin. What it also means is that all legislative committees will be lopsided in favor of Democrats. All statewide offices are held by Democrats.

So far, no bill of great golf-specific consequence such as last year’s AB 672/1910 has been filed. No bills of ancillary consequence like AB 5/2257 or AB 1346 have been filed. That could change once the legislature comes back into active as opposed to special session in January. We’ll be watching, reporting, and if necessary, acting. 2022 was quite a busy year. May 2023 be quieter.

Until then,


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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Not all of the 19th Century rules governing the rhythms of California’s legislative session are without value. The one requiring that bills must sit idle for a minimum of 30 days after filing is one of them. This gives everyone plenty of time to sift through the roughly 2,500 bills that were filed for consideration this session, most of which were filed within 10 days of last Friday’s deadline.

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If you thought that the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act’s (SGMA) addition of yet another layer atop California’s and the Southwest’s already highly layered and complicated water law wasn’t going to result in a bevy of litigation to determine access to the commodity that Mark Twain quipped was “for fighting, not drinking,” you were naïve.

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If you are a Los Angeles area public golfer trying to secure a tee time in a region identified by the National Golf Foundation (NGF) as the lowest concentration of golf per golfer in the Continental United States you have taken note that one of the mainstays you have relied upon for close to 100 years closed a few months ago – the Montebello Golf Course mere yards off the 60 Freeway just a few miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

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January 31 came and went without the seven (7) states that form the Upper and Lower Basins of the Colorado River Compact coming to agreement on how to cede enough of their extant river allocations to meet the federal government’s (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation) short-term 2023-2026 requirements.

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With COVID now behind us, no more bills like AB 1910 in the immediate offing, and the game’s drought response cum coping mechanisms in high gear, we plan to pivot back toward municipal golf in 2023.

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The atmospheric rivers that began pummeling California right after Christmas have produced more than enough snow in the Sierra Nevada and rain everywhere else to provide relief to those parts of the state dependent upon Mother Nature and the State Water Project for the bulk of their water needs – not permanent relief, but a timeout to regroup after the three driest years on record.

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As 2023 opens, there is some good news, some bad news, some interesting news, and some no news to report.

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