SCGA Public Affairs


Friday, November 19, 2021

Immediately after Assembly Member Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) amended what we are now calling the “Public Golf Endangerment Act” to transform it from a politically clumsy bill into what we immediately termed a much more politically palatable and thus saleable bill, the gist of which became the addition of $50 million in financial incentives to chop 22% of the state’s golf stock into housing, SCGA informed its 185,000 members of that fact – something we have continued to do in the 60 days since through various different communication portals, all in an attempt to set the stage for engaging rank-and-file golfers to find it in their personal interest to let their legislators know what they think of singling golf and ONLY golf out among the state’s myriad open space/recreational activities for chopping up into housing tracts. No other parks, not other athletic fields, not trail systems, not land conservancies, not other traditional outdoor activities – just public golf courses – a legislative finding that golf is not worthy of the land upon which it conducts its activity, an activity that just happens to be up 30% in the last 2 years, a claim few other sports can make – a finding that would put golf’s blood in the political waters in ways that would inevitably lead to attacks on the sectors that comprise the rest of the 78% of the game in California – i.e., daily fee, resort, non-equity, and equity club.

Based on what we have heard from SCGA’s member clubs and the various allied associations and organizations that comprise the California Alliance for Golf (CAG), that stage has been amply set. Starting December 6, the SCGA will commence an outreach program calculated to be as sustained as it is broad in terms of making it as seamless and easy as possible for rank-and-file golfers to make their opinion of this “Golf Endangerment Act” known to those who will decide the Act’s fate.

Click here to get a flavor of what that “program” envisages.

SCGA is confident that most if not all of California’s other major golf organizations (amateur and professional) will be joining us in their own versions of a similar outreach program.


SCGA has long preached the central role the municipal golf sector has played in the growth and the sustenance of the game. It may only be 22% of California’s golf stock, but it represents roughly 45% of the total golf played each year in the state and is the site of roughly 90% of the myriad junior, school, and developmental programs the game has invested so much money in and placed so many hopes re diversification of the game. It’s tough to grow a game if there aren’t places to grow it. It’s even tougher to diversify it if the very places where that diversification is most compelling no longer exist.

Our preaching has not been falling on deaf ears. Large national institutions are never quick to respond, but they have been responding. National Links Trust (NLT), which is in the process of reinvigorating the three (3) municipal golf courses in Washington D.C., conducted a municipal golf symposium a couple of weeks ago. Among the key presenters/speakers were PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh and USGA Director of Transformational Initiatives Dave Aznavorian. Both issued comments that demonstrated an understanding of municipal golf’s role in sync with SCGA’s preaching. Aznavorian’s comments, which opened the symposium, were particularly compelling – compelling and encouraging.

We invite you to click here to listen.

It will be well worth your time. It presages the work of a task force that is on track to complete its work by end of year – “work” that we’ll be reporting on extensively once it is finished and digested by the USGA and turned into actionable items that we think hold great promise for the game on a national level.


No “update” would be complete without some mention of the subject. Today’s mention will be brief, but we think impactful.

It’s tempting to get your hackles up a bit at the constant fusillade of media reportage about Southern Californians’ failure to respond to the Governor’s call for 15% voluntary water savings with no more than savings of 4-6%. Tempting because what those reports always seem to fail to point out is that Southern Californians are saving 4-6% off of last year’s usage, which was off 16% from pre-2016 usage patterns. Tempting because what is always left out in these stories is the fact that Los Angeles’ 4 million residents use less total water (that’s total not per capita) today than Los Angeles’ 2.8 million residents used in 1970. Also left out is the fact that the state’s two largest cities (Los Angeles and San Diego) have invested billions of their ratepayers’ and taxpayers’ dollars to develop local sources of water to displace reliance upon imports – e.g., storm water capture, aquifer recharge, potable and non-potable reuse, and desalination.

It’s particularly tempting for the golf community to get a bit miffed, because our story re water conservation is pretty much the same story of remarkable progress.

But after you get miffed – everyone is entitled to a moment of pique now and then – sober up and recognize that as solid as those conservation records are, this is not a moral play. These stories are not about admonishment. They are about coping with the reality that a conservation trajectory that might have sufficed had conditions remained static no longer suffice under atmospheric conditions that are hotter and drier than just a handful of years ago.

California is on the verge of having to give up some of its water from the Colorado River, because the Colorado Basin snowpack just doesn’t yield the runoff that it once did. The same holds for the Sierra Nevada; hotter and drier conditions now yield much less runoff than the same amount of precipitation did just a few years ago. It will be some years before those new storage techniques referenced above begin yielding fruits.

So, absolutely yes; golf should take great pride in what the industry has been able to achieve in terms of water footprint reduction, as should Southern California residents and small businesses. But at the same time, it doesn’t behoove the game to rest on that laurel, but rather point to it to give both ourselves and the non-golf community confidence in our capacity to use that record as a springboard to achieving just that much more just that much faster in an effort to maintain the great societal, environmental, and recreation benefits golf brings to every community it touches.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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