SCGA and SCGPA Hold First Golf Stakeholders Meeting
March 28, 2022
SEAL BEACH, CA – In March, the SCGA and the Southern California PGA held a critical Golf Stakeholders meeting at Old Ranch CC to discuss golf’s current political standing in the State of California; an urgent conversation prompted by an assembly bill (AB 1910) that seeks to repurpose municipal golf courses into land for affordable housing. A variety of industry professionals were in attendance representing golf associations, golf professionals, course operators, manufacturing companies, and more.
The meeting, led by SCGA Director of Public Affairs, Craig Kessler, provided recent historical context for how golf courses became a direct target of proposed legislation and what the industry can do to mitigate the current threat and to be better prepared for future opposition. Kessler called on the various gathered representatives to commit to joining a unified task force and taking further, deliberate action. SCGA Executive Director, Kevin Heaney delivered similar sentiments to the room stating that, “We must be proactive, not reactive. Reactive doesn’t work.”
SCGA President and SCPGA Chief Operating Officer, Nikki Gatch
At the core of the meeting was an honest acknowledgement that the golf industry must increase its efforts to educate the non-golfing public on the many communal benefits of municipally owned golf courses. These benefits include preserving open space, sequestering carbon, providing wildlife habitat, promoting biodiversity, and even cooling temperatures in times of global warming. This information can change a misinformed narrative and political attacks but only if it reaches the people who need to hear it. Until it does, golf will continue to face legislation seeking to repurpose its courses and reduce its space.
This is why the SCGA and SCPGA invited key players from different genres of golf to the same table. Attendees agreed it’s time for the industry to lead by investing in itself, unifying to protect its future best interests, and working to enhance its value proposition to the 90% of the population that doesn’t play the game.
The current, unprecedented robustness of golf should reflect an equally great prospect of health. However, while more people are playing now than ever before, there are very limited places to accommodate the influx. This current strain on tee sheets would only be exacerbated by losing affordable and accessible public golf courses to AB 1910.
AB 1910 wouldn’t just cost golfers places to play. AB 1910 would cost the public multi-use open spaces that promote so much good in their communities. The gathered stakeholders believe it is incumbent upon the industry to make sure the public knows that.
Los Angeles County Senior Golf Director and SCGA Board Member, Jorge Badel
Kessler said that the best war golf can fight is the war it doesn’t have to fight at all. If golf succeeds on informing the public to the wide variety of shared benefits that a golf course brings to their community—it might not have to fight this war anymore.
SCPGA Executive Director Tom Addis III informed the Stakeholders that a task force had already been created to address the pressing needs identified in the meeting.