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/images/congress_ngcoa.jpgNGCOA, Allied Organizations Bring Awareness Of Game’s Economic, Social Impact to Washington During Inaugural National Golf Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 18, 2008) – The golf industry brought its case for respect and fair play to the nation’s capital on Wednesday and left convinced its message got through loud and clear to lawmakers during the inaugural National Golf Day.

“It was an incredible first step forward to bring awareness of the golf industry’s impact on our nation’s economy and value to so many communities,” NGCOA president Charlie Birney said after a day of press conferences and meetings with congressional leaders and their staffs. 

A bipartisan Congressional resolution sponsored by U.S. Representatives Ron Klein (D-FL) and John Mica (R-FL) declared April 16, 2008 as National Golf Day.

Birney and other NGCOA officials, including CEO Mike Hughes, joined representatives from the industry’s leading allied associations to bring attention to golf’s economic, environmental and philanthropic contributions. Along with the NGCOA, The PGA of America, PGA Tour, USGA, LPGA, GCSAA, CMAA, the Golf Course Builders Assoc., the American Society of Golf Course Architects, The First Tee and the World Golf Foundation were represented.

Birney said the goal of strengthening relationships with lawmakers and underscoring golf’s impact on local, regional and national levels was clearly achieved. “All of these organizations in the same room, speaking with one voice, created a very powerful message.”

The need for a special event to focus attention on the golf industry grew out of a tax relief measure passed by Congress in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “Golf courses in the hardest hit regions sustained significant losses and large numbers of people lost their jobs as a result. But when Congress excluded golf in the relief package, it was obvious that it did not understand the connection our industry has to the economic vitality of local communities and to regional and national tourism. National Golf Day is about making sure that never happens again,” the NGCOA’s Hughes said.

The first National Golf Day was the start of what must become on ongoing effort, Birney noted. “This is a process that we are overdue in starting, but one that will be well rewarded,” said the managing director of The Brick Companies, an Edgewater, Md.-based firm that owns, develops and manages commercial, residential and recreational properties, including the three golf courses that make up the company’s Atlantic Golf division. “But when we talk about golf’s economic impact and the number of jobs it creates, we get Washington’s attention.”

Among the information golf leaders shared with lawmakers were findings from the 2005 Golf Economy Report (conducted by Stanford Research International and released earlier this year) that showed golf provides some 2 million jobs and generates $76 billion in direct economic impact, including $3.5 billion in charitable contributions.

Those numbers make golf “bigger than the motion picture industry, bigger than the newspaper publishing industry, bigger than all of the spectator sports, professional sports and semi-pro sports combined,” said Joe Steranka, CEO of the PGA of America.

In addition to the collective argument golf’s leadership brought to Capitol Hill, Hughes suggested that course owners and operators start their own lobbying efforts. “People want to know what they can do,” Hughes said. “I tell them to write their senators and representatives. Tell them about the recreational opportunity your course makes available for citizens in your community; tell them how golf supports travel, tourism and construction and how it creates jobs across the entire wage scale.”

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