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2009 NGCOA Annual Conference

NGCOA CEO Delivers State of the Association

In his annual address to association members on Thursday morning, Mike Hughes borrowed a line from Charles Dickens’ classic novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” to describe the NGCOA’s performance in 2008: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

“Last year was a challenging period for everyone in the golf industry,” said Hughes, CEO of the NGCOA. “Many, if not most, of you in this room probably felt like you were on a roller coaster, with your businesses experiencing some high points in the early part of last season before heading into some low points during the closing months. It was no different for the NGCOA.”

Despite a tough economic climate, Hughes noted that “what made the game great continues to make the game great” and that “the fundamentals for a solid business are still in place.”

To underscore his last point, Hughes posed a simple, albeit rhetorical, question to the golf course owners and operators who gathered to hear him deliver his state of the association message: “What has lasted more than 400 years, survived the One Hundred Years’ War in France, a Civil War in the United States, two World Wars, a Great Depression, numerous recessions, and all manner of manmade and natural calamities?”

The answer, of course, is golf. “Golf has not only survived all that adversity, but has continued to grow and prosper,” Hughes noted. “As a business, it has evolved into a force with a total economic impact of $76 billion in the U.S. alone. I have no doubt that golf will survive the latest economic downturn and continue to grow for at least another 400 years.”

As for the recent past and immediate future of the NGCOA, Hughes pointed to the new “Get Golf Ready In 5 Days” player development initiative, NGCOA purchasing programs and National Golf Day as the association’s highlights in 2008.

“Get Golf Ready,” which was developed by a consortium of golf’s allied organizations with input from manufacturers, is designed to bring adults into the game through a series of five introductory lessons in informal, small-group environments. Beginning in 2009, “Get Golf Ready” programs will be offered at several hundred golf facilities around the U.S., with a goal of having 3,000 facilities offering the program by the end of 2011.

In 2007, NGCOA purchasing programs were the source of more than $400 in rebates for every participating member. Collectively, the programs delivered more than $500,000 worth of discounts and value-added services. “That’s real savings and welcomed support in this economic climate,” Hughes noted.

Observed in April for the first time, National Golf Day focused attention on 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 Association, the American Society of Golf Course Architects, The First Tee and the World Golf Foundation were represented in Washington for the event.

“With any luck, legislators will one day recognize the significant role golf plays in the national economy and never again exclude golf facilities from tax relief afforded other businesses,” Hughes said.

Indeed, if Hughes’ message carried any unifying theme, it was one of hope. “In time, we will look back on the latter part of 2008 and early 2009 as a serious downturn, but one we survived and managed our way through, emerging stronger for the experience. That should be our goal: to control what is in our ability to control and make decisions based not only on the need to address today’s challenges, but also to position ourselves and our businesses to accelerate growth once the pendulum swings back in our favor.”


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