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Golf advocacy plans and priorities for the year ahead

New opportunities to engage in golf advocacy are on the horizon in 2018, alongside some returning, revamped initiatives.


GCSAA government affairs team
GCSAA’s government affairs team at National Golf Day 2017 in Washington, D.C. (from left): Bob Helland, Chava McKeel and Michael Lee. Photo courtesy of Chava McKeel

Happy New Year from the GCSAA government affairs team! Last year flew by, and we’re now focused on rolling out several new initiatives in 2018 that will help us get the association’s voice heard.

The GCSAA Board of Directors officially approved a political action committee last fall. We soft-launched the GCSAAPAC at the Chapter Delegates Meeting in November, and have since secured a five-person board to administer the GCSAAPAC over the coming year. Our goal is to raise $15,000 this first year. The GCSAAPAC will bring full circle the integration of our direct and grassroots lobbying efforts.

Speaking of our grassroots lobbying efforts, important progress is to come in 2018 on issues we care about. The Trump administration will likely unveil two proposed rules: one that will establish a new definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, and another rule that will create a new overtime pay salary threshold. We’ll weigh in with public comment on both rules when they’re published.

The government affairs team is excited to put an emphasis on chapter effectiveness in advocacy in 2018. We have plans to build a menu of advocacy best management practices for our 99 affiliated chapters to help each have a louder voice at the local and state levels of government. We’ll also assist chapter executives and boards in networking with each other on advocacy matters.

The 11th National Golf Day event in Washington, D.C., will be April 24-25. For the second year, we’ll do a community service project on the National Mall, and we’ll be extending it further down the Mall this year, with new turf restoration projects and an edging challenge with GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans. We’ve also added a keynote speaker, a congressional reception at the Capitol Visitor Center, and a pep rally on Capitol Hill. Registration for this hallmark event is now open on the We Are Golf website.

The Grassroots Ambassador program made great strides in 2017, with 78 new ambassadors joining, bringing the total number to well over 300. Many members of Congress were reached at the district level, thanks to the efforts of these volunteer advocates. There is always more work to be done, however, and in 2018, we plan to introduce new incentives, tools and experiences to take the Grassroots Ambassador program from good to great.

On-demand advocacy training and curriculum was recently unveiled on, designed by Advocacy Associates, sponsored by Bayer, and tailored to superintendents by the GCSAA government affairs team. This new resource, which provides both basic and advanced education in a concise, user-friendly format, features instructional videos accompanied by reading material and worksheets that take advocates step by step through the process of engaging lawmakers. Ambassadors will learn how to interact with congressional staff, develop a message that resonates, host a site visit, and more.

An initiative in the works for 2018 is the Ambassador Mentorship program. Getting started in advocacy can be difficult, and new ambassadors often wonder, “Who should I contact, and how?” “What should I say?” “How can I get my representative’s attention?” One of the best ways to ease into advocacy engagement is through peer-to-peer storytelling and strategy sharing. Through the mentorship program, new ambassadors will be paired with a veteran ambassador in their state who has had success in advocacy and can provide coaching and suggestions.

Additionally, plans are underway to relaunch the GCSAA Advocacy Network in early 2018. While the Grassroots Ambassador program limits participation to Class A, B and C members and focuses on relationship building with lawmakers, the Advocacy Network is open to all GCSAA members and brings together the collective voice of the golf course maintenance profession through participation in call campaigns, letter-writing and petition drives, and action alert pushes. Be it concerns over water use, inputs, or labor and workforce development, our industry has many topics to discuss with lawmakers, and many avenues for bringing our concerns to their attention. For those who are part of the Advocacy Network, we’ll gather information from you on which issues matter most to you and in which ways you’re most comfortable taking action. We’ll collect your preferences through a survey and build advocacy teams based on that feedback. This is an ambitious undertaking, but one we’re confident will strengthen the golf industry’s voice going forward.

Visit the Advocacy section of for much more information on the GCSAAPAC, Grassroots Ambassador program, and any of the other initiatives mentioned here.

GCSAA’s government affairs team is Chava McKeel, director; Bob Helland, director of congressional and federal affairs; and Michael Lee, manager.

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