California Alliance for Golf honored by GCSAA for advocacy efforts

The coalition brings together different sectors of California’s golf industry to protect and promote the game as a unified entity.


California Alliance for Golf GCSAA
Members of the California Alliance for Golf gather at the California State Assembly in Sacramento, Calif., in March 2019. Photo courtesy of Jim Ferrin

The California Alliance for Golf (CAG) has won the 2021 Excellence in Government Affairs Award from GCSAA for its productive and ongoing efforts in advocating for the golf course management profession. GCSAA annually recognizes a chapter, coalition or superintendent for outstanding advocacy or compliance efforts in government affairs.

CAG is a nonprofit corporation that serves as a unified voice for its members in front of various legislative and regulatory bodies that affect their common interests in the game and industry of golf. The alliance was initially formed to deal almost exclusively with water issues, and it later grew to address additional environmental matters. CAG is involved with legislative and regulatory issues at local, regional and national levels of government.

The alliance is governed by a board that includes the state’s amateur golf associations, PGA sections, GCSAA chapters, the California chapter of the National Golf Course Owners Association, and others within the California golf industry. CAG is further supported by a legislative committee that elicits the participation of additional leaders in the California golf community.

In the past decade, CAG collaborated with California’s Department of Water Resources to create a golf-separate chapter of the state’s Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance. Working with the state’s largest water provider, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, CAG developed a protocol to allow golf courses to maintain absolute control of their irrigation regimens during various stages of drought, and it retained a lobbying firm to give the golf community an ongoing presence in the capitol and quick access to legislators. CAG has helped reduce the industry’s water footprint and greatly contributed to a more positive perception of the game of golf.

In the 2019-2020 session, CAG has developed a provision of substantial relief in the legislature’s codification of new law for independent contracting for PGA golf professionals who desire to continue working as independent contractors instead of employees. CAG also developed a comprehensive white paper regarding the impact of envisioned changes to the state’s property tax structure on four varieties of golf course property. The report provides accurate, unbiased information to help stakeholders make informed decisions.

“The allied associations that make up the California Alliance for Golf have worked together for years to combine their separate interests and constituencies into a coherent whole, capable of representing the statewide golf industry with one voice, with one message and one mission, all focused on what’s best for the game, industry, and especially those like golf superintendents who labor in it,” says Jim Ferrin, CGCS, vice president of CAG. Ferrin is a 36-year GCSAA member and is the superintendent at Timber Creek Golf Course in Roseville, Calif.

CAG played a significant role during the COVID-19 pandemic in restoring golf activities to California residents during the early stages of easing restrictions. The alliance worked statewide and with individual counties to make the case for golf to be the first outdoor activity reinstated and sustained. A unison effort between various counties and CAG resulted in the development of county-specific Back2Golf protocols capable of meeting political muster in their locales. CAG lobbied for updates and amendments to the original health orders that restored the game as circumstances changed and permitted.

“GCSAA is fortunate to have the California Alliance for Golf advocating at all levels of government for the game, which helps golf course managers use best practices,” says Rhett Evans, GCSAA CEO. “Their advocacy efforts advance the game and help bring golf to the front of legislative priorities. I thank them for their positive impact on the game and congratulate them on this well-deserved honor.”

CAG will be formally recognized Feb. 2 at the 2021 virtual Golf Industry Show. The organization will also be featured in an upcoming issue of GCSAA’s official monthly publication, Golf Course Management magazine.

“Together, we have advanced the cause in what are probably the roughest political waters in the nation. We are honored by GCSAA’s recognition,” Ferrin says.

Nominees for the Excellence in Government Affairs Award were judged by the GCSAA Government Affairs Committee based on how their efforts best serve the interests of the golf course superintendent profession and the golf course management industry.

View the complete list of past GCSAA Excellence in Government Affairs Award winners.