GCSAA’s Grassroots Ambassador Program nears 10 years

The Grassroots Ambassador Program helps GCSAA members advocate on behalf of the golf course management industry.


GCSAA members meeting with legislators during National Golf Day 2023
The GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador program, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, helps GCSAA members become stronger advocates for the golf course industry by speaking with legislators at the local, state and federal levels. Photo courtesy of Soapbox Consulting

Editor's note: National Golf Day is May 7-10. GCM is covering GCSAA's involvement in the event with stories all week long. To keep up with our complete coverage, click here.

This July, the GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador program celebrates its 10th anniversary. The program was created to promote, protect and defend the golf course management industry by providing an avenue for golf course management professionals to share their stories with members of Congress and shine a positive light on an often-misunderstood industry. Sharing their experiences enhances the future of the game and aids the industry professionals who are essential to golf’s success.

Since its inception in 2014, the program has connected GCSAA members with members of Congress to build strong working relationships and, in turn, improve federal policies impacting the industry. The program has successfully established a network of committed volunteers to serve as “go-to” advocates for lawmakers and their staffs on golf course management issues. GCSAA provides all the tools and training needed to become an effective advocate for the golf course management industry.

The relationships forged through the Grassroots Ambassador program have created unique opportunities for lawmakers to visit and tour various golf courses and see first-hand how golf course superintendents are serving as environmental stewards. Many of the tours have focused on how GCSAA’s best management practices (BMPs) are implemented in course care and the difference BMPs make when it comes to the sustainability of golf.

“Success in advocacy so often comes down to personal relationships. Lawmakers rely on constituents they know and trust to provide expertise and information on topics of the day, especially environmental topics, and that is how we want to position GCSAA’s grassroots ambassadors ­– as trusted individuals within every congressional district across the U.S.” Michael Lee, GCSAA’s senior manager of government affairs, says.

The Grassroots Ambassador program has also communicated GCSAA’s Priority Issues Agenda with lawmakers by establishing a dialogue with congressional members. Those conversations help improve the golf course management industry by enabling ambassadors to advocate for policies that benefit the future of the profession and the game. From labor issues to water use and conservation, GCSAA Grassroots Ambassadors are committed to educating congressional members on GCSAA’s behalf to promote the values of turfgrass and professionally managed landscapes.

With more than 525 participants, the Grassroots Ambassador program spans 413 congressional districts across the country. However, that leaves 122 congressional districts without an ambassador. Filling the Grassroots Ambassador positions of every congressional district helps GCSAA expand its advocacy network.

“Our ambassadors are doing great work, but we always need more voices, which is why it is so critical for GCSAA members who care about the future of the industry to join the program and get engaged,” Lee says.

In 2023, the program passed 500 ambassadors and was expanded to include more than one ambassador per district, so even if your congressional district is already represented and you have an interest in advocacy, you are still encouraged to join. Any GCSAA member who recruits a new ambassador to fill an open spot receives a $50 gift card.

GCSAA members interested in becoming a Grassroots Ambassador should contact Michael Lee, senior manager, government affairs, at 800-472-7878, ext. 3612, for more information. Terms begin on a quarterly basis in the months of January, April, July and October. To learn more about the program, visit www.gcsaa.org/advocacy/get-involved/ambassadors.

Kelsey Underwood is a communications specialist at GCSAA.