Community Service Project, First Green launch National Golf Day 2023 festivities

Both events preceded industry advocacy efforts in Washington D.C.


Volunteers lay sod on the National Mall during National Golf Day Community Service Project
Over 220 participants, including GCSAA members, came together for a Community Service Project on the National Mall as part of events surrounding National Golf Day. Photos by Scott Hollister

The golf industry’s present and future came together under a banner of service during two events in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, taking place in conjunction with this week’s National Golf Day.

The Community Service Project on the grounds surrounding the Washington Monument, and a First Green field trip at the historic Langston Golf Course served as the precursor to golf’s annual advocacy event in the nation’s capital on Wednesday, the first in-person event since 2019. Over 220 participants took part in the Community Service Project spearheaded by GCSAA and its members. The First Green event brought 75 students from two different D.C.-area schools — and one Super Bowl MVP — to the golf course.

“Both of these efforts showcase all that is great about our industry, both as it is today and where it’s going in the future,” says GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans. “It was gratifying to see so many of our current GCSAA members and their colleagues from around the industry coming together to improve the grounds of the Washington Monument. And the First Green has proven to be a great introduction to the game of golf for many who might not otherwise learn about the game and the careers it can offer. It was really an awesome day.”

The day started under threatening skies. But at least regarding the race against the rain that eventually fell in the D.C. area on Tuesday, Mother Nature proved no match for the 200-plus strong team on hand for the Community Service Project. Crews tackled jobs ranging from mulching and sodding to the planting of over 1,000 perennial flowers and mowing and seeding a large lawn just north of the monument. They finished them all in just half the time originally allotted, and before the rain began to fall.

James Snell, the turf manager for the National Park Service overseeing the National Mall who worked closely with the team in planning the National Golf Day Community Service Project, says this volunteer effort is one of the largest — and most valuable — that he and the National Park Service work with each year.

“The only other one that I’m aware of that would be equal in size is the National Association of Landscape Professionals,” he says. “The only way we can get work of this scope done sometimes is to write a contract, which can sometimes take six months or a year to get approval. So, to have something like this help us each and every year is a very, very big deal, at least to the National Mall and the memorial parks.”

Santonio Holmes speaks to D.C. area students during a First Green Field Trip at National Golf Day
2009 Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes joined Craig Kirby of Golf. My Future. My Game. to welcome students to a First Green field trip at Langston Golf Course as part of National Golf Day.

Later on Tuesday — appropriately timed to start just as the rain largely shut off for the day — students from The Field School and McKinley Technical High School came to Langston Golf Course for a First Green event that GCSAA organized with the National Links Trust, which operates D.C.’s three municipal golf courses.

As a part of that partnership, Craig Kirby, the founder of Golf. My Future. My Game. and a National Links Trust board member, invited 2009 Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes to join him. The event introduced students to the irrigation and equipment technology involved in maintaining golf courses, the environmental benefits the game can produce and a little about the art and science of putting.

“There is a lot you can accomplish in this game, even if you’re just starting out,” says Holmes, now the CEO of the 10AllIn Foundation, an organization he founded focusing on STEM education efforts and mental wellness efforts. He’s also a relatively new convert to the game of golf. “I just hope you guys learn a few tactics today that can help you in the future and helped me when I was playing football.”

Kirby emphasized the role that superintendents play in the growth and popularity of the game when introducing the students to the activities they would experience during the First Green event.

“I share this with people all over the country, but without golf course superintendents, there is no golf,” he says. “I hope you all learn a little bit about why that is today.”

Scott Hollister is the editor-in-chief of GCM