Saturday, May 16, 2009

Golf industry deserves government's attention

Wednesday was National Golf Day in Washington.
Representatives from the PGA of America, United States Golf Association, Golf Course Superintendents Association, National Golf Course Owners Association and the PGA Tour convened in our nation's capital to spread the word about golf as an industry.
Golf has been excluded from a disaster-relief bill designed to aid businesses suffering from catastrophic damage due to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, etc.
If that wasn't bad enough, the recent stimulus bill limits golf courses from being able to apply for conventional Small Business Administration loans. In addition, while the SBA is waiving the standard 3.5 percent closing fee for traditional businesses, it is not for golf courses.
Besides this, golf courses are small-business America when it comes to health care. Premiums continue to rise, and employers face tough decisions when it comes to health benefits for employees.
Everyone is waiting to see how Congress deals with this issue.
One remedy that we heard this week is a pooling mechanism which will allow small businesses across America to generate large numbers of employees to join in
the same plan driving health
care costs down. There could be
a tax credit for businesses who
The uninformed populous views golf as an elitist sport catering to wealthy white males. The fact is that 70 percent of all golf played is at public courses with an average fee of $28.
Women represent the fastest growing group of new players. The most famous athlete in the world today is Tiger Woods, who is black.
Golf promotes a healthy lifestyle. It preserves green space and uses far less fungicides,
pesticides and herbicides than agricultural food crops.
I met with Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the highest-ranking Republican in the Senate; Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the Republican whip; Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis.; Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.; and staffers from Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ariz.
Many in Congress confuse the PGA of America with the PGA Tour. Obviously, the PGA Tour is what you see on television every weekend. The PGA of America is the club professional that you see every day at your local golf course. These are the men and women golf professionals who are helping juniors and teaching adults, running charity events, promoting the latest in golf equipment and making golf a better game for those who play.
Golf as an industry that generates $76 billion a year in revenue - more than the newspaper or motion picture industry. Golf facilities produce $3.25 million annually for charities.
There are a million people directly employed in golf and another million working in outside services that involve golf. That is three and a half times the number of employees who work for GM, Ford and Chrysler. Golf produces $62 million a year in wages.
Locally, all golf courses have been pummeled with rising property taxes. Most area school districts have spent millions of dollars on new buildings or major renovations, and golf courses have more than shared in the burden.
Every golf course in Johnson and Bartholomew counties has seen property taxes double in the past five years. Many facilities are being forced to use 8-10 percent of annual revenue to pay property tax bills.
All we asked this week in Washington was that Congress treat golf equitably when it considers legislation that will affect the golf industry.
It is imperative that Congress look at golf in the same way it does any other family-oriented business. Local officials have the same responsibility.
I would encourage all golfers
to know where your local, state and national officials stand on some of these issues. Now more than ever, course operators need the help and support of our
More than exhibition
Rory McIlroy is the 20-year-old Irish rookie sensation trying to make his mark on the PGA Tour. The bushy redhead already has been involved in some eye-opening encounters in his first few months on the Tour.
McIlroy was involved in a rules controversy at The Masters when, after leaving a ball in the green side bunker on the 18th hole, he kicked the sand in disgust.
Masters officials spent several hours reviewing McIlroy's actions before deciding not to penalize him. A penalty would have resulted in a disqualification because the young Irishman would have signed an incorrect scorecard.
This week at the Irish Open, McIlroy was asked about the Ryder Cup.
"The Ryder Cup, it's a great spectacle but an exhibition at the end of the day. It's not that important an event for me."
Ironically, he was paired on Thursday with Colin Montgomerie, who has been selected to captain the Europeans in the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Wales. Monty was quick to respond to McIlroy's comments.
"Rory will understand when, and it's not an 'if,' the pressure will hit him hard. It's not an exhibition," Montgomerie said.
I hope McIlroy makes the 2010 Ryder Cup Team so he can experience what a unique and special event the Ryder Cup.
Next week I will be at the PGA Senior Championship at Canter-bury Golf Club in Cleveland.
Jay Haas is the defending champion. This year's field includes Tom Lehman, Hal Sutton, Tom Watson, Andy Bean, Hale Irwin, Fred Funk, Sandy Lyle, Larry Mize, Jerry Pate, Dave Stockton, Craig Stadler, Tom Kite, Nick Price, Fuzzy Zoeller, Ian Woosnam, Bob Tway, Greg Norman, Lanny Wadkins, Mark O'Meara and Costantino Rocca, just to name a few.
I look forward to sharing the experience with you.
Ted Bishop is director of golf for The Legends of Indiana Golf Course in Franklin and secretary for PGA of America.

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