Golf Industry Lobbies Legislature On The Putting Green

Feb 13, 2014

Senator Detert putting
Credit Blaise Gainey

The Florida Golf Coalition and the PGA gave golf lessons to members of the House and Senate Thursday as part of Florida Golf Day at the Capitol. But before the lessons began, the FGC spoke with State Senator Nancy Detert (R-Venice) about 5 key points they had.

The points are the economic, charitable, tourism, youth development and the environmental impacts of golf. Out of these 5 points their main focus was on the environmental impact that golf courses had on Florida. The Golf Course Superintendents are part of the FGC and believe they play a role as stewards of Florida’s environment.

“Our partnership with the Golf Course Superintendents Association is really science backing, the policies and practices that they do to show that it is safe for the environment in fact there’s probably no better stewards for the environment than the Golf Course Superintendents Association, so were here to try and educate on that,” said Executive Director at PGA Geoff Lofstead.

They’re backing a bill that would simplify county fertilizer regulations throughout the state. Currently regulations vary by county, making it difficult for companies with multiple courses.

“The environmental management of a golf course is critically important, and there’s a lot of input that goes into managing those inputs whether its water, whether its seed, whether its fertilizer, pesticides, etc,” said World Golf Foundation CEO Stephen Mona.

After speaking with Detert on these key points, the Senate and House both went out to receive golf lessons from the PGA instructor.

But Senate Sergeant at Arms, Tom Hunt, took the lawmakers to task, knocking in put after put. 

Lawmakers and staff were milling around, enjoying the diversion, but Mona says the event is really about promoting golf to the Florida legislature.

“We as the golf community have been focusing on five key message points and those are the ecomonic impact of golf, the charitable impact, the tourism impact, the youth development impact, and the environmental impact,” Mona says.

It is the environmental impact has historically been a stumbling block for golf courses.  To maintain the grounds, courses need a relatively large amount of water, and their use of fertilizers can have negative impacts on local ecology.  But Detert says the industry has made significant strides toward improving their practices.

“They use less water and less fertilizer and the end result is you have a more interesting pretty golf course and you’re protecting the environment all in one swoop,” Detert says, “it’s a better way to do business.”

Golf industry representatives also touted their economic impact on the state.  They’re hoping part of Florida’s tourism budget will used to promote the state as a golfing destination.