Golf Course Management

APR 2014

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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36 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 04.14 Association lobbying has changed dra- matically in the past few years, and Con- gressional gridlock is the culprit. Fighting between Republicans and Democrats has made this the most "Do-Nothing Congress" ever, ensuring that only a few policy-related matters that are important to golf make it to the president's desk before the end of the 113th Congress. And those that do, such as the recently passed Farm Bill, only do so after a lengthy and tortuous debate. Wel - come to the "New Washington." However, rule-making continues. But for associations in general and GCSAA specif - ically, the need to maintain a consistent lob- bying presence in Washington has never been greater. An "alphabet soup" of agencies is at work right now on a number of rules that will greatly impact everything from who you can hire to work on your course, how much you can pay them, and what inputs you can use on your golf course. The decision-makers at these agencies are unelected offcials with less transparency and less oversight over their ac - tions than members of Congress. You may not have much in common with them, but they are as important to your course as those who play golf on it. Ignore them at your peril. On top of this, there is the ongoing bias against golf both within agencies and among members of Congress. GCSAA and the allied golf groups have to counter the negative image of golf as a frivolous, elitist sport that is not worthy of federal assistance as well as deserv - ing of any penalties it receives. The answer is we need to maintain a con - sistent presence before both Congress and all regulatory agencies. And we need to draw the line when our interests are threatened. Step 1. Build t e brand among decision-mak - ers. We need to keep our friends and turn them into our best friends. But we need to under - stand who are persuadable on a given issue and meet with them, too. And, fnally, we need to meet those who oppose us and under - stand their opposition. Above all else, we need to spread the message and build the brand that our superintendents are environmental stewards who maintain the courses that gen - erate jobs and revenue during a time of eco- nomic uncertainty. Step 2. T e old mantra of access equals in - fuence no longer applies. The old method of Washington lobbying involved using connec - tions with key lawmakers, along with a few donations, to secure regulatory language or appropriations money. That no longer applies. For one thing, appropriations earmarks for specifc member projects are as extinct as the dodo bird. For another, power in Washington has been spread to a more diffuse number of actors, including the agencies discussed previ - ously. Access still plays a (smaller) role but for the longer-term, complex issues that golf fol - lows, golf needs to fex its muscle to let mem- bers know the role it plays in their individual Congressional districts. Step 3. Leverage our competitive advantages (members and economic impact of t e game) to build a record of success t at will breed respect. The best way for GCSAA to build power in the New Washington is by leveraging what I consider the association's inherent advantages — a nationwide network of superintendents and a game that plays a strong economic role in every state in the country. GCSAA's na - tionwide reach ensures that we can effectively talk to every federal decision-maker and show them the impact of their actions in their own backyards. We need to do this every time golf 's interests are being impacted by any potential legislation or regulation. The bottom line is our efforts on behalf of the game should never stop. Bob Helland is government services advisor with Reed Smith LLP, the Washington, D.C.-based firm that helps GCSAA advance its federal advocacy agenda. Memo to GCSAA: Welcome to the 'New Washington' (Advocacy) Bob Helland The answer is we need to maintain a consistent presence before both Congress and all regulatory agencies. 036-037_April14_Adocacy.indd 36 3/18/14 2:47 PM

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