A course owner's perspective
Golf is a great game, played in beautiful settings and enjoyed at a leisurely pace. No wonder it’s hard to get the respect of some lawmakers and policymakers. In their eyes, we’re a pastime, not a business.
But that’s changing; I saw evidence of the progress when I was privileged to help represent small-business owners and the NGCOA on National Golf Day. It’s helping our cause that all of golf’s major associations – the PGA of America, GCSAA, CMAA and the NGCOA, along with manufacturers, suppliers and others – finally are speaking with one voice through the We Are Golf coalition.
Our message to legislators on Capitol Hill was a simple one: Golf is more than a great game – it’s a great business.
It’s a business that creates jobs, contributes financially to our local economies through property taxes and supports other businesses with purchases of equipment and supplies.
Golf is part of the fabric of communities across the country, providing a venue for charitable fundraising, opportunities for families to spend quality time together and demonstrating conscientious environmental stewardship.
After spending a day with lawmakers in Washington, in the company of association leaders and many others who care deeply about our future, I think our message is getting through. The legislators we met with seemed intent on listening. It certainly helped that we weren’t there with our hand out, looking for money or favors. As we told them, we just want a level playing field.
While our trip to Washington was only a first step, it was a step in the right direction. I’m confident that we are on a positive path with our national legislative leaders, and I’m looking forward to our industry carrying this message to our state and local leaders.
My course, Juday Creek, is an 18-hole family-run facility that my husband Mike and I have operated since we built it in 1989. Our daughter Michelle Wittig is our general manager and my 89-year old mother, Yvonne Nugent (lovingly known as “grandma”) is the first one at work every day, arriving early to take care of the flowers around the course.
But Juday Creek isn’t really any different from the thousands of independently owned golf courses that dot the landscape from Maine to California. We might go about our business and conduct our programs a little differently. But at the end of the day, we’re all trying to do the same thing: run an honest business that delivers a great experience for our customers, contributes to our communities and provides a decent living for our families.
That’s a very easy story for all of us to tell. I encourage you to learn more about We Are Golf so you can help tell our story - your story - every chance you get, especially when anyone calls golf “just a game.”
Linda Rogers, an independent golf course owner (Juday Creek Golf Course in Granger, Indiana) for more than 20 years, was among those representing the NGCOA at last month’s National Golf Day in Washington. Linda currently serves as the vice president of the NGCOA's Board of Directors and president of the Indiana Chapter.