Greg Brandriet is a small-town man from South Dakota who has never been to Washington, D.C. But the 41-year-old golf course superintendent from Elkhorn Ridge Golf Club in Spearfish, S.D., will visit the nation’s capital this month as one of more than more than 50 superintendents taking part in National Golf Day on April 26.
He also plans to roll up his sleeves and join more than 100 others to take part in a golf industry service project a day earlier (April 25) to aerate and help beautify 40 acres on the National Mall.
“I am proud to show what we can do and how we help the environment,” says Brandriet, who has been the head superintendent at Elkhorn Ridge since 2010. “To be able to do something good on the National Mall where Martin Luther King gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech gives me goose bumps.”
Brandriet is an eight-year member of GCSAA and participates in the association’s Grassroots Ambassador program, which was launched in 2014 to link GCSAA members with their representatives in Congress. The idea is to establish open communication regarding priority concerns in golf course management.
Brandriet is paired with South Dakota native and third-term Sen. John Thune, who began his Washington political career in 1996, serving three terms in the House of Representatives before winning a senatorial seat in 2004. In addition to serving in leadership as the Senate Republican conference chairman, Thune sits on the agriculture, commerce and finance committees.
“I look forward to visiting with Greg and learning more about the issues that are important to the golf course management industry in South Dakota and around the country,” says Sen. Thune.
“I got involved out of my interest in politics, but I can see the benefits and the need for this program,” says Brandriet, who signed on in 2016 to become one of more than 275 grassroots ambassadors in the program. “We have to be proactive to the issues that affect golf. It’s important to get the facts out to our congressmen and the public.”
Brandriet will have his first opportunity to do just that on Wednesday morning when he joins the South Dakota legislative group’s sunrise breakfast, held the last Wednesday of each month. South Dakota residents are invited, and Brandriet is looking forward to meeting Thune for the first time.
“I feel like I know him,” says Brandriet. “He was a good athlete in South Dakota, and now he is one of the most powerful senators in Washington. I hear he’s a real great guy. I would love to get him to visit my course and show him what we do.”
GCSAA has expanded its presence for National Golf Day over the past 10 years, and this year, more than 50 GCSAA members will attend more than 150 individual meetings on Capitol Hill, sharing core concerns for the profession and promoting the benefits of an industry that offers $70 billion in economic impact and is responsible for 2 million jobs.
“We are fortunate that we have such a large group of members willing to come and share golf’s story,” says Chava McKeel, GCSAA director of government affairs. “They are able to give firsthand accounts of the benefits of golf as well as the challenges they face. It’s really what National Golf Day is all about.”