Legislative topics in golf: A state-by-state rundown

A quick guide on the status of bills affecting the golf industry


Camera crew shooting an interview with a GCSAA member

Each spring for the past 16 years, hundreds of GCSAA members and other golf industry professionals travel to Washington, D.C., as part of the American Golf Industry Coalition – an allied group of the game’s leading associations and industry partners – during National Golf Day. Attendees spend time with members of Congress, sharing the economic and charitable impact golf brings to the economy, showcasing sustainability and conservation initiatives and giving input on legislation that affects the game.

While much of golf’s advocacy focus surrounds the multi-day excursion to the nation’s capital advocating for golf on the federal level, legislation and issues affecting the golf industry at the municipal and state levels also require year-round attention and there are many opportunities to get engaged.  

GCSAA’s Grassroots Ambassadors program offers tools and training to become effective advocates for the superintendent profession. The program matches GCSAA members to legislators from their area to establish them as “go-to” individuals for lawmakers and their staff on golf course management issues. Engagement and participation in the program offers members GCSAA education and service points. 

Below are some of the proposed bills and ordinances at the state and local level that GCSAA staff and members have weighed in on this year that will — or could have — an impact on golf course management. While not a full listing, this provides an example of impactful issues that may be occurring in your state or town from one year to the next. This is the current status of these bills at the time of writing. Contact GCSAA’s senior manager of government affairs, Michael Lee (mlee@gcsaa.org), if you are interested in information on getting involved in the Grassroots Ambassador program and effectively advocating on these and other similar issues in the future. 

Proposed pesticide use legislation:

California AB 3192

AB 3192, as introduced, would prohibit the use of any non-organic pesticide and fertilizer product at major coastal resorts, as defined in the bill, including on the resort’s golf course. STATUS: ACTIVE

Colorado HB 1178

HB 1178, as introduced, would remove pesticide preemption laws in the state, thereby eroding consistent, statewide pesticide regulations and allowing for local government regulation of pesticide applications, inevitably and intentionally leading to specific product bans. STATUS: ACTIVE

Connecticut SB 190

SB 190 would have prohibited all nonagricultural uses of neonicotinoid products. For the first time in recent years, golf courses were exempt from the prohibition in the base text of the bill, although there was concern this exemption would have been removed during the legislative process. Ultimately, however, this bill did not advance out of committee. STATUS: DEAD 

Massachusetts S 479

S 479 would ban the distribution and application of neonicotinoid products on any property within the commonwealth. STATUS: ACTIVE

Massachusetts – Local ordinances on Cape Cod

Brewster – A proposed home rule petition regarding pesticide usage and prohibitions was considered by the Select Board. The petition would ban the use of many pesticide products and was opposed by superintendents. The ban would require further approval by the town and state legislature prior to implementation. STATUS: TABLED

Additional towns will soon consider the same petition and require the same legislative process. Those towns include Harwich, Dennis, Eastham and Wellfleet. STATUS: ACTIVE

Maine – Local ordinance in Falmouth

The Falmouth Town Council recently considered an ordinance to ban the use of some synthetic pesticide and fertilizer products while also implementing other various restrictions. After consideration and debate, the ordinance was amended to include an exemption for golf courses  stating, “Pesticides and fertilizers may be used on golf course playing surfaces provided that applicators follow the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America Maine Chapter Best Management Practices for Maine Golf Courses.”  STATUS: PASSED

New Hampshire HB 1293

HB 1293 would amend existing law to prohibit the use of certain fertilizer products. Golf courses operating in accordance with best management practices as published by the New Hampshire Dept. of Agriculture shall not be subject the bill. STATUS: ACTIVE

New York A9712

Assembly bill 9712 would give local governments the ability to prohibit the application of pesticides to certain local freshwater wetlands, undermining the states pesticide preemption law which provides sole authority to the Dept. of Conservation to regulate pesticides. STATUS: ACTIVE

Oregon – City of Portland ordinance to phase out use of gasoline leaf blowers

Ordinance 191653, adopted by the Portland City Council on March 13, 2024, phases out the use of gas powered leaf blowers beginning in 2026 with a full ban taking effect in 2028. STATUS: PASSED

Vermont HB 706

HB 706, as introduced, would have banned the use of neonicotinoid products. However, an amended final version of the bill allows for turf applications. STATUS: PASSED

Virginia HB 922 

HB 922 would allow common interest communities (HOAs) to ban and restrict the use of pesticide products. This bill will receive no further action in 2024. STATUS: DEAD

Washington SB 5972

SB 5972 prohibits the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on nonproduction outdoor ornamental plants, trees, and turf, unless the application is made as part of a licensed application, a tree injection, or during the production of an agricultural commodity. STATUS: PASSED

Claudia Alterman is GCSAA's senior manager of digital content.