Golf industry hits the Hill, virtually

Over 200 industry professionals took part in the 14th annual National Golf Day event in May.


United States Capitol building

Another successful National Golf Day is in the books. The 14th annual advocacy event was held in May and featured over 200 golf industry participants meeting with more than 260 congressional offices. For the second year in a row, meetings occurred virtually due to some congressional offices’ remaining closed to in-person appointments. And for the first time, all 50 states were represented. 

Working in teams of two or more and meeting with one office at a time, participants discussed three pertinent golf-related issues with members of Congress and their staffs. Those issues included: 

• S. 3283 — The Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act. The bill would gut the strict, science-based standards already in place for the registration and use of pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Opposing this bill offered an opportunity for attendees to talk about GCSAA’s Best Management Practices initiative, which successfully saw comprehensive environment and agronomic BMP guidelines adopted in all 50 states and emphasizing, among other things, product stewardship and pest management. 

• H.R. 3109/S. 844 — The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act. PHIT would incentivize and encourage healthy and active lifestyles by reducing cost barriers for numerous recreational-related activities, including golf. The House bill currently enjoys bipartisan cosponsorship from 59 members. The Senate version is also bipartisan, with 16 cosponsors. 

• H.R. 3897 — H-2B Returning Worker Exemption Act. As labor struggles continue to be a top issue for golf course superintendents, advocates encouraged support for this bipartisan bill that would permanently exempt workers who have been admitted to and worked in the United States on an H-2B visa during one of the past three fiscal years from the annual 66,000 visa cap (the “returning worker exemption”). In addition, HR 3897 would address other program integrity measures.

Reflecting on his virtual experience, first-time attendee Sean Reehoorn, GCSAA Class A superintendent at Aldarra Golf Club in Sammamish, Wash., and 18-year association member, said, “The opportunity to meet with representatives and their staff to speak on behalf of golf was fantastic. … This is an event I will partake in again as a way to represent the positives of golf and its role in our communities.”

It was another successful lobby day, and now planning begins for a physical event in Washington, D.C., in spring 2023, including the return of the Community Service Project. It will be great to be in our nation’s capital again with golf industry leaders to share the positive and important story of the role golf plays in communities across the country.

One additional federal update

Reps. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) and Jim Baird (R-Ind.) have introduced legislation protecting the production and availability of plant biostimulants, a broad class of nutrients used by superintendents that includes humic and fulvic acids and seaweed and plant extracts.  

These important products can improve natural plant nutritional processes, which can result in improved plant health and tolerance to abiotic and other environmental stresses. Currently, there is no consistent and predictable path to market in the U.S. for biostimulants, which threatens their availability. H.R. 7752, the Plant Biostimulant Act, would address these concerns and protect biostimulant access for golf course management by:

• Establishing a uniform definition for plant biostimulants, as well as definitions for similar products, such as “nutritional chemicals” and “vitamin hormones.”

• Amending federal regulations to include these new definitions.

• Excluding these definitions from regulation under FIFRA.

• Requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study how plant biostimulant products can contribute to soil health.

GCSAA supports this bipartisan legislation. GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans said, “I’d like to thank Congressmen Panetta and Baird for sponsoring H.R. 7752. Plant biostimulants help superintendents provide healthy greenspaces that benefit everyone. This legislation will help ensure golf’s access to this valuable product.”

The Plant Biostimulant Act has been referred to the House Agriculture Committee. GCSAA will continue to advocate in support as well as identify potential legislative vehicles for its inclusion, such as the 2023 Farm Bill.

GCSAA’s government affairs team can be reached at 800-472-7878, ext. 3619.