By Ronnie Miles, Co-Director of Advocacy, NGCOA
2020, by all accounts, has been a year to remember. COVID-19 has turned our national economy upside down, and many economists forecast late 2021 before we find our economy stabilized. The restaurant industry’s recovery may take even longer. Fortunately, the golf industry has been the beneficiary of the lockdown many communities have faced. But this surge in play did not happen by chance. It resulted from owners and operators across the country using their voice to educate and influence our national, state, and local regulatory officials that our industry, golf, was one of only a few business activities that could be delivered in a safe manner related to social distance protocols.
Following the states’ decisions to limit citizens’ movements and activities, many of our golf courses across the country were closed. The NGCOA, in concert with representatives from the infectious disease industry, developed and published the “Park and Play” protocols that provided golf course owners and operators with a tool that, if followed, would allow for the safe reopening of their golf courses. Owners and operators began to use the Park and Play protocols to educate and inform their public officials how they can safely reopen while adhering to the CDC guidelines. Shortly after “Park and Play” was released in March, we began to see more communities approving golf as a safe activity. Still, many locations were hesitant to adopt this practice.
In April, the We Are Golf coalition published the national Back2Golf (B2G) initiative. This comprehensive effort, led by the PGA, resulted from a collaboration with many golf course owners and representatives from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. B2G became another valuable tool for owners and operators to persuade their state and local officials to include golf as an approved outdoor recreational activity. This effort resulted in 98% of all of our golf courses now reopened for business.
While these efforts taught us a lot about the role our associations play in the business of golf, I believe the more significant takeaway is the impact our owners and operators can have when they become actively engaged with state and local officials. Hopefully, the doors opened, and the relationships created will represent a real building block for the future for golf.
As our attention now turns to the next election, we must remember the value of these relationships. The election of the presidency has garnered the most attention, but one thing COVID-19 has reminded us is that much of our political challenges are local and/or state-related. The NGCOA encourages all members to get to know your local, state, and national political candidates. Hopefully, our next body of legislators will be better educated and informed on the impact the golf industry has on our national economy and our citizens’ mental and physical well-being. We also ask you to educate and inform your staff and encourage them to offer their voice by voting!
We found our voice this year; let’s not lose it!
Ronnie Miles is NGCOA's Co-Director of Advocacy. For any questions, concerns or matters that deserve legal attention at your course, he can be reached at email@example.com.