Golf Returns to California’s 58 Counties

Craig Kessler, Director of Government Affairs, SCGA asks a question of a fellow speaker as seen at the 2016 USGA Pace and Innovation Symposium at Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena, Calif., on Wednesday, January 20, 2016. (Copyright USGA/Mariah Tauger)

Article Provided by Craig Kessler, SCGA

May 12th, 2020 – The weekend just past was the 1st one in many weeks in which golf was played in all 58 of California’s counties.  Unlike the “recreational” golf that was played in the days immediately following the Governor’s statewide “stay at home” order, the golf played this last weekend in Southern California’s counties was for the most part an orderly display of strict social distancing and common touch point control.

There is nothing like a 6-week hiatus to discipline the starved golfer!  The trick is going to be maintaining that level of discipline in the coming weeks.  Or as the Los Angeles Times opined in a Friday Editorial about the opening of trails and golf courses – “reader, don’t screw it up.”

Last to be eliminated; first to come back.  That was the strategy; that was the result.  And it was a “result” premised entirely on the game’s ability to convince public policy makers and an often skeptical public that the central component of golf is entirely recreational, amenable to a level of social distancing and common touch point control second to none among outdoor recreational activities.  We forget that at our own peril.  Overreach, and what was granted can be rescinded.

There are business components to golf to be sure, and they will return when their parallels in the marketplace are reintroduced during the next five phases of Governor Newsom’s reopening paradigm.  Not one day sooner; not one day later.

In the meantime, there are a few rough edges to some of counties’ protocols to be cleaned up.  We are working on those and remain optimistic on both counts.  No doubt there are other “rough edges,” and if past is prologue, many of you will bring those to our attention in short order.

The pattern in every county has thus far been to gradually loosen restrictions as Public Health Officers gain confidence in their golf communities’ capacities to hew to the letter and spirit of their social distancing admonitions.  That happens sooner than later in direct proportion to golfers’ behavior.  So, please “do your part, play safe” to cite a familiar phrase (

The “recreational” game may be back.  The “business” component will follow in due time.  But the across-the-board economic devastation caused by the hard economic stop will linger for a long time.  How long is anybody’s guess.  How deep is anybody’s guess.  But as the federal government heaps many trillions upon current debt and deficit loads, California’s Legislative Analyst predicts $20 billion + deficits through 2024, unemployment hits 14.7% on its way to a much higher number next month, and certain businesses are not likely to be fully functional until sometime in 2021. Golf, no matter how lucky it has been in being among the first activities reintroduced, will not escape unscathed.

But before pivoting to the challenges of the next five phases of the state’s return to normality, which is likely to be a very new normal, there are a few details of Phase 1 to wrap up.


Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

The Small Business Association’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is more grant program than loan program.  It is aimed at companies with 500 or fewer employees for the primary purpose of enabling those companies to retain payrolls during closures by literally turning loans into grants so long as the companies spend roughly 75% of the “loan” on keeping employees employed for the 8-week period of the envisaged closure.  While 501(c)(3) and (c)(19) nonprofits are eligible, other (c) Chapter Corporations are not.  Since (c)(6)’s are the classification of most of the nation’s amateur golf associations and PGA Sections, and (c)(7)’s are the classification of most of the nation’s private golf clubs, the industry’s national organizations have continued to lobby for their inclusion in amended versions of the Program; thus far without success, although momentum for accommodating certain kinds of (c)(6)’s has been growing.

The nation exhausted the first $349 billion Congress appropriated for PPP.  When Congress added another $310 billion to it April 27, most expected the well to quickly run dry again.  However, as of Friday, 40% of those monies remain in the PPP coffers.  There are many reasons.  Due to what some, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have called a “loophole” in the PPP legislation, many large corporations have been “shamed” into returning their “loan/grants.”  In addition, many small firms, particularly restaurants, are burdened more by expenses other than payroll and thus cannot qualify for forgiveness.  They have shied away from the program.  Bottom line:  There are grants to be had in PPP for those small golf businesses and sole proprietorships whose business models are amenable to the 75% payroll requirement that triggers loan forgiveness.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)

Small business owners, sole proprietorships, independent contractors, 501(c)(6) and (7) corporations, and self-employed individuals are eligible to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), a longstanding U.S. assistance program that was enhanced to the tune of $70 billion by the CARES Act.  Like the PPP, monies remain in this pot of largesse as well, although preference has been given to agriculture as the well begins to run dry.

The CARES Act allows for an EIDL cash advance of up to $10,000, without repayment. Interest rates are 2.75% for most categories, 3.75% for certain types of businesses; 1st payback installments are delayed 12 months.  The funds are intended to support temporary loss of revenue businesses and self-employed individuals are experiencing due to COVID-19.  The rest of the already-established EIDL loan program caps out at $2 million, and although it is not forgivable, it may provide more flexibility than PPP in the types of expenses it covers, including a range of operating costs.  The EIDL loan amount that can be requested is based on the amount of “economic injury” the applicant has sustained as a result of COVID-19.  One can determine that “injury” (or loss) by comparing this year’s economic results to those in 2019.

Akin to PPP, the applicant will need to submit necessary documentation to establish eligibility, such as payroll processor records, payroll tax filings, or Form 1099-MISC, or income and expenses from a sole proprietorship.  Bank records will suffice if the borrower does not have other forms of documentation.

Eligible entities and self-employed individuals may apply for both PPP and EIDL, to the extent the EIDL is used for purposes other than those permitted for PPP loans.  But, if the entity took out an EIDL loan between Jan. 31, 2020, and April 3, 2020, and used that loan funding for payroll costs, the borrower is still eligible for the PPP, but the borrower must then use the PPP to refinance the EIDL loan.


Congress turns next to relief for the nation’s states, counties and cities.  A combination of factors – the inability to print money, the inability to declare bankruptcy, a requirement to balance budgets, plummeting tax receipts, and costly COVID-19 burdens – has rendered the nation’s municipal governments financial basket cases.

Those municipal governments own 20% of the nation’s golf facilities.  Those facilities play host to more than one-third of the nation’s golf rounds.  Those facilities are the game’s growth engines and the sites for most of the nation’s developmental golf programs.  The relief envisaged by Congress is not direct relief to the nation’s publicly owned golf courses, but to the degree to which money is fungible and parks departments are always disproportionately cut during hard times, it is indirect relief likely to spell the difference between continued life and death for many of the nation’s publicly owned golf courses.

Washington watchers know that Congressional Democrats are proposing $1 trillion for the country’s state and local governments.  Congressional Republicans are balking at bailing out what they call fiscally irresponsible states, while strongly advocating for blanket business immunity from COVID-19 related lawsuits.  The “fiscally irresponsible” states are pointing out that their residents pay much more in federal taxes than they get back, while the “fiscally responsible” states generally get more back than they pay in.  Cause for alarm for an industry whose fate is so heavily invested in the public sector?  We don’t think so.  Cooler heads are prevailing in the form of a bipartisan effort in both House and Senate that would cut the aid to $500 billion and attach conditions guaranteeing that the states cannot divert or otherwise restrict monies intended for smaller towns and counties.  No doubt it will be accompanied by a set of narrow liability protections in exchange therefore.  The posturing begins this week.

Because the relief envisaged in this package is indirect as opposed to the direct relief involved in the PPP and EIDL components of the CARES Act, the game’s national advocacy effort, We Are Golf, is going to have much more difficulty finding ways to advocate for the game’s interest in this legislation than it did in the CARES Act.  But there’s a narrowly nuanced lane in there somewhere, and we have confidence they’ll find their way to it; the stakes are high.



Task Force + Hard Work Equates to Reopening Success for Golf in Yolo County

YC Covid SD_1IMG_8171

May 12th, 2020 – What happens when you bring together golf advocates from a traditional muni, a 9-hole, a daily fee plus two privates and a resort course? In Yolo County (also known as YOLO: You-Only-Live-Once county), things get done.

When the pandemic hit and it seemed that golf courses in Yolo County would be closed for an indefinite period of time, CAG Past President, Emmy Moore Minister, and founder of Doctor’s Orders: Play Golf, reached out to nearby golf course operators and invited them to join a countywide task force with a goal to reopen golf.

Besides a handful of savvy course operators, the task force included a few resourceful retirees, all local golfers (a former city fire chief, university professor, and hospital administrator) each contributing in a meaningful way to the get-our-courses-open-again project.

And if that wasn’t enough, there were club members, business leaders and ranchers, plus CAG members, Sacramento lobbyists, and loyal muni golfers who volunteered to advocate in behalf of reopening golf in Yolo County.

Due to Covid-19 concerns, the golf-specific task force (which was the first of its kind in Yolo County), quickly got to work in developing a set of operational guidelines which focused heavily on safety, security, and sanitization, with protocols that would be adaptable to all golf facilities within the jurisdiction. Priorities included establishing ways to remove all touchpoints and ensure that golfers and facility employees would be in a safe and sanitary environment, where 6-ft social distancing would be adhered to at all times.

Securing the county’s approval for reopening did not happen overnight, and actually, the first attempt failed. While the committee was focused on establishing ways to get golfers back on the course, the county’s health officer was laser-focused on flattening Covid-19 cases.

Task force members remained patient, and in the meantime, they shared their draft guidelines and supporting collateral with operators in neighboring counties, who were also faced with the dilemma of course closures.

Communication outreach continued with Yolo County and follow-up letters were sent to the county’s executive staff, public health officer, and to elected officials. Additionally, they received a Golf Spatial Consideration Chart which illustrated the excessive amount of open space that golf provides each player, coupled with its naturally “built in” social distancing mechanism.

Community leaders also received factual data from medical experts about the numerous Health Benefits of Golf. The outdoor activity of golf has long-been known to reduce anxiety, improve heart health, strengthen body mobility, burn calories, improve circulation, along with its other wellness attributes.

Complying with social distancing, a Zoom meeting was scheduled with Yolo County officials and task force members, where guidelines modeled after the “Placer Golf Course Physical Distancing Plan” were discussed, slightly modified, and accepted.  Shortly thereafter, the county’s public health officer amended the health order, and a few days later, all six courses were permitted to open their doors to golfers once again.


PHOTO: Golf course operators within Yolo County stand in unison at Wildhorse GC (Davis, CA) all-while practicing 6-ft. social distancing. (L to R) Task Force Chair Phil Marler (Yolo Fliers Club), Mark Hansen (Davis Municipal GC), Randy Thomas (Wild Wings GC), Rusty Seymour (El Macero CC), Emmy Moore-Minister (Doctors Orders: Play Golf), Chuck Klein and Charlie Klein (Wildhorse GC), Chris Sheffield (Yocha Dehe GC at Cache Creek).


Women’s Golf Day Announces Revised Date and Virtual Celebration

Screen Shot 2020-04-01 at 11.37.42 AMWEST PALM BEACH, Florida, May 1, 2020 – In light of the escalated response to the global Coronavirus pandemic, the Women’s Golf Day (WGD) leadership team is announcing a new approach to this year’s event scheduled worldwide on June 2, 2020.   This year, WGD is adapting the event to engage and empower women as part of a “virtual” WGD celebration.


The health and well-being of WGD partners and guests is paramount, so the in-person events that take place worldwide (as part of the world’s largest single day celebration of women’s golf) will move to Sept. 1, providing there is clearance from the WHO and governing bodies.  With this modification, WGD is providing two opportunities for engagement.


By setting a new date, which is provisionally September 1, Founder of WGD Elisa Gaudet hopes to offer the industry something positive to focus on at this challenging time. “The global community finds itself in an unprecedented situation and we need to respond appropriately,” shared Gaudet. “Women’s Golf Day is in a unique position because we have the flexibility to react quickly to the changing landscape while also giving the industry something positive to aim towards.  We will continue to monitor the situation closely, but we are hopeful that the September date is realistic.”


In the meantime, plans are in place to create a virtual celebration of WGD on the original date of June 2.  Just as in previous years, the day’s celebration will start as the sun rises in Australia and end as the sun sets in Hawaii.  Expect to see video content from famous faces and inspirational stories from around the world shared across the campaign’s social media platforms.  The 2020 campaign will be a catalyst to support a post-pandemic resurgence of the industry.  


To help more locations join the community in time for the Sept. date, WGD is offering “free” basic registration on the website with the code WGDUnites.  Any golf course/club can participate as well as retailers such as PGA Superstore, TopGolf locations and driving ranges– essentially anywhere you can swing a club.


Please visit WGD website, tag #WGDUNITES, for ongoing digital content and updates.

Women’s Golf Day Supporters:

World Golf Foundation, International Golf Federation, PGA of America, European Tour, WE ARE GOLF, European Tour properties, LET, LPGA, TPC properties, Golf Channel, Sky Sports, Golf Now, ClubCorp, Troon, Billy Casper, PGA TOUR Superstore, TopGolf, NGCOA, EGCOA, NGCOA Canada, LPGA Amateur Golf Association, Annika Foundation, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The First Tee, Gallus Golf, Ahead, All Square, Chronogolf, SwingDish, Modest Golf Management, Women & Golf, Doctor’s Orders: Play Golf and The California Alliance for Golf.

About Women’s Golf Day:

Women’s Golf Day (WGD) is a single-day event scheduled the first Tuesday of every June to introduce new participants to golf and celebrating existing players by joining them together irrespective of race, religion, language, ethnicity, or location. WGD has become a global movement and celebrates folks learning golf skills that last a lifetime. WGD strives to Engage, Empower and Support through the event and platform. The one-day, four-hour event, has now taken place at more than 900 locations in 52 countries since its inception in 2016, and has introduced thousands of new golfers to the sport. 

4/1/2020 CAG Board of Directors Meeting Minutes

Please find the Meeting Minutes here!


The 2018 Women’s Golf Day was a success, thanks to participating facilities around the globe.The event brought the number of participating countries up to 58 and the number of venues in excess of 900. With thousands of women and girls (and some men too) enjoying the day of golf and social networking opportunities coupled with tens of thousands of golf fans supporting the event across social media, WGD 2018 created a wave of enthusiasm that was impressive.

“It’s well-thought out initiatives like Women’s Golf Day, that brighten the future for growth in our sport,” shared Emmy Moore Minister, President of the California Alliance for Golf. “Within the U.S., California continues to be a leader with this growth of the game initiative, and due in great part to the California Alliance for Golf and its allied associations who see the importance and value of introducing women and girls into the game in a fun and inviting environment.”

Special thanks to the following California-based facilities who participated in WGD 2018: Ancil Hoffman GC, Buenaventura GC, Crow Canyon CC, Eagle Crest GC, Gilroy GC, Granite Bay GC, Haggin Oaks GC, LA County GC’s, Maggie’s Par 3, Olympic Club, Palm Desert R&CC, PGA SuperStores (in Irvine, Palo Alto and Palm Desert), Poppy Hills GC, Poppy Ridge GC, Skywest GC, Spring Valley GC, and TopGolf-Sacramento.

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Maggie’s Par 3 in Los Angeles

Latina Golfers Association

Latina Golfers Association

Poppy Hills celebrating WGD.

Poppy Hills







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National Golf Foundation Sees Signs of Encouragement in Latest Annual Participation Report

Following the recent report that the golf industry drove $84.1 billion in economic activity in the United States in 2016, an increase of 22.1 percent since 2011, the National Golf Foundation offered more modestly encouraging numbers about the health of the game with Tuesday’s release of its annual Golf Industry Report.

In 2017, 23.8 million people played golf on a course, roughly the same number as the previous year. Participation off-course, in the form of play at facilities such as Topgolf or at facilities with on-screen simulators, though, rose 7 percent, to 21.7 million. The total number of golfers who played on-course or exclusively off-course settled at 32.1 million, slightly more than in 2016.

Of the 23.8 million on-course players, the NGF defined 19.5 million (roughly 95 percent) as “committed” golfers, individuals who say golf is one of several ways they like to spend their recreational time. That number was down from 20.1 million in 2016, the first time since 2011 that the industry had seen year-over-year growth. These golfers account for approximately 95 perent of all rounds played.

Breaking down participation by age, young adults (ages 18 to 34) accounted for 6.2 milion of the on-course golfers (or 26 percent). That total remains the same from 2016, “contradicting claims that the sport continues to lose millennial golfers” according to the NGF.

Meanwhile, the number of newcomers to the game continued a four-year increase, rising to 2.6 million. These beginners are a more diverse lot than the overall golf population in that 35 percent are women (compared to 24 percent overall), 26 percent are non-caucasian (18 percent overall) and 70 percent are under age 35 (37 percent overall).

While the number of overall golfers saw a small increase, rounds played for 2017 fell to 456 million from 469 million in 2016, a 2.7 percent decline. According to the NGF, that decrease “is consistent within average weather-related fluctation of 2 to 3 percent.” However, it was a lower number than was reported in 2014 (458 million) and 2015 (466 million).

The industry continued to see a retraction in golf facilities, with 205.5 courses closing in 2017 while 15.5 courses opened, a 1.5 percent net decline to 14,794 facilites. Renovation, rather than new construction, is the largest current source of U.S. golf course development activiating with roughly 1,100 course renovations taking place since 2006.

As for golf’s overall reach, that number was calculated at 97.6 million, a 3.2 percent increase from 2016, thanks to a rise in the number of people who watch and or read about golf, but don’t play, to 65.5 million.

Find the full article here.

WE ARE GOLF Reports 22% Increase in U.S. Golf Economic Impact Ahead of National Golf Day

(ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla.) – WE ARE GOLF – a coalition of the game’s leading associations and industry partners – unveiled its new U.S. Golf Economy Report at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. prior to tomorrow’s 11th annual National Golf Day.

Highlighting the study – conducted by TEConomy Partners – is $84.1 billion in activity directly driven by golf in 2016, a 22% rise from $68.8B in the 2011 report. The industry supported $191.9B in total annual activity, including 1.89 million jobs and $58.7B in wages and benefits.

Golf’s annual contributions to America’s economy also include:

– $34.4B in revenue from golf courses, clubs, resorts, driving ranges and other facilities (2.9% compound annual growth rate since 2011)

– $25.7B in tourism spending (4.6% CAGR)

– $7.2B in new home construction in golf communities (18.5% CAGR)

– $6B in sales of golf equipment, apparel and supplies (1.4% CAGR)

– $2.4B in professional tournaments, associations and player endorsements (3.16% CAGR)

– $1.9B in investment in existing golf facilities (4.6% CAGR)

Demonstrating golfers’ and businesses’ commitments to charity, $3.94B was raised in 2016 through tournaments and other activities.

“The many positive trends show how golf is vital to the prosperity of America’s economic and social well-being,” says Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation and administrator of WE ARE GOLF. “Increases in so many categories signify the health of golf has far-reaching influence across many sectors of the U.S. economy.”

The fourth report since 2000 to measure the game’s effect, research encompassed golf course operations, tourism, real estate, supplies, tournaments, associations, charitable events, capital investment and other commercial segments.

The report was announced in conjunction with National Golf Day, the industry’s pinnacle event of the year that brings leaders to Capitol Hill to meet with Members of Congress, the Executive Branch and federal agencies to discuss golf’s social, economic and environmental benefits to society.

To join the conversation, visit the WE ARE GOLF social media hub. Use #NationalGolfDay and @wearegolf on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to support the industry and answer “why is golf more than a game to you?”

Find the full article here.

Created in 2010, WE ARE GOLF is an industry coalition that promotes the economic, charitable and environmental impact of golf, as well as the game’s health and wellness, affordability and accessibility, to Members of Congress, the Executive Branch and regulatory agencies. The goal of WE ARE GOLF is to ensure laws and regulations are fair and appropriate to an industry that in 2016 generated $84.1 billion in economic impact, 1.89 million jobs and $3.94 in charity fundraising.

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