CAG April Newsletter

Please find California Alliance for Golf’s April 2017 newsletter here!

Join the Women’s Golf Day Movement!

June 6, 2017 – A Unique Four Hour Experience
Same Day Everywhere Around the World
Engage | Empower | Support

In 2016, The Women’s Golf Day Team was amazed by the incredible response the movement generated around the world in our their first year and they want to thank participants for showing interest in taking part in the. What began as a simple idea with has turned into a global movement that is growing every day – Women’s Golf Day, June 6th, has grown to over 600 locations in 30 countries and will be going continuously for 24 hours around the globe!

Women’s Golf Day is a four-hour event where women and girls can experience golf for the first time, and where current and former golfers can play and engage with others interested in golf. The event is about inclusiveness on Tuesday June 6, 2017 for 4 hours.

Click here to watch Executive Golf International President Elisa Gaudet explain the inception of Women’s Golf Day on June 6th and what it does to grow the game on the Golf Channel.

CAG supported this initiative in 2016 and more than 20,000 women around the globe picked up a golf club for the first time while others returned to the course after hiatus.

Good News for Sharp Park Golf Course

Thanks to the ongoing support of CAG and the world golf community, and to the grit of San Francisco public golfers,  Sharp Park has once again emerged from the breach of San Francisco politics. 

The SF Supervisors on Tuesday, Feb. 28 approved the Final Environmental Impact Report for the SF Rec & Park Department’s Sharp Park Restoration Plan, to maintain the 18-hole Sharp Park Golf Course, with minor modification along the edge of the course’s wetlands to improve habitat for protected frog and snake species. 

The Supervisors’ approval came on a 9-1 vote after environmentalist groups – including the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter, Surfrider Foundation, a couple of local Audubon Society chapters, and a Center for Biological Diversity offshoot, Wild Equity Institute, dramatically withdrew their Appeal from December, 2015 decisions by the San Francisco Planning and Rec & Park Commissions to Certify and Adopt a Final Environmental Impact Report for San Francisco’s Natural Areas Plan, which includes a Sharp Park Restoration Plan. 

 In consideration for the dismissed  Appeal, the Rec & Park Department agreed that the Sharp Park Plan would not include using dredging spoils – or any other materials – to raise the levels of Sharp Park’ fairways.   The Sharp Park Plan was supported by the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance. 

Golfers delivered nearly 1000 mostly hand-signed letters to the Supervisors in the weeks leading up to the hearing.  Fifty golfers – of all ages, genders, colors, persuasions and incomes – were on hand Feb. 28, ready to speak against the Appeal.  Most of them happily went home, without testifying, when the withdrawal-of-Appeal was announced.   The groups that withdrew their Appeal will not now be able to challenge the Final EIR or the Sharp Park Project in court.  (Although, in the complex world of SF politics, another group that challenged the Natural Areas Plan – the SF Forestry Alliance – will if they choose be able to challenge the Supervisors’ action in court within 30-35 days of the publishing of a Notice of Decision.  Publication of such a Notice will be delayed, pending approval by the Rec & Park Commission of a written agreement confirming the settlement terms for the withdrawal of Appeal.  The Commission’s action is not expected before mid-March, so the deadline for possible appeal by the Forest Alliance will be extended a few weeks.)   

There will be more rounds of golf, politics, and environment at Sharp Park.  But for now, the next thing on the agenda for the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance is our annual Alister MacKenzie Tournament to Save Sharp Park, an all-day event set for Saturday, June 3 at the beautiful Sharp Park Golf Course. Please consider attending and/or making a donation that helps support Sharp Park and the future of affordable public golf. For more information contact Richard Harris, Bo Links, Co-Founders of the Public Golf Alliance, at (415) 290-5718.  

CAG’s Board Member Emmy Moore-Minister Elected President of Women in the Golf Industry

Orlando, FL—Women in the Golf Industry (WIGI) is pleased to announce Emmy Moore Minister (Moore Minister Media & Consulting Group) will serve as president of its national organization. She has served on WIGI’s board of directors and chaired its communications committee.

“Emmy Moore Minister is well-respected thrIMG_6495.2 EMM CVoughout the golf industry and brings to our organization her savvy business sense along with a natural ability to create alliances between various groups and constituencies” said WIGI’s Outgoing President Christina Ricci, Founder of Golf Survival Guides. “Emmy has a clear understanding of the nuances and challenges found within our industry and has a keen ability to connect, unify, and empower the various stakeholders within golf… and always for the betterment of the game and those it serves. Our association will be in good hands with Emmy as president.”

President Moore Minister’s contribution to golf, business and community, span more than two decades. In addition to work as a Silicon Valley-based communications consulting, she is the founder of Doctor’s Orders: Play Golf and co-founder/board member of the California Alliance for Golf (CAG). She is an honorary member of the American FootGolf League (AFGL) and a team ambassador for Women’s Golf Day (WGD), a global growth of the game initiative. She is an advisory board member for the California Golf Course Owners Association (CGCOA) and holds the rare distinction as an honorary member of the Northern California Section of the Professional Golfer’s Association (NCPGA). She is a proud alum of West Valley Community College (Saratoga, CA) and San Jose State University (San Jose, CA).

Moore Minister is a former chair of the City of Santa Clara’s Planning Commission and former chair of the Santa Clara County Assessment/Tax Appeals Board. She was instrumental in the development of golf course guidelines for Santa Clara County and assisted with several California Golf Economic studies.

In leading the WIGI organization, Moore Minister follows outgoing president Christina Ricci, LPGA (Golf Survival Guides) who will assume the position of vice president. Debbie Waitkus (Golf for Cause) will retain the position of treasurer, and LeAnn Finger, LPGA/PGA, (EWGA) will serve as secretary. Also retaining positions on the WIGI board of directors: Kathy Bissell (Coldwell Banker Commercial Benchmark), Jan Bel Jan, ASGCA (Jan Bel Jan Golf Design), Christina Thompson (Golf4Her), Kay McMahon, LPGA/PGA, (eduKaytion Golf), and Susan Fornoff (Blue Coast Media Group-GottaGoGolf.com). Completing her term on the board is Barbara McAuliffe (DENEHY-Club Thinking Partners).

To learn more about Women in the Golf Industry visit: http://www.womeninthegolfindustry.com/.

Drought covers just 17% of California, down from 73% three months ago

By: Doyle Rice

Relentless rain and snow in California continues to eat away at the state’s five-year drought, federal experts said Thursday.

Only 17% of the state remains in a drought — primarily in Southern California — the lowest percentage since 2011, according to this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor. For the first time since 2013, none of the state is listed in “extreme” drought.

The new numbers represent a drastic decrease. Three months ago, drought covered 73% of California. One year ago, that number was 95%.

The drought endures in southern parts of the state, primarily in Ventura, Imperial and Santa Barbara counties, despite a deluge of precipitation from a storm last week.

“Even though the reservoirs were responding quite favorably, they still have a long way to go before we can classify this area as drought-free,” said meteorologist Richard Heim, the author of this week’s monitor.

In northern California, the drought’s demise came at a cost, with widespread flooding and mudslides after multiple storms pounded the area. A large swath of the northern and central Sierra has recorded twice as much precipitation as usual this winter. Heavy precipitation that lasted for days continued to improve vital mountain snowpack, but also caused disastrous flooding, Heim said.

The stormy onslaught may be coming to an end, at least for now. Rain and snow forecast for Sunday and Monday could be the last significant storm through the middle of March, said AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Meanwhile, parts of the Deep South and New England are experiencing extreme drought conditions, according to the Drought Monitor.

The amount of water flowing through streams is at near-record to record-low levels from northeast Alabama to the western Carolinas, the monitor reported. In New England, all of Connecticut and Rhode Island and almost the entire state of Massachusetts are in a drought.

Read the full article here.

Golf industry shouldn’t be so hard on itself, Levy says

By: Larry Bohannan, The Desert Sun

“There are a lot of really great things happening out there and I think sometimes, people like talking about what’s bad as opposed to what’s good,” said Levy, the new PGA of America president, during a keynote speech at the Coachella Valley Golf Industry Summit on Monday at PGA West.

Levy, who is also general manager at Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells, was just one of the highlights of the second annual summit. The summit was organized by Desert Classic Charities, the non-profit behind the CareerBuilder Challenge.

The summit, hosted by the tournament’s director of sales Bob Marra, brought together golf officials, golf course owners, managers and superintendents and manufacturers of golf-related products. The idea is to provide a forum for an exchange of ideas for an industry that has struggled in the last 10 years.

Those struggles have included golf course closures and a drop in participation in the sport in the last decade. But Levy, who has helped develop several courses for Sunrise Company, said the negative talk only hurts the golf world.

”One of the key things we have to do, and I am going to talk to you a little bit about collaboration, is that we as an industry, especially the leaders, we have to talk positively about the game of golf,” said Levy, who began his two-year stint as PGA president in November.

Levy noted that in many areas, the news for golf is not as bad as it has been portrayed. He admits that golf was overdeveloped in the 1990s and into the 2000s, and that golf course closures were a natural correction to that overdevelopment.

Levy added that not all of the golf course closures were because of a decline in golf. Many closed courses were either nine-hole courses or courses with green fees under $40, he pointed out.

“There is a pretty good percentage of them, and I haven’t been able to find the statistics, where of those courses, the land was too valuable,” Levy said. “Even if the course is doing okay, making a little money or breaking even for the owner, the course was there 30 years ago and it was out where, as we say in Louisiana out on the boondocks. Today it’s on the beltway, or it’s in a geographic location where they couldn’t help but sell the land.”

Levy also highlights gains for growing the game, as did members of a panel that included representatives from the Southern California PGA, the Southern California Golf Association and the First Tee of the Coachella Valley.

Nikki Gatch, who played high school golf at Palm Desert High School before attending Oklahoma State, is player development regional manager at PGA of America for Southern California and a member of the board of directors for Southern California Golf Association. She said the golf industry should be focusing on junior golf to help produce a new generation of players.

“It is our responsibility to provide additional programming for them,” Gatch said. “We are starting to see so much more of that. We are seeing a lot more interaction with juniors. It is the center of golf where we have seen the most growth.”

Gatch said that after being stagnant at about 2.5 million junior golfers in programs like the PGA Junior League or First Tee programs, in 2015 that number grew to more than 3 million.

“That’s tremendous. That’s a great growth in that area,” Gatch said. “And with juniors comes more introductions to the parent, mom and dad.”

Other programs, like the SCGA Junior Golf Foundation program providing discounted rates and access to courses, and the First Tee instructional and educational program, were also discussed.

The summit also featured a panel on how golf courses can work to improve themselves in difficult times. A third panel, moderated by Craig Kessler, director of governmental affairs for the Southern California Golf Association, talked about ongoing water issues in California even as the five-year drought in the state appears to be easing. Word in the last week from federal officials is that with heavy rain and snow in Northern California in the last few weeks, 42 percent of the state is no longer in a drought. The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is at about 150 percent of historical averages.

Read the article here.

Getting Coachella Valley golf’s water ‘house’ in order

By: Craig Kessler, Special to The Desert Sun

Three years of regular meetings between the Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) and the valley golf industry have produced mixed results.

On one hand some two dozen turf removal programs are complete or in process; water features have been relined and in some cases removed; overseeding practices are changing; canal water is being substituted for groundwater at a record clip; best conservation practices are fast becoming a way of life; and the industry’s various moving parts are increasingly moving together to permanently reduce the industry’s water footprint by the 10 percent factor called for in the Coachella Valley Water Management Plan by 2020.

On the other hand The Desert Sun’s Ian James reported last summer that during the 2015-16 drought emergency period the industry reduced its 2013 usage by 8 percent as residents reduced their consumption close to 25 percent. Golf was better than other large commercial users but not as good as residents and not yet good enough to meet the CV Water Management Plan’s 2020 goal.

I chair those regular meetings between CVWD and the golf industry, but unlike most of those who participate in them on a monthly basis, I am also involved in water conservation efforts in the rest of Southern California – efforts that are just as focused and intense as those here in the valley. And I am often asked why the industry has moved faster and more effectively to reduce its water footprint in those areas than here.

For starters, it’s harder to reduce water consumption in a desert. It’s harder to reduce turf. What grows without irrigation in a coastal zone is a large and easily manageable palette; what grows without irrigation in a harsh desert involves something called blow sand for a reason. In addition, the economy of this most concentrated golf mecca in the nation is dependent upon satisfying the desire of visitors from northern climates for wall-to-wall green in the dead of winter; take the slightest bit of that away and the fear is they might decide to winter in another corner of the Sun Belt.

In the coastal zones public utilities and water agencies are empowered by state law to create and enforce budget allocation schemes for “Large Landscapes” such as golf courses – gentle enforcement, but enforcement nonetheless. In addition, those utilities and agencies are required by Proposition 218 to price the water they sell per the actual cost of purchase and delivery, which is many multiples of parallel costs in the Coachella Valley. What in this valley would be a foolish investment based upon standard return-on-investment is a wise one in coastal areas.

An obvious question: Without enforceable budgets, high costs, and the other consumption disincentives prevalent in the coastal areas, why is the valley golf industry working so diligently to accommodate the goals of the CV Water Management Plan?

The simple answer: From the Groundwater Sustainability Act to the governor’s latest Executive Order to make permanent mandates that were “temporary” during the recent drought emergency, all signals greater Sacramento control over local water management matters. If the golf industry doesn’t use the next 4 years to come into voluntary compliance with the local water agencies’ plan to manage the aquifer, Sacramento will intervene to do it for us.

Read the article here.

Women’s Golf Day Event Hails Success! Next WGD Event set for June 6, 2017

IMG_3186 (002)Thousands of women and girl’s throughout the world picked up a golf club in celebration of International Women’s Golf Day (WGD), a global golf initiative to introduce women and girls to the game.  Due to this year’s enormous success, we are happy to announce it will return in 2017!

In 2016, more than 400 golf facilities in 28 countries rolled out the welcome mat and served as hosts for the inaugural event. Within the State of California, more than 30 facilities opened their doors for a special 2-hour clinic followed by a 2-hour networking reception for the ladies, and in some locations men also participated in the inaugural WGD event.

Mark your calendar now for Tuesday June 6, 2017 where golf courses, clubs, practice facilities and golf retail outlets will once again, host a WGD event.

WGD organizers encourage golf course operator to analyze the role of women as “economic influencers” in the game and the business of golf, as they impact everything from country club memberships and home sales on golf courses, to increasing youth participation in the sport. Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases and control over $20 trillion in world-wide spending. In the U.S., women’s spending power is growing. Market estimates vary, ranging from between $5 trillion to $15 trillion annually.

“We were so proud to be a part of the inaugural Women’s Golf Day,” said Mark Burnett, ClubCorp Chief Operating Officer. “Our golf and country clubs embraced this initiative with some amazing events and will continue their efforts in promoting the game with females, which is so important in impacting the future of the game.”

The Women’s Golf Day web page  http://womensgolfday.com/  serves as the “go-to” center for the initiative, where both golf facilities and interested participants can register for the 2017 event. Besides a global venue location map (and appropriate registration forms), the site also possesses a social media component which encourages engagement from event attendees and host facilities.

If you are a golf course operator in California who is interested in growing the game of golf and want to learn more about the 2017 Women’s Golf Day event, contact California Alliance for Golf (CAG) Communications Chair Emmy via email at EmmyPGA@aol.com.

CVWD Receives Federal Grants for Conservation Programs

By: Chloe Morales

Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) is utilizing two federal grants to expand one of its most effective water conservation programs and also enlarge its nonpotable water delivery infrastructure, preserving precious groundwater and alleviating aquifer overdraft.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) has awarded CVWD a $1 million WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency grant to help finance rebates for the removal of turf that is replaced with drought-tolerant, low water-use desert landscaping at golf courses.

CVWD has budgeted $6 million of its own money for turf replacement rebates at residences, businesses and homeowners associations. Golf course turf removal rebates are available when the district receives the state or federal grants needed to fund them.

“Using grant dollars leveraged with our own program funding helps us to expand our conservation programs quickly and responsibly,” said CVWD General Manager Jim Barrett. “Funding such as this assists us in our on-going, 100-year efforts to manage the Coachella Valley’s water supplies.”

The turf replacement project is expected to result in the removal of nearly 11.3 million square feet (almost 260 acres) of turf. It is anticipated that approximately 1,750 acre-feet of water (525 million gallons) will be saved annually. This grant also is meant to achieve energy efficiency through reduced groundwater pumping. The turf removal is expected to save more than 1 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually.

Reclamation has also awarded CVWD a $300,000 Drought Resiliency Project grant to help offset the costs of a pipeline and pump station that will enhance the district’s ability to deliver Colorado River water to the Bermuda Dunes area. The new infrastructure will make it possible to annually bring more than 1,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water to Bermuda Dunes for irrigation purposes, reducing groundwater pumping by a like amount.

Total project cost is nearly $4.1 million. In 2014, CVWD was awarded $1 million in Proposition 84 funds by the state Department of Water Resources for this project.
Conservation programs such as turf removal rebates and substituting nonpotable water for groundwater for irrigation are identified in the Coachella Valley Water Management Plan as effective ways to efficiently manage the Coachella Valley’s various water souurces.

CVWD began offering residential and commercial turf removal rebates in July 2009. Rebates have been awarded to almost 3,775 CVWD customers. This has resulted in the removal of more than 11 million square feet (more than 267 acres) of turf. As a result an estimated 4,710 acre-feet of groundwater is conserved annually.

A special program for golf courses began in January 2015 and nearly $998,000 has been paid to 14 golf courses for the removal of more than 4 million square feet (94 acres) of turf. This translates to annual savings of an estimated 580 acre-feet of groundwater.

In June, the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture announced more than $47 million in grant funding for 76 projects to help water districts and private landowners to better conserve water resources.

The Department of Interior funding is made available through competitive grant programs, which are part of the WaterSMART sustainable water initiative. The grants and selection process are managed by Reclamation, which is the nation’s largest wholesale water supplier, providing one in five western farmers with irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland and potable water to more than 31 million Americans across 17 western states. More information about WaterSMART is available online.

WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants can be used for projects that conserve and use water more efficiently, increase the use of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, benefit endangered and threatened species, carry out activities to address climate-related impacts on water, or prevent any water-related crisis or conflict.

The Coachella Valley Water District is a public agency governed by a five-member board of directors. The district provides domestic and irrigation water, agricultural drainage, wastewater treatment and reclamation services, regional storm water protection, groundwater management and water conservation. It serves approximately 108,000 residential and business customers across 1,000 square miles, located primarily in Riverside County, but also in portions of Imperial and San Diego counties.

Read the full article here.

Bill targeting water secrecy scrapped in California Senate

By: Ian James

Strong opposition in the Legislature has scuttled a bill that would have required agencies in California to release information about water use by businesses such as farms and golf courses.

With the bill’s demise in the Senate, water districts will be able to continue keeping confidential information about how much water businesses are using during the drought.

Assembly member Mark Stone, who backed the measure, said there weren’t enough supporters in the Senate to take up the bill for a vote.

“There are some organizations out there that are claiming that all this is intending to do is shame private users, give away trade secrets, which is nonsense,” said Stone, a Democrat who represents the Monterey Bay area. “There are too many senators that are afraid of what the opposition is saying and they’re not listening any further. So it’s a hard conversation to have right now.”

The bill, AB 1520, faced opposition from a long list of groups representing water districts, agriculture and other businesses. They included the Association of California Water Agencies, the California Manufacturers and Technology Association and the California Farm Bureau Federation, among others.

The bill had been introduced last year in the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which Stone chairs, and was approved in June by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In its initial version, the bill would have made public information about how much water and energy is used by businesses and institutions. The bill was later amended to drop energy use, leaving its focus solely on water. But that change wasn’t nearly enough to win over enough supporters in the Senate.

Stone said he still thinks the public ought to have access to this sort of data, especially in light of the historic drought, and he will consider whether to take up similar legislation next year.

The bill was backed by organizations including the First Amendment Coalition, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.

In 2014, the First Amendment Coalition sued the Coachella Valley Water District and the Desert Water Agency after they stopped releasing detailed information about groundwater pumping by large customers such as farms, golf courses, housing developments and resorts.

DWA later settled the case and resumed disclosing pumping data for businesses and organizations. CVWD, however, won the case in Riverside County Superior Court, with the judge backing its argument that the district didn’t need to disclose the data.

CVWD stopped releasing that information in 2014 after The Desert Sun published the names of some of the area’s biggest water users. The water district’s managers also denied requests for the data, saying they believe all of their customers are entitled to privacy, whether they are individuals or businesses.

Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, has argued that while state law makes clear residential customers’ data should be kept confidential, information about the large quantities of water used by businesses should not be kept secret.

Read the full article here.

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