Most of the images we have seen from National Golf Day since its inception in 2008 have been of golf's leaders genially mingling with politicians at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., sometimes taking a few swings or hitting a couple of putts.
Unfortunately, those images don't project the serious work being done behind the scenes, as more than 100 meetings with legislators take place covering a range of issues important to the game.
This year's event, taking place Wednesday in the nation's capital, is no different as the lobbying efforts home in on reinforcing the game's economic impact ($70 billion annually), as well as explain to government officials the industry's positions on labor and environmental issues, and, perhaps most importantly, the PHIT (Personal Health Investment Today) Act.
PHIT expands the IRS definition of a medical expense to allow for medical-care tax treatment of qualified fitness and sports expenses.
Why is that important to golfers?
Because if the PHIT Act passes as currently constituted it would, along with several other physical-fitness expenses, make golf camps and clinics, lessons and training aids, green fees and driving-range fees, tournament fees and, wait for it . . . golf balls and golf clubs tax deductible up to $1,000 for an individual or $2,000 for a head of household or family.
If you’re asking why Congress would approve such a bill, the answer is straightforward. The rise in sedentary lifestyles has become a major contributor of expensive, preventable and chronic illnesses. The Physical Activity Participation Report revealed that inactivity is on the rise, with 81 million Americans fitting the description of “inactive” compared to 70.4 million in 2007 -- a 15 percent increase.
Additionally, a 2015 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation stated, “Parents who are inactive are 5.8 times more likely to have inactive children. Physically inactive children are twice as likely to be obese as adults.”
Translation: Inactive people lead to higher healthcare costs.
A recent projection by the Employee Benefits Research Institute showed healthcare spending jumping from $2.6 trillion in 2010 to $3.2 trillion in 2015 with a projected increase to $4.2 trillion in 2020.
Such numbers are why lobbyists and lawmakers are attempting to pass the PHIT Act, which would make physical-fitness activities more affordable will boost participation and thus lead to a reduction in healthcare costs.
So far the PHIT Act has brought bipartisan support, along with support from leading members of the House Ways and Means Committee and Finance Committee.
At the moment 78 Congressmen and 12 Senators support the bill, meaning there is more work to be done. Serious work, at that.
Editor's Note: This story first appeared in the May 18, 2016 issue of Golf Digest Stix.