By John Strege
We Are Golf, host of National Golf Day next Wednesday, is bringing in a heavy hitter, Jack Nicklaus, to lobby Congress and "rattle the cages of our representatives," its coalition chairman said Wednesday.
"Obviously, we're trying to bring attention to the issues that affect golf to Congress," Rhett Evans, who also is the CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, said. "By having Jack there, it certainly brings interest to the subject that we're discussing.
"Jack's going to be there to support our message, which is pretty simple. Golf is a business. It's not just about professional golfers making a living at the game. It's about two million people employed in the golf business.
"We've got pretty serious issues facing the game, especially on the environmental-regulation side. We want Jack to rattle the cages, if you will, of our representatives."
We Are Golf is a coalition of the game's leading organizations, including the USGA, the PGA Tour and the PGA of America.
Among the issues to which Evans was referring is an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to expand the definition of waterways that fall under the Clean Water Act.
"Small streams, creek beds, wetlands, ponds, the definition is so vague," Evans said, explaining the burden it would put on small businesses, including golf courses, should the proposal become law.
A second issue involves conservation easements and the tax benefits they offer. "It's an attempt to move golf away from that and not allow golf courses to receive the tax benefits for having those conversation easements," Evans said. "We disagree. Golf courses provide a great community benefit with green spaces and habitat sanctuaries."