Politics ain’t beanbag, as they often say in Washington, D.C., but golf isn’t a blood sport, and in keeping with the spirit of the game it has opted for a charm offensive at the annual National Golf Day in Washington next Wednesday.
It is sending a trio of affable envoys — Davis Love III, Nancy Lopez and Steve Stricker — to front its lobbying efforts and to reinforce the game’s economic impact, $70 billion a year, and the two million Americans employed in the industry, and to explain to government officials its positions on on labor and environmental issues, and the PHIT (Personal Health Investment Today) Act.
“This being an election year, it’s very critical,” Steve Mona said. Mona is the CEO of the World Golf Foundation and administrator of We Are Golf, a coalition of golf organizations formed to educate government officials and to advance the game’s agendas. “You have to position yourself. The year after, a lot happens. You have to be in the game, so to speak, and to have your interests known, because things can move very quickly.”
We Are Golf retains the Forbes-Tate lobby firm to represent its interests on an ongoing daily basis, but the National Golf Day “is the big tentpole, if you will, that creates by far the greatest interest in golf on Capitol Hill,” Mona said.
In addition to the marquee threesome, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and First Tee officials making their rounds, an army of representatives, 150 strong, will conduct the same number of meetings with Congressional officials in a single day.
It will also have an exhibit in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building. Golf Channel’s Michael Breed will be giving lessons there as will LPGA teaching professional Karen Palacios-Jansen. A putting contest, Democrats vs. Republicans will be held, too.
“It creates a great beehive of activity,” Mona said. “We’re fortunate to have a sport that lends itself to that.
“This being our ninth one, we’ve gotten better over time. We are a little more effective than we were at the start. Those who have been members for this period of time now know us and even know our talking points pretty well.
“There were in the beginning some people who were members, golfers themselves, who weren’t anxious to associate with golf for various and sundry reasons. Now there’s no reluctance at all. It’s real gratifying and satisfying to see that evolution. Clearly, education has worked.”