Resolution Declares April 16 As
National Golf Day
April 16, 2008
By David Shefter, USGA
Golf is bigger than the motion-picture and video industry,
bigger than newspaper publishing and exceeds revenues from
professional and semi-professional spectator sports
Such were the staggering numbers released Wednesday at
the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., when April 16
was declared National Golf Day by a bipartisan
Congressional resolution sponsored by U.S. Representatives
John Mica (R-Florida) and Ron Klein (D-Florida).
National Golf Day was supported by all the chief leaders of
golf organizations in this country, including USGA
Executive Director David Fay; PGA Tour Commissioner Tim
Finchem; PGA of America Chief Executive Officer Joe
Steranka; CEO of the World Golf Foundation Steve Mona; CEO
of The First Tee Joe Louis Barrow Jr.; and Deputy
Commissioner of the LPGA Tour Libba Galloway. It was also
supported by the representatives from the National Golf
Course Owners Association; Club Managers Association of
America; National Golf Course Owners Association; Society
of Golf Course Architects; and Golf Course Superintendents
Association of America.
According to a comprehensive study, the
2005 Golf Economy Report,
commissioned by the World Golf Foundation's GOLF 20/20
and recently completed by SRI International, the U.S. golf
industry generated $76 billion in direct economic impact,
up significantly from the $62 billion from 2000. The
five-year growth of approximately $14 billion represents an
annual growth of 4.1 percent, which is well ahead of the
annual inflation rate of 2.5 percent from 2000-2005.
"We all know that golf is a great game," said
Fay, who also is the Chairman of the World Golf Foundation.
"It's a great game to play, [and] it's a great
game to watch. But one of the messages that we have come to
Washington to deliver is not only is it a great game, but
it is a meaningful industry, it's a meaningful
business. And you can feel that in terms of the economic
impact, you can feel it in terms of the environmental
impact and lastly you can feel it in terms of the human
Initiatives such as Play Golf America, which is supported
by all the major golf organizations including the USGA,
have played a role in introducing game to more people, and
more important, keep them in a sport they can enjoy for the
rest of their lives.
Last year, PGA of America member Dan Rooney created Patriot
Golf Day to help raise money for families who lost a loved
one during the recent military conflicts in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Through the support of the USGA and PGA of
America, Rooney's project took place at some 3,000 golf
facilities, raising $1.1 million to help pay for college
for the sons, daughters and spouses of these fallen
Joe Estes, another PGA professional, has led the Wounded
Warriors program that helps injured soldiers, many of whom
are amputees, enjoy the game of golf despite their
disability. Steranka described one amputee having the
ability to drive a golf ball 260 yards.
On the environmental side, the golf industry has taken a
leadership role as a sound steward to ensure less water and
pesticides are used to irrigate courses. Mona, who was the
CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association for 14
years, pointed out that only 0.5 percent of the 408 billion
gallons of water consumed each day actually is used on golf
courses. In fact, more than 12 percent of all courses use
recycled water and less than 15 percent of courses use
"A lot of people perceive that golf is new to this
'green' movement," said Mona. "But the
fact is that golf has been involved in what we term the
'green' movement for 2Â½ decades."
And on the human side, golf generated $3.5 billion in 2005
for charitable organizations. The USGA alone has given more
than $59 million since announcing its For the Good of the
Game Grants Initiative in 1997 and is the largest single
contributor to The First Tee. Golf's professional
tours contribute $130 million annually to charities such as
St. Jude's Hospital and Homes for Dysfunctional
Families, which receive monies from the PGA Tour's
Stanford St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tenn., and the
EDS Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas,
"Golf is truly the unique platform for charitable
giving and it has done so over the years," said
Finchem. "The values that golf represents that we
teach to our kids through the game, create this feeling of
giving back. And secondly, golf in and of itself lends
itself to giving and charitable activities.
"But the monies generated don't really tell the
story of what the dollars do to impact people."
Broadening the game to juniors, women and minorities have
long been key targets for these organizations. Throughout
the month of June, golf courses around the country will
offer women free golf lessons and golf-related networking
and social activities through the LPGA's Women's
Golf Month initiative.
In terms of making the game more affordable, Steranka
pointed out that a family four can still enjoy a round of
golf for less money than attending a professional sporting
"The average price of a nine-hole round of golf is
$12," said Steranka. "I know there are places in
Florida where I live that offer free golf to juniors during
the off-season (summer months)."
Globally, the USGA and PGA Tour are working hard in an
attempt to get golf back on the Olympic program for 2016, a
place it hasn't been since the 1904 Games in St. Louis.
The International Olympic Committee will discuss adding or
deleting any new sports in the fall of 2009. The feeling is
if golf does back into the Games, it could go a long way in
developing the game in many countries where the sport still
is in its infancy stage.
Certain logistics, of course, would need to be worked out,
especially in terms of possible scheduling conflicts with
major championships and other big tournaments. But Finchem
believes these obstacles can be overcome.
"The decision will be made next year and the IOC has
indicated several time that they are very interested,"
said Finchem, who blogged this week on pgatour.com about
his strong feelings for adding golf to the Olympics.
"But the IOC has their own bureaucracy and their own
process to work through. They have a constitution that says
if you are going to accept a new sport, you have to drop a
sport. But I think we are prepared to work together in
interfacing with the IOC to deal with our issues and give
it our best chance."
The International Golf Federation, which conducts the
biennial World Amateur Team Championships, has been pushing
to have golf back in the Games, and with the professional
tours offering support, that process can move forward.
"The good news is that each of those seven cities
[bidding for the 2016 Games] could handle golf," said
Fay, a joint secretary for the IGF along with the Royal and
Ancient's Peter Dawson. "The good news is that
golf would not require the building of a new stadium. The
good news is that golf is a sport that lends itself to
A study conducted by the USGA and R&A of its IGF member
countries came back overwhelmingly in support of having
golf in the Olympics.
"If golf does become an Olympic sport," said Fay,
"that would be the greatest act in terms of
jump-starting the growth of the sport in our countries, in
terms of possible revenue it could get from the IOC, in
terms of possible revenue it could get from its national
Olympic bodies and even in some cases, the government
themselves. There's a lot of work to be done, but I
think we are all eager to put our shoulder to the
DavidShefteris a USGA staff writer. E-mail him with questions or
comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.