As we discussed in yesterday’s blog about the government relations campaign being launched next month through the National Allied Golf Associations, the issues faced by the golf industry vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so there will be some consistent messages delivered and some based on regional challenges.
”We’re going to go in with the general message everywhere that is consistent and that’s focusing on the economic impact (of golf) and backed up by the environmental stewardship, the truth of it, not the misconceptions, as well as the healthy lifestyle,” said Jeff Calderwood, executive director of the National Golf Course Owners Association, one of the member NAGA groups.
“The second level to it is to focus on a specific issue if we want to ask for something while we have government’s attention,” he said of regional issues that could be brought up at provincial meetings.
“Typically, they’re either taxation or pesticides, water, that kind of environmental issue. Each province decides that on their own,” he said.
Six provincial groups will meet with their governments, supported by a $5,000 NAGA subsidy each, with the national group to meet with representatives of the federal government on April 14. One of the issues expected to be raised with the feds is the entertainment expense tax deduction that doesn’t apply to golf.
Calderwood says it’s yet to be determined how often such government meetings will take place.
“A lot of other industries that do an industry lobby day do them annually,” he said.
“I think, realistically, we probably would not do them annually and we’re not going to determine the answer to those questions until after we do the first set of them and then, we’ll evaluate and see how we feel,” added Calderwood, suggesting that once per government term in office might be more realistic.
“They’re expensive to do for starters and I think if you do a good job at it, your message can carry beyond just 12 months,” he said.
That message is an important one, according to Calderwood, if golf can strip away misconceptions that have built up over the years.
“We want to start breaking down the misconceptions of the elitist nature of the sport and get them to treat it like what it really is – it’s a fully-developed industry. It’s not just a game and it’s certainly not an elitist thing,” he said.
“We’ve never told our story correctly to government. It’s not government’s fault that they don’t understand us for what we really are. Other people tell them things about our industry such as environmental groups, etc. We haven’t told our story effectively,” said Calderwood.
“I think when we tell it, it is something different than that elitist thing, but certainly right now, in the absence of us telling that story, that theme of us being that way, that misconception really prevents us from getting a lot of things done because we get no sympathy from government,” he said.
“We almost get painted with a negative, bad guy image as opposed to neutral or positive and we’re quite capable of telling a story that makes it positive,” said Calderwood.