Written By: Greg Johnson
LANSING – State Rep. John Roth has a grassroots understanding of the golf industry and its impact in Michigan.
“It is very special to me because I worked on golf courses for several years – at Crystal Mountain Resort for a while and then Traverse City Golf and Country Club for 21 years,” said Roth, R-Interlochen, a former grounds spray technician turned legislator. “The golf industry to me is very, very special.”
Roth enjoyed a homecoming of sorts, meeting up with former co-workers and friends from the industry as the state’s allied associations presented the annual Michigan Golf Day at the Capitol event Thursday.
The Michigan Golf Course Association (MGCA), the Michigan Golf Course Superintendents Association (MiGCSA), the Michigan Section PGA, the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) and the Greater Michigan Club Management Association, which form the Michigan Golf Alliance, convened with legislators and staff members for lunch on the lawn of the state Capitol, and also visited the offices of each legislator.
For 15 years course owners, operators and superintendents have gathered each spring to voice a cooperative message. To mark the day, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed that “June is Michigan Golf Month,” via a proclamation delivered and read into record by Sen. Mallory McMorrow.
The executive directors, presidents and members of the allied organizations presented multiple areas of impact to the legislators in tourism, economic impact, employment and the industry’s positive effect on the environment, but also informed them of concerns with developing legislation that would impact the industry and shared their new workforce development initiatives that now include the Michigan Career & Technical Institute and Michigan Rehabilitation Services.
“The Michigan Golf Alliance created this event to facilitate golf industry representatives introducing themselves and informing the legislators and their staff on who we are and what our industry brings to the state, as well as how the work they do impacts our industry,” Jada Paisley, executive director of the MGCA said. “I can’t overstate the importance of this day in delivering those messages to our government leaders.”
The message imparted included industry facts like $4.2 billion in annual economic impact in Michigan, over 60,000 people employed by golf courses in the state, $1.4 billion in wages paid and over 150,000 acres of managed green space and wetlands that provide wildlife habitats.
Roth said he is fully aware that the golf industry is mostly small businesses that have a large impact on communities.
“Their businesses are big parts of a lot of communities and they are seasonal, and they never know what the weather is going to do and that can make it a good or bad year,” he said. “I understand that and some of the other legislators know that. A lot of them play golf. Do they understand the business impact golf makes in communities? I’m not so sure. That makes this day very important. The industry is sharing its message in a very effective way.”