Rep. Angela Witwer Helps Allied Golf Associations Spread Message of Industry’s Impact in Michigan

Written By: Greg Johnson

LANSING – State Rep. Angela Witwer (D-Delta Township) has played golf since age eight, grew up in golf-rich Northern Michigan and every vacation used to be a golf vacation before she became an elected official.

“Golf is something I love and have enjoyed a lot in my life, and I want you to know how important your industry is not just to my entire family, but the whole Michigan family and people from around the country,” she said to members of the Michigan golf industry who presented the 16th Michigan Legislative Golf Day at the Capitol event Thursday.

“I’m here to present the proclamation declaring June as Michigan Golf Month and it is a great honor to be able to do that.”

The Michigan golf industry with guidance from the Small Business Association of Michigan shared its message and results from a new National Golf Foundation (NGF) study by visiting the offices of each state legislator and inviting them and their staff members to lunch under a large tent on the Capitol building’s front lawn.

The Golf Association of Michigan (GAM), The Michigan Golf Course Association (MGCA), the Michigan Golf Course Superintendents Association (MiGCSA), the Michigan Section PGA, the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation (MTF) and the Greater Michigan Club Management Association (GMCMA), which form the Michigan Golf Alliance, have a legislative friend in Witwer.

“Michigan is the most beautiful place, and my husband and I have played the Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama and we’ve played all over the East Coast, but when we come home –I ’m from Northern Michigan originally – home is where all the best courses are,” she said. “It’s not just because this is the most beautiful state, it’s that you make it even more beautiful with your golf courses and I can’t thank you enough for what you do for Michigan.”

The executive directors, presidents and members of the organizations in the Michigan Golf Alliance met with legislators and guests to discuss a wide range of topics regarding the golf industry, including and not limited to the effect on business, the impact on tourism and employment in the state, and the industry’s positive effect on the environment.

Representing the GAM in the effort were Executive Director Chris Whitten, GAM President Judy Lazzaro, GAM Secretary Barry Babbitt, Honorary Governor John Allen and Governors Ashley Dewling, Chris Zeigler and Deb Wolfe.

Making this year’s message even more impactful were results from a new NGF Michigan Golf Impact Report that revealed remarkable numbers, including:

  • The Michigan golf industry contributes $6.1 billion to the state’s economy, supports 61,000 jobs with $1.795 billion of wage and benefits income and more than $821 million in state and local taxes, and has a charitable impact of $104.3 million annually.
  • Michigan has 859 golf courses that are part of 709 facilities, almost all of which are classified as small businesses. Our state is 10th in the U.S. in size and 11th in population but ranks third in the total number of golf courses and fourth in volume of annual rounds played (16.42 million in 2023).
  • Michigan golf provides 92,200 professionally managed acres of green space in Michigan serving as wildlife sanctuaries, and the facilities practice several environmental impact programs.

Many of those points were part of the proclamation indicating the Governor’s office and Witmer are listening. Jada Paisley, executive director of the MGCA, said Witwer is a friend of golf and small business in Michigan.

“She is a golfer and a legislator, and she understands the importance of our industry and this day,” Paisley said. “It was great to visit with her and the other representatives and legislators who enjoyed lunch with us.”