June 2022: Fishing


Hello CMAA! Throughout my career in association management, each organization I have been with has always had an advocacy-related role at the federal or state level. We would regularly conduct member fly-ins to DC; had a team of association staff working in a federal and a state legislative affairs department; and, for one organization, were responsible for educating  new members of Congress on the intricacies of the financial markets via our foundation. At one point, I had the honor to testify in front of a Congressional Committee about equity ownership in the stock market. The Q & A portion was very nerve racking, but what a great experience representing the members!

CEOBlog2022-6 Meeting with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (WV)
May 12, 2022
Washington, DC
In a couple of my organizations, we worked closely with the regulators – the Securities & Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission. In both of those situations, our focus was very targeted and much more easily managed on behalf of the members because the action impacting the industry was largely with the regulator and not with Congress.

At CMAA, we do not have that ability. Our issues span many federal areas from immigration to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and beyond. Congress has become much more polarized over the last decade. In many respects, while you can sometimes get a sympathetic ear by talking to someone in Congress, action is much more difficult to come by – and most would likely agree that is not for the better!

At CMAA, our advocacy role is coordinated by Melissa Low, CAE, and predominantly focuses on knowledge sharing and coalition work with other organizations. One such constituency group is the American Golf Industry Coalition (formerly We Are Golf). Last month, this group conducted National Golf Day – a long standing meeting tradition that highlights the impact of golf and the needs of the golf community to Capitol Hill. Over the last two years the effort has been conducted virtually and this year we were able to reach Congressmen and Senators from all 50 states.

I got to take part in the only in-person meetings at National Golf Day when participating CEOs met with several Senators and two Congressmen. CEOs from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA)  and the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) participated, as well as key staff from the PGA, PGA Tour, and the US Golf Manufacturers Council. We spoke about the availability of H-2B visas; legislation that would severely limit the use of chemicals on the golf course; golf as a healthy activity; charity raised by golf; and bringing back the business deduction allowance. But will it be effective, and will there be any positive action?

What I heard was the lack of willingness to work together across the aisle by either party. I heard a mostly sympathetic ear about our issues and concerns, but also a stalemate for anything that raises expenses for the federal government. And notably, anything associated with immigration converts to a discussion on a need to secure our borders and voting rights before reform of things like the H-2B visa program can take place.

Yes, it is disappointing, but I am reminded that advocacy is like fishing. Unless you have a fishing hook (and bait) in the water, you will never have the chance to have things go your way. Without the conversations like those that occur during National Golf Day, favorable legislation is much less likely. When the fish are hungry for action, they start looking at all the fishing hooks for information and change. We want to keep our issues in front of folks in Congress. National Golf Day was a success and I appreciate all the CMAA members, as well as all our allied organization members, for participating. A special shout out goes to Melissa Low for organizing CMAA’s meetings and information on behalf of our membership and the club industry at large.

Everyone has challenges and there are sure a lot of needs in the world today. Let’s hope those on Capitol Hill can find common ground and the fish start biting soon on some of the critical issues that so many businesses, like clubs, need to continue to survive and grow.