Monday, March 25, 2024

Article provided by the SCGA

One of the standards in the American songbook is a song written not by an American but by a Mexican. Its English title – “What a Difference a Day Makes.” It’s an old song made famous in 1959 (in America, that is) by Dinah Washington and recorded by scores of others since.

With respect to the issue of tee time brokers in the greater Los Angeles area (they exist in the Southland’s other counties too), what a difference a week makes. It’s hard to remember an issue in the golf world that has received so much media coverage – multiple newspaper stories, television clips, radio shows, social media, podcasts, magazine articles, topped off yesterday by a lead editorial in the most widely circulated issue (Sunday) of the state’s largest newspaper (Los Angeles Times). For those able to access the newspaper’s subscription, click here to read yesterday’s lead Editorial, “L.A. should stop allowing people to hog golf tee times.”

Here’s the difference this last week made, and it’s a difference not just in terms of the alacrity with which we can expect the major municipal golf systems to begin implementing mitigations, but also in terms of what the week means in terms of disabusing all notions of golf somehow being underutilized and golfers not as passionate about the object of their affection as others are about theirs.

Remember, the predicate for virtually every proposal to repurpose a municipal golf course for another use, whether that proposal is for affordable housing (AB 1910), open space (Sepulveda Basin & Tahquitz Creek), other recreational uses (Mission Bay & Bell Gardens), or general commercial uses, is that there is too much golf. After this last week, that’s a hard predicate to sell. The premise underlying that predicate is that golfers are apathetic in comparison to others, not just enthusiasts of other sports/recreation activities, but enthusiasts of wetland restoration, open space acquisition, and various other forms of environmental preservation. Judging not just by the media attention, but also the massive number of rank-and-file golfers that responded to social media calls to action, that too is a hard premise to sell to elected officials, media, and government agencies.

We would be remiss if we didn’t share how proud we were of the substantial number of golfers who showed up and testified before the Los Angeles City Golf Advisory Committee last Monday. They were frustrated but not angry. They were on point. They came armed with solutions. Unlike the coverage of one large local media organ in particular, they steered completely clear of making this an issue involving only the Korean American community; they made it an issue of equitable access to a system that they acknowledged would continue to be difficult to access even if made 100% equitable to all comers.

We would also be remiss if we didn’t share certain clear parallels between the way this issue is playing out and the way the whole AB 1910 issue played out in favor of the statewide golf community. In both cases it was the participation of large numbers of rank-and-file golfers that spelled the difference. Yes, with respect to AB 1910, the game’s leadership organizations, particularly SCGA, did much to lay the groundwork and work the strategies and angles that only organizations with broad reach and access to intelligence can. Yes, with respect to tee time brokers, if truth be known, the same leadership organizations have been following that same playbook. But without the engagement of large numbers of rank-and-file golfers in the mix, we cannot say with full confidence that AB 1910 would have been so thoroughly rejected, nor can we say with full confidence what we’ll boldly issue now. We are on the cusp of the kinds of changes capable of restoring some measure of the equity that all properly demand of these Internet reservation systems and in the process steer dollars away from 3rd party profiteers and to the owners and managers of these systems and the golf courses they own/manage.

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In addition to the action we anticipate in the next 30-40 days with respect to the whole tee time brokering issue, we anticipate much action in the next 30-40 days with respect to the legislation we are tracking, opposing, opposing unless amended, and supporting in this session. We will report on both and whatever else pops up on our radar screens as things unfold.