Not many people know this, but the golf industry is estimated to drive more than $70 billion in revenue into the U.S. economy. It raises more charitable donations than the National Football League, National Hockey League and National Basketball Association combined, donating close to $2 billion a year.
And while there are sustainability impacts from golf — its high usage of water, chemicals and pesticides, not to mention the sometimes narrow views of the industry’s leaders, which can inhibit positive change — we have to start somewhere. The goal is not to shame the golf industry. It’s to work together for the greater good through sport.
After some lobbying, things improved this year. We spent the last year gaining the support and buy-in of some of the top leaders of golf’s governing bodies to embrace a conversation around sustainability and collaboration. My business partner Gina Rizzi and I, through our firm, IMPACT360, worked with GSA and successfully lined up the first golf industry panel in the summit’s seven-year history.
Each discussed ways in which they are working together to meet environmental and social goals. Examples included:
- Development of the first corporate social responsibility report, being released this month, featuring one of America’s oldest athletic venues, the Olympic Club.
- Development of the GCSAA best management practices to address irrigation and responsible chemical and pesticide use on golf courses.
- Military, youth and diversity inclusion programs to expand opportunities within golf through the PGA Colorado Section’s PGA Reach Foundation.
- Developing partnerships to expand the game’s impact through sustainability.