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National Golf Day Brings Some Lobbying to Capitol Hill

In recognition of the second annual National Golf Day Wednesday, leaders of golf's major organizations met with members of Congress in Washington to defend their sport. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem was among them as the PGA is the most visible part of the industry and often draws the most criticism.

PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem told reporters he reminded members of Congress that golf is a $75-billion industry.

"You put it in these terms: it's the equivalent of the motion picture industry and publishing industry combined, and that goes for revenue, jobs and overall economic impact," said Finchem.

Bad economy affects tournaments

And the economy has been affecting a number of professional golf tournaments. At least three companies - Chrysler, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo - have removed their names from PGA Tour events. Another, Northern Trust, was criticized by Congressman Barney Frank after the bank took government assistance and then spent money for entertainment at the Northern Trust golf tournament in California in February.

According to Sports Illustrated magazine, players are saying companies are letting elitist perceptions override the Tour's history of charitable giving.

Is sport too elitist?

Commissioner Finchem put that part of his sport in perspective.

"The professional side of the game has a $3.6-billion impact and last year raised $124 million for charity," he said. "And so we are integrated into communities to raise money for charity. Most of the reaction I get from members of Congress is they recognize the value of corporate sponsorships in sports marketing generally, and particularly with the PGA Tour which is 100 percent organized for charitable purposes."

The bottom line is that the golf industry employs two million people in the United States and generates about $61 billion in wage income annually. Golf's leaders want to be sure that those who influence legislation are aware of the impact the golf industry has in the United States and be aware of how certain laws can affect it.