New Prague, MN—Golf has long been known as an enjoyable leisure activity, but thanks to a concerted effort from members of the golf industry, the public is now learning that the game delivers considerable economic, environmental and recreational benefits to communities.

Among the first groups to communicate the positive attributes of golf was a consortium of the allied golf associations of Colorado, which based its campaign on the self-funded study: Golf in Colorado – An Independent Study of the Economic Impact and Environmental Aspects of Golf in Colorado.

For its efforts, the allied golf associations of Colorado have been selected as the recipient of the 2008 Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) Environmental Communicator of the Year award. Sponsored by Project EverGreen, the honor was presented at the TOCA annual meeting in Minneapolis, Minn., earlier this month.

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The TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year award is given annually to an active green industry member for outstanding efforts in communicating the benefits of environmental stewardship to a particular audience within the turf and ornamental industry.

The Colorado study was one of the first of its kind in the United States to gather information linking water use to the economy of the state and compare natural resource usage to other industries within the state. The efforts have strengthened the voice of golf in Colorado, defined economic impact numbers that were previously unavailable, defined the environmental inputs required to operated a golf course in Colorado and quantified the amount of water consumed by Colorado golf courses annually. Conducted in 2002, the study is still used today to communicate with legislators/regulators, media, the environmental community, golfers and general public.

The study was executed by Colorado State University and THK Consulting at the direction of the Rocky Mountain Golf Course Superintendents Association, Colorado Golf Association, Colorado Women’s Golf Association, Colorado Section of the PGA, Colorado Chapter of the Club Managers Association of America and the Colorado Chapter of the National Golf Course Owners Association. Joe McCleary, GCSAA certified golf course superintendent at Saddle Rock Golf Course in Aurora, Colo., was the project leader. To view the survey, visit: http://www.cogolf.org/iframe.php?URL=/uploads/impact/impactstudy.html

“This is an excellent example of an industry coming together to develop a plan to communicate its value,” McCleary said. “The foundation of the communication plan was to conduct the study and collect the data. Once we had the information, we were able to sit at the table with key constituent groups and provide an accurate snapshot. It was vital in our successfully communicating the positive impact of the golf industry.”

The study has also been recognized by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America with its Presidents Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2006.

“The selection committee was intrigued by the collaborative nature of the effort and the connection of the environment, economics and recreation,” TOCA Executive Director Den Gardner said. “It provides a template for other industries to use as they position themselves in dispelling inaccuracies and myths. TOCA applauds the allied golf associations of Colorado for their leadership.”

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