"We are Golf" Campaign Comes to Washington

In honor of "National Golf Day," the leadership of the "We are Golf" organization, a coalition that "represents the diverse and hardworking individuals of the golf industry of the United States, descended upon Capitol Hill today.

Mark Woodward, CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, and Rafael Barajas, Superintendent of a California Golf Course, appeared on today's edition of "Washington Unplugged" to discuss their goals in Washington.

The "We are Golf" campaign aims to "try to put a new face on golf" and change the perception of the sport as exclusively for the rich, said Woodward.

Woodward called golf courses "true small businesses", emphasizing that over 60 percent of golf courses nationwide are accessible to the general public. Furthermore, the national average cost for an 18-hole round in 2007 was only $28.

"The perception of golf being an elitist sport is really not true," said Woodward. "It is not a rich man's sport by any means."

Both men emphasized that the campaign primarily represents the two million people who make a living day in and day out because of the golf industry.

Barajas, who immigrated to the United States as a fourteen year old in 1978, originally joined the golf world because he saw an opportunity to fulfill his dream of working outdoors.

"Golf has given me a career and given me the opportunity to send my four kids to college," he added.

The economic component is just one of the three legs that make up the "stool" of the We Are Golf campaign -- the coalition is also emphasizing the human and environmental aspects of Golf.

Barajas emphasized how golf courses ensure the preservation of green spaces. "A golf course is really a sanctuary for wildlife," he noted.

The impetus behind the campaign was the golf industry's exclusion from the economic assistance provided by tax relief funding following Hurricane Katrina. And their goal in Washington is to convince legislators that the golf industry should be treated in the same manner as other small business lobbies.

Woodward emphasized that We Are Golf is not seeking special treatment: "All we want is a level playing field because we have been excluded from some the issues related to policy making and legislation."

Check out the video of the interview above. Or click here for the full "Washington Unplugged" show today, which also includes a discussion about the future of immigration reform on Capitol Hill.

"Washington Unplugged," CBSNews.com's exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.

  • Tyler Finn

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