Proposed California Bill AB 672 (Garcia; D–Bell Gardens), which has been deemed the most damaging bill for golfers in the last generation, died in committee in Sacramento on April 30 of this year.
However, AB 672 came back to life at the end of the 2021 California legislative session recently and somehow will be back as a two-year bill in fewer than four months from now when state legislators return to session in January.
AB 672 in its initial version, which has been identified as the most anti-golf bill to be filed in more than 25 years, proposed to remove the California’s municipal golf courses from the protections provided by the Park Preservation Act, Surplus Land Act, California Environmental Quality Control Act, and local zoning prerogatives–all for the purpose of redeveloping them into housing tracts.
“It’s all indicative that municipal golf has for 100 years, is today, and will continue to be to the degree to which it survives, the growth and sustainability engine of the game’s much larger ecosystem,” said Craig Kessler, director of governmental affairs for the Southern California Golf Association. “And without the feeder, at some future stage, the top disappears.
“While this bill is an example of clumsy, legislative overreach—which is why it never even got to committee—it does get to the heart of the challenge to municipal golf. And that is its encumbrance of large tracts of land in places where there’s incredible competition for use of that land. In this case, it was housing. And the truth is that if you closed every course in the state and turned it into housing, it wouldn’t even put a dent in the problem.”
According to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, 480 California course employees —namely superintendents—made contact with 92 legislators across the state in opposition to AB 672.
AB 672 not only poses a direct threat to golf’s key feeder system, but the bill also evidenced a legislative lack of comprehension about the game’s communal, recreational, and environmental benefits.
“Why are we in their gunsights?” asked Jim Ferrin, past president of the California Golf Course Superintendents Association and current president of the California Golf Alliance. “It doesn’t make sense.
“When you’re trying to take something away from a local community and put it under the umbrella of the state, what was once yours is no longer under your jurisdiction. It’s under the ownership of the state to do what they want.”
California golf officials again will be battling to defeat AB 672, introduced in early 2021 by California Assembly member Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens).