NGCOA BC Chapter and BC PGA Resign From BC Allied Golf Association

By WCTA Staff

On March 8, BC chapters of both the National Golf Course Owners Association and Professional Golfers Association, submitted resignation letters to the Allied Golf Association of BC Board of Directors.

In a post to its members, NGCOA expressed concerns that AGA’s governance structure unfairly hinders proper decision making, that member organizations should equally fund lobby initiatives as required and that AGA-BC removed itself from the National Allied Golf Association.

Prior to the departure, AGA-BC had represented all the BC golf industry sectors including NGCOA, BC PGA, BC Golf Association, Canadian Society of Club Managers, Western Canada Turfgrass Association, BC Golf Marketing Alliance and the BC Golf Superintendents Association.  The group’s track record included several successful provincial government lobby days, development of an ‘industry scorecard’ and advocating for the golf industry on major issues like pesticides, water management and taxation, among other initiatives.

As an incorporated not-for-profit society, AGA-BC is the conduit for BC government tourism marketing funding and has grown the annual subsidy from around $50k prior to 2013, to $250k currently.  The group also received $35k from the BC Ministry of Environment in 2015, about the annual cost for its hired lobbyist, to produce a new IPM resource for turf managers.

According to WCTA Executive Director and one of WCTA’s AGA-BC representatives, Jerry Rousseau, “The rationale to quit [AGA-BC] was weak in my opinion.  Each member organization is required to put forward two representatives as Directors with each group having an equal vote at the table.  There are sufficient bylaws, regular meetings take place with Roberts Rules used as a guide, minutes are taken and there is an annual general meeting where the Executive is nominated and voted in.”  He continued, “In terms of governance, there was never anything unfair at the AGA Board table in my experience and if anything, it was the lack of governance knowledge by some Directors that was a problem.  I think their major issue was the proposal to send voluntary invoices to BC golf courses in hopes of soliciting funds to continue lobby efforts.  NGCOA voted against it but the Board voted in favour.  Shortly after, both groups decided to resign.”

On the subject of voluntary golf course invoicing, President Trevor Smith stated, “The NGCOA calls it a levy but it’s not.  Alberta has been doing something similar since the 90’s.  The idea was to ask each BC golf course for a voluntary contribution to help support golf industry lobby efforts, nothing more.”  He added, “Unfortunately, It looks like the NGCOA has misinterpreted some of AGA-BC’s actions, for example, the group never removed itself from NAGA national.  BC is the only province incorporated as a not-for-profit society; we needed to incorporate for funding and the name change [from NAGA-BC] was made to reflect the provincial nature of the group.  It’s very unfortunate that we have not been able to have a discussion to clear up these simple misunderstandings.”

The five remaining organizations have indicated a strong desire to preserve the coalition in support of the BC golf industry.  Both the NGCOA and BC PGA have indicated they would reconsider their decision, “when circumstances improve.”  Rousseau stated, “Hopefully we can resolve this soon.  Government has said time and time again that they don’t want to speak to splinter groups, they want to speak with one group representing an entire industry.”