It’s official…

State Rep. Jon Hardister has breathed life into an idea that he first presented earlier this year and that really got the attention of golfers across North Carolina:  Hardister, with support of other state legislators, has entered House Bill 418 which calls for the formation of a NC Golf Council to help expand the sport in the state, bring in more professional golf tournaments and also promote golf tourism to those who live outside of the state and might like to play the links on some of North Carolina’s fabulous golf courses.

On Thursday, March 21, Hardister introduced the bill to create the NC Golf Council along with the other primary sponsors: state Reps. Jamie Boles (Moore County), Holly Grange (New Hanover County) and Howard Hunter (Hertford County).

The proposed legislation aims to create the NC Golf Council charged with, according to a statement released at the time of bill’s filing, “the promotion and cultivation of the game of golf in North Carolina.  It will focus on fostering the economic development, tourism, recreation and community involvement that the sport can bring.  The legislation also aims to promote the values that are instilled through golf, such as patience, etiquette, integrity and respect.”

The Golf Council, according to the bill proposed, would be comprised of two members appointed by the NC House of Representatives, two by the NC Senate, and three by the governor – who would also get to name the chairman from that group of three.

Members of the Golf Council, in order to serve, must have “a reasonable understanding of the game of golf.”

The new council would be situated administratively under the NC Department of Commerce.

Hardister said this week that one big reason he really wants to see this happen is that it won’t cost much money – maybe $25,000 a year – but it could bring a great deal of money into the state.  He said studies have estimated that the annual impact of golf on North Carolina’s economy is approximately $4 billion.   A new Golf Council can up that number.

“Golf creates thousands of jobs and generates billions of dollars in revenue,” Hardister said. “This council would show our commitment to the game of golf as a major part of our state’s economy.  It would also help to enhance the social, educational and cultural impact that the game has in North Carolina.”

Some avid Greensboro golfers who support the game are very happy to see this new legislation filed.  Former Greensboro City Councilmember Mike Barber, the president of First Tee of the Triad, is one of them.

“I was thrilled to see this legislation,” Barber said. “Hats off to Rep. Hardister and the other legislators who have invested in a key portion of the economy in North Carolina.”

Barber added that he believes North Carolina “can be and is the golf capital of the world.”

“This is a huge economic generator for our state,” he said.

Another very high-profile golf advocate who backs the bill is Mark Brazil, the tournament director of the Wyndham Championship.

“The formation of the Golf Council is a great idea,” Brazil said. “As it relates to what golf can do for economic development and tourism, we are easily one of the top-five states in the country.”

He said he looks forward to working with the Golf Council and with everyone in the sport “to see how we can help one another and elevate the landscape of golf in our great state.”

He said he was very thankful to Hardister for bringing this bill.

Yet another advocate of the new bill is Tim Kreger, the executive director of Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association.

“As allied leaders in the $4-billion golf industry, which provides 70,000 jobs for North Carolinians, “ he said, “we enthusiastically support the formation of an official Golf Council.  We welcome the opportunity to work with the council to promote and expand the economic, environmental and social contributions golf has made for over a century.”