How the new tax plan will affect golf, and how we can have positive impact

So it turns out that part of the government’s new tax plan is the elimination of the 50 percent deduction for business expenses – such as golf.

That’s bad stuff for the industry, but at times like this there’s only one thing to do: Find a new loophole.

That’s right. Golfers deserve something in return, and I’ve come up with it: the 50 percent write-off on our score.

It works like this:

Take your worst hole, divide your score by two and, if your score was an odd number, round up. If you made an 8 somewhere, that’s now a 4. If you had an unlucky 7 on your scorecard, that’s also a 4. And if your worst score was a 6, congratulations – that now is an eagle or a birdie (or, if you’re like me, it’s now a par on a par-3 you somehow triple-bogeyed).

Think of what it would do for your morale out there if you knew that a bad hole can be written off. Of course, your playing partner probably won’t be willing to give you a write-off on the money you owe him or her, but look on the bright side – at least your score will be better.

I shudder to think of all the times I could have had a really good score if I’d had the write-off. All those 80s and 81s that would have sounded much better as a 77. I even have had some decent rounds in the 70s that had at least one double-bogey blemish on the card.

I’m one of those golfers who just can’t stay away from the occasional 7 or 8. Usually, it’s because of an out-of-bounds, but sometimes a seemingly routine hole gets out of control because of one shot that went sideways. I have ulterior motives for the write-off.

But, all kidding aside, I want to talk a little bit about how golf will be impacted by the new tax law.

I know this might not be a majority view – after all, I’m speaking from the standpoint of being a golf nut – but I’ve always wondered why people need any reason to play our great game besides the fact that it’s so much fun.

It’s not going to be free. A round of golf is going to cost about as much as dinner for two, but look on the bright side: It lasts at least twice as long and usually sparks an even better conversation. One of the reasons corporate golf has been so popular is because the golf course is such a great place to get to know people … and close business deals.

But at what point do you come to grips with the idea that fun things are going to cost money? Do you only go out to eat when someone else is buying? Do you skip that movie you’re dying to see because you don’t want to pay to go to a theater? (You could always skip the popcorn and soda, which cost more than the ticket.)

If you’re concerned about what your golf habit is going to cost, make it a line item in your monthly budget. You’re going to play. You’re going to spend that money. Factor it in.

I guess I’m the wrong person to talk to about expense accounts. I’ve never understood why we need to be compensated in so many ways when we’re on the road. When I traveled for my job, I refused to put in for it when I had a glass of wine with dinner. Why should the company pay for that? That was my choice.

I understand the concept of schmoozing clients, but I would argue that those same businesses will be saving hundreds of thousands or maybe millions under the new tax plan. You’re telling me they need write-offs to have a golf outing once in awhile? Sounds a little disingenuous. The idea of the new plan is for businesses, especially small businesses, to have more money to invest. Golf can be a valuable investment.

When I play a round of golf, I expect to pay for it. I have no problem with that – it’s worth it. If we keep working to grow the game by getting kids excited about it, they will be infused with that same spirit. They won’t need no stinking write-off – either in their taxes or in their score – to play golf. They’ll just play.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?


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