Lawmakers Pull Golf Bills after Outcry

Legislators have withdrawn Jack Nicklaus Golf Trail of Florida bills after an outcry from residents.


On March 4, Rep. Pat Rooney (R-Palm Beach Gardens) and Sen. John Thrasher (R-Jacksonville) filed similar bills to both the House and Senate calling for golf courses to be built in five state parks, citing Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Martin County as one such location.

Both Senate Bill 1846 and House Bill 1239 called for the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Parks and Recreation to oversee the development of the golf courses. The bills further state that the golf course must be built by Nicklaus Design, owned by pro-golfer Jack Nicklaus.

The golf courses would have required construction of a clubhouse, hotel and be able to serve alcohol. Also, each golf course would have been built on at least 3,000 acres and in close proximity to a major highway or interstate.

After less than two weeks of debate in the House and Senate, both bills were withdrawn without any further consideration. Rooney made a statement on his Twitter page about the withdrawal of the bill.

“After much consideration and listening to the citizens of Florida, I have decided to withdraw HB 1239,” said Rooney.

“Floridians spoke very clearly over the past several days on this proposal, and they are the reason I’m in office. Please understand that my sole intention in filing this bill was one of economic development, my main objective in deciding to run for the state House last year,” Rooney added later in a news release.

Thrasher later released a statement explaining his decision to withdraw the bill.

“While this bill was intended to stimulate tourism and find unique ways to explore economic development, I have had a number of conversations with my constituents and city leaders who have made it clear that this is not an avenue they are interested in pursuing,” said Thrasher.

Florida has nearly 1,500 golf courses statewide, according to