Congressman Joe Baca getting a high five from Golf Channel's Michael Breed at the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday. (Dan Curran/We Are Golf )

How are golf courses like massage parlors? Both have bad reputations with a certain segment of our lawmakers, or so we learned at National Golf Day on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Under current law, golf is lumped in with massage parlors, liquor stores, tanning salons and casinos — all excluded from post-Katrina disaster relief and the stimulus bill.

“I don’t know why it is, but it shouldn’t,” said Rep. Joe Baca, chairman of the congressional golf caucus. “It’s not about the gambling. It’s not about personal satisfaction in terms of the parlors that you have. But it’s a game that is teaching somebody to become a better citizen and a better person.”

Baca was the first to tee up that morning at the putting green and golf simulator set up in the Rayburn Building lobby by We Are Golf, a coalition of industry folks.

Nice swing, congressman! “I’ve never really had a lesson,” the California Democrat self-deprecated. “I need to work on my shot game. I have problems with my putting and my chipping.” The Golf Channel’s Michael Breed was on hand to give him a few tips.

“The beauty of [golf] is you don’t have to be six-foot -five, seven foot, to be good at it,” Baca told our colleague Aaron Leitko. “The thing about basketball is that it’s become very difficult for small guys to play” — Baca is not a tall man — but golf, he said, is about “how hard are you willing to work? Do you have the willpower and the work ethic?”

Has he ever changed his opinion about someone after seeing them golf? “I think so,” he said, but didn’t name names.