The responsible use of pesticides is essential to maintaining healthy turfgrass. Healthy turfgrass allows communities to enjoy many benefits including: creation of critical “greenspaces’, providing wildlife habitat, and ensuring recreational opportunities. There are many other environment benefits to healthy turfgrass including the capture of run-off pollutants in stormwater, temperature buffer, erosion control, and serving as a protective barrier to groundwater. In addition, many entities both public and private rely on healthy greenspaces like golf courses as a key component in maintaining financial revenues.

Pesticide laws and regulations should be based on sound science** supported by credible peer reviewed data and university recommendations. Golf courses employ licensed pesticide applicators that are required to pass state administered exams and complete continuing education each year. These applicators are trained in the safe and proper use of pesticides within an integrated pest management (IPM) system. Golf course superintendents follow best management practices for proper pesticide management on the course. GCSAA launched in 2017 the 50 by 2020 BMP initiative. The goal of this landmark initiative was to have all 50 states with a BMP program in place by 2020 to ensure protection of human health and the environment and demonstrate the industry’s commitment to environmental stewardship. This goal was accomplished at the end of 2020.

Golf course superintendents utilize pesticides in conjunction with integrated pest management (IPM) practices to best control pests and maintain healthy turf. Best management practices, continuing education, peer-reviewed research and technology are important elements for an IPM approach for golf course superintendents. The latest technology in application equipment is used on golf courses which allows for precise application of pesticides. Pesticide production is highly regulated in the U.S. through the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act which requires that pesticides cause ‘no unreasonable adverse effect’ to humans or the environment – including water quality and aquatic species. Pesticides used to maintain healthy golf course turf have been thoroughly tested by EPA. As a result, use labels are crafted to protect these resources and must be strictly followed: the “label is the law”. The safe and responsible use of pesticides, and the continued availability of effective products, is a top priority for GCSAA and its members. This priority was reinforced in 2000 when GCSAA members passed an addition to the association’s bylaws creating new entry and maintenance membership standards for Class A members. As of July 1, 2003, to maintain their membership status, Class A members must obtain a state pesticide applicator license or successfully complete a GCSAA-developed IPM exam which tests on principles of pesticide usage. Specific pesticide sub issues include:

  • State Preemption/Pesticide Bans
  • Pesticide Regulation
  • Endangered Species Act
  • Pollinators

Over the past several years, U.S. golf courses have increased their reliance on non-pesticide pest control practices such as cultural control, plant growth regulators and biological control. In addition, there has been a significant downward trend, since 2007, in the degree to which superintendents feel that pesticide restrictions influenced their pest management programs. The 2016 Golf Course Environmental Profile (GCEP) Pest Management Practices Survey showed that reliance on conventional chemistries such as fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and nematicides has either decreased or showed little change. The data suggests that turf managers are using non-pesticide control practices in conjunction with conventional chemistries, rather than as substitutes for them.

  • U.S. EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP)
  • Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE)
  • Pesticide Policy Coalition (PPC)