Golf course superintendents are responsible stewards of water resources. GCSAA supports collaboration with all levels of government to address water use and quality issues and for golf course superintendents to be involved in the construction of productive public policy related to water issues. GCSAA supports water conservation and water quality protection laws and regulations that are based on sound science and credible data and promote the values of turfgrass and professionally managed landscapes.

GCSAA supports the development and use of science-based best management practices (BMPs) for water conservation and water quality through superintendent–regulator–university partnerships at the local and state levels of government. To support this, the GCSAA launched in 2017 the 50 by 2020 BMP initiative. The goal is 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.

Public policy can help accelerate the adoption and implementation of water management on golf properties through incentives, including cost sharing, regulatory relief, tax credits, rebates and technical assistance. GCSAA supports the development and promotion of environmentally responsible economic and regulatory incentives for: installation of efficient irrigation products and systems; retrofits of existing irrigation systems with water-efficient technologies; and design and maintenance practices that foster and support efficient irrigation.

Water availability, water quality, water rights, water use and water costs are significant issues for golf courses at all levels of government. Some areas of the U.S. require golf courses to use reclaimed, effluent or other nonpotable water sources for irrigation and it is important that there is access to water suitable for use on turfgrass. Many golf course superintendents monitor water quality of streams and groundwater. Golf courses can also have a significant impact on groundwater recharge, especially in suburban areas. Proper management and conservation of water resources is an important issue for golf course management. Efficient water use and water quality management on golf courses requires up-to-date technologies, continuing education, scientific research, and sound management practices by golf course superintendents. Innovations at golf facilities include the use of soil sensors, reclaimed water, sophisticated weather instruments such as weather stations, weather sensors, wetting agents, irrigation controls, VFD pump controls, drought- and salt-resistant grasses, water conservation and water protection practices. Golf facilities are making significant capital investments in these water conservation technologies in order to demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship. Specific water issues include:

  • Water quality - surface and groundwater protection, nutrient loading, non-point source pollution, reclaimed water
  • Water quantity - effluent/reclaimed water, drought, conservation of water resources

GCSAA actively monitors water issues at all levels of government and supports superintendent efforts to deal with water issues by providing resources through educational programs and through direct efforts with legislators and regulators and the media.

In 2006, GCSAA developed a state-specific Water Permitting database for members. The database contains information on permitting requirements for each state.

In 2007, GCSAA launched the Water Use and Conservation Survey, the second survey of the Golf Course Environmental Profile (GCEP). The overall goal of the GCEP is to develop an environmental profile of golf courses. This survey solicited information regarding water use and conservation practices on golf courses throughout the United States. This information will provide baseline data for documenting changes in environmental practices over time, help GCSAA respond to governmental inquiries, and answer the public’s questions about environmental issues. Data from the Water Use and Conservation Survey was released in 2008.

In 2012, GCSAA presented data from the Golf Course Environmental Profile at the USGA Water Summit and several golf course superintendents were featured speakers at the event.

GCSAA affiliated chapters in Florida, Georgia , Virginia, Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and elsewhere are demonstrating proactive environmental stewardship through the creation and implementation of comprehensive BMP programs and certification.

In 2013, GCSAA and its chapters throughout the country collaborated with state and local officials to develop practical water management public policy on golf courses. Examples: Superintendents in Texas worked with the Texas Water Conservation Advisory Council to update its golf course water management BMPs; the Minnesota GCSA partnered with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Waters, to redefine water appropriation standards; and superintendents in California began serving on the San Diego and Los Angeles water conservation task forces.

In 2015, GCSAA launched the Water Use and Conservation Survey, the first survey of the second phase of the Golf Course Environmental Profile. Results of the Water Use and Conservation Survey were released in 2016.

  • U.S. EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP)
  • Irrigation Association
  • WateReuse Association
  • Waters Advocacy Coalition