Water Quantity

GCSAA supports water conservation and the utilization of irrigation/water use best management practices (BMPs). GCSAA supports golf facilities utilizing irrigation system audits as a means to increase the effectiveness of the irrigation system and conserve water. GCSAA supports active collaboration with state and local officials to enact appropriate drought restrictions. GCSAA supports the creation and use of written drought management plans by golf facilities that are subject to drought cycles.

Regulatory agencies and golf courses should work together to develop conservation plans and BMPs. Regulations need to be based on sound science. Sound science includes the recognized/accepted science methodologies and practices for research that follow the high standards of the scientific method. These standards include important investigational attributes and practices such as the formulation of a readily testable hypothesis; the use of systematic and well-documented experimental or analytical methods; the application of appropriate data analysis tools (e.g., statistics and mathematical models) to the data; and the articulation of conclusions that address the hypothesis and are supported by the results. Sound science is also reproducible until there are no discrepancies between observations and theory. Regulatory agencies need to look at golf courses as small businesses and important members of the community.

Properly maintained turfgrass provides many community benefits including: critical "greenspaces"; habitat for birds and other wildlife; recreational opportunities; temperature buffer; capture of run-off pollutants in stormwater; and carbon sequestration and oxygen production. In addition, many entities both public and private rely on healthy turfgrass as a key component in maintaining financial revenues.

Golf facilities should continue to take advantage of technology as part of the irrigation decision-making process to conserve water. The utilization of data from soil sensors for irrigation scheduling decisions is likely to increase in the future as the equipment becomes more reliable and affordable.

Among the most important issues facing the future of the game of golf is that of water use. Golf courses rely on water to irrigate the landscape on which the game is played. Often, golf courses are highly visible features in communities and are targets for criticism during periods of drought when homeowners and others are restricted in their use of potable water.

The Golf Course Environmental Profile (GCEP) Water Use and Conservation Survey showed that golf facilities nationally account for one-half of one percent of all water withdrawn annually and just one and one half percent of all irrigated water applied. In 2014, U.S. golf course superintendents were using 21.8 percent less water on average and just 1.44 percent of all irrigated water in the U.S. to maintain their courses. The 2014 "Water Use and Conservation Practices on U.S. Golf Courses" survey results, phase 2 of the GCEP, were from more than 1,900 golf course superintendents. The study shows us that the golf industry has been addressing water issues for an extended period of time and is realizing positive results.

Golf facilities must proactively conserve water. Conserving water on golf facilities is essential to becoming a sustainable business. Optimizing the acreage of irrigated turfgrass, implementing best management practices, utilizing technology to make water application decisions, conducting an irrigation system audit along with an audit of the non-golf course water uses at the entire facility are key to becoming responsible users of water. The golf industry takes steps to responsibly use water and reduce the reliance on potable water.

  • Superintendents utilize information from multiple sources as part of their decision to apply water. Most facilities utilize direct observations of turfgrass and soil conditions, with approximately 35% routinely using evapotranspiration data.
  • Utilizing improved grasses that rely on less water.
  • New irrigation system technologies.
  • Irrigation best management practices.
  • Alternate water sources.
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In 2009, GCSAA responded through public comments to EPA’s possible expansion of the WaterSense program into the commercial and institutional sector as well as draft specifications for water-efficient single-family new homes.

In 2014, GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans was a keynote speaker at the Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas.

In 2014, GCSAA chapters and field staff in California took a lead role in establishing a series of water conservation task forces between the golf industry and water purveyors in the state including in the cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento and the Coachella Valley. This work continued in 2015 as California’s Governor issued a mandatory statewide drought resolution ordering a 20% reduction in water use in the state.

WaterSense comments filed with the U.S. EPA on Sept. 18, 2009.

WaterSense comments filed with the U.S. EPA on July 7, 2009.

EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program

Irrigation Association