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**. 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. GCSAA supports the development and promotion of environmentally responsible economic and regulatory incentives for water conservation: 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.

There are proactive steps GCSAA and the industry can take to help ensure golf’s access to water in the future including: 1) establishing a strong relationship with the Department of Interior and Bureau of Reclamation; 2) developing national outreach on the importance of working directly with local/regional state water agencies; 3) identifying potential opportunities for grant money at the Federal level for infrastructure upgrades; 4) a targeted focus on turfgrass breeding projects; 5) working with golf allied associations on golfer outreach to educate them about future water cuts at golf facilities; and 6) investigating state level funds to support advocacy efforts (i.e., formation of tax commissions).

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.

Golf has reduced the overall amount of water used and has increased water use efficiency measured as water applied per acre. U.S. golf facilities applied approximately 1.68 million acre-feet of water in 2020, a 29% reduction, since 2005. Two-thirds of this reduction was likely a result of facilities applying water more efficiently, evidenced by the 23% reduction in water applied per acre in 2020. Golf is continuously making improvements toward using less water and using it more efficiently.

Golf facilities must continue to 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 including 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. They also utilize soil moisture meters, weather and evapotranspiration data (2021 GCSAA Water Use and Conservation Practices Report).
  • Utilizing improved grasses that rely on less water.
  • New irrigation system technologies.
  • Irrigation best management practices.
  • Alternate water sources.
  • EPA-GCSAA Smart Sector Program Partnership
  • EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program
  • Irrigation Association
  • U.S. Water Alliance
  • National Groundwater Association