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Use and Conservation Survey showed that golf facilities nationally account for one-half of one percent of all water withdrawn annually and just one and one-half percent of all irrigated water applied.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. They also utilize weather and evapotranspiration data (2014: 17.9% of golf courses overall).
- Utilizing improved grasses that rely on less water.
- New irrigation system technologies.
- Irrigation best management practices.
- Alternate water sources.