Golf Course Environmental Profile

Growing awareness about the positive environmental impact of golf courses

The Golf Course Environmental Profile is a groundbreaking project launched in 2006 to develop a comprehensive environmental profile of golf courses in the United States. GCSAA held meetings with a wide range of industry groups that identified a need for this data. The industry faces issues ranging from land use to regulations and practices governing water use, nutrients, and pest control. Prior to the GCEP, the industry faced a critical need for accurate data on the land use, inputs, management of natural resources and environmental stewardship associated with golf courses in the United States. Used in part to help advocate for golf course professionals and the golf industry, the profile – articulated in reports and surveys – conveys accurate data on the land use, management of natural resources and environmental stewardship associated with golf courses across the country.

The GCSAA Foundation and The Toro Giving Program funded the first phase of the project. In 2014-2017, GCSAA and the USGA conducted a second phase of the project. The third phase is funded in part by the USGA through the GCSAA Foundation. 

The project’s original five surveys yielded results that were analyzed and published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Applied Turfgrass Science as well as in a comprehensive report in GCM.

Information established baseline data for documenting changes in environmental practices over time, helping set priorities for education, research, member services and environmental programs. The data also helped GCSAA respond to governmental inquiries and answer the public's questions about environmental issues.

The third phase surveys were conducted in 2021 and 2022, and the last third phase report was released in July 2023. The surveys were independently analyzed by scientists Travis Shaddox, Ph.D., Bluegrass Art and Science LLC., and J. Bryan Unruh, Ph.D. University of Florida and the National Golf Foundation (NGF), which published the findings for peer review before making the information public.

GCSAA contracted the NGF to develop and conduct the surveys online, on paper, and through other methods, and analyze results. The GCSAA Environmental Programs Committee and associated advisory panels, along with GCSAA staff determined content. PACE TURF LLC’s Wendy Gelernter, Ph.D, and Larry Stowell, Ph.D. were the scientists engaged for Phase II.

All superintendents, whether GCSAA members or not, were invited to participate in the surveys. GCSAA provided incentives for completing surveys. Data is reported in the aggregate, summarized by state, region or other geographic area. Responses from individual golf courses are not published or released.

Contact Mark Johnson, GCSAA director, environmental programs, at 800-472-7878, ext. 5161, or