2016 News Releases

National study shows golf courses have significantly reduced nutrient use and acreage fertilized

by Mar 06, 2017 | Sarah Huerter
Survey by Golf Course Superintendents Association of America also shows conservation practices account for 90 percent of the reduction in nutrient use

Lawrence, Kan. (July 5, 2016) — Golf course superintendents have significantly decreased nutrient use rates and the number of acres being fertilized, according to recently released results of a national survey that compared totals from 2006 and 2014. The survey was the second in the latest series of the Golf Course Environmental Profile reports, conducted by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and funded by the United States Golf Association (USGA) through GCSAA’s Environmental institute for Golf (EIFG).

The survey results from more than 1,500 golf course superintendents were collected and independently analyzed by scientists at PACE Turf and the National Golf Foundation, which published the findings for peer review before making the information public.

“This study shows us that the golf industry is doing more with less when it comes to nutrient use on golf courses. The numbers show that golf course superintendents have reduced nutrient use across the board with positive results,” said Wendy Gelernter, Ph.D., co-owner of PACE Turf, which has been providing data analysis for the golf industry for more than 25 years. “Conservation practices accounted for about 90 percent of the reduction in nutrient use.”

While the study demonstrated an overall reduction in fertilizer use, it also showed that golf course superintendents cut back most dramatically on their use of phosphate fertilizers, one of the three main nutrients used on managed turf. The study results showed a 53 percent reduction in the use of phosphate fertilizers from 2006 to 2014. The largest overall reduction in the use of phosphate and all nutrients was realized in the cooler climates of the Northeast and North Central regions.

The industry also lowered its use of potash by 42 percent and nitrogen by 34 percent, resulting in a drop of more than 80,000 tons of nitrogen, phosphate and potash fertilizers each year. Golf courses nationally are fertilizing fewer acres than ever before, which helped lower total nutrient use. Acreage fertilized with phosphate was again cut the most sharply, as superintendents reduced the application of phosphate on 463,000 acres, potash on 252,000 acres and nitrogen on 192,000 acres.

“Golf course superintendents are committed to their role as environmental stewards,” said Rhett Evans, CEO of GCSAA. “This national study further demonstrates our commitment to monitor resources used and willingness to implement change for the betterment of the environment.”

Visit www.gcsaa.org to review the complete survey report.

The first study in this series of the Golf Course Environmental Profile was devoted to water use and conservation. It was released in December 2015 and showed that superintendents used 21.8 percent less water over an eight-year period from 2005 to 2013.

Over the next year-and-a-half, GCSAA will publish three additional national surveys in key areas related to golf course management as part of this series of the Golf Course Environmental Profile. Each of those surveys is also being funded by the USGA through the EIFG.

About GCSAA and the EIFG The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) is a leading golf organization in the United States. Its focus is on golf course management, and since 1926 GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the U.S. and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to nearly 18,000 members in more than 78 countries. The association’s mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. Visit GCSAA at www.gcsaa.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

The Environmental Institute for Golf is the philanthropic organization of the GCSAA. Its mission is to foster sustainability through research, awareness, education, programs and scholarships for the benefit of golf course management professionals, golf facilities and the game. Visit EIFG at www.eifg.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.