How golf helps manage storm water


Sean Dudley

Recent record rains in many part of the United States have demonstrated how golf courses can help communities storm water, according to the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA).

Properly designed courses provide a home for storm water, allowing for water filtration while keeping groundwater clean. “ASGCA members are committed to the design and renovation of golf courses that work with Mother Nature and provide a wide range of benefits,” said ASGCA vice president Rick Phelps. “A well-designed course provides a positive environmental benefit to homes and businesses near the course, and the entire community.”

ASGCA has produced a number of information pieces detailing the use of golf as a water management tool. Its booklet ‘An Environmental Approach to Golf Course Development’ explains some of the ways in which architects handle storm water, and provides case studies.

One example is Groesbeck Municipal Golf Course in Lansing, Michigan. ASGCA member Jerry Matthews redesigned nine holes of the course to include seven acres of storage ponds used for excess water flow during heavy storms. Today the 30-acre wetland system, including the golf course, can handle ten million gallons of water per day, the equivalent of two ‘25-year storms’ back-to-back.

Deerpath Golf Course in Lake Forest, Illinois, was routinely flooded by runoff from a nearby hospital campus until former ASGCA President Bob Lohmann and his firm Lohmann Golf Designs (LGD) renovated the course. LGD constructed a one-acre retention pond and several acres of manmade wetlands to serve as an overflow network. Ducks, heron and egrets have since found a home at Deerpath, and the wetland system is working effectively to filter the polluted off-site water before it re-enters the nearby Skokie River.

In 2009, an experts’ committee assigned by the Supreme Court in Sri Lanka reviewed the environmental impact of a golf course development on state-owned land. The committee reported: “Comparison of the data from before and after the project indicated that the flood retention capacity of the area has been increased.” The committee observed the area surrounding the complex was offering ecological services such as flood retention, green space for urban aesthetics and for maintaining air quality and controlling heat and noise.