Significant reductions in water use across courses in the US, report finds


Significant reductions in water use across courses in the US, report finds
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Golf course superintendents in the US have reduced the amount of water used to maintain courses by more than a fifth in recent years, according to a new survey.

A report from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) found that the amount of water used to maintain courses in the US in 2013 was 21.8 per cent lower than in 2005.

Funded by the United State Golf Association (USGA) through GCSAA’s Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG), the survey collected information from almost 2,000 golf course superintendents. These results were then analysed by scientists at PACE Turf and the National Golf Foundation.

“This study shows us that the golf industry has been addressing water issues for some time and is realising positive results,” said Wendy Gelernter, co-owner of PACE Turf. “The numbers show that golf course superintendents across the country have reduced water consumption. There is always room for improvement, however, and I think we will see even less water being used and fewer acres being irrigated in the years ahead.”

The survey found that golf course superintendents increased their use of recycled water by 33 per cent in the period between 2005 and 2013.

Water savings have also been made through turf reduction and improved technologies, including computer-controlled targeted irrigation systems and sensors measuring soil moisture.

The survey also found that since 2005, courses in the US have reduced areas of managed irrigated turf by 14,430 acres, and that figure does not include golf course closures. 

Interestingly, the study provides data on average water use in seven different agronomic regions in the US, and found that water usage was lowest in the northeast, while the southeast and southwest recorded the highest usage levels. 

“The golf course superintendent profession is committed to science-based technologies and environmental stewardship,” said Rhett Evans, CEO of GCSAA. “We hope that this national study will demonstrate our commitment to efficient water management and inspire the industry to continue to lead in the future. In the end, water management is about providing playing conditions that satisfy the needs of golfers today without compromising the needs of the future.”

The complete survey report can be found at