US golf courses cut water use by 29%

Water use

A recent survey shows that American golf courses are leading the way in tackling water waste.

Data from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) revealed that courses in the USA used 29 per cent less water in 2020 compared to 2005.

The study, funded by the GCSAA Foundation and its Golf Course Environmental Profile Program, surveyed the water management practices of nearly 1,600 American golf courses.

It found reduced water usage and increased adoption of best water management practices by American course managers and superintendents. The report, compiled by independent environmental scientists in partnership with the National Golf Foundation (NGF), found U.S. golf facilities applied approximately 1.68 million acre-feet of water in 2020, a 29% reduction since 2005.

Dr J Bryan Unruh, professor of environmental horticulture at the University of Florida, said: “Data from the 2021 water use benchmarking survey shows that golf course superintendents continue to reduce water use at their facilities.

The survey results indicate a 9% reduction in applied water since 2013, totalling a 29% reduction since the inaugural survey was conducted. Similarly, the median acre-feet per acre, a measure of water use efficiency, has improved by 23% since 2005.”

Wells (32%), lakes and ponds (23%), were the most common sources of water used according to the report.

Less water was applied in 2020 from each source than in 2005 except for recycled water, which accounted for 21% of water applied.

Golf facilities can play a major role in helping to conserve water, preserve the environment, natural habitats and eco-systems through responsible water usage. Using less water also lowers the cost of energy required to pump and move it, reducing emissions and carbon footprint and protecting finite reserves from shortage.

The GCSAA survey identified that the sizeable reduction in water use was most likely a result of American courses applying water more efficiently.

Superintendents were able to conserve water by adopting best management practices such as keeping turf drier, pruning tree roots, using drought tolerant turf grasses, increasing no-mow acres and mulching landscape beds.

“Golf course superintendents are responsible stewards of water resources, and the latest national survey results demonstrate that,” said Rhett Evans, chief executive officer of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.

Read the full report from the GCSAA here