In positive news for the golf industry, a Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) study indicates water usage on golf courses in 2013 was 21.8 percent lower than in 2005.

In 2013, golf courses used 500,000 fewer acre-feet of water through a combination of turf reduction, the closure of golf facilities, improved technologies (water sensors, more efficient irrigation systems) and maintenance programs such as the utilization of wetting agents, hand-watering and an emphasis on drier turf conditions.

“This study shows us that the golf industry has been addressing water issues for some time and is realizing positive results. The numbers show that golf course superintendents across the country have reduced water consumption,” 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. “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 study was funded by the USGA through a grant provided by the Environmental Institute for Golf. PACE Turf and the National Golf Association independently analyzed the data and published the results for peer review.

This report was the first of the second iteration of the Golf Course Environmental Profile project. From 2007-12, GCSAA surveyed superintendents on a variety of data points on their golf courses and management practices. Beginning in the fall of 2014, a repeat of the surveys began to measure change, if any.

According to GCSAA, the data will be used to “be stronger advocates for our profession and the golf industry as a whole.”
Other revelations of the survey include an increase in the percentage of facilities using recycled water, growing from 10.9 percent in 2005 to 15.3 percent in 2013.

A full report may be found at GCSAA.org.