Kansas State University


K-State Turfgrass

“Documenting trends in water use and conservation practices on U.S. golf courses”

In December, a new research study came out describing a project that put some numbers on water use by golf courses across the U.S. It’s a fascinating read.

The study was published in the academic journal Crop, Forage, & Turfgrass Management. A modified version of the article was also published in the trade magazine Golf Course Management as a two-part series. The authors are Wendy Gelernter and Larry Stowell from PACE Turf, Mark Johnson from GCSAA, and Clark Brown and Joseph Beditz from the National Golf Foundation.

So – what did they find?

First, backing up, there was a prior survey conducted about ten years ago and published in 2009, which included some of the same authors. The new survey asked similar questions so the authors could compare changes over time.

Below are just a few of the many things that I found interesting. The full article can be accessed  by clicking here (you can also find a link to the pdf version at the site below): https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/cftm/articles/1/1/cftm2015.0149

  • Since 2006, US golf courses have reduced their water use by 21.8%. Factors include:
    • reductions in numbers of irrigated acres,
    • reductions in # of golf courses
    • water conservation practices.
  • Recycled water use has increased from 14.7% to about 25%
  • 29% of respondents are using handheld soil moisture sensors, and of those, 89% say that they help save water and improve turf quality
  • In 2005, 62% of respondents reported keeping turf drier in the past to improve water conservation. In the recent study, that had climbed to 74%
  • In 2005, 20% reported reducing irrigated acres of turf to improve water conservation. In the recent study, that had climbed to 35%
  • Golfer education is key so that golfers understand changes at the course. 72% of respondents said that golfers were moderately receptive to very receptive of changes.
  • There is a lot of variation among regions of the US (as you might guess)

The article is full of interesting findings, so I encourage you to check it out, and at least skim through some of the tables and read their conclusions/recommendations at the end.