Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Golf Courses


Researc-2014-05-16--01

(Above)Graduate students collecting gas samples from chambers installed on fairways for analysis of trace amounts of nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide gases.

Scientists at Colorado State University are collaborating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s GRACEnet program to evaluate the carbon footprint of golf courses. GRACEnet is an acronym for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction through Agricultural Carbon Enhancement Network that is under the direction of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. To determine the impact of turfgrass management on the greenhouse gas budget on golf courses, the project has made progress in several areas.

A survey of 17 golf course facilities is evaluating the fuel, electricity, and natural gas used over the last three years. The preliminary results suggest that clubhouse and golf cart electricity use was the greatest energy consumption associated with the Colorado golf course operations.
 
Katrina Gillette, a doctoral graduate student at Colorado State University, has measured changes in greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide, from golf course fairways, roughs, native areas and putting greens. Eighty-five vented chambers installed on the various areas of a course allow for collection of gas samples from inside the chambers. Weekly measurements taken throughout the growing season and bimonthly in winter produced nearly 15,000 data points collected over a two-year period. Nitrous oxide emissions were greatest from the fairway collection sites, and of the fertilizers tested, POLYON had the lowest loss compared to BCMU and UMAXX. Nitrous oxide emissions from the putting green and native sites were only about 10 percent of the emissions from fairways.

Yao Zhang, another Colorado State University graduate student, has applied the DAYCENT model to turfgrass systems using data from previous field experiments for calibration. Simulated clipping yields, evapotranspiration (ET), nitrate leaching, and soil temperature of Kentucky bluegrass turf compared well with the measured values from golf courses (within 16 percent of the observed values). The DAYCENT model tests best management practices for Kentucky bluegrass rough. For semiarid regions such as Colorado, the model predicts a 50 percent reduction in nitrous oxide emissions when irrigation decreases from replacing 100 percent of ET to 60 percent. The model simulation also suggested that gradually reducing nitrogen fertilization as turf stands age from 0 to 50 years would reduce long-term nitrous oxide emissions by 40 percent (Figure 1). The simulation indicates that the efficient use of resources such as water and fertilizer can have a dramatic effect on the emission of greenhouse gases from golf course turfgrass.

 

Research-2014-05-16-02
DAYCENT model estimated greenhouse gas budget for high-quality Kentucky bluegrass roughs using (a) conventional management and (b) best management practices. Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide greenhouse gases are converted to g CO2 m-2 for graphical presentation. The gray area represents the amount of carbon that the grass is able to store in the soil as organic matter. In this example, as the turfgrass ages, using lower amounts of a slow release nitrogen fertilizer significantly reduces the carbon footprint of the golf course rough.

 
Source:  Mike Kenna (mkenna@usga.org)

Additional Information: Carbon Footprint and Agronomy Practices

Contact the Green Section Staff

 


Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
Chevron
   

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image
Rolex
   

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.



Rolex image
IBM
   

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image
Lexus
   

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express
   

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment


AmEx image