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The Issue:

Rising water costs, unpredictable water supplies and an increasing risk of water restrictions pose serious threats to golf courses in the U.S. and around the world.

The Opportunity:

Being proactive has helped many golf course operators stay ahead of water issues, and the latest research, innovation and technology can better prepare many more courses to thrive long into the future.

The Challenge to the Game:

Increase action and adoption of proven water conservation measures on a broader scale, course by course and community by community – tailoring solutions to each geographic region.

The USGA’s Big Commitment:

The USGA will invest $30 million over the next 15 years to provide solutions that golf courses can use to economically reduce their use of water.

How do we make this happen?

The USGA has helped golf courses for the last 100 years by using the latest turfgrass research and management practices to help golf course owners and operators manage resources. We are part of a deep community of experts – including agronomists, superintendents, golf course architects, engineers and scientists – who are teaming together to further reduce golf’s use of water and help golf courses thrive long into the future.

There are nine key actions in three broad categories that these experts have identified for the conservation effort:

Fundamental Irrigation Stewardship

  • Irrigation system use and maintenance: Committing to monitoring water use, weather-based scheduling, and regular maintenance of sprinkler heads and system components to minimize leaks and imprecise watering
  • Turf quality expectations: Informing the expectations of golfers, owners and members to balance playing conditions, aesthetics and water use
  • Turf management: Employing products with demonstrated water efficiency and turf quality benefits under reduced irrigation

Advanced Irrigation Techniques and Conservation Strategies

  • Precision irrigation: Informing irrigation with data from soil-moisture sensors and remote-sensing platforms to make site-specific irrigation decisions
  • Introduce drought-resilient grassing strategies: Advancing drought-tolerant turfgrass use, reducing winter overseeding and exploring novel grassing schemes
  • Reduce irrigated acreage: Decreasing the amount of irrigation by thoughtfully replacing unnecessary turf with low-water-use plants and hardscapes
  • Install/manage subsurface drip irrigation: Delivering water directly to the rootzone to improve uniformity and limit evaporation and wind drift

Water Sourcing and Storage Stewardship

  • Surface water optimization: Reducing unnecessary surface water features and limiting evaporative or seepage losses from functional lakes, ponds and storage facilities
  • Alternative water: Water sources vary by community and state allocations, but alternative sources – such as recycled wastewater – can reduce a course’s reliance on public potable water supplies

What is the USGA doing now?

Through the next three years, the USGA will initiate pilot/demonstration programs and develop a playbook to help educate superintendents, golf course owners and golf course decision-makers on this critical effort. We are also creating a reference of guidelines to assist in decision-making and implementing best practices.

Over the next five years, we will be looking for partners who have already implemented some of these strategies or are interested in using them to demonstrate the benefits and increase adoption over the next 15 years.