California’s 865 golf courses consume less than 1% of the potable water consumed in the state. If the industry were to disappear tomorrow, Californians wouldn’t notice any difference in the water situation; they would notice the loss of a $13.2 billion industry, and the state’s largest municipalities would notice the loss of revenue streams used to support their park systems.
This is not an excuse for inaction; it is however an inconvenient fact for those who would lay disproportionate blame on the golf industry for California’s current water problems.
Because of this “routine,” the industry is poised to meet the challenges and mandates of the current emergency by simply ramping up what is already in place. The industry is poised to do so with minimal impacts upon the integrity and playability of its golf courses, enabling it to continue to provide golfers with optimal playing experiences.
And when the current crisis recedes into memory, the industry may take its foot off the conservation accelerator a bit, but it will continue its march toward a future in which tomorrow’s golf courses use less water than they do today, both individually and collectively.
The California golf industry began reducing its water footprint years ago by engaging in the following practices as a matter of routine:
• Investing in sophisticated weather based computer controlled irrigation systems;
• Performing regular irrigation audits;
• Training workforces in the arts and science of water conservation;
• Reducing irrigable turf and redesigning irrigation systems to accommodate the reduction;
• Eliminating water intensive practices such as over seeding protocols;
• Replacing water intensive cool weather grass species with warm weather species that require less irrigation;
• Using drought tolerant native species in place of non-natives that require irrigation;
• Drafting drought contingency plans that allow for the seamless accommodation of reductions in a drought emergency; and
• Developing close working relationships with water districts for the purpose of collaborating on additional ways to reduce the game’s water footprint.