The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America categorizes California golf facilities into three agronomic regions: Pacific, Upper West/Mountain and Southwest (encompassing Southern California). With Southern California having the largest share of the state’s population and a small percentage of its rainfall, the golf industries responsible use of water is crucial for the economic vitality and future growth of the game.
- Golf courses represent only 3.5 percent of the total turfgrass in California (most turfgrass acreage is associated with home and commercial landscapes, parks, schools, sports fields, and right of ways).
- Golf courses consume approximately 1.2 percent of the total water consumed for crop irrigation in California, and account for less than 1 percent of total fresh water used in the state.
- Approximately 12 percent of golf courses nationwide use reclaimed water as a source for irrigation. 37 percent of golf courses in the Southwest Region (which includes Southern California facilities) use recycled water as a source for irrigation. This is the highest percentage of any region in the United States.
- With nearly $3.4 billion in revenue and 95,805 irrigated acres of turf, California golf courses generate $34,266 per irrigated acre and $10,124 per acre-foot of water. This is substantially higher than other significant water users and results in greater economic output, jobs and taxes per unit of land and water.
- Conserving water promises a range of savings that affect the bottom line. It means less mowing, fuel consumption, labor, wear and tear on equipment, and electricity to run irrigation. Overwatering also encourages diseases and can lead to detrimental turf conditions including black layer. Additionally, a firm and fast golf course allows multi-dimensional playability and creates a more intriguing test of golf.
- Golf courses are at the forefront of irrigation technology. Computerized, precision irrigation systems with the ability to control individual heads, soil moisture sensors, wetting agents and on-site weather stations are just a few of the tools at the disposal of the modern day golf course superintendent.
Southern California golf facilities are economic, environmental and recreational assets to local communities. Water is essential for golf. Communities derive direct value from the water applied to golf facilities by generating an economic return while adding social and environmental benefits. Water availability, cost and quality of the water used for irrigation remain important issues for the long-term sustainability of golf, particularly in California.