Golf Courses

Many parts of the world are suffering from drier conditions, with water becoming scarce and more precious.

Water conservation is critical for golf courses.

There are challenges ahead without question, but there is evidence that these challenges can be met. For instance, did you know that Los Angeles, which has added more than one million people in the past 30 years, uses the same amount of water today as it did in 1979?

In Phoenix, the city uses less water today than it did a decade ago and, even better, less water per person than two decades ago.

This has been accomplished in a variety of ways, such as more efficient water-delivery and storage systems. But most importantly, it has been done through effective water-conservation practices.

And if large cities can do that, golf courses, park and recreation centers, and other facilities can do it as well–and fortunately, many have.

Where’s The Water?

The development of golf courses in the United States is closely tied to the economy and the construction of high-end real-estate projects. In the 1920s, several major golf courses were constructed throughout the country, but this momentum stalled during the Depression and World War II, but recovered considerably in the 1960s and into the 1990s.

Now, U.S. golf-course development is in “code blue” status, according to David Hueber, president of the National Golf Association. This stagnant period has occurred because high-end real-estate development is on life support and the economy is struggling.

However, there is another reason as well, and it is all about water.

It has become very difficult to obtain a permit to build a golf course–whether private or public–because developers are not sure they will have enough water to support a course’s required maintenance. Many regions no longer allow potable water to be used for irrigation purposes.

Developers may also have trouble accessing “effluent” water–untreated or recycled water–which is not drinkable but can be used for irrigation.* However, in some parts of the country, local water departments simply do not have the infrastructure to deliver effluent water.

And then there is the cost factor. When something is in short supply, the cost usually increases; this applies to water as well.

In the 1970s, the cost of water for a typical American golf course was around $15,000 per year. At the very least, that amount has doubled in the past two decades, and in dry, populous states, such as California, a water bill might be as high as $300,000 per year.

As water availability continues to be a concern and water costs increase, along with current economic conditions, building a new golf course is simply out of the question in most parts of the country.

Saving water can mean saving money -- and golf courses.

However, for golf courses now in operation, conserving water not only is possible but also may be necessary for their survival.

Conservation Practices

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