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Crop, Forage and Turfgrass Management Abstract - Applied Turfgrass Science

Documenting Trends in Land-Use Characteristics and Environmental Stewardship Programs on US Golf Courses


This article in CFTM

  1. Vol. 3 No. 1
    unlockOPEN ACCESS
    Received: Oct 05, 2016
    Accepted: Jan 29, 2017
    Published: March 20, 2017

    * Corresponding author(s): gelernter@paceturf.org
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  1. Wendy D. Gelernter *a,
  2. Larry J. Stowella,
  3. Mark E. Johnsonb and
  4. Clark D. Brownc
  1. a  PACE Turf, 1267 Diamond St., San Diego, CA 92109
    b  Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, 1421 Research Park Dr., Lawrence, KS 66049
    c  National Golf Foundation, 1150 US Highway 1, Suite 401, Jupiter, FL 33477
Core Ideas:
  • A survey of land-use characteristics and environmental stewardship programs on US golf courses was conducted in 2015 as a follow-up to an initial, 2005, study.
  • There were significant acreage reductions in maintained turf, as well as in overseeded and irrigated turf.
  • Trends in decreased acreage came about primarily through a combination of voluntary reductions in acreage and a net decrease in the number of golf facilities in the USA.
  • Variations in land-use allocations occurred regionally, as well as for public compared with private facilities and 9-hole compared with 18-hole facilities, suggesting that climate, economics, and even real estate values are involved in these decisions.


Since an initial survey that documented land-use characteristics and environmental stewardship programs for 2005, the acreage for an average 18-hole golf facility has changed little, with a median acreage of 151 acres in 2005 and 150 acres in 2015. In contrast, the acreage of maintained turf on 18-hole facilities has decreased significantly during that same period, from 99.2 acres (or 66% of 18-hole facility acreage) to 95.1 acres (or 63% of 18-hole facility). Natural or native vegetation comprises approximately 17% of 18-hole facility acreage, while the remaining acreage is composed of water features (4.2%), buildings, (1.5%), bunkers (1.6%), and parking lots (1.6%). The acreage of winter overseeded turf in the Transition, Southwest and Southeast regions has decreased by 49% since 2005. Trends in turf-type use have varied only slightly since 2005, with bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.) making up 34% of all US acreage, followed by Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) (23%) and annual bluegrass (P annua L.) (11%). The observed reductions in golf course facility and maintained turf acreage since 2005 were the result of an interaction between a net decrease in the number of facilities in the United States and voluntary reductions in the size of facility features. The most commonly cited reasons cited for turf reductions included cutting the costs for water and labor, but also for fertilizers, pesticides, and energy.

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