GCSAA survey shows decrease in maintained turfgrass and increase in course length

By |  June 28, 2023 0 Comments

The median total of maintained turfgrass acres on 18-hole U.S. golf courses declined 3 percent between 2005 and 2021, according to survey data from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).

The survey, based on data collected from superintendents, is independently analyzed by scientists Travis Shaddox, Ph.D., Bluegrass Art and Science, and J. Bryan Unruh, Ph.D., University of Florida and the National Golf Foundation, which published the findings for peer review before making the information public.

“The surveys show that superintendents continue to manage the golf course using less water and fewer inputs than before,” said Rhett Evans, CEO of GCSAA. “Through this, they are able to reduce the footprint of maintained areas while enhancing the natural beauty of the course.”

In addition to the decrease in maintained turf, the study found:

  • Length for 18-hole courses increased by a median of 56 yards from 6,649 yards in 2005 to 6,705 in 2021. According to the report, between the 2015 and 2021 surveys, the median length increased by 18 yards.
  • The total number of maintained turfgrass acres on U.S. golf courses declined by 14 percent in 2021 compared to 2005, primarily due to course closures.
  • Maintained acres that remain are managed more efficiently, as 29 percent less water use occurred through operations.
  • Application rates have declined by 31 percent for nitrogen, 46 percent for potassium and 64 percent for phosphorus over the same time period — 2005-2021.
  • The percentage of golf facilities using energy sources, such as natural gas and solar, increased by 3.9 percent while the number of golf facilities using gasoline and diesel declined by 3 percent.

The property and environmental practices survey is the final report in the third series of GCSAA’s Golf Course Environmental Profile program.

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