The Nov. 6–7 conference will include 20 experts who will discuss challenges facing the effort to make golf more sustainable November 1, 2012 By Hunki Yun, USGA

Irrigation is a necessity in the maintenance of golf courses. At the same time, water is an increasingly valuable resource, and the effects of its scarcity were brought into full focus by the droughts that impacted large parts of the country the past two summers.

In the coming years, water use will be a major factor in determining golf’s sustainability. To help tackle this challenge, the USGA has convened experts for a special summit that will take place Nov. 6–7 in Grapevine, Texas.

Titled “Golf’s Use of Water: Solutions for a More Sustainable Game,” the summit will feature 20 speakers from both within the golf world and from other industries that impact course maintenance practices.

“With events like this summit, the USGA is taking substantive steps to move the golf industry toward a healthier, sustainable future,” said USGA President Glen Nager. “We understand that water management and sustainability are long-term issues, and the path forward won’t be easy.

“I hope that years from now, we can look back at this gathering as a significant milestone on the path toward a more sustainable game.”

During the summit, speakers such as Veronica Blette of the Environmental Protection Agency, Doug Bennett of the Southern Nevada Water Authority and Karen Guz of the San Antonio Water System will present the larger view of the water-supply landscape, while Dana Lonn of The Toro Company and Michael Sullivan of IBM will discuss water-saving innovations that their companies are developing.

In addition, agronomists, researchers, developers, course designers and superintendents will discuss the myriad ways that golf is using water more efficiently, such as developing turfgrasses that require less water, irrigating with recycled water, and redesigning courses to reduce the area of maintained turf.

One of these speakers is Bob Farren, director of golf courses and grounds management at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina. Its No. 2 Course recently underwent a redesign that reduced the area of irrigated turf from 90 acres to 50 and the number of sprinkler heads from 1,100 to 450.

The site of the back-to-back U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open in 2014, Pinehurst No. 2 will provide an influential example of a course that has greatly reduced its water use and still presents a great, enjoyable golf experience.

Events like the summit are key components of the USGA’s larger effort to promote sustainability and environmentally friendly practices for golf courses. This mission dates back to 1920, when the USGA established the Green Section.

Other activities include pledging more than $40 million to turfgrass research, consulting with thousands of courses by USGA agronomists to encourage more effective, more efficient management practices, and support of environmental education programs such as the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses.

“Environmental and economic sustainability are central to the USGA’s mission and are primary components of our long-term commitment to the game,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. “From the golf course operator who can more effectively allocate his maintenance budget, to the player who benefits from firm course conditions, every part of the game can benefit from this global, industry-wide commitment.”


Hunki Yun is a senior writer for the USGA. Contact him at