Recent record rains throughout the United States demonstrate how many communities rely upon golf courses to help handle torrential rain and subsequent flooding. A properly designed course provides a home for storm water, allowing for water filtration while keeping groundwater clean.

The American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) puts course owners in contact with golf course architects who can help maximize the storm water management capabilities of golf courses.

“ASGCA members are committed to the design and renovation of golf courses that work with Mother Nature and provide a wide range of benefits,” said ASGCA Vice President Rick Phelps. “A well-designed course provides a positive environmental benefit to homes and businesses near the course, and the entire community.”

Examples exist from the United States and around the world of communities that reap the benefits afforded by a course that has planned in advance to make the most of water – whether that water was wanted or unwanted.

  • Groesbeck Municipal Golf Course in Lansing, Mich., is a vital community partner in assisting the city and township’s handling of storm water flow, thanks to a project designed by Jerry Matthews, ASGCA. Nine holes of the course were re-designed, in part, to include seven acres of storage ponds used for excess water flow during heavy storms. Today the 30-acre wetland system, including the golf course, can handle 10 million gallons of water per day, the equivalent of two “25-year storms” back-to-back.
  • Deerpath Golf Course in Lake Forest, Ill., was routinely flooded by runoff from a nearby hospital campus until former ASGCA President Bob Lohmann and Lohmann Golf Designs (LGD) renovated the course. LGD constructed a one-acre retention pond and several acres of man-made wetlands to serve as an attractive, effective overflow network. Ducks, heron and egrets have since found a home at Deerpath, and the wetland system is working effectively to filter the polluted off-site water before it re-enters the nearby Skokie River. LGD also rebuilt 59 bunkers which serve as a maintenance upgrade and improve the visual quality and playability of the course.
  • In 2009, an experts’ committee assigned by the Supreme Court in Sri Lanka reviewed the environmental impact of a golf course development on state-owned land. The report stated, in part, “comparison of the data from before and after the project indicated that the flood retention capacity of the area has been increased.” The committee observed the area surrounding the complex was offering ecological services such as flood retention, green space for urban aesthetics and for maintaining air quality and controlling heat and noise.

ASGCA members are experienced in designing for efficient water use. The third edition of “An Environmental Approach to Golf Course Development” has explanations of design tenets used by members and case studies that illustrate examples of these best practices. Also, ASGCA has created a free, one-page information sheet detailing the focus placed on water and the environment.

These information pieces may be obtained by visiting here, calling ASGCA at (262) 786-5960 or emailing

ASGCA Background

Founded in 1946 by 14 leading architects, the American Society of Golf Course Architects is a non-profit organization comprised of experienced golf course designers located throughout the United States and Canada. Members have completed a rigorous two-year long application process that includes the peer review of four representative golf courses. ASGCA members are experienced golf course architects, able to counsel in all aspects of golf course design and remodeling and comprise many of the great talents throughout the golf industry.


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