Water remains our most precious natural resource. American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) members work each day to design, renovate and maintain courses that not only conserve water, but also serve as living bodies to positively impact all aspects of the environment.

Since its founding in 1946, ASGCA and its members have shown respect for the land and the environment so integral to the game. ASGCA first formed its Environmental Committee in 1970, and remains dedicated to researching and better understanding the positive benefits that come from a measured focus on the environment – including water usage – and socio-economic factors of the game.

The Environmental Institute for Golf reports only 14% of water used by U.S. golf courses comes from municipal water systems, illustration that golf course owners and other decision-makers recognize the need to be good stewards of such a precious resource. More golf courses are using recycled water and others are adding detailed water plans to the long-range master plans for improvement that many ASGCA members create for their clients.

Efficient water use and management can be positively influenced by golf course design, according to ASGCA Past President Bruce Charlton.

“Experienced golf course architects bring knowledge to the table about how a golf course can be designed or renovated to use water efficiently and make sure the water used is managed properly,” said Charlton, president and chief design officer of Robert Trent Jones II International. “This goes beyond using recycled water and looks at aspects like topographical characteristics, how water flows naturally and grass varieties.”

A few ways design can influence water use and management include:

  • “Firm and fast” conditions, common in the United Kingdom, can make the game enjoyable on a level not always found on North American courses. More water doesn’t necessarily mean better playing conditions. Design that takes this type of play into account can decrease water usage.
  • The use of non-irrigated natural areas in the design of a golf course reduces the amount of water consumed throughout the life of the golf course.
  • Good land planning and stewardship is critical to successful water management. Incorporating natural runoff patterns as well as wetlands and storage ponds into the design helps capture and filter potential contaminants, and allows for water to replenish aquifers.
  • A golf course architect’s understanding of the grass plant and its soil medium can increase the plant’s ability to readily process important nutrients, reducing the amount of water required to keep the grass plant healthy.
  • “Water harvesting,” capturing rain that falls on the golf course, storing it, and utilizing it when needed.
  • The use if soil additives that hold moisture in the soil profile. Right where the roots of the grass plant make the grass a more efficient consumer of its nutrients. The actual grass plant will use less water due to a moister soil condition.

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. Visit here for ordering information.

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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