Golf course superintendents treat every day like Earth Day

Key facts about golf for Earth Day 2023


Earth day graphic

In recognition of Earth Day April 22, there are several ways that members of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) demonstrate environmental stewardship while adding to the enjoyment of the game of golf.

Golf course superintendents follow science-based best management practices to protect the environment while providing quality playing surfaces. Results from GCSAA’s Golf Course Environmental Profile, a landmark study to develop a comprehensive profile of U.S. golf courses that began in 2006, show superintendents continue efforts to conserve important resources on golf courses.

Some of the key findings from the reports include:

  • Golf courses used 29 percent less water in 2021 than in 2005. 
  • Irrigated acres of U.S. golf facilities declined by 11.5% since 2005. 
  • Golf courses are participating in impactful conservation practices by keeping turf drier, increasing no-mow areas, hand watering, and changing to drought-tolerant varieties of turfgrass.
  • State golf course best management practices (BMP) guidelines now exist for all 50 states.
  • Water management plans are an important aspect of BMPs.

An average 18-hole golf course is 151 acres with 90 percent of that area consisting of native areas, managed turf grass, water features and other healthy landscapes. Golf courses exist within and rely upon healthy soils and water. Scientists say managed turfgrass filters pollutants, provides cooler temperatures, prevents erosion and improves air quality, while also providing a habitat for wildlife.

To learn more about the GCSAA Golf Course Environmental Profile visit

While being an environmental steward is a daily activity for superintendents, GCSAA annually recognizes GCSAA members who excel at it. Among the awards bestowed each year are the President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship and the GCSAA/Golf Digest Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards. The most recent winners of these awards include:

2023 President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship

  •  J. Bryan Unruh, Ph.D, professor, University of Florida

2022 GCSAA/Golf Digest Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards

  • Natural Resource Conservation – Wayne Mills, La Cumbre Country Club, Santa Barbara, Calif. 
  • Healthy Land Stewardship – Justin C. Brimley, Crystal Springs Golf Course, Burlingame, Calif.
  • Communications and Outreach – Scott R. Bower, CGCS, Martis Camp Club, Truckee, Calif.
  • Innovative Conservation – Russell F. Young, CGCS, Palm Tree Golf Course, Ponte Yigo, Guam