Energy Use and Environmental Practices on U.S. Golf Courses


Energy Use and Environmental Practices on U.S. Golf Courses

Do not overlook this tool to manage and improve water quality in your ponds.

Written by: Wendy Gelernter, Ph.D. and Larry Stowell, Ph.D.
Using surveys conducted by the GCSAA and the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG), this article discusses historic energy usage in the U.S. golf industry and proposes actions to reduce energy use in turf maintenance. Through the implementation of energy-efficiency measures, such as advanced lighting, HVAC upgrades, and programmable thermostats, non-turf maintenance activities (clubhouse, tennis courts, swimming pools) reduced energy usage by 31.4% between 2008 and 2015. By contrast, turf maintenance contributed no significant reductions in energy usage despite representing 47% of the total energy used. The authors make recommendations to reduce energy usage in turf operations and note that 31.2% of the electricity consumed on an 18-hole facility is used for pumping water.

While the authors focus primarily on improving irrigation pump efficiency, the recommendations can be equally applied to pond aeration and fountain pumps.


  • Replace pumps with more efficient systems
  • Employ green energy alternatives when available


  • Combined total energy use (electricity, gasoline, natural gas, propane, and heating oil) decreased 8.3%, primarily due to reductions in electricity consumption. Over the span of the research, electricity was the most used energy source, followed by gasoline and diesel.
  • 9% of facilities have conducted an energy audit, and 6.6% have a written energy conservation plan.
  • 4% of facilities purchased green electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal.
  • 2% of facilities are generating energy on-site (predominately solar power).

No notable changes in gasoline usage occurred, but a slight increase in diesel was noted and attributed to the adoption of diesel-equipment-intensive practices such as applying sand topdressing on fairways. The authors encourage weighing the benefits of reduced water, fertilizer, and pesticides from this practice with the increased cost of diesel. The benefits likely outweigh the costs, but all input costs should be considered.

Published: Golf Course Management, November 2017, Pages 60-69

Link to Full Article

PondHawk® BRIEFS™ (Beneficial Research Intended Exclusively For Superintendents) is provided by LINNE Industries, © 2022

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.

Golf Club

GMs, Mechanics, Owners, Pros, Superintendents