Industry News

GCSAA survey shows superintendents maintaining golf courses more efficiently

Survey data show maintained turfgrass acres decreased from 2005-2021 and increased use of cleaner energy sources with less water

Lawrence, Kan. (June 27, 2023) – The median total of maintained turfgrass acres on 18-hole U.S. golf courses declined 3% between 2005 and 2021, according to recently released survey data.

The survey was conducted by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) as part of its Golf Course Environmental Profile program, which began in 2005. The survey was funded in part by the United States Golf Association (USGA) through the GCSAA Foundation. 


The survey also found that course length for 18-hole courses increased by a median of 56 yards from 6,649 yards in 2005 to 6,705 in 2021. According to the report, from 2005 to 2015, the median increase in course length was 38 yards, and between the 2015 and 2021 survey, the median length increased by 18 yards.

While the study found that the total number of maintained turfgrass acres on U.S. golf courses declined by 14% in 2021 compared to the acreage in 2005, primarily due to course closures, the maintained acres that remain are being managed more efficiently.

Recently released studies from GCSAA show that 29% less water use occurred through operations, representing two-thirds of the result and course closures representing one-third of the results. In addition, application rates have declined by 31% for nitrogen, 46% for potassium and 64% for phosphorus over the same time period.

The study also provides data on energy use at U.S. golf courses showing the percentage of golf facilities using cleaner energy sources, such as natural gas and solar-electric, increased by 3.9% while the number of golf facilities using gasoline and diesel declined by 3%.

The survey is based on data collected from golf course superintendents and independently analyzed by scientists Travis Shaddox, Ph.D., Bluegrass Art and Science LLC., and J. Bryan Unruh, Ph.D. University of Florida and the National Golf Foundation (NGF), which published the findings for peer review before making the information public.

“The surveys show that superintendents continue to manage the golf course using less water and fewer inputs than before,” said Rhett Evans, CEO of GCSAA. “Through this, they are able to reduce the footprint of maintained areas while enhancing the natural beauty of the course.”

The property and environmental practices survey is the final report in the third series of GCSAA’s Golf Course Environmental Profile program. 

To learn more and to see the complete survey report, read the upcoming July issue of GCSAA’s GCM magazine at


The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) is a leading golf organization in the United States. Its focus is on golf course management, and since 1926 GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the U.S. and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to more than 19,000 members in more than 78 countries. The association’s mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and improve communities through enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. Visit GCSAA at or find us on Facebook or Twitter. Visit our industry-leading magazine at

The GCSAA Foundation is the philanthropic organization of the GCSAA. Its mission is to secure funding and support to strengthen advocacy, education, and research that advances the work of golf course management professionals. Visit the Foundation at

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