How Golf Communities Benefit the Environment

by Robert Borges on May 6, 2020

Are golf courses environmentally friendly?

No. Yes. Sometimes. It’s complicated.

When considering how golf courses affect the environment, the answer can be pretty nuanced, and far from simple.  

It’s true, golf courses are often criticized for their negative impact on the environment. Fertilizers and pesticides can cause groundwater pollution, and the loss of natural habitats and wetlands is not uncommon, unfortunately. 

But golf course environmental impact can also be quite positive, if managed correctly. 


Environmental Opportunities For Golf Communities

With proper education and assistance from renowned environmental organizations like Audubon International, along with golf course superintendents being mindful of their natural surroundings, golf courses are in a unique position to provide a plethora of environmental benefits. 

Now more than ever, golf communities are standing out and gaining a competitive advantage by striving to conserve, preserve, and protect their ecological surroundings. 

The environmental benefits and opportunities for golf courses/communities include:

Wildlife and Habitat Management

Native plants and wildlife can flourish on a golf course that’s properly maintained. While local climate dictates the types of habitat and wildlife that are part of a golf course (courses near the Atlantic Ocean in South Carolina are much different than what you’ll find in Scottsdale, AZ, for example), understanding the natural site conditions can go a long way in protecting the environment. 

By using practices that reduce pesticides and remaining thoughtful in building bird houses and bat boxes and stocking ponds, defense against insects happens more naturally. With proper management, golf course communities can become thriving ecosystems—preserving natural areas within urban environments and providing much-needed sanctuaries for an abundance of life.

Water Conservation

Environmentally-conscious golf communities are serious about optimizing water usage. In fact, most can be maintained with far less water than you might expect. According to a United States Geological Survey, golf course irrigation accounts for only 0.5% of the 408 billion gallons of water used per day in the U.S. This is due in large part to the aggressive water plans and equipment used by most courses. Filtering stormwater runoff through golf course wetlands and turfgrass can help rehabilitate degraded landscapes and control flooding while simultaneously supporting native plants and wildlife. 

Through optimal watering times, low-pressure irrigation systems, and precise planning, golf course environmental impact can be beneficial to protecting water resources. 

Water Quality Management

With water scarcity on the rise in recent years, many golf courses are now using treated wastewater to maintain their lush appearance. Cleansed of major pollutants, the water still contains trace amounts of salt and heavy metals which is perfect for the dense, natural filtration properties of turfgrass. Water that starts as non-potable is used for course irrigation and becomes cleansed by the grass and plants before making its way back to lakes, streams, and groundwater. 

In the end, there’s no getting around the environmental issues facing golf courses. But as you can see, the potential to make a positive impact is there, and continues to gain momentum. As our responsibility to protect and preserve the planet becomes more vital, golf communities have stepped up to do their part.


PCR spotlights hundreds of golf communities who strive to actively practice and promote environmentally-positive management.