Golf is a very popular sport played on a large swath of carefully landscaped grass where the lowest score wins. This large swath of grass typically requires a lot of water for upkeep.
Like golf, smart water usage is won by the lowest water usage, so it is very good news to see the United States Golf Association (USGA) committing to reduce water usage for irrigation and implementing a new device that uses artificial intelligence to save water.
The USGA pledged $30 million over the next 15 years to reduce water usage. This commitment is in addition to strategies and technologies that have been implemented to reduce water use by 29% over a recent 15-year span.
A study conducted by Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) showed, “U.S. golf facilities reduced water usage by 29% from 2005 to 2020. But greater savings and efficiencies are critical for a more sustainable future in one of the nation’s most popular participation sports.”
“We are enthused and impressed by the reductions golf course superintendents have pursued over the past decade, and even more optimistic about the future,” USGA CEO Mike Whan said to Forbes. “The USGA is ready to not only contribute our voice, but also our resources and expertise, to help our golf course partners and ensure golf’s future.”
In California, which has frequently endured severe drought conditions, a golf course in San Diego is utilizing new technology to optimize its water use. Golf course landscapers installed 12 sensors around the course that can track soil conditions while integrating with a micro-weather station and the course’s irrigation system to determine when and how much to water the grass.
The sensors, called the GX-1 by GroundWorx, collect soil moisture, temperature and underground salinity levels.
“From May to December of 2021, we saw a reduction of 24 million gallons of water based on our history of water use in previous years, and we saved about $135,000, which was a 29% decrease in costs,” David Yanez, director of agronomy and golf superintendent at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego, said to Fast Company. “We are still saving water, although not at the same rate because we had already decreased water usage by 25%. That’s the biggest cost savings—if I’m in the middle of summer, and I can skip an irrigation cycle, which is between half a million to 600,000 gallons a night, that’s a huge savings.”
The device not only saves Yanez money, but it also saves him time. Prior to installing the sensors, Yanez used a handheld moisture sensor at the surface of the greens, which is labor intensive, to be sure.
It sounds like golf courses will maintain their beauty while reducing the amount of water they require. That sounds like a win to us!