Golf courses and the environment go hand in hand. To many outside of the golf industry, the common theory may be that golf courses and golf course owners are the worst wasters of water in the state and that golf courses, as a whole, are bad for the environment.

The fact is that golf courses–led by the best superintendents and maintenance staffs in the industry–are at the forefront of conservation and other ways to ensure our environment thrives.

The golf course industry works closely with local water authorities to conserve the maximum amount of water possible. In Southern Nevada alone, golf courses have reduced turf imprints by more than 1000 acres over the last decade and in addition to other conservation efforts have saved more two billion gallons of water–and counting.

In addition, golf courses are committed to being a positive addition to the environment and several have been named official Audubon Society Sanctuaries for wildlife and serve as flood zone outlets in times of rain.

The Nevada Golf Alliance members are leaders in protecting and conserving the environment at every level.

Nevada Water Usage

Golf Courses in Southern Nevada are limited to 6.3 acre-feet of water per irrigated acre annually. Each golf course must submit its own water-use reduction plan containing at least the following elements:

  • Physical description of the course with detailed descriptions of irrigated areas
  • Itemized accounting of water use for the calendar year
  • A review of spray irrigation efficiency
  • A description of key water-use reduction strategies and timelines for implementation

Golf courses in the City of Las Vegas are subject to turf restrictions set at 5 acres average per hole, with a maximum 10 additional acres for driving ranges.

Golf courses in Southern Nevada have removed over 900 acres of turfgrass, saving over 2 billion gallons of  water. Recycled water represents 35% of all golf course water use in the Southwest Agronomic region (Southwest includes Southern Nevada) (GCSAA Water Use and Conservation Practices on U.S. Golf  Courses, Phase II, Volume 1).

Over 45% of respondents (Southwest Region) surveyed in the GCSAA Water Use and Conservation Practices on U.S. Golf Courses (Phase II, Volume 1) have adopted recycled water use. The national average is just above 15%.

Water use in the Upper West/Mountain Region (including Northern Nevada) decreased by 5.4 % from 2005 to 2013 according to the GCSAA Water Use and Conservation Practices on U.S. Golf Courses (Phase II, Volume 1).

Superintendents employs numerous methods to reduce water use including:

  • Irrigation audit
  • Turf reduction
  • Soil moisture meters
  • Wetting agents
  • Development of drought emergency plans
  • Continuing education and supporting university-backed turf grass research that places an emphasis on developing more drought and salt-tolerant varieties of turf.

A few specific examples: 

  • TPC Summerlin NEVER overseeds
  • Anthem just did renovations that will save millions on water usage
  • Reflection Bay doing renovations to save millions on water usage
  • Southern Highlands just did renovations taking out grass to save on water usage

Southern Nevada Water Usage 

Water Smart Landscaping-Golf Course Participation

  • Since 2000 golf courses have converted 39,208,265 (900 acres) square feet of out-of-play turf to Water Smart Landscaping.
  • An additional 33 acres have been converted outside the Water Smart Landscape program.
  • Cumulative Water Savings of 2,152,831,615 gallons.
  • 72% of golf courses have participated in the program.
  • Conversions were accomplished through 366 separate projects, incentives paid; $41,003,009.13
  • Golf courses have reduced the acres pre-hole from 5.09 in 2000 to 4.14 in 2019.

Water Crises Resources For Reference