Water Use by US Golf Courses

Posted July 13th, 2014

Golf is a big water user, but so is growing lettuce

The grass doesn’t stay green automatically.  The average golf course gulps down 10,000 gallons of water per day.

According to a report by the United States Golf Association:

There are an estimated 1,504,210 acres of maintained turfgrass (greens, tees, fairways, rough) on golf facilities in the U.S. An estimated 1,198,381 acres or 80 percent of maintained turfgrass are irrigated.

Approximately 80 acres of an average 18-hole golf course’s 100 acres of maintained turfgrass are irrigated.

From 2001-2005, an estimated total of 31,877 acres of irrigated turfgrass were added to existing golf facilities in the U.S. The greatest net gain in irrigated acreage 

From 2003-2005, the average water use for golf course irrigation in the U.S. was estimated to be 2,312,701 acrefeet per year. That equates to approximately 2.08 billion gallons of water per day for golf course irrigation in the U.S. 

According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s “Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2000”  report,approximately 408 billion gallons of water per day are withdrawn in the U.S. Golf course irrigation accounts for 0.5 percent of this total. 

Water use varies significantly by agronomic region. An average 18-hole golf facility in the Southwest region 
uses an average of 4 acre-feet of water per irrigated acre per year. An average 18-hole golf facility in the 
Northeast region uses an average of 0.8 acre-feet of water per irrigated acre per year.

Sources of this water?

52 percent use water from ponds or lakes.

46 percent use water from on-site wells.

17 percent use water from rivers, streams and

14 percent use water from municipal water


12 percent use recycled water for irrigation.


Gazette’s conclusion:  Golf courses use oceans of water, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared with total water usage.  Agricultural irrigation is, of course, the biggest water user by far. Ironically, golf uses more water than water polo.

Source:  USGA.

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement