The USGA has added 17 new sustainability projects this year as part of the Mike Davis Program for Advancing Golf Course Management.
The program invests approximately $2 million in grants annually and includes more than 70 new and ongoing university research projects at more than 25 universities and other entities making it the golf industry's largest private turfgrass and environmental research effort.
These research investments, as part of the USGA Green Section, total nearly $50 million since 1983. The subsequent sustainable management practices have contributed to a 29 percent decrease in water use since 2005. The Davis Grants engage university researchers and scientists in the effort to optimize natural resource use and playing conditions. Research from the program has helped to deliver stress-tolerant and higher quality turfgrasses and has enhanced all aspects of holistic management – from constructing and managing putting greens to monitoring for and controlling troublesome diseases.
"It's not enough to simply love this game and celebrate its current growth," said USGA CEO Mike Whan in a news release. "We've got to respect the game enough to truly care about how we leave it for the generations that will follow us. We all need to appreciate the importance of improving golf's sustainability footprint and be committed to identifying new ways to reduce golf's resource consumption."
Some notable projects being funded in 2023 include an effort at New Mexico State University to validate soil-moisture prediction with strategies such as satellite-based sensors, which could eventually reduce manual collection of soil-moisture readings. A new study at Rutgers University is evaluating the feasibility of using warm-season grasses in Northern regions, including the financial implications. The USGA is also working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to further characterize the drought tolerance of native grasses that also tolerate salty irrigation water.
According to the USGA, these funded research projects have combined to save the industry nearly $2 billion annually including $201 million from advancing irrigation with efficiencies in turfgrass water use, $529 million from advancing irrigation scheduling with soil-moisture meters and $469 million from advancing naturalized rough.