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References Baum‐Haley, Melissa. Landscape Irrigation Best Management Practices. Irrigation Association and American Society of Irrigation Consultants. 2014. BMPs/IA/Advocacy/Landscape-Irrigation-BMPs.aspx Cook, Phillip J., Peter J. Landschoot, and Maxim J. Schloss. “Inhibition of Pythium spp. and Suppression of Pythium Blight of Turfgrasses with Phosphonate Fungicides.” Plant Disease. 93.8 (2009): 809-814. Day, Eric. Native and Solitary Bees in Virginia. Virginia Cooperative Extension. 2015. Duncan, Ron R., Robert N. Carrow, and Mike Huck. “Understanding Water Quality and Guidelines to Management.” United States Golf Association Green Section Record. 38.5 (2000): 14-24. Ervin, Erik and Adam Nichols. “Organic Matter Dilution Programs for Sand-based Putting […]


Acronyms AAPFCO Association of American Plant Food Control Officials AST above-ground storage tank BMP best management practice C carbon Ca calcium CEC cation exchange capacity Cl chlorine CRN controlled release nitrogen Cu copper CWA Clean Water Act DCR Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation DEQ Virginia Department of Environmental Quality DO dissolved oxygen DU distribution uniformity EC electrical conductivity EE enhanced efficiency EIFG Environmental Institute for Golf EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency ET evapotranspiration Fe iron FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency FIFRA Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act FRAC Fungicide Resistance Action Committee GCSAA Golf Course Superintendents Association of […]

Who We Are

Who We Are Golf Course Superintendents Association of America The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) is the professional association for the men and women who manage and maintain the game’s most valuable resource–the golf course. Today, GCSAA and its members are recognized by the golf industry as one of the key contributors in elevating the game and business to its current state. Since 1926, GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the United States and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kansas, the association provides education, information, and […]

12 Energy

12 Energy The use of energy for all activities in society is of great interest worldwide. Golf courses use a variety of energy sources, primarily electricity, gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane, and heating oil. Renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal, are being considered and used by more small business as the return on investment increases. These newer technologies offer opportunities to reduce dependencies on fossil fuels and to decrease our carbon footprint. To establish effective energy BMPs, the facility’s existing energy consumption should be evaluated, and improvements should be achieved through energy reduction, conservation, and new technologies. Energy […]

11 Landscape Design and Management

11 Landscape Design and Management The fundamental principle for the environmentally sound management of landscapes is “choose the right plant, in the right place.” Ideal landscape plants are native and adapted specifically to the soil, degree and direction of slopes, precipitation type and amounts, wind direction and speed, light patterns, and microclimate. Susceptibility to major damage by insects and other pests is another selection criterion, as are the nutrient levels of the area. Because native and/or adapted plants can mimic natural ecosystems, their use in the landscape can reduce overall management inputs, attract pollinators, provide multi-season interest, and enhance out-of-play […]

10 Maintenance Operations

10 Maintenance Operations It is the objective to manage the potential environmental risks associated with golf course maintenance operations. Our industry has a need and responsibility to implement, manage, measure, and improve all aspects of environmental stewardship. It is imperative that hazardous materials be handled, stored, recycled, and disposed in a safe, healthy, and environmentally sound manner. Pollution prevention includes the proper delivery, storage, handling, and disposal of all chemicals, washwater, and wastewater. For example, washwater from pesticide application equipment must be managed as a pesticide. Conversely, wastewater not contaminated with harmful chemicals can be reused or discharged to a […]

9 Pollinator Protection

9 Pollinator Protection Pollination is an essential need for seed-bearing plants. Of the 1,400 crop plants grown around the world, almost 80% require pollination by invertebrates or animals. Pollinating visits from bees and other insects, birds, bats, etc., are a critical component of a stable food supply. In the United States alone, pollination of agricultural crops is valued at billions of dollars annually. Many pollinator species have experienced significant population declines over the last several decades. While a number of factors have contributed to this decline, the most critical may be habitat loss, largely from large scale agricultural operations and […]

8 Pesticide Management

8 Pesticide Management Pesticide use should be part of an overall pest management strategy that includes biological controls, cultural methods, pest monitoring, and other applicable practices. When a pesticide application is deemed necessary, its selection should be based on effectiveness, toxicity to non-target species, cost, site characteristics, and its solubility and persistence in the environment. Storage and handling of pesticides in their concentrated form poses the highest potential risk to groundwater and surface water. For this reason, it is essential that facilities for storing and handling pesticides be properly sited, designed, constructed, and operated in accordance with federal and state […]

7 Integrated Pest Management

7 Integrated Pest Management When turfgrasses face stresses such as the heat and drought found in Virginia’s transition zone climate, pests can become a problem. Pesticides alone will not control pests; a more effective approach is to develop an IPM program to reduce pest damage and reliance on pesticides. The EPA defines IPM as “an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices.” The primary objective of an IPM program is to reduce the total pesticide load on the golf course by using a combination of tactics to control or manage pests. […]

6 Cultural Practices

6 Cultural Practices Golf cultural practices, which include mowing, cultivation practices, and overseeding, maintain a turfgrass system (i.e. putting greens, tees, fairways, or roughs) for the desired use or function. For example, mowing creeping bentgrass and ultra-dwarf bermudagrass putting greens to a low height of cut (HOC) with well-adjusted and sharp blades – in addition to proper implementation of cultivation practices such as aerification and topdressing – maintains a uniform surface over time for smooth ball roll. In addition to the playability benefits of implementing cultural practices BMPs, these practices help to avoid sediment and nutrient runoff by maintaining the […]

5 Nutrient Management

5 Nutrient Management Proper nutrient management plays a key role in the reduction of environmental risk and also increases course profitability. Among other benefits, applied nutrients increase the available pool of nutrients and allow turfgrass to recover from damage, improve its resistance to stress, and increase its playability. However, an increase in available nutrients also raises the potential risk of environmental impact. Nutrients may move beyond the turfgrass via leaching or runoff, which may directly impact water quality. Other organisms also respond to increases in nutrients and, in some cases, these organisms may deleteriously alter the ecosystem. The goal of […]

4 Water Quality Monitoring

4 Water Quality Monitoring Regularly scheduled water quality monitoring can be both preventive and curative in terms of environmental impact. The public perceives that water sources on golf courses are contaminated with nutrients and chemicals applied in turf management. However, as demonstrated in a high-profile research project conducted at Purdue University’s North Golf Course, a properly designed and managed golf course can actually improve the quality of the water entering golf courses from stormwater runoff originating from neighboring farmland and residential development (Kohler et al. 2004). Water quality monitoring measures the likely origin and extent of sedimentation and nutrient inputs […]

3 Water Management

3 Water Management Whether natural or manmade, surface water in the form of lakes, ponds, and streams has long been associated with golf courses. Natural lakes and ponds are usually connected to existing water sources, such as wetland areas. Irrigation impoundments (lakes, ponds, and constructed wetlands) can be incorporated into the design of a course and used both to manage stormwater and to function as a source for irrigation. Overall, water management incorporates not only the information contained in this chapter, but many of the issues discussed throughout this document, including: Design considerations such as the use of vegetated buffers. […]

2 Irrigation

2 Irrigation The irrigation system on a golf course is critical for the maintenance of high-quality playing conditions. Throughout Virginia, various types of irrigation systems are used, ranging from basic quick connect and hose applications to advanced multi-row sprinkler systems. Advanced systems conserve water, making use of the latest in computerized central control, state-of-the-art pumping systems, sprinklers with highly efficient nozzles, soil sensors, radio communication, and weather data collection devices. Because every golf course is different, the requirements, design, and specifications of irrigation systems differ. Therefore, irrigation recommendations should be adapted to fit the needs of a particular system and […]

1 Planning, Design, and Construction

1 Planning, Design, and Construction Building a new golf course or renovating an existing golf course requires careful consideration of the health of the golf course ecosystem during planning, design, and construction. Designers can draw inspiration and develop a balanced, functional design through intense study of the onsite and neighboring ecological features, habitat documentation, terrain analysis, circulation patterns (such as air, water, wildlife, and traffic), and a variety of other constraints and attributes. The thoughtful use of BMPs during planning, design, and construction should result in an environmentally sustainable golf course that operates efficiently and profitably. Because each golf course […]


Table 1. Best practices for golf course planning, design, and construction Planning Step Description Assemble Team The team should include, but not be limited to, a golf course architect, golf course superintendent, clubhouse architect, irrigation engineer, environmental engineer, energy analyst, economic consultant, civil engineer, soil scientist, golf course builder, and a legal team. Define Objectives Identify realistic goals, formulate a timeline, etc. Conduct a Feasibility Study Evaluate finances, environmental issues, water availability and sources, and energy, materials, and labor needs. Identify applicable government regulations. Select Site Site should meet project goals and expectations. Identify all strengths and weakness of each […]

Spring ABW Management

The annual bluegrass weevil (ABW), Listronotus maculicollis, can have two to three generations per year and cause significant damage to many golf courses in New York. But monitoring and managing ABW in an economically and environmentally sustainable way can be difficult. However, by using proper scouting methods along with a well-informed decision-making process, you can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of ABW management at your facility. ABW adults overwinter in leaf litter, tall grasses, and other areas with dense organic matter that provides a buffered environment from harsh winter conditions. On a typical golf course, overwintering habitats include roughs, grassy […]


Introduction With nearly 37,000 acres of land devoted to golf courses in Virginia, golf courses provide abundant recreational opportunities to the state’s citizens and tourists, as well as valuable open space. Often located within large population centers such as Northern Virginia, Richmond, and the Hampton Roads areas, golf courses provide advantages over other types of development, such as habitat for birds and other wildlife, absorption of stormwater and its potential pollutants, oxygen from photosynthesis, and the cooling effect of evapotranspiration (ET). Because 70% of the state’s golf courses are located within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, protection of water quality is […]

Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy This site is owned and operated by Virginia Chapter Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (VGCSA). Your privacy on the Internet is of the utmost importance to us. VGCSA will not share information about individual users with any third party, except to comply with applicable law or valid legal process or to protect the personal safety of our users or the public. Because you voluntarily share certain types of information with us, we feel you should fully understand our policy and the terms and conditions surrounding the capture and use of that information. This privacy statement discloses what […]


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Acknowledgements The GCSAA and EIFG wish to thank the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, faculty Dr. J. Bryan Unruh, Dr. Travis Shaddox, Dr. Jason Kruse, and Mr. Don Rainey, who worked on this project, providing their knowledge and expertise to help the golf course industry; the USGA for its grant to fund this important project; the volunteers who served on the task group to review BMP and provide technical assistance; and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for permission to copy its publication Best Management Practices for the Enhancement of Environmental Quality on Florida Golf Course. […]

Front Page

  Overview Virginia’s golf course superintendents are dedicated to protecting the state’s natural resources. As a demonstration of this commitment, superintendents have partnered with Virginia Tech scientists to develop and document best management practices (BMPs) for golf course management. BMPs help golf course superintendents protect our state’s surface and groundwater resources, provide habitat for wildlife, reduce pesticide usage, and conserve energy. We have developed these research-based, voluntary guidelines specifically for our state. By documenting and implementing these practices across the state, we hope to showcase our role as environmental stewards and inform stakeholders about our commitment to this role. – […]