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Nutrient Use on Golf Courses

Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) has released the results of a nationwide survey of golf courses examining nutrient use and management on golf facilities. The results indicate that superintendents apply fertilizers at rates that fall within the guidelines recommended by university scientists.

These findings are contained in the article "Golf Course Environmental Profile Measures Nutrient Use and Management and Fertilizer Restrictions, Storage, and Equipment Calibration" published in the December 2009 edition of Applied Turfgrass Science. The article was authored by GCSAA Director of Research Clark Throssell, Ph.D.; Director of Environmental Programs Greg Lyman; Senior Manager of Environmental Programs Mark Johnson; Senior Manager of Market Research and Data Greg Stacey; and National Golf Foundation Director of Research Clark Brown.

"Nutrient use and its impact on water quality is a hot topic across many industries," Throssell says. "Those who are familiar with golf course management have long felt the industry has been a good steward when it comes to the management of fertilizers. With this study, we now have a much better picture of nutrient use across all regions of the country and how superintendents make application decisions. The report indicates where improvements can be made, but by and large the information is positive."

The information comes from the GCSAA's Golf Course Environmental Profile, a first-of-its-kind collection of data on property features, management practices and inputs associated with golf courses across the United States. The golf course environmental profile is actually a series of five surveys that were completed earlier this year. The process of conducting the five surveys will be replicated in the future to document change and identify key issues for potential research, programs and tools needed by the industry. The project is funded by The Environmental Institute for Golf made possible through a grant from The Toro Giving Program.

"Just as we found in the first two surveys (regarding the physical characteristics of golf courses, and water use and conservation) this one provides a valuable baseline of data regarding nutrient management on golf courses," Lyman said. "The data will help the industry when participating in policy-making decisions and communicating with a variety of constituents."

Among the key findings:

Non-subscribers of Applied Turfgrass Science can receive a copy of the article by contacting Throssell at

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