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Ten guidelines to saving water and reducing turf

In an era when global environmental concerns have taken center stage and the golf business is greatly affected by resource issues, the importance of one specific resource stands out: Water.

Conserving and making the best use of water is essential to the health of the planet and to our great game. All of us in the golf business must work together toward more sensible policies and practices regarding water use. The USGA may have said it best by stating that going forward, “brown is the new green.”

We at Robert Trent Jones II have devised our own water guidelines, which we closely consider when working on both new design projects and golf course renovations. They serve our clients’ financial interests and the greater good of the environment while making golf firmer, faster, and more fun.


  1. Create challenging, beautiful, and natural layouts with less irrigable turf to help reduce overall water consumption.
  2. Maximize the efficiency of water that IS used by employing state-of-the-art technology such as soil moisture sensors and other monitoring equipment, as well as precision pump stations and water distribution systems.
  3. Modify soil profiles as appropriate to improve drainage and increase the health of turf grass so it can thrive on less water.
  4. Choose the most appropriate turf grasses and plantings for specific sites and micro-climates in an effort to lower evapotranspiration rates and ensure that water delivered to the golf course accomplishes as much as possible
  5. Where available and appropriate, use brown water, brackish water and other secondary water sources for irrigation, and create landscapes that filter water on site.
  6. Help golf courses reduce their overall carbon footprint not just through lower water use but also through sustainable practices having to do with consumption of electricity, fossil fuels and other resources.
  7. Focus on both environmental and financial sustainability on every golf hole on every project.
  8. Oversee the education and training of superintendents to ensure that the professionals entrusted with the precious resource of water can maximize the benefits that have been designed into the course layout and conditions and water distribution systems.
  9. Educate end users about the benefits of using less water on golf courses and reinforce the notion that firm and fast courses that require less water are also more fun, natural, and traditional to play.
  10. In all endeavors, be the best global citizens we can be.

—Robert Trent Jones, Jr., Chairman and Master Architect, Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Architects, and Past President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects

—Bruce Charlton, President and Chief Design Officer, Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Architects, and President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (2008-2009) 

“Following upon our previous "mission statements" concerning environmental responsibility and public golf that lay out the most important principles guiding our work, we at Robert Trent Jones II believe that water issues in the golf business are important enough to warrant a mission statement addressing this most precious of commodities. Our company stands firm in its commitment to designing and renovating golf courses in ways that conserve water, use water more efficiently, and are both environmentally and financially sustainable for course owners and players of our great game.”

— Robert Trent Jones II Chairman and Master Architect

Download this document.

Poppy Hills Case Study

Photo: Joann Dost


See more about our renovation at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, California to learn how we put the “top ten” list of water conservation techniques into action.