Golf BMPs Established in All 50 States – Three years after launching the initiative to establish golf course best management practices (BMPs) for all 50 states by the end of 2020, GCSAA has announced the project’s successful completion. As of Dec. 31, 2020, each state has published its own BMP guide that outlines golf course maintenance practices that protect and enhance the environment and are tailored to the state’s unique geographic conditions and regulatory climate.

“We knew these documents were a must as we work proactively with legislators, regulators and communities to demonstrate how superintendents are dedicated environmental stewards,” says GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans.

While the steering committees that led each state’s efforts were made up primarily of GCSAA members, the groups worked closely with others in the golf industry, university faculty and officials from various state agencies to author the BMPs.

To aid the efforts, GCSAA created the BMP Planning Guide and Template to offer a blueprint for the state documents, which address topics such as water conservation and management, nutrient management, waste disposal, integrated pest management, and pollinator protection. The USGA provided funding for the BMP Planning Guide and Template.

GCSAA further assisted the state BMP projects via grants, which were funded in part by the PGA Tour through GCSAA’s philanthropic organization, the Environmental Institute for Golf. The PGA of America, Jack Harrell Jr., and Herbert V. Kohler Jr. also contributed financial support for the creation of the state BMP manuals.

Prior to the launch of the initiative in 2017, seven states — Florida, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington — had already developed comprehensive golf course BMPs. These states updated their documents using GCSAA’s new resources. With the establishment of state BMPs, the initiative will now move on to its next phase: facility BMP manuals. Using the BMP Planning Guide and Template and their state guide, individual golf facilities can create a course-specific BMP manual to direct and document agronomic and environmental practices. Such handbooks also provide an easy, detailed reference to help golfers, lawmakers and community members better understand the operations behind the maintenance of one of their local green spaces.

Florida: Leading the Way in Golf BMPs

The Florida golf industry and University of Florida researchers have played a key role in this effort.  Florida developed its first statewide BMP program for the golf industry in 2009.  It was the result of a far-reaching, collaborative effort between superintendents, University of Florida researchers under the leadership of Dr. Bryan Unruh, and regulators. A major update of the manual is in process based on information drawn from the Master’s thesis work of Mark Kann, which explored barriers to adoption.  A University of Florida research team led by Dr. Bryan Unruh (with Don Rainey, Dr. Jason Kruse, and Dr. Travis Shaddox) were awarded the grant by the GCSAA to develop the online general manual and template which were utilized by states in developing personalized programs. TPF extends it congratulations to the Florida Golf Course Superintendent’s Association, to the many volunteers who worked on the project, and to those researchers who took the lead in this critical issue.