Editorial: Water at Work

By Ed Gowan

“The golf industry needs to do a better job of promoting its image,” said a representative of the State of Arizona at a recent USGAhosted Turf Conference at Phoenix CC. “We don’t have enough information from the industry.”
The State’s view of golf reminds me of the Far Side comic strip showing two deer standing together, one of them with a large red target on his chest. “Bummer of a birthmark, Bob,” says the other deer. That’s where Arizona Golf is with respect to water: We’re branded with a target on our foreheads. Our use of water is visible, and it’s a target for all of the people who are unaware, or uninterested, in the facts.
A recent poll of golfers indicated that we are our own worst enemy in many cases. Lack of knowledge puts us on the defensive, and, clearly, that is not where golf should be. The Paul Brown article in this issue (pages 8-9) discusses the specifics of the scientific viewpoint, but touches only briefly on golf ’s true character as an incremental piece of the Arizona economy and lifestyle.
The truth is that tourists, businesses moving to Arizona, and a high percentage of residents find golf the reason to be here, to the tune of more than $1.1 billion annually.
Some of the other facts:

$100 million in annual tax revenues;

Golf courses are the most efficient users of water, employ the best science, and generate more revenue per gallon of water used, than any other industry;

Golf courses provide much needed green-space that produces enough oxygen per golf course for 5,000 people daily. Imagine what the air quality would be like otherwise! Trees and non-maintained grass produce 30 percent less oxygen at higher water-use rates, leaving maintained parks (which produce no revenue) as the other options.

Each acre of a golf course cools the adjacent landscape by more than five degrees—nature’s perfect air conditioner.

One million annual visitors play more than three million rounds of golf, generating nearly $500 million in revenue, not to mention the additional dollars spent on hotels, rental cars, airfares, and meals.

Golf courses, unlike other businesses that use water, are not subsidized, yet provide more than 40,000 jobs.

Golf is one of the vital contributors to Arizona’s present and future. Please, as a golfer, learn the facts and become a positive voice for the game we love. If you don’t care, why should anyone else?