Golf Courses

Assistance for Golf Courses

Montgomery County Conservation District can provide technical assistance for golf courses to improve their management practices and to implement projects to protect streams.  We would be happy to schedule a site visit to walk the course.

Resources

Montgomery County Conservation District
The Green: Golf Course Conservation
Golf Course Conservation Presentation to 2017 Eastern PA Turfgrass Conference

PA Environmental Council and Land Studies
Golf Course Water Resources Handbook of Best Management Practices (BMPs)

Audubon International
Environmental Management Practices for Golf Courses

Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
Environmental Profile:  Water Use and Conservation Practices on U.S. Golf Courses

Environmental Institute for Golf
BMP Performance Goals

Cornell University
Best Management Practices for New York State Golf Courses

PA Department of Environmental Protection
PA Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual

Services

Penn State Extension
Don’t Guess…Soil Test

Penn State Agricultural Analytical Services Lab

Funding

Interested in planting trees on your course?  Our TreeVitalize Watersheds grant program might be able to fund your project.

Looking for funding for stormwater management practices, or stream improvement projects? Check out the funding opportunities below:

DEP Growing Greener Grants

DCNR Grants

Schuylkill River Restoration Fund

NFWF Grants

Other Opportunities

Potential Environmental Impacts & Solutions

There are about 55 golf courses in Montgomery County, comprising more than 8000 acres of land being heavily managed, mostly as turf.

The concern with turf is that it does not create much organic matter in the soil, and shallow roots do very little to hold soil in place, allowing for erosion.  Many turf areas are also heavily compacted, which allows rain water to run off instead of soak in.  This creates flooding and pollution problems downstream.  These factors combine to create poor soil health.  To compensate for this, chemical fertilizer is added to keep courses green and playable.   However, improper application times, rates, and proximity to streams threaten our waterways with nutrient pollution, leading to algae blooms and fish kills.

fish-kill

Fish kill caused by a toxic algae bloom downstream from a heavily fertilized golf course. Algae blooms deplete oxygen for aquatic life, and some species are associated with toxic compounds, which can harm humans and pets.

Solutions to these problems include soil testing before fertilizing to prevent over-application, reducing mowing in rough or out-of-play areas, and implementing setbacks from waterways to ensure fertilizers and other chemicals do not enter the stream.  These best management practices will be easy on the environment and on your budget!

 

In Montgomery County, 32 miles of stream flow through golf courses.  The majority of these streams do not have an adequate streamside buffer, and half of them have no buffer at all.

Streamside buffers are the vegetated areas along the stream corridor that serve to hold stream banks in place, process pollution before it can get to the stream, shade the water for fish, and provide leaf litter to support aquatic communities.  Trees are best along a stream, and a width of 50 feet or more is preferred, but ANYTHING is better than nothing!

Simply seeding these areas with deep-rooting, native perennials to mow once a year, and adding some small shrubs to stabilize banks will provide huge benefits!  Not only will the water quality in your stream or pond improve, but your maintenance tasks will be reduced, since there will be less bank erosion and fewer areas to mow.

Best Management Practices for New York State Golf Courses

Implementing proper mowing and fertilizer setbacks from waterways can make a huge difference for water quality!                          Best Management Practices for New York State Golf Courses

 

Mapping

To see the locations of golf courses in Montgomery County, please visit the County Planning Commission’s map gallery by clicking here, and select the “Golf Course” tab.

 

Financial and other support for this project was provided by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Mission Statement
To protect and improve the quality of life of the residents of Montgomery County and surrounding communities by providing, in cooperation with others, timely and efficient service, education, and technical guidance, for the wise use of our soil, water, and related resources.