LAS VEGAS, Nevada – A proposed Southern Nevada resolution aimed at water conservation will have a dramatic effect on most golf courses in the Las Vegas area.

But not for courses maintained by Pro Turf International, the Las Vegas-based golf course maintenance, construction and landscaping company celebrating its 30th anniversary. That’s because PTI’s courses are already compliant, thanks to some anticipatory planning and general agronomic practices.

“The work was done at our courses ahead of time because we anticipated that this was coming,” said Jared Bumpus, PTI’s Director of Maintenance Operations. “Water is the most expensive part of our budget, and availability is shrinking, so we knew at some point we had to reduce usage. We’re actually trying to go further. This won’t be the last reduction, so we want to make sure our courses stay ahead of the issue.”

The Southern Nevada Water Authority’s Board of Directors recently approved a resolution to reduce golf course water budgets from 6.3 acre-feet per year per irrigated acre to 4.0 acre-feet per year. 

The Las Vegas Valley Water District followed by issuing a notice about the proposed change to golf course water budgets. This notice opens a public comment period for Water District customers and begins the process to effectuate the revised water budget policy, the proposed effective date of which is Jan. 1, 2024.

This resolution is in response to a declared water shortage on the Colorado River, which feeds a receding Lake Meade, the main water source for Southern Nevada. If Lake Meade keeps draining at its current pace, it will become a dead lake.

Most courses are well above well above the 4.0 acre-feet per year water usage standard called for by the new resolution. With the new regulation, there just won’t be enough allowable water usage to keep the courses green. So that means there is only one feasible solution: Take out some turf.

“Over 320 acres of turf have been taken out at three of the golf courses we maintain,” said Bumpus, speaking of Siena Golf Club and the Mountain and Arroyo courses at Red Rock Country Club. “As a result we’ve probably reduced our water budget by about $2 million from start to finish.” 

Those three courses are at 3.65 acre-feet, well within the newly proposed standard.

Turf reduction is far from simple. You must accomplish the goal while affecting the actual golf course as little as possible.

“It was very challenging, especially at first,” said Bumpus. “Maintaining playability while reducing the playing turf was hard. We got pushback from members and golfers. But the longer it has gone on, the more they have gotten used to the idea. A golf course can be very playable without having wall to wall grass.”

One added benefit, says Bumpus, is the naturalization of the golf courses.

“All of the areas in which we are eliminating turf, we’re letting naturalize,” he said. “If something dies, we cut it out. If something lives, we keep it. These new natural areas give the golf course a really cool look.”

PTI plans to stay ahead of the turf reduction and water conservation curve.

“We will continue to stay out in front of the water conservation issue,” said CEO Mickey Brown. “We’ve reduced at least an acre of turf per year on every golf course, and we’re going to continue to do that. We have no choice. We HAVE to save water.”

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