According to the USGS, there are 1,300 acres of golf course in Bernalillo County (Albuquerque etc.), using 6,100 acre feet per year of water. Which makes the water policy implications of this this Nolan Gray story fascinating:

Golf is dying, many experts say. According to one study by the golf industry group Pellucid Corp., the number of regular golfers fell from 30 to 20.9 million between 2002 and 2016. Ratings are down, equipment sales are lagging, and the number of rounds played annually has fallen….

Golf courses and country clubs currently consume massive amounts of relatively underutilized land in cities and suburbs. Across the country, as courses and clubs begin shutting down, hundreds of thousands of acres of land could soon start opening up for infill redevelopment. While not so great for golfers, this could be a boon for cities, especially those facing a housing crunch.


  1. Did the USGS differentiate between golf courses using reclaimed water? Also, it appears the assumption is that 100% of the Land (acreage) is irrigated? When I took zoology in high school, we regularly took field trips to the adjacent country club golf course, and I learned to identify songbirds and their songs, among other fauna and their associated flora. If the ecosystem services of this “high value land” were fully monetized, it might get be that our cities would suffer by converting these spaces to housing. Just a thought.

  2. Rhea – Some of Albuquerque’s golf courses are irrigated with reclaimed water. But that is still water diverted from the wastewater stream for consumptive use, that would be in the Rio Grande if it weren’t on the golf course.

    Re your second point, that’s a really good one.

  3. John, how many single-family households in the Albuquerque area can be supported by 1 AF annually?

  4. Randy – 3 to 4 with the current built housing stock, more than that with new housing. That includes both home use and the residents’ share of other water use.

  5. I struggle to break 100 — though when I was golfing every day I got down to the high 80s, basically bogey golf, mostly at the UNM north course the summer between college and graduate school, and then at Arroyo del Oso in the evening — but I’d hate to see golf courses disappear. It won’t happen, but it’d be OK if they were a little browner.

  6. There’s a golf course in a Mesa, AZ trailer park without grass. Probably not a lot of golfers either. And in my old days of working for the feds I played on a challenging, grass-free course along the Colorado River near Willow Beach. Quail, bighorn sheep, rattle snakes, dry washes, rocks, imposing climbs up to the “greens”. Maybe the future??? On the west side of PHX most or all of the reclaimed sewage water goes to Palo Verde Nuclear Generating station while the bazillion golf courses in PHX are pumping groundwater! I tend to be only for golf courses if you can graze mules on them.

  7. I’ve seen that grassless course in Mesa, and no, it didn’t get a lot of golfers. Just some old snowbirds who were parking their RVs there for the winter. It wasn’t real golf.

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