For many years now, golf courses have been weaning themselves off synthetic chemicals through better turf management practices like regularly aerating as well as top-dressing fairways and greens.
"The idea is to do all the other things right and create a healthy grass plant," says Jim McGarvey, the longtime superintendent at Seymour Golf Course in North Vancouver. "Grass is similar to a human being in that if you get weakened, your immune system drops and you become susceptible to disease. So what we look at is building a strong turf cover that is very resistant to the pest pressures on it and then use pesticides only in a curative sense as a last alternative."
Besides, McGarvey says, golf courses have incentives beyond environmental concerns in limiting the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
"We not only have a huge environmental incentive to not use them, but we have a huge financial incentive as well," he says. "To give you an example, for me to spray the greens here at Seymour it's not unusual at all to use $2,500 worth of product. If I can delay that by a couple of weeks or minimize or eliminate even one or two of those applications a year, all of a sudden I have saved the club a lot of money."