Identify Priority Areas

Understanding the golf course landscape is the first step in assessing potential water quality issues. Areas to identify first are the environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands, surface water bodies and shorelines, steep slopes to surface water, and areas with shallow depth to ground water or that are located in a critical groundwater recharge zone (especially true for Long Island, due to its sandy soils). In addition, identify relevant geological characteristics such as karst topography, which leaves groundwater vulnerable to contamination. Understanding the basic environmental concepts and fate and transport mechanisms is necessary to successfully identify priority areas.

On golf courses, point sources of pollution should be identified as priority areas for water quality protection. Specifically, these point sources can originate from storage and maintenance facilities and as the unintended release of chemicals, such as pesticides, fertilizers, or fuel, during transportation, storage, handling or cleaning of mowers and pesticide application equipment. Containment measures can easily prevent chemicals from becoming point sources of pollution, as described in the Facilities section of this web site.

The goal of the site assessment process is to identify priority areas, beginning with determining the following:

  • the golf course’s position relative to its position in the watershed
  • drainage basins
  • environmentally and ecologically sensitive areas

Watershed Drainage Basins

Drainage basins on the property should be identified on both topographic maps and routing plans. Identifying drainage basins also helps to determine the approximate area of greens, tees, fairways, and roughs in each drainage basin. For more information on watersheds, see the watersheds section of this website.

Environmentally and Ecologically Sensitive Areas

Environmentally sensitive areas are those areas with natural resources susceptible to changes that can alter ecosystem structure or function (such as wetlands), or areas that might be home to an endangered, threatened, rare species, or species of special concern. Information on the presence of endangered species can be obtained from New York’s Natural Heritage Program (see