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CGSA Policies

The CGSA employs several policies to ensure proper green space management with respect to the environment and provides education and certification of its Members.  Click on the policy below to further read about the policy


CGSA Mantra


Golf courses are good for the economy
Golf courses are good for the environment
Golf courses are good for health and fitness
Golf courses are good for water quality
Golf courses are good for animal habitat
Golf courses are good for the air
Golf courses are good for charity

Courtesy Ken Cousineau, CGSA Greenmaster

IPM Policy

Golf course management involves the provision of golf course conditions that are consistent from hole to hole on any given golf course. These conditions are achieved and maintained through the implementation of an Integrated Pest Management Plan. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a decision-making process that uses all necessary techniques to suppress pests effectively, economically and in an environmentally sound manner.Within the IPM framework or toolbox are a number of options from which the superintendent may choose when managing the golf course property.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an approach for planning and managing a site to minimize pest problems and to assist in decision-making about when and how to intervene when pest problems occur. It is a sustainable approach, combining biological, cultural, physical, and chemical methods to manage pests so that the benefits of pest control and turf health are maximized and the health and environmental risks are minimized. A key initiative in IPM is to take action against pests only when their numbers or effects warrant it, rather than as a routine measure. IPM extends far beyond the use of pest control products, whether chemical or “alternative,” and can include a wide variety of prevention and treatment techniques. IPM reduces reliance on pesticides as the sole approach to pest management. IPM is a system designed to keep pest damage within acceptable levels. For a golf course, acceptable levels can be defined as the number of pests or the amount of damage by pests, beyond which the aesthetics of the course and the playability of the turfgrass are compromised. It should be emphasized that IPM is not pesticide free turfgrass management. IPM should however result in more efficient use of pesticides.

The CGSA supports the following protocols and practices related to integrated pest management:
• Through regular monitoring and record keeping, identify the pest problem, analyze the conditions causing it, and determine the damage threshold level below which the pest can be tolerated.
• Devise ways to change conditions to prevent or discourage recurrence of the problem. Examples include: utilizing improved (e.g., drought resistant,pest resistant) turfgrass varieties,modifying microclimate conditions, or changing cultural practice management programs.
• If damage thresholds are met, select the appropriate control strategies to suppress the pest populations with minimal environmental impact and to avoid surpassing threshold limits. Control measures include biological, cultural, physical, mechanical, and chemical methods. Biological control methods must be environmentally sound and should be properly screened and tested before implementation.
• Non-chemical and biological control measures should focus on practices such as the introduction of natural pest enemies (e.g., parasites and predators), utilizing syringing techniques, improving air movement, soil aerification techniques, and mechanical traps.

The CGSA also supports the following five steps to the implementation of an IPM program for a golf course:
1. The collection and understanding of course conditions and characteristics. This includes the collection of information on existing course conditions which could impact the ability of turfgrass to withstand pest infestation. This includes the collection of information on:
• Inventory of turfgrass types throughout the course;
• Amount of shade present;
• Density of ornamental plantings or other barriers which may restrict air movement;
• Soil fertility;
• Site drainage;
• Current cultural practices (e.g.mowing, fertilization, irrigation, pesticide application, aeration, etc.) and;
• Any other site conditions which could limit turf vigour, or promote the presence of a specific pest.
2. The surveying of pests at the golf course on an annual basis and keeping historical records. This component involves determining the identity, location and populations of the following pests:
• Weeds
• Insects
• Undesirable animals(eg: rodents)
• Diseases
It may be necessary to retain the services of a biologist to assist with the identification of specific pests.
3. Defining pest response thresholds. Pest response thresholds are the levels of pest infestation (i.e. disease, insect or weed) which can be tolerated relative to course aesthetics and playability. Threshold levels can be very general (e.g. spraying for dandelions when they become noticeable visually), or quite specific (e.g. insecticide applications based on actual counts of insects).
4. Monitoring provides the information required to make decisions on pest management measures.
Objectives of a monitoring program are as follows:
1. Determine the extent and nature of any turfgrass damage.
2. Determine the presence and population of pests.
3. Establish ambient environmental conditions (e.g. temperature, sunlight, humidity and precipitation) and the associated impacts on pests.
4. Identify the growth stage of the pest and its susceptibility to treatment.
5. Identify the current life or growth stage of the pest’s host (if applicable) and its conditions.
6. Identify the presence, identity and population levels of beneficial insects, wildlife and birds.
Specific monitoring techniques are dependent on the type of pest, and the budget and resources available to the superintendent. The most common technique is frequent visual inspections and the monitoring of environmental conditions by the superintendent. Other techniques include setting traps for insects and retaining biologists to carry out independent reviews and inspections. Maintenance of good records is an important component of a monitoring program. Specific information to be recorded will include:
1. The name of the pest.
2. Where it was encountered.
3. The amount of damage.
4. Date of occurrence.
5. Weather conditions present.
6. Control measures used.
5. Developing and implementing pest control strategies can involve either cultural or noncultural methods. Cultural methods are essentially
preventative measures which block or reduce the extent of pest problems and focus on turf health.
Examples of cultural methods are as follows:
• Select turfgrass cultivars adapted to local climatic conditions;
• Conserve native grass species or establish diverse grass species where possible;
• Incorporate organic amendments (such as peat moss, compost or straw) in areas where organic content of the soil is low to improve water and nutrient-holding capacity, enhance drainage and promote aeration;
• Aerate compacted soil;
• Provide good drainage;
• Use fencing to prevent injury over the winter;
• Place protective covers on greens and tees over the winter, if deemed necessary;
• Raise mowing height and reduce mowing frequency;
• Mow with sharp blades;
• Return grass clippings to grass areas, wherever possible;
• Use high quality seed stock / varieties that are disease-free and disease-resistant;
• Manage soil fertility, weed control and irrigation to help maintain a strong, healthy grass stand and increase disease resistance;
• Schedule early-morning irrigation in areas that are susceptible to disease;
• Thin tree stands on the windward sides of greens and tee boxes to promote adequate air circulation;
• Minimize shade in areas susceptible to disease;
• Avoid putting green slopes with a northern aspect, if possible;
• Spread dark organic material on greens and tees to accelerate snow melt, but avoid substances that could generate toxic runoff or sedimentation;
• Use snow blowing equipment and snow fencing to distribute snow evenly;
• Till exposed soil at new courses or new areas within existing courses to kill growing weeds;
• Prevent the spread of disease and weeds by equipment;
• Hand-pull or spot treat weeds growing in small patches;
• Select native or pest-resistant trees, shrubs, and ornamentals;
• Use traps or repeated flooding of burrows to control gophers and ground squirrels;
• Use tree guards to control damage by rabbits and porcupines;
• Use traps to control beavers, or remove their dams and lodges;
• Focus on the early recovery of turfgrass areas affected by mice;
• Aerate ponds;
• Use mechanical methods for removing vegetation, taking care to remove roots and plant debris, and;
• Control aquatic vegetation.
Non-cultural methods utilize either biological controls or pesticides for pest control. Biological controls involve the use of specific organisms (e.g.weed-eating fish, snails, etc.) to control the pests.
Other control organisms include bacteria, predatory insects, bats and birds. Given that the use of biological controls is relatively new, combined with the potential adverse consequences of introducing new species into the local environment, you should consult with a biologist prior to implementing any of these control options.
In addition to the above steps in the implementation of a golf course IPM program, the CGSA supports the use of federally registered pest control products identified for use on golf courses, if and when they are to be used as part of an IPM program.
These protocols, implementation steps, and pesticide use guidelines are all integral parts of a successful IPM initiative at any golf property.
Canadian Golf Superintendents Association is a society committed to excellence in golf course management and environmental responsibility through the continuing professional development of its members.

201-5399 Eglinton Ave. W., Etobicoke, ON M9C 5K5
Phone: 416-626-8873 Fax: 416-626-1958 Toll Free: 1-800-387-1056

Pesticide Policy

CGSA supports the use of federally registered pest control products as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program in order to provide consistent and quality playing conditions on Canadian golf courses. Registered pest control products are those that have been approved and are regulated by the Federal Government Pest Management Regulatory Agency for use on golf courses. These approved and regulated products should only be used by those who are trained and licensed in their use and handling. Superintendent and assistant superintendent members of the CGSA are required to maintain a valid pesticide license as a condition of membership in the Association.

The CGSA support for the availability and use of registered pest control products is conditional on the following provisions;
• Golf courses should use only products that are approved for use on golf courses;
• All pesticide storage facilities provided on golf courses should conform to the applicable provincial regulations;
• All pesticide containers and pesticide wastes should be disposed of in accordance with applicable provincial regulations;
• All mixing, loading and application of pesticides should be performed by provincially-licensed pesticide applicators;
• The application of pest control products should follow provincial recommendations and regulations related to environmental conditions such as maximum wind speeds, width of buffer zones and distance from adjacent properties.
• Licensed applicators should use best management practices to minimize drift, leaching, run off and other forms of contamination of non target areas.
• All pest control products should be used according to label directions;
• Superintendents should utilize appropriate methods to communicate with members of the golfing and non-golfing community as to the rationale for an application of pest control products;
• Superintendents should observe provincial regulations for the public posting of product applications and all applicable Material Data Safety sheets should be kept onsite and be readily available.
• Golf course personnel should participate in a provincial pest management accreditation program, where available. Conscientious turf management practices and the implementation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles should ensure the continued health and playability of turf on golf courses.

The CGSA supports ongoing research to constantly improve turf management practices furthering the enjoyment of the game of golf. Canadian Golf Superintendents Association is a society committed to excellence in golf course management and environmental responsibility through the continuing professional development of its members.

Canadian Golf Superintendents Association
201-5399 Eglinton Ave. W., Etobicoke, ON M9C 5K6
Phone: 416-626-8873 Fax: 416-626-1958
Toll Free: 1-800-387-1056

Water Use Policy

 Water is essential for the health and growth of plants and therefore an essential input in golf course management. Increasingly water and the management of this renewable resource have gained public attention due to issues related to quality, cost and access and, in some cases as noted above, availability. Due to their visibility, golf courses are often perceived by the public as significant water users. Golf courses use water in a manner so as to sustain and enhance the natural plant communities found in a golf course environment.More often than not water is re-used on a golf course and the water quality is enhanced through its relationship with the golf course environment. Surrounding environments to a golf course often benefit by using a golf course loop to buffer and enhance water qualities within the local environment. As such, water management and water conservation have become and will increasingly be important golf course management issues.

CGSA supports the wise use of water both from an environmental and a financial perspective. Through continuing education, ongoing research and discussion with all levels of government and various government agencies, the CGSA is working to promote awareness and wise water practices within the golf industry. These efforts are focused on water quality and efficient use practices and the development of best practices in water management and conservation.

From a policy perspective CGSA supports and promotes the following:
• that golf course superintendents are professionals and environmental stewards that take a responsible approach to water management as an integral component of overall plant health and environmental management;
• given that water is essential to plant health and that the golf industry is a multi-billion dollar industry in Canada, that water be considered an essential input for golf;
• that the CGSA welcomes every opportunity to consult and work with governments and their agencies to develop sound, collaborative policy statements with respect to water use, cost, quality and conservation;
• that innovation and research with respect to alternative water sources (effluent, storm, reclaimed), technology (irrigation system design and equipment), plant species, best management practices and continuing education is encouraged and supported so as to encourage continuous improvement in the area of water quality, conservation and use;
• that golf course superintendents, builders, designers and owners take into consideration which plant/turf species are best suited for the soil and climate conditions that are relevant to a particular golf course in order to maximize water use efficiency;
• that superintendents utilize best management practices with respect to nutrient management, mowing heights, soil cultivation, drainage, irrigation schedules, tree maintenance and golf course traffic to encourage adequate turf quality and water conservation;
• that governments consider tax breaks or rebate programs for golf courses that utilize irrigation design and technology and other methodologies related to species use, cultivation and mowing height and that can demonstrate a reduction in water use as a result of these practices;
• that tertiary treated water (effluent water) and other sources of “reclaimed” water be used in circumstances where water quality can be verified, where supply is dependable and where the golf course could act as a further filtration process without endangering the health of golfers, the turf, or the environment and;
• that golf course superintendents use the best available irrigation techniques to promote healthy turf.
CGSA is committed to monitoring and being an active participant, along with other national golf organizations, in government processes that relate to the availability and use of water by the golf industry.

Our Board of Directors, volunteers and staff are available to participate in advisory committees and to take part in the development of viable, environmentally-based policy decisions that protect and enhance water management initiatives across Canada. CGSA will maintain its Environmental Best Management Practices Manual so as to provide a valuable reference source for its members relative to water management issues and the association will continue to build the reference material available through its website and other resources so as to provide its members with ready access to this information. Canadian Golf Superintendents Association is a society committed to excellence in golf course management and environmental responsibility through the continuing professional development of its members.

201-5399 Eglinton Ave. W., Etobicoke, ON M9C 5K6
Phone: 416-626-8873 Fax: 416-626-1958 Toll Free: 1-800-387-1056

Nutrient Policy

Nutrients are essential for plant life, including grass. Healthy golf course turf helps to stabilize the soil, prevent erosion,maintain or improve water quality, keep the surrounding environment cool in the summer and provide a safe, consistent “playing field” for golfers. Properly fertilized turf discourages weed growth and reduces the need for pesticides. Fertilizer plays a critical role in maintaining proper nutrient levels for the turf on golf courses. Proper management of nutrient applications requires a detailed annual plan that is specific to the golf course site, conditions and level of use. The critical components of a nutrient treatment plan include:
• the determination of the correct amounts of each nutrient required based on plant and environmental conditions;
• the timing of applications so as to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency;
• the use of the proper form of nutrient (slow release, water soluble, liquid, etc.), and;
• the identification of the area(s) of the golf course where nutrients are required.

The proper objective of a fertilizer management program is to supply plant nutrients at the proper time and in the proper amount to supply sufficient food for the turf with no excess. Fertilizers are necessary to maintain healthy turfgrass that is under heavy use. The primary necessary turfgrass fertilizer nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K). Excessive applications of N and P can encourage weed growth and turf disease and result in the contamination of both ground and surface waters.

Surface runoff from established, healthy turf does not usually carry harmful amounts of N and P. The potential for nutrient contaminated runoff increases in newly seeded areas, on steep slopes, when application is done at improper times, and during rehabilitation of depleted or damaged turfgrass. Recommendations are:
• determine the rate of application of nutrients to any area based on the source of nutrients being used, the amount of traffic on the area being treated, the time of year, the nature of the soil media and the amount of sunlight that the treated area receives;
• Follow irrigation practices suggested by the manufacturer so as to reduce or minimize the possibility of leaching;
• Test soil conditions regularly and use the information from these tests to assist with decisions concerning the type of nutrients that are needed and the alternatives that can or should be used;
• Develop and document fertilizer programs for each area of the golf course. Nutrient needs vary by cultivar, soil conditions, and use pressure. Establish a fertilizer plan that addresses the different needs of each area of the course;
• Keep detailed records of the application frequency, timing, formulation and amount, soil and weather conditions for each application;
• Never exceed the application levels noted on the package label;
• Avoid fertilizer applications during dry soil conditions or just prior to significant rainfall events;
• On coarse textured soils, use lower amounts applied more frequently in order to meet the turf nutrient requirements;
• Maintain a fertilizer free transition zone around all surface waters, including storm water retention facilities;
• Transition zone grasses that receive no fertilizer act as buffers or filter strips. This zone should be considered the upper area of the riparian buffer;
• Use moderate applications of fertilizer on newly seeded areas. Grasses lacking a fully developed root system are unable to assimilate high levels of nutrients. Use several light applications in the critical establishment phase;
• Soil additions and alternatives to nutrients should be considered to reduce the amount of nutrient required and reduce the chance for leaching, and;
• Support research into products that provide for better transfer of nutrients to the plant and that reduce the chances of nutrients either being washed into surface water or leached into ground water.

Applying too much fertilizer is wasteful, not cost effective and can harm the soil or be lost to the environment. At the same time, too little fertilizer can leave turf weakened and susceptible to disease due to a lack of nutrients. CGSA is prepared to work with governments and government agencies to establish the appropriate standards for fertilizer or nutrient use. The association is also willing to work with the fertilizer industry and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (Fertilizer Section) to establish national use standards. These stakeholders also need to work cooperatively to communicate the importance of responsible nutrient use. The effective use of fertilizers in golf course management also needs to be proactively communicated to the media and to golf course managers, owners, and golf course leaders. Politicians and government officials need to have the facts about fertilizers and the ways that golf course superintendents use fertilizer to help protect lakes and rivers. Canadian Golf Superintendents Association is a society committed to excellence in golf course management and environmental responsibility through the continuing professional development of its members.

201-5399 Eglinton Ave. W., Etobicoke, ON M9C 5K6
Phone: 416-626-8873 Fax: 416-626-1958 Toll Free: 1-800-387-1056