Spanish Fork golf course tees off against Utah’s drought

May 31, 2022, 1:07 PM
golf course in Spanish Fork. Amid the drought it went through an update...
Looking towards the green from the fairway of hole #16 at Spanish Oaks Golf Course in Spanish Fork on July 16, 2007. Photo credit: Stuart Johnson,/Deseret News.

SALT LAKE CITY — Amid Utah’s ongoing and historic drought, homeowners have had to cut back on watering their lawns or face fines. But what are golf courses in the state doing to conserve water?

  • The U.S. Geological Survey’s most recent water-use data showed that Utah uses about 38 million gallons of water on golf courses every day — enough to fill almost 58 Olympic-size swimming pools, as reported by Deseret News.
  • There are now approximately 16,000 courses in the United States — about half the total in the world.
  • Audubon International estimated that the average American course uses 312,000 gallons per day.
  • In Palm Springs, 57 golf courses soak up 1 million gallons a day. Every day, each Palm Springs course drinks as much water as an American family of four uses in four years, NPR reports.

“I love a golf course. I spend a lot of time on the golf course. That’s a lot of lawn out there,” KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega pointed out.

Golf course to save 40 million gallons of water each year

Spanish Fork Mayor Mike Mendenhall spoke to Dave and Dujanovic about the work the Oaks Golf Course has done to conserve water.

Dave said he was given a tour of the golf course and learned the entire sprinkling system was recently replaced.

“Why the investment? Why the changeover because it’s a massive ordeal to redo the sprinkler systems?” Dave asked the mayor.

“Well, number one, the sprinkling system was as old as I was. So it was, it’s 40, 41 years old… Times have changed, things have changed, technology has changed,” Mendenhall said.

The mayor said the $3 million investment doubled the number of sprinkler heads on the course. He added that instead of watering zones of grass, an individual sprinkler can be turned on or off by the greenskeeper from an iPad or iPhone.

“That $3 million investment will save us 40 million gallons of water every single year and about $80,000 a year in water costs and pumping costs because now this is a gravity-fed system,” Mendenhall said.

The mayor said he and the City Council approved the project last year. The work began last year and is expected to be completed by the end of August.

“They take about a week to a week and a half on each hole,” Mendenhall said. “We hired a great company that’s done it before so they’re no stranger to it.”

Being smart with water in a drought

The mayor said there are no specified watering days because of the drought in Spanish Fork because the city uses a metered-water system and has been doing so for 20 years.

“You pay for every gallon of water that you use at your house,” Mendenhall said.

Also with technological advances, the watering system in the city will not operate during windstorms to prevent water being wasted.

“If you’re a resident that has signed up for that system and have our smart sprinkling system, which is a grant program — people get it for free installed at their house — that will not water in the windy times of the day because more of that pure evaporation happens in the wind than it does in the sun,” Mendenhall said.

Related: Utah drought making encounters with black bears more likely


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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Spanish Fork golf course tees off against Utah’s drought