(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Old Mill Golf Course in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 25, 2021.
(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Old Mill Golf Course in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 25, 2021.

A bill requiring both public and privately owned golf courses to publish their annual water usage was held Wednesday after it was opposed by the golf industry. 

“It’s not dead, so we’ll go work on it and see what it can do,” sponsor Rep. Douglas Welton (R-Payson) told the Great Salt Lake Collaborative. 

HB188 aimed to provide more transparency and accountability in the face of Utah’s current water crisis, said Welton. A Salt Lake Tribune story found that Salt Lake County’s golf courses used 663 million gallons of water in 2021. 

Welton said that there is nothing in the bill stipulating that golf courses need to justify water use. 

He was met with opposition from both fellow legislators and public commentators. 

Rep. Thomas W. Peterson (R- Brigham City) said that he believed the bill would unnecessarily publicly shame the golf industry. 

“Golf is a significant driver to our economy,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s targeting one of our great tourism aspects.” 

Ryan Petersen, representing the Golf Alliance of Utah, said Utah’s golf courses are already water conscious and have measures in place to regulate their water usage. 

“If we simply put on a website without any understanding of recharge, we are just going to give the golf courses a poke in the eye to anyone who thinks we should not have a golf course in their community,” he said. 

In response to these concerns, Melton said the data provided in this bill would merely allow a way for conversations to be had about water conservation in golf course communities. 

Ultimately, the bill was motioned to adjourn by Rep. Peterson. 

Welton was frustrated by the bill’s opposition. 

“It’s frustrating that the ‘poor me’ from the golf courses are often the ones who have private memberships. Wealthier people play golf and it’s frustrating to hear them say ‘poor us,’” he said. 

Great Salt Lake Collaborative Intern

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