There is an estimated 163,812 km2 (± 35,850 km2) (40,478,827 acres) of turfgrass in the United states ( ref ) which makes it the single largest irrigated "crop" in the country, by a healthy margin. I would hardly call that insignificant ..... would you? Further ... we need food, we don't "need" turf.
As a contrast, in 2012 the estimated planted acreage of ALL principle crops (corn, sorghum, oats, barley, rye, winter wheat, Durum wheat, other spring wheat, rice, soybeans, peanuts, sunflower, cotton, dry edible beans, potatoes, canola, proso millet, and sugarbeets) for the united states is 326,318,000 acres. ( ref )
IMO, there is no good or justifiable reason to manage residential/commercial turf at the same level as sports turf.
Bit of a straw man there -- no one is talking about maintaining residential/commercial at sports turf level. The Seattle article is saying how clients should view clover as attractive -- sorry, not on my watch. Other point is this -- the acreage of turf vs. other AG acreage is only part of the story. The other part is how intensively each is cultivated/irrigated/treated. I would be surprised if the amount of chemicals, fert, herbicides etc used by the entire lawn care industry is more than a small fraction of that used by commercial agriculture. Could be wrong about that, and will check. Irrigation, where homeowners waste way too much water, is an issue however. Like I say, I'm all for the environment, and respecting the land god gave us, but I think the lawn care industry is an easy target, because we don't have the lobbying clout etc etc that Big Ag does. However, before they pass more laws making it harder for us to have happy customers, I'd appreciate them taking on Big AG first.