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Golf Courses Hurt, Golfers Helped By Drought

July 5, 1988

Undated (AP) _ The drought may be reducing the number of golf swings taken in America.

The heat is driving some hackers off the course, and those who are playing in drought-stricken areas are getting more bounce out of their drives and facing fewer hazards on dry fairways.

″The ground is real hard. The greens are watered but they’re a little brown. We have watered the fairways but it hasn’t done any good. They’re still burnt out,″ said Eddie Tyree, head professional at the par-72, 6,517-yard Seneca Golf Course in Louisville, Ky.

″It helps the golfers, though. They get more roll on the ball,″ he added.

At the Willow Creek public golf course in Des Moines, grounds crews are struggling to stretch limited water supplies to keep greens from drying up.

″We’re watering like crazy,″ said Joe Pfiffner, assistant greens superintendent, who estimates ponds on the course have enough water for another month of irrigation. The soil is hard and ″the ball rolls a long way now,″ he said.

At the private Burlington Golf Club in Burlington, Iowa, superintendent Jim Holtschult has added three employees to help with watering.

The course has no sprinklers and crews water by hand, concentrating on areas exposed to wind, such as mounds. Holtschult said his crews try to match the evaporation rate, but fist-sized brown spots are cropping up.

Low humidity has kept turf diseases in check despite the heat, but Holtshult said hot and humid conditions could spread disease rapidly.

Richard Haskell, executive director of the Massachusetts Golf Association, said there were no problems yet in his state, but the situation in the Midwest had raised consciousnesses.

″The superintendents (in Massachusetts) are very aware of it and they’re starting to practice conservation,″ he said.

At Louisville’s most popular public course, afternoon play is down 10 percent to 12 percent, Tyree said.

″Morning play is still real good because people want to beat the heat,″ he said. He added that the drought had dried up a hazard.

″We’ve got a creek here on the course and it’s dried up, so there isn’t any hazard anymore,″ he said.

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