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July 24, 2012

Reports: Water use, electric bills soar as courses battle heat and drought

Posted at 5:06 PM by Michael Rosengart | Categories: Missouri, Ohio, public golf courses, Wisconsin

It’s on the news every evening these days, snugged right in between election coverage, Penn State news and the latest gossip about the Kardashian clan. What is it?

The heat.

This summer has been an absolute scorcher. According to the Weather Channel, 63 percent of the country is in a drought. The Midwest is getting hit the worst, but the Southeast and the Rocky Mountain regions are also suffering. Golfers and golf courses across the country are doing what they can to make it through with temperatures at or near triple digits on a regular basis.

For instance, Tom Wilson of the Newark Advocate in Ohio shares the story of Kyber Run Golf Course in Johnstown, where Director of Golf Ben Tigner said, "We are fine in the mornings from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., but in the afternoon, no one is playing because it's so hot. It's like a ghost town in the afternoons."

At the nearby Granville Golf Course, they’ve taken a unique approach to try to keep business flowing:

[Assistant professional Luke] Radabaugh said Granville is offering a special twilight rate after 2 p.m.

"Everyone wants to beat the heat, so they are playing early," Radabaugh said. "We dropped the rates in the afternoon to try and get more people out, but it's tough. If you look out there in the afternoon, the course has been empty because of the heat.

And everywhere, grounds crews are fighting nonstop to keep their courses playable. In the St. Louis suburb of Alton, the Post-Dispatch’s Tim O’Neill reports that local course superintendent Mike Beckman has doubled his course’s water usage:

In more pleasant weather, he said, the course runs its irrigation systems three or four times weekly.

"We're at it seven days a week," Beckman said. "We lose a quarter-inch of moisture every day. It takes a long time to get that much water back into the soil."

Electric bills are soaring too. Up in Wisconsin, the Baraboo News Republic’s Ed Zagorski writes that even a reserve supply of well water isn’t all good news for Clint Hutchens, general manager of Baraboo Country Club:

Hutchens said the club already doubled its electrical bills from last season. “If you have golfers who are out on the course for 18 holes, they don’t want to walk into a clubhouse that is warmer than it is outside,” he said. 

 

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