Brandon Brezy doesn’t know which is worse: rain or a forecast of rain. Both keep players off the golf course.
“Golfers don’t like cart path-only. When there’s a threat of rain, they still don’t play golf,” said Brezy, the PGA head professional at Valle Vista Golf Club in Greenwood. “Rounds are down, for sure.”
Not only at Valle Vista but at courses throughout Johnson County.
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An unusually wet spring/summer has suppressed play at virtually all local venues and pressured groundskeepers to somehow dry out courses saturated by almost daily rainfall. In June alone, rain fell somewhere in the county 22 out of 30 days, according to the National Weather Service. The total for the month was 8.31 inches, slightly more than double the average for the month.
For residents, the precipitation has produced green lawns. For golf courses, it’s been a near-disaster.
Heavy rain not only keep golfers away, it makes it difficult, if not impossible, for groundskeepers to keep courses playable. Grass can’t be mowed, flooded fairways can’t be dried out and fungus-killing chemicals can’t be applied.
The latter is especially troublesome.
“With the rain and hot weather comes disease. Disease pressure goes up,” said Shaun Kreider, head superintendent at Hickory Stick Golf Club in the Center Grove area. “If you’ve got water that’s sitting on your golf course, it turns out an even worse bacterial fungus called pythium, and that stuff will take your golf course. I need to get out and spray, but I can’t because it’s so wet. That’s the sort of thing that happens when it’s too wet.”
That’s not all that happens.
Golfers tend to stay home when it’s wet. Few enjoy playing in the rain, and fewer still enjoy playing when golf carts are confined to paths, which is often the case when courses are soggy, as many are now.
Even when it’s not raining, all but the most ardent players won’t make tee times if rain is a threat.
And for weeks, rain has been a threat.
“It impacts us several different ways,” said Wayne Gibbs, general manager of Timbergate Golf Course in Edinburgh. “You lose play, first and foremost; not just during the rain, you also lose play because of the rain because fairways are wet and you have to keep people on the cart paths.
“Especially seniors, they don’t want to walk, so that affects you even when the rains are gone.”
Ted Bishop, director of golf and general manager of The Legends Golf Club in Franklin, echoed the assertion.
“Play is down. People hang on the forecast,” Bishop said. “Seniors don’t play when carts are restricted to the cart path. (Rain affects) lots of things.”
In recent years, the opposite weather pattern — drought — has been the chief headache for local courses. But as detrimental as the dry years were, particularly the historic summer of 2012, most course managers would prefer a return to overly dry conditions to overly wet.
Water is typically easier to apply to a course than remove.
“We’re fortunate here at Timbergate in that we drain really, really well,” Gibbs said. “When most courses around us are underwater or real wet, we’re pretty dry. It’s definitely hurt us a little bit this spring, but I wouldn’t say any more this spring than any other.”
Not all agree.
For some local courses, the perpetual rain — and its debilitating effects — is unprecedented.
“Any amount of water that we get, the water has nowhere to go,” Bezy said. “If you can’t mow, you can’t mow. We’re just playing catch-up right now. About the time we get everything mowed and caught up, it’ll probably rain again.
“This is definitely the worst June we’ve ever had.”