While large swaths of the country cope with sub-zero temperatures, the eight golf courses in Marin County, Calif., are enjoying dry and mostly sunny days that are keeping golfers on the greens. Still, concerns about drought conditions loom as the courses search for ways to conserve water and hope for rain.
Despite sub-zero temperatures throughout the country, golf courses in Marin County, Calif., are enjoying dry and mostly sunny days, but drought concerns still linger, the San Rafael-based Marin Independent Journal reported.
With a lack of rain keeping the fairways playable and the mild overnight temperatures keeping frost to a minimum, golfers are teeing it up and taking advantage. Course managers are happy to see as many as 200 extra golfers per day over the typical average for December and January, but there is concern about water supply, the Independent Journal reported.
“Yes, we’re happy to have the business. That’s good for everyone here,” San Geronimo (Calif.) Golf Course executive director Jennifer Kim said. “But we’d rather have some rain or mist. Our grass needs watering. Usually at this time of year that’s not the case.”
There are eight golf courses in the county, each with different arrangements for water. San Geronimo pays for “raw” untreated water from Marin Municipal Water District. It can cost as much as $60,000 per month during the dry summers—an unexpected expense during the typically rain-soaked winter months, Kim said.
Early in December two weeks of atypical cold weather dealt a blow to Marin courses. Below-freezing temperatures overnight put a coating of frost on the fairways and greens. Dreaded frost delays pushed tee times back into late mornings, causing cancellations and preventing some golfers from completing 18 holes before sunset. Temperatures have been warmer since the Christmas holiday, allowing golfers to stack tee times for the dry fairways, the Independent Journal reported.
“We’ve been really busy in the late morning and it lines up at 12:30,” said Steve Snyder, the head golf professional at Indian Valley Golf Club in Novato. “Teeing off any later than that means you probably will have a hard time finishing a full round.”
Mill Valley (Calif.) Golf Course used to be unplayable in winter for everyone but the most mud-tolerant golfers. But the dry weather combined with the course’s new Kikuyu and Ryegrass blend turf means perfect conditions for the nine-hole course club pro Doug Acton calls “Marin’s hidden gem.”
“For us, it’s been great. Like everyone else, we’re concerned about water—we’re concerned about a drought,” said Acton, who doesn’t need the covered tee box he normally uses for rainy-day lessons. “But the bottom line as a teacher, and for the course, is that more people are playing golf. That’s exciting.”
Business has been humming at Peacock Gap Golf Course in San Rafael. Tony Maniscalco, vice president of marketing for Syufy Enterprises, which manages the course, said his staff is doing what it can to save water, the Independent Journal reported.
“I just know I’ve been ordering a lot of scorecards—I never do that in December,” Maniscalco said of the increased play. “It’s always good to have customers and we want to give everyone the opportunity to come out and play, but we do wish it would rain. A couple days of rain would really benefit everyone.”
After blue skies pushed temperatures in the high 60s during the weekend, cloud cover moved across Marin on Monday morning, keeping it in the low 50s. The cooler weather kept some regulars away, but with no significant rain in the immediate forecast, plenty of golfers were ready to log their rounds, the Independent Journal reported.
“The weather has been beautiful. The fairways are in great shape and we’re ready to play,” Novato’s Jim Filippo said from the first tee at Indian Valley on Monday. “Sure we need the rain, but in the meantime, we’ll make the most of it.”