Golf Courses Weather The Drought

Bob  Carlson has pretty much seen it all in his nearly four decades at the Maxwelton Golf Club in Syracuse.

He would love to see an August that is cooler and wetter.

Carlson is definitely not alone there, especially among those who make their livings operating golf courses in the area.

Mother Nature and this summer’s drought conditions have impacted many, including those who run a seasonal business that is outdoors like a golf course which is always at the mercy of the weather.

“It’s been very extreme this year compared to a typical summer,” said Carlson about the lack of rain and the heat. “I think it’s on par with 1988.  That year and this are the two most difficult I’ve seen and I’ve been around here at Maxwelton since 1975.”

Carlson says despite the tough conditions his course has weathered the storm so to speak fairly well.

“We’re very pleased how the course has done,” said Carlson, who has owned Maxwelton since 1986. “It’s held up well. We’re blessed to have a good superintendent and crew here. The maintenance of the  course in these conditions has been more intense and expensive, but we try to give our people the resources to keep the course in good shape and give our customers what they want.  We always use the long term approach.

“It’s certainly affected business some, but it’s not been a significant loss yet for us. It’s just something you learn to deal with. I’m confident we’ll get through it and be okay. But, it would work for me if if started to get cooler and we got rain tomorrow.”

Bo Wright, the golf pro at the Rozella Ford Golf Club in Warsaw, says business there has taken a big hit from the drought.

“It’s been awful the last couple of weeks and a major impact on us,” said Wright. “It’s been really rough. July is normally one of the best months of the year for us. But, when it’s above 90 degrees people just don’t play. We normally average 100-150 rounds per day and lately it’s been around 40 per day.”

Wright says the lack of rain especially has taken a toll on the layout at his course.

“We’re 12 inches behind on rain this year and it’s just impossible to water enough when it’s 90-100 degrees,”  Wright stated. “Our greens are good, but the course doesn’t look like it should. The other thing is that this is a seasonal business and the last two years people don’t remember that we had floods.”

Clay Brooks, the grounds maintenance superintendent at the South Shore Golf Club in Syracuse, says the weather conditions offer up a big daily challenge.

“We’re really fighting two battles with the heat and the lack of rain,” said Brooks. “It’s been a challenge and we’ve had to adapt and refine some of our practices. We’ve had to change some work schedules for our crew to work around the heat.”

Brooks, who is in his third season at the course on SR 13, says the budget has been affected by the tough conditions.

“There’s been quite a bit of expense as far as labor, electric to run our pumps and chemicals,” Brooks said. “We’ve used more wetting agents on the course. As far as watering, we’re mindful of our neighbors with the amount of water we’re using. The thing is that we’ve been feeling this drought since Spring with the lack of snow last winter.”

The course and business at South Shore have held up well despite the conditions, according to Brooks.

“I speak with players here almost daily about the conditions and our greens are fast and true and that’s the big thing,” said Brooks. “Thankfully, we’ve been able to accomplish that.  We’ve kept the maintenance of the course in good shape. We just don’t have the color.

“The golfers here have worked around the heat. We have more people playing early and later in the day. It’s been down a little in the afternoons in the heat of the day, but we had a great Fourth of July and the week after that. The big thing for me is if we could get some cooler nights. That would really help the type of turf we have here.”

Mike Byron, who works at Raccoon Run in Warsaw, says the heat has impacted business there.

“I think the heat has hurt business,” said Byron. “Most people are playing early in the mornings right now and a lot of people are playing nine holes. There’s just not as many people coming out with the heat.”

“It’s been so dry that we’ve just tried to keep our greens in good shape and water them. Overall, the course has help up pretty good considering the conditions and most people are pleased with the shape it’s in.”






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