Coast golf courses tee off against drought and heat

With the drought firmly entrenched on the coast, golf course managers are pulling out all the stops to keep the courses green, and playable. But with no significant rain in the forecast for the next couple of weeks, the job is getting harder.

Sprinkler systems are running around the clock at Shell Landing in Gautier, where one practice green has already fallen victim to the drought.

Course Superintendent Toby Thornton is calling out all the troops.

“We’re trying to combat it in every way. We hope to not lose any grass,” Thornton said. “With the adequate irrigation system, we’re running it 24 hours around the clock, pretty much, and I think we can combat it. There might be a little loss in turf, but I’m hoping not to see any.”

Kenny Hughes is the general manager. The drought is just like trying to come back from a double bogie on the first hole. You can still salvage a good round.

“I lived here all my life and I know it’s feast or famine,” Hughes said. “I mean, as soon as we start begging for rain, it’s going to start raining and probably won’t stop for a few months. So I just take it in stride.”

Obviously, the extreme heat and drought can take a toll on any golf course on the gulf coast. But it can also take a toll on the more human element of the game: the players themselves.

One of those players is George Dixon, who has some good advice.

“Well, I put my sunblock on when I get started, which makes you hotter. And then I drink a lot of liquids, and sometimes just moving from hole to hole on the golf course will keep you cool,” Dixon said.

The irrigation system at Shell Landing is fed by four underground wells. Course officials say those wells as holding up, even under the drought conditions.


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