Drought prompts Garden City golf course to ration water

Most of South Carolina is in a moderate drought, but Horry County is considered to be in a severe drought. The lack of rain makes it hard for golf courses in the area to keep the grass looking green.

Tupelo Bay Golf Center is considered a small course but still has more than 50 acres of land that needs to be watered. There was a time where Jason Hawes, golf course superintendent, thought he might run out of water.

“Fortunately now, it looks like we’re going to make it through the summer,” said Hawes. “Even if we did go through another drought.”

Hawes has maintained the Tupelo Bay Golf Course since it opened 11 years ago. He’s seen his share of stressful summers.

“We had a stretch of drought a few years back that was rough, but I’ve not had my pumps house shut down twice because of low water levels,” he said.

They did this year. It was in late June when Hawes realized it was going to be a dry season, and he might run into to some problems.

“I could tell in the weather pattern that we just weren’t going to get the rain and nothing was changing,” said Hawes.

The golf course relies on a small well that only gives produces about 70 percent of the water needed to properly quench the course’s thirst. Hawes decided to cut back on watering the driving range as often to make sure the rest of the property stayed green. And a green course means more people will come to play.

“Somebody’s going to go play a green course before they a brown course,” Hawes said. “The perception of green, green, green is not necessarily what’s most important for golf. A good maintained course, doesn’t have to be perfectly green.”

So the irrigation system he has in place will have to do for now.

“You just can never know when the next rain is going to come,” he said. “That seems to be the stress point. If you knew it was coming in three days, then you wouldn’t be as worry about keeping it as wet as you could. There’s no water fairy that’s going to bring us some nice pretty water.”

Even though heavy rain passed through the Grand Strand Sunday afternoon, Hawes said he would need 8-12 inches to get back to normal.


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