Making the Rounds: Area courses holding up during drought

Published: Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014 - 7:58 pm

As California’s drought persists, most Sacramento-area golf courses appear to be coping just fine using a combination of conservation, cunning and chemical enhancement.

So far, at least.

At Yocha Dehe, where 65 percent of the course’s annual water supply comes from all-but-dry Cache Creek, superintendent Kyle Jones said he’s taken about 40 previously irrigated acres offline over the past few years.

“That’s been huge for us,” he said.

Jones stopped watering the driving range and replaced fescue with native grasses that require no water. He gets reclaimed water from the adjoining hotel and casino and said he banked water in the course’s reservoir. He’s also using wetting agents to help spread the water and biostimulants to maximize plant health.

“We’re spending a fair chunk of change on these products,” Jones said.

At Granite Bay, where the course relies on water from the San Juan Water District – and Folsom Lake, by extension – superintendent Matt Dillon is dealing with a 25 percent reduction in his allotment. There are hints of an impending 40 to 50 percent reduction, he said.

“We have some stressed areas, but (40 to 50 percent) would leave more of a mark on the golf course,” said Dillon, who has let part of the driving range go dry.

The Ridge has received a 10 percent cut from the Placer Water Agency, but superintendent Scott McCullough said there’s no impact to the course or indication of a deeper reduction. His course, at a higher elevation, is positioned better than many, he said.

The situation is worse elsewhere. The Diablo Grande Legends course in Patterson stopped watering in March; the development’s less-esteemed Ranch course is still open.

Monterey courses are facing severe cutbacks.

In Arbuckle, the Colusa County Water District reversed a zero-allotment decision in late May and granted the course 45 percent of its usual annual usage. It was appreciated but too late, superintendent Craig McDonald said.

“By the time I was able to start watering, things were pretty much dead,” he said.

The course has upgraded its pump and is supplementing canal water with well water, McDonald said. As groundwater use increases through the area, he said he has seen the water table drop 70 feet in five months.

Mini-tour power

Kevin Lucas, Jake Johnson and Grant Norton played their way into their first Tour event last week, shooting 7-under-par 65s in Monday qualifying for the Utah Championship.

Lucas made the cut, tying for 29th in front of loads of family and friends who made the trek.

“It was awesome,” the Folsom resident said. “It’s where I feel I belong. It was awesome comparing my level of play against some of the best players in the world.”

Lucas began the final round tied for 18th but slipped with a 72. The top 25 are exempt into this week’s tournament, the Boise Open. He failed in his attempt Monday to qualify for the Boise event.

“I got a taste of it,” he said. “Now I want more.”

Lucas topped the money list on the 14-event 2013-14 eGolf West Coast Tour with earnings slightly more than $40,000. The top 30 qualify for eGolf’s Million Dollar Championship Series, four tournaments starting in August with a cumulative purse of $1 million. Johnson, Norton, Ben Geyer, Erick Justesen, Grant Rappleye, John Catlin, Cameron Rappleye, Tyler Raber and Ken McCready, all with local connections, finished in the top 30.

Lucas is hoping for a sponsor’s exemption into the Barracuda (formerly Reno-Tahoe) Championship at the end of the month. His strong mini-tour play, his showing and his geographic connection as a Nevada graduate make him a logical candidate.

Et cetera

• Alex Lee of Sacramento and Josh McCarthy of Danville share the boys lead at 4-under 68 after the first round of a 54-hole American Junior Golf Association tournament at Serrano. Anna Zhou of Palo Alto (68) and Kelsey Ulep of Rockllin (70) are 1-2 in the girls division. The event continues today and concludes Thursday. Tee times run from 7 a.m. to noon, and the competition is free and open to the public.

• Austin Smotherman (Loomis), Jonathan de los Reyes (Sacramento), Josh Baskins (Redding) and Andrej Bevins (Elk Grove) advanced to match play at the U.S. Amateur Public Links in Kansas.

• Folsom’s Paige Lee qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur next month in New York.

• Hall of Famer Annika Sorestam, who hasn’t competed on the LPGA Tour since 2008, is the 2-1 favorite to win the American Century Championship Friday through Sunday at Edgewood Tahoe. Defending champion Billy Joe Tolliver is 9-2, followed by Rick Rhoden at 5-1. Stephen Curry is 10-1 and Jerry Rice 30-1 in the 90-player field of sports and entertainment stars.

Call The Bee’s Steve Pajak, (916) 326-5526.

Read more articles by Steve Pajak

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