January rain leaves area golfers, courses, businesses all wet

At iconic No. 3 at Land Park, the left “goal post” tree that framed the green fell during last week’s storm.
At iconic No. 3 at Land Park, the left “goal post” tree that framed the green fell during last week’s storm. Special to The Bee

The drought is over.

Excuse Sacramento-area golfers and course operators if they don’t jump up and down.

After 7 inches of rain in the first 17 days of January, how bad is it?

“Very freakin’ bad,” said WildHawk Golf Club general manager Paul Henderson.

The pond to the right of the course’s 18th green rose some 10 feet and flooded the putting surface. Between Jan. 7-12, WildHawk had five paying customers and 25 standing-water hazards. The course hasn’t been mowed in two weeks, and with more rain in the forecast, it could be another two weeks. A cart that was taken from the path over the weekend got stuck in the 11th fairway.

And it could be worse. Dry Creek, its back nine under water, has been closed since Jan. 3 with no reopening date in sight. Campus Commons, a victim of an increased flow out of the Folsom Dam into the American River, is under water and has been closed since Saturday. A besieged Emerald Lakes has only two holes, Nos. 1 and 9, open.

It could be better if it were sunny and warm out. Unfortunately, that’s not our world right now.

Asa Jennings, Mather general manager

One of the biggest losses in the onslaught of rain, wind and oversaturation is the tree on the left side of the iconic par-3 third hole at Land Park. Golfer Paul Page sent a picture of the fallen tree, accompanied by some poetic words.

“Some will say it ate so many balls that it got fat and fell over,” Page wrote. “Others will say that all of the curses heaped upon it finally took their toll. But, no matter what sort of agony this tree has caused you over the years, no real golfer is happy about this.”

The MacKenzie course at Haggin Oaks was closed for two days as temporary rivers ran across the fairways on Nos. 1, 8 and 13. Ancil Hoffman was closed Jan. 8-9 when the surrounding park was evacuated as the American River came precariously close to cresting its banks.

Dane Bohrer, general manager at Ancil Hoffman, said the closure marked the course’s first since 1997. While January has been brutal for players and business, with heavy rain often followed by biting frost, Bohrer said things haven’t been great for a year.

In 2016, Bohrer said, he charted 111 “weather-affected” days that featured either rain or a temperature above 95 degrees. That’s compared with 47 such days in 2015. In October, a shoulder month that often determines a golf course’s bottom-line success for the year, there were 11 rainy days in 2016 compared with zero in 2015, he said. And a resulting loss in business of about 25 percent.

7 Inches of rain in the first 17 days of January in the Sacramento area

There are benefits to the rain, Timber Creek superintendent Jim Ferrin said. His course uses 100 percent reclaimed water, and the inherent acidity is being flushed to provide a better quality product with which to irrigate. The course’s 200 or so coastal redwoods, particularly susceptible during drought, are also thriving, he said.

At Turkey Creek and Teal Bend, courses known for their draining prowess, carts have been off the path since Saturday. But Turkey lost a tree to the left off the No. 16 tee, general manager Rob Ferreira said, that lessens the chute effect.

Woodcreek and Diamond Oaks were able to be mowed Tuesday, general manager Rob Frederick reported. Each Roseville course has had at least one round every day in January, he said, pointing to “some crazy people probably with annual passes.”

Morgan Creek, Wildhorse and Whitney Oaks are muddied but relatively unscathed, their people said.

At Mather, longtime general manager Asa Jennings said the course is wetter than at any time since the county bought the course. How is he holding up?

“It could be better if it were sunny and warm out,” Jennings said. “Unfortunately, that’s not our world right now.”

Steve Pajak: 916-326-5526, @Steve_Pajak