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Golf courses

Despite a sprinkle of rain, Ryan Woehler of Madison gets ready to hit a golf ball on Saturday on the Baraboo Country Club's course.

Dry weather has a few golf courses struggling to keep their grounds up to par, but the heat hasn’t kept the green out of their tills.

“I would rather have the dry weather then a day where it rains because if you have 100 or more people registered to play golf they can’t because of the rainy weather,” said Clint Hutchens, Baraboo Country Club general manager. “At least with the dry weather you can still have people using your course.”

Hutchens said the trick is maintaining the 18-hole course well enough in drought conditions for golfers to play on it.

“We’re fortunate enough to have well water, which helps to keep our costs down a bit,” he said. “Unfortunately any money we’re saving on fuel to mow the grounds we’re putting into maintenance.”

Hutchens said some of the savings is going to pay for electricity that runs the pumps irrigating the course.

He said his grounds crew may have tripled its watering numbers for a normal golf season. Hutchens said some days the course will use nearly 450,000 gallons of water — even more on warmer days.

Hutchens said the club already doubled its electrical bills from last season. “If you have golfers who are out on the course for 18 holes, they don’t want to walk into a clubhouse that is warmer than it is outside,” he said.

He the good thing is the heat is not keeping golfers from hitting the greens. “We haven’t been killed with a decrease in people playing,” he said.

Hutchens said he has seen a shift in when people play.

“We will be full at seven in the morning and it will last for four hours,” he said. “Some afternoons it is slow, but we do have league play and some golf tournaments, which keeps people turning out to play golf.”

Hutchens said he would like to see a good two-day soaking of the course by Mother Nature.

“All of the golf courses in the area are in the same boat,” Hutchens said. “We all want a nice, steady rain.”

Patrick Steffes, general manager and director of golf at Trappers Turn Golf Club in Wisconsin Dells, said his 27-hole course has received four tenths of an inch of rain since May 26.

Like Hutchens, Steffes said he has seen players come earlier in the day.

“There is definitely less people playing on those really hot days,” Steffes said. “We will usually see a steady stream of golfers come early in the morning.”

He’s pumping up to a million gallons of water a night onto the course.

“We’re concentrating our efforts on the greens, tees and fairways,” he said. “We can only do so much. It’s definitely more stress on us to try and keep those areas green and looking their best.”

Steffes said golf course superintendents may be waiting for a rainfall that may not happen.

Chris Johnson, assistant golf professional at Lake Wisconsin Country Club in Prairie du Sac, said he is also waiting for the weather to turn and bring some rain.

“During a normal season, we use about 220,000 gallons on our 18-hole course,” he said. “This year we’re up to 330,000 gallons of water a night. We’re just trying to do what we can to keep our course looking good and keep golfers coming out here to play.”

Johnson said the heat hasn’t deterred many golfers.

“Our numbers have been good so far,” he said. “The mornings have been real busy for us, which has been the norm since we’ve been stuck in this weather pattern.”

He said some golfers may be turning out to the area courses because they know they won’t have to wait.

Kyle Tkachuk of Stevens Point and Ryan Woehler of Madison were playing Baraboo Country Club for the first time Saturday.

Tkachuk said he golfs a lot more when it’s warmer.

“I try and take advantage of the weather when I know there will be less people on the course,” he said.

Woehler said he golfs in the mornings when he can.

“You have to adjust to the weather every year,” Woehler said. “This year it’s been dry and hot, but you still want to get out there and play.”

Jake Wimberley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Milwaukee, said golfers may not see rain until Wednesday.

“Today we will be in the mid-90s and then back up to the mid- to upper-80s on Tuesday,” Wimberley said. “There is a front coming in this week where we will see a chance for rounds of showers and thunderstorms, but the best chance for rain will likely be Wednesday.”