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Rain produces cautious optimism at drought-stricken California golf courses

December 03, 2014

It is too early to know whether it's the beginning of the end of the drought in California, but rainstorms across the state in recent days have been a welcome relief generally and for golf courses specifically.


Rain in Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia (Getty Images)

"It's still raining," Justin Mandon, superintendent at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Calif., said Wednesday. "It's really good news. We've had a lot since October 15, 10 inches. We need 36 inches [by April] to not be on restrictions, and we're almost a third of the way."

Pasatiempo, a renowned Alister MacKenzie design, has had its water allocation cut in half by governmental regulation. Its water-reduction program earned it one of two Green Star Awards for Outstanding Environmental Practices from Golf Digest for 2014 (the other was Pinehurst No. 2).

The Weather Channel reported that 3.73 inches of rain fell from Sunday through early Wednesday morning at San Francisco Airport, or "more rain than they had all of last year when they only saw 3.38 inches."

"We have had a fair amount of rain this last week and certainly every bit we get helps," Vaughn Kezirian, executive director of the Northern California Golf Association, said. "We don't know what the reported measurable snow pack is. That's what fills the reservoirs. Snowpack is key. But certainly for the golf courses it has helped immensely."

Southern California areas were similarly fortunate. It rained for six consecutive hours in Los Angeles, which received 1.21 inches of rain on Tuesday, a record for that date, as was the 2.14 inches recorded at Santa Barbara Airport.

Eighty percent of the state was either in an extreme or exceptional drought, the two highest categories in the U.S. drought monitor, the Weather Channel reported.