COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The drought plaguing Southern Colorado is forcing some golf courses to make changes.
Monument Hill Country Club announced it would be closing its golf course for the 2013 season due to high costs to irrigate the course. Spring Ranch Golf Club said it doesn't plan to take drastic action like that, but it's had to make changes because of the drought. It had to stop watering native vegetation to save water for "high-play" areas such as greens and fairways.
"We don't water the native like we used to, so it's not as tall and thick," said Assistant Golf Professional Jeff Becker.
With little water, the dry native grasses caught fire near a tee box on Friday.
"We had about five or six calls in a row saying we had smoke coming from the far south corner of the golf course and that there was smoke and flames," said Becker.
Becker said the club plans to put up signs in the Pro Shop and potentially the course warning people to dispose of their cigarette butts and cigar butts in trash cans to prevent future fires.
The golf course has private wells so it does not have to follow the city's new water restrictions. However, the less water people use on their lawns, the less water collects in its wells.
"We have to deal with the hand we are dealt and we just put the water where we need it most," said Head PGA Golf Professional Ed Kujalowicz.
Becker said the drought three years ago devastated the course. The golf course had made almost a full recovery by last summer. With the new drought, Becker said he was worried about the impact it would have on the course.
Kujalowicz remembers rainier days 16 years ago when the location was picked to build the course.
"Sixteen years ago, the feasibility of the golf course, the water usage was based on average rainfall for Colorado Springs and we had enough water [to maintain the course] from what we can get out of our wells plus average rainfall," said Kujalowicz.
In recent years, that rainfall has decreased and the course has had to relay on wells to maintain the course.
Regardless of the drought, Becker is optimistic the course will be up to par this summer.