FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
After his tee shot on the first hole yesterday, 9-year-old Souichiro Kamata walked through standing water on the fairway to where his ball landed. CLICK FOR LARGE
Heavy rains turn isle golf courses into giant mushy water hazards
It's been a hard month for golfers.
A series of heavy showers in the last four weeks have closed courses statewide for days at a time and made conditions less than ideal, turning sand traps into mud pits and flooding fairways.
At Pali Golf Course, algae is growing on the green. In parts of the West Loch Golf Course, grass is knee-high. Wailua Golf Course on Kauai has had only nine holes open for weeks. The other nine are under water.
"It's pretty soggy and mushy out there," said Joevan Joaquin, operations manager at the Ewa Village Golf Course. "It's not playable."
The rain-slogged greens have kept many players away. Several private and public courses have seen their player numbers plummet by as much as 50 percent since the rains set in, officials said.
"It has affected us very much," said Rose Kawelo, an operations representative at Pali Golf Course, adding that she's only seen golf die-hards come out and try to drive balls through high grass, mud bogs and bald spots on the green. "Our course is saturated."
The Kaneohe course has been closed eight days in March, and rains could shut it down again today, Kawelo said.
Ala Wai Golf Course, one of the busiest courses in the world, was nearly empty yesterday. Most golfers were staying to the driving range, which was muddy but not wet.
Only nine holes were open for play. The other half of the course was flooded in heavy rains Thursday and Friday.
Broken branches littered parts of the golf course, and pools of standing water could be found even in the open half of the course. Mud had slipped into some sand traps, making them a nearly impossible obstacle for golfers.
"You've got to drive the ball over the water," said Trever Edmund, as he wiped off his muddy shoes and golf bag after a game yesterday.
Lester Lao, who was golfing with two friends nearby, said no amount of rain or flooding could dampen his spirits and keep him away from the golf course. "It doesn't matter the weather," he said.
"It's fun to be out here and play."
Wes Nakabayashi, a starter at West Loch Golf Course, said crews haven't been able to get mowers through muddy spots in the course to cut the grass. "The whole fairway's really bad. It kind of looks gross out there," he said. "But guys are so diehard they're coming out."
Nine holes at both Ewa Villages and the Ted Makalena golf courses in Waipahu were closed on Thursday and Friday, but all 18 holes were open yesterday. Even moderate rains could quickly close the Ewa Villages course again, which got substantial flooding last week.
On Kauai, soaking rains since late February have hit golf courses hard. Wailua Golf Course is getting about 80 golfers daily, down from 200 to 300 regularly, starter Jack Iida said.
The heavy thundershowers have even affected golf courses in dry spots of Oahu. Ko Olina Golf Course and the Pearl Country Club in Pearl City were closed last Sunday after lightning was spotted.