Turkey Creek weathers wet winter

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Two computers and a cell phone wait for Ramon Gonzalez to open his eyes each morning. Once they are, he checks each device for a weather report because he has to know what is on the way. His job depends on the weather. So do the jobs of his 28 employees at Turkey Creek Golf Club. If foul weather is in the forecast, Gonzalez will call several of his workers and tell them to stay home. Not only is Gonzalez the head professional at Turkey Creek, but he is also the operations manager. He has to forecast when a rainy day will keep golfers away and cost his employees a day’s pay. That was the case last Thursday morning, when the club’s only two-legged patrons were geese and turkeys. Two geese had the driving range to themselves without fear of being hit by a ball. Gonzalez had two employees on duty just in case there was a sequel to the “Caddyshack” scene in which Carl Spackler advises the bishop to continue his round despite a drenching downpour. “I don’t think the heavy stuff’s gonna come down for quite a while,” says Spackler, aka Bill Murray. The scene ends with the bishop being struck by lightning after he misses a putt on the ninth green Gonzalez has had to deal with lightning, rain, wind and oak trees being knocked to their knees in recent weeks. Fortunately, none of the fallen trees came to rest on a fairway, green or tee box. “We’ve just been lucky,” Gonzalez said. Turkey Creek was open for business last Thursday, but Gonzalez did not expect to have much company. The only noise came from the telephone, which rang with requests for tee times this week. “That tells you how bad they want to get out here,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve had one less day of rain (in March) than we did last year, but it wasn’t this stormy. We’ve had thunder and lightning.” The first sight of lightning leads to the course being closed immediately, but that does not mean every golfer runs for cover. At least Gonzalez knows where all the golfers are at all times on the course. A GPS device allows Gonzalez to track the carts, which must remain on the paths when the fairways are too wet. That cart rule is a deterrent, he said, for seniors who would rather avoid walking. Rain does not discourage the hardcore golfers, Gonzalez added, except when the greens are saturated. “When you get a rooster tail (a spray of water behind the ball), it definitely changes the speed of a putt,” Gonzalez said. “When you can’t putt very well, it’s not a lot of fun for the golfers.” Wet fairways also are a problem because balls can sink into the moist soil and be lost. Gonzalez does not know many golfers willing to risk losing “a $13 ball” just to play in the rain. “When it plugs, it’s gone,” he said. “You’re not going to find it.”