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By Gus Bode

Jason Smith, right, of Murphysboro, watches Craig Cripps, of Desoto, take a swing at the Stonefort Golf Course Monday in Makanda. Smith, who plays golf 2 to 3 times per week, said heÕs enjoying the nice weather, which had been rare through May. He said although he continued to play golf despite the rain, he can understand how golf courses lose some business during stretches of poor weather. ÒYou canÕt golf when thereÕs lightning,Ó Smith said. ÒTheyÕll call you off the course if thereÕs lightning.Ó — Lauren Leone | Daily Egyptian

Memorial Day weekend was a success for golf courses in southern Illinois. However, the game was nearly non-existent this spring as courses absorbed record rainfall across the region.

Courses have been forced to shut down for periods at a time due to rain, and they have had to battle maintenance issues to stay open and give golfers a chance to play the game.

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Don Pippins, owner of Stone Creek Golf Course, said the rain has had both positive and negative effects on the golf course.  He said the rain has forced them to shut down the course on many occasions this spring, which has caused economic stress on the course.

“This is the season we should be playing golf, so when that revenue is lost, you never really get it back,” Pippins said. “It’s just been an incredible amount of rain.”

While the rain has put economic stress on the business, he said the rain has allowed to the grass to flourish and create excellent playing conditions.

Holiday weekends are big revenue boosters for golf courses,  Pippins said, and he is glad the rain stayed away and allowed golfers to get out and enjoy the Memorial Day weekend.

Statewide, Illinois has seen record rainfall in both April and May. The state averaged 7.45 inches in April and surpassed the previous record by nearly a half inch with the majority of the rain falling on the state’s southern region.

Anna, a town 20 miles south of Carbondale, received the highest amount of rain in the state with just over 20 inches in April. Carbondale received 6.79 inches in May, which is almost double the average rainfall in May for the city.

The course has had its problems due to the weather, but operations are now back to normal working order, said Ashley Meagher, manager at Jackson Country Club.

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The course was shut down for 10 days in early May because of flooding on the front nine, she said, but the club is better off than some.

“We have higher greens, which kept most of our flooding problems to the cart path areas,” Meagher said.

She said the weather has been an inconvenience for the members, but despite the shut down, the club has had the highest number of players on the course in the three years she has been employed at the country club.

Tom Brooke from Hickory Ridge Golf Course said the rain has caused both economic and physical damage to their course.  He said the Big Muddy River flows through their course, and when the river flooded, so did their course.

He said the weather forced them to shut down the course for more than two weeks, which caused huge revenue issues thus far in the season.

“We’ve had so much flooding people couldn’t even get out on the course,” Brooke said. “Flooding has forced us to reseed the greens on (holes) seven and eight.”

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