Golf: Drought now the biggest handicap

If you're in outback Hawke's Bay and feel like Tiger Woods on the fairway then it's a reasonable emotion and you're not alone.

And, no, it has nothing to do with what you've had or not had for breakfast or simply because you went to bed early the night before.

It's more to do with the water or, to be more precise, the lack of it on the parched golf courses of the Central and Southern Hawke's Bay regions.

Several golf courses in the two regions have embraced the mercy rule of a "close season" because of the effects of the drought which has officially had a grip on Hawke's Bay for a shade over a fortnight.

Jargonistically speaking, it means amateur golfers won't be submitting scorecards after 18 holes to gauge their handicaps.

"I had a drive through the other day and I couldn't believe how dry the courses were," Golf Hawke's Bay and Poverty Bay Women executive officer Neil Munro said last night.

Munro has sent an email to all affiliate clubs to apply for a closed-season grading if their match committees believe their courses are playing either too easy or too difficult.

"It's unfair on the members when they hit the ball and it rolls on forever," Munro said, offering an example where a female 30 handicapper was expected to play around the 20 mark.

"It's totally unfair because when it's winter she'll never be able to do that," he said, revealing there were dust bowls below dead grass.

Add to that the risk of injury, when hackers can jar their wrists and other joints on a rock-hard surface.

The closed-season kicked in this month and is likely to remain until April 22, unless the regions receive some respite from rain.

The clubs affected include Norsewood, Waipukurau, Takapau, Porangahau and Waipawa.

No city clubs are affected with Hawke's Bay Regional Council allocating them some water while some also may have their own bores.

"They have been told to use water sparingly and not in the day when they evaporate quickly. Bores have limitations too," Munro said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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