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Work to raise golf course driving range finally begins

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer
Photo by Nick Stubbs

The first piles of fill from the base marina dredging project are showing up at the Bay Palms driving range, where the flood-prone field will be raised as much as two feet for better drainage.

Those who have been trying to perfect their long drive at the base driving range are going to have to make a long drive in their car to practice someplace else, at least for the next three months or so. Both courses will remain open.

The Bay Palms driving range closed this week to make way for tons of fill coming in to raise the range field by at least a foot. It's hoped the fill will eliminate flooding of the field, which frequently must be closed during the rainy season due to standing water.

Ron Matthews, operations assistant at the course, said the work has long been planned but lack of funding always has moved it to the back burner. Only after tons of sand produced by a dredging project at Coons Creek and the base marina became available did the project finally gel.

"We've always needed this but one thing or another prevented it," said Mr. Matthews. "Then because of all this dirt we're going to do it."

It worked out well for base engineer, as well. The dredging has produced far more fill due to unexpected levels of muck encountered in the dredging, leaving little room for all the material being pulled off the bottom of the marina channel and the channel running out of Coons Creek.

The driving range project should be able to use all of the fill material, said Mr. Matthews, who added the course can use as much as can be provided.

As it stands, it looks like there will be enough to fill from the tee boxes out to the drainage creek at the end of the range. The field will be crowned in the middle, about two feet above the current level, tapering off to about a foot above the current level at the perimeter.

"That will be a big help," said Mr. Matthews, who notes the field easily floods now after heavy rains. "What it will be is crowned like a football field so the water will run off."

Bay Palms also is taking the opportunity to install irrigation pipes and sprinklers to keep the field green during the dry months.

While driving practice may be closed, golfers will be able to concentrate on their short game, with the chipping and putting green near the clubhouse remaining open.

"This is an inconvenience but it is for the betterment of everyone who uses it (the driving range)," said Mr. Matthews.

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