It rained today at Stryker Golf Course located on Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
"It's been a ghost town," Stryker Golf Course superintendent Jason Crockrell, a 3-year member of GCSAA, told GCM.
To the surprise of some, the weather is all that is preventing golfers from testing their skills at Stryker Golf Course, one of several facilities across the nation that are located on either military installations or government-run park land. Crockrell admits there has been some confusion as to whether the ongoing government shutdown has closed his course for the time being.
Actually, this entire situation depends which government property you are talking about.
Places such as Stryker Golf Course are, as Crockrell tells it, in the NAF category. That stands for Non Appropriated Funds. In simple terms, that means courses such as Stryker are not supported by tax dollars; they don't receive funding appropriated by Congress; instead they are supplemented by user fees, thus they remain open.
That includes Andrews Air Force Base in the nation's capital, which has three courses on the property. President Barack Obama plays there.
"We have been packed," says Andrews Air Force Base superintendent Ben Ellis, 8-year GCSAA member. "A lot of people are still playing golf. We have 180 carts and we run out of them every day."
The same cannot be said, however, for East Potomac Golf Course in Washington, D.C. Since it is part of the National Park System, East Potomac Golf Course might as well be in Yosemite Park, one of those popular visitor spots that currently are closed until the government shutdown is resolved.
The flip side isn't so peachy for Matera. Not all of his employees are salaried. A dozen of them are hourly and currently not with him during the shutdown. So Matera and those who are on hand (five, including himself) continue to do their best to keep the course in tip-top shape while they keep an eye on news reports to determine if an end to the shutdown is in sight.
"We're just doing the basics right now, watering, spraying," says Matera, 11-year GCSAA member, "but the detail things, like weeding, aren't getting done."
In reference to his concern over a lengthy shutdown, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being very concerned, Matera says he is at 7. That is right now. Check back with him in a week if the shutdown continues.
"I'm not so concerned with the course closure from an agronomic standpoint. We can weather that storm," he says, "but we need the course to generate money so we can do things for the golf course."
Matera's most pressing issue?
"We would like to have the opportunity to see some projects through to the end, get the golf course where we need it to be," Matera says. "Our 30-year-old irrigation system leaks like a sieve. Every day we see two or three new leaks."
If the shutdown continues, Matera is worried his hourly workers may flee for new jobs.
"It's hard to find good people," he says.
For Crockrell, meanwhile, it's business as usual. He says today's rains were the first in 50-something days, and it kept many patrons away this morning. He hopes for people such as Matera that the shutdown doesn't reach an extended stalemate that keeps everyone away.
"My fingers are crossed everything turns out OK," Crockrell says.