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Clear Creek greens getting a needed facelift

Barbara Forrest chips onto the third green at Clear Creek Golf Course on Monday. (Jon GiffinThe Vicksburg Post)

[12/2/03]After months of battling a green-eating fungus, Clear Creek Golf Course will get its relief.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution on Monday to spend $250,000 for improvements to the course. The county will enter into a loan agreement with the Mississippi Development Authority to fund the repairs.

The project entails full reconstruction of the front nine holes of the course. At $4 per square foot and 5,500 feet per green, it will cost an estimated $220,000. An additional $13,750 is added for the cost of growing in the turf.

Barbara Forrest, 50, and Wayne Forrest, 52, are two golfers looking forward to the changes.

“That’d be great,” said Barbara Forrest, who golfs two to three times a week. “It could attract more players if they fix it really nice.”

The project is on hold for short while as the Board awaits the loan approval by the MDA. Construction is estimated to begin in May.

“In this particular time of year the governor’s chair is about to swap operations,” Board President Richard George said. “So the operation of MDA may be different.”

The Board came to the decision after Clear Creek tried for several months to contain the fungus in a variety of treatments.

“We have had talks with the Parks and Rec Department about how to handle this problem with the least impact on our operations since this wasn’t planned for,” George said. “All other methods up to this point have been expended.”

The course greens have been suffering from what is known as Bermuda grass decline. This fungus forms black legions on the roots of the grass and eats away at them. With no roots, the grass is easily lifted and removed, leaving only dirt behind.

The fungus has proven to be a problem for golfers, making it more difficult to play. Putting is an adventure with ruts and lumps scattered across the greens.

Clear Creek golf pro Randy Tupper did not return several messages left for him Monday.

“I usually just move the ball around it,” said Forrest, adding that she only plays for recreation. “You definitely can’t putt over it. The ball just gets bumped up.”

The greens on Nos. 3, 5 and 7 have been hit the hardest by this fungus.

The biggest problem with Bermuda grass decline is that it has no known cure, only methods to reduce the spreading.

With the improvements to the course, holes 1 through 9 will be rebuilt from the bottom up, leaving holes 10 through 18 open.

“I think it would make it a lot more crowded on those nine holes,” Wayne Forrest said. “It’s already crowded sometimes with 18.”

The plan has a second phase for the back nine that has yet to be approved. Excluding the loss of revenue, the estimated cost for the second phase would be $210,000.