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DESERT AIRE COURSE BACK IN THE GREEN WATER FROM FARM WELL FOSTERS REVIVAL.

Byline: CHARLES F. BOSTWICK Staff Writer

PALMDALE -- Desert Aire Golf Course is green again.

Water flowing from a pipeline installed to a farm well has revived the 50-year-old course's four-foot-diameter cottonwood trees and fairways, which were dying this summer after the course well dried up.

``It's very green; greener than ever,'' operator Christina McEnaney said. ``Right now we're putting about a half-million gallons on the course a day. Before we were lucky to get 50,000 gallons a day.''

The nine-hole course was in danger of closing earlier this year because of the failure of its well, which dried up due to the falling water table. Drilling a new well was expensive.

Then the course's landlord, Los Angeles World Airports, agreed to spend $250,000 for a new water line, after 100 Desert Air supporters carpooled to an airports board meeting in April in Van Nuys. A-G Sod Farms, another airport tenant, agreed to share its well water.

The new water arrived July 21, as the fairway's grass had turned brown and the cottonwoods' leaves were falling like autumn. Six weeks of water and fertilizer has greened them up, though four or five cottonwood trees died and had to be cut down, McEnaney said.

``It's much better now, much better ... a lot better play now,'' golfer Charles Merritt said last week.

Desert Aire will celebrate its recovery Sept. 16 with its ``green'' -- rather than ``grand'' -- reopening.

The Sept. 16 festivities will include a tournament at 8 a.m. to raise money for the course's junior golf academy, which provides instruction for youngsters from high-school age down to age 3. The cost is $75 a player.

Also scheduled is a show and clinic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. by long-drive champion Vince Howell. Admission is $10.

A barbecue will start at 1 p.m. with music by The Rich Harper Blues Band from 1 to 3 p.m. Ping and Sonartec representatives will demonstrate equipment from 1 to 5 p.m.

All the proceeds will go to the junior golf academy.

Long-term water prospects appear good: Palmdale's nearby sewage treatment plant is due to be upgraded and enlarged, and in three or four years should have plenty of treated, disinfected water reclaimed from sewage available to irrigate the course.

``That's really the way to go for any golf course,'' McEnaney said.

Now overshadowed by the newer -- and more expensive -- Rancho Vista Golf Course in west Palmdale, Desert Aire actually predates Palmdale. It started in 1956, six years before Palmdale became a city.

Los Angeles later bought the land as it was acquiring thousands of acres for a Palmdale airport that has never been built.

The golf course is now getting improvements delayed because of doubts it would survive the loss of its well. Heavy equipment Friday was leveling out the driving range in preparation for new artificial target greens.

The clubhouse got new paint and landscaping.

When McEnaney got into golf as a profession, she didn't expect to deal with wells, irrigation pumps and groundwater tables.

``I was just going to teach. It would have been such a simple life,'' McEnaney said. ``I do love a challenge.''

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color -- ran in AV edition only) Golfer Charles Merritt of Palmdale takes a swing at a golf ball at Desert Aire Golf Course on Friday. The course's landlord, Los Angeles World Airports, agreed to spend $250,000 for a new water line, after course supporters lobbied at a board meeting in April.

(2) Players use a golf cart on the newly irrigated Desert Aire Golf Course in Palmdale. The nine-hole course was in danger of closing earlier this year because of the failure of its water-producing well.

Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 9, 2006
Words:626
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