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Golf courses rushing to reopen

SOUTHLAND BLAZES: RECREATION AND RELIGION

People want a respite from grim scenes, managers say.

October 25, 2007|Dave McKibben | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — The idea of thinking about fairways and par fours right now might seem insensitive to many in this city, but managers of some of the area's lush golf courses insist they are getting calls to play.

The courses, they say, provide just the kind of escape a lot of people in this burned-out county are craving. So they're rushing to reopen, ready or not.

"You want to do your best to try to get things back to normal," said Brad Van Horn, general manager of the Vineyard Golf Course in Escondido, which planned to open today. "We had a bunch of calls today from people who said they had cabin fever. Some people just want to get away from focusing on all the devastation."

Most of the area's courses have been closed since the wildfires broke out. Many were damaged. The Vineyard almost didn't make it, Van Horn said. When he drove to work Monday, the Witch fire was roaring near the back nine. More than a dozen million-dollar homes with golf course views burned to the ground.

Mike Rosales, superintendent at nearby Eagle Crest, said he hadn't seen his course yet, but he understands it escaped unharmed. He said Eagle Crest expects to reopen today -- for financial reasons.

"We've probably lost about $20,000 in the last three days in green fees, merchandise, food and beverage," he said. "I don't think we'll be all that busy. But for those that still have houses and aren't ready to go back to work, we'll be there."

One visitor to San Diego took advantage of unusually light play at Torrey Pines in La Jolla on Wednesday and walked onto the prestigious course along the Pacific Ocean without a reservation.

"It was a beautiful day and a gorgeous course," he said. "With everything that's going on, what a better place to be to forget about things. I was feeling pretty fortunate today, considering what people are going through."

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david.mckibben@latimes.com

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