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Dedicated golfers return to sodden Tampa courses

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Published:   |   Updated: July 6, 2013 at 06:13 PM

TAMPA - Mud caked her shoes and wet grass stuck to her clubs, but Kathy Fabbri couldn't pass up playing golf on the first sunny morning in a week.

She and her friends just had to traverse some soggy greens and fairways to do it.

"It's muddy and it's hard to go through," said Fabbri of Tampa as her shoes squished in soaked ground this morning at the Rogers Park Golf Course. "And you just have to swing harder to get that club through the heavy, wet grass."

Weekends generally are busy on Tampa's courses, but unusually high numbers of golfers were out today after heavy storms pounded the area all week. The weather forced some courses to close early and limited where golf carts could be driven because of soggy conditions and pools of standing water.

"We couldn't get lawn mowers on holes one and four because of water," said T.J. Heidel, director of operations at the Rogers Park course, 7911 N. 30th St.

Golfers weren't allowed to take carts on the fairways on Friday and the course closed Tuesday because of storms, Heidel said.

This morning, several sections of grass at Rogers Park were marked with deep ruts from golf cart wheels, exposing moist mud. Puddles had accumulated on cart paths and in low areas a chip shot away from the putting green on hole four.

"I can't take the cart on the grass," said Laurie Sweigart of Carrollwood after she teed off. "But I'm just grateful we can get out and play."

Golfers and everybody else who enjoys outdoor activities will get more chances to do so in the coming days.

The jet stream has shifted to the north, pushing tropical moisture south toward the Caribbean and lowering rain chances in the Tampa area, said Robert Garcia, forecaster for the National Weather Service.

This week, the jet stream dipped south over the Florida peninsula, which pulled up moisture from the tropics and drenched the region with rain, Garcia said.

There have been 3.5 inches of rain in Tampa since June 29, which is about an inch above average, he said.

Rain chances are 20 percent Sunday and Monday, with scattered thunderstorms likely rolling in during the afternoon on both days.

"People will get to enjoy a bit of sunshine," Garcia said. "There will be a few thunderstorms, but it won't be like the rain we've seen."

Sweigart enjoyed today's sunnier weather. She called out to Fabbri, who was teeing off on hole two at Rogers Park.

"You get wet feet?" Sweigart said with a laugh.

Golfer Starlin Martin said he didn't mind the soggy conditions on the course.

"This is just the conditions you play in when it's wet," Martin said. "The pros are doing the same thing."

Kevin Bohns, assistant manager of The Claw at the University of South Florida, said the drier weather is a boon for him. The course had been saturated and too few golfers played this week.

"With all the rain, it's been killing us," Bohns said. "But once it was sunny out - that's what we were waiting for. Finally, a break in the weather. It's what we needed."

rreyes@tampatrib.com

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