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Golf course ruined by sewage spill reopens after 2+ years

A ribbon cutting and grand reopening ceremony were held Wednesday at The Golf Center at Palm Desert and Home of the First Tee program.

"Just so excited, can't wait for the grass to finish growing in and to open the doors and let the public back in, let the kids back in," said Kevin Kalman, general manager of the Desert Recreation District.

In June 2017, the course closed after erosion in a pond caused a gaping 50-foot hole to open up in the course, leading to a pipe break and a massive sewage spill.

The Desert Recreation District decided to launch a $1.5 million improvement project.

"Our board was adamant that we want to continue to support our chapter of the First Tee and make sure that the young people have not just the golf experience but the character building experience," Kalman said.

The reconstruction includes a new irrigation system that's more efficient and conservative with water -- and a new layout for the course.

"We have a little bit easier play out there, the green's are a little bit larger and the tee boxes are a little bit larger," Kalman said.

And with an expanded driving range, they're expanding the course's hours too.

"So more people can be out here smacking golf balls," Kalman said. "It's our intention now to open up in the evenings and keep the lights on and let people hit in the evenings."

Sandy Lounsbury, lead instructor of First Tee, says it's about much more than just golf.

"Touches my heart -- these kids are our future," Lounsbury said. "Not with just golf but the next college student, business person. Their core values and their life skills that we work with -- just exceptional.

The First Tee program is already back underway and reopen for business. The driving range will open next week. And the course is expected to fully reopen the first week of December.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.


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