Hurricane Irma Batters South Florida Golf Properties

By | September 12th, 2017

The storm’s 400-mile path hit the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm and is weakening as it moves northwest. The Trump Organization is “still assessing” damage to its properties, while Rockledge (Fla.) CC is seeking “foot warriors” to aid in cleanup, and footage of golfers skimboarding at the flooded Winter Park (Fla.) CC made the rounds.

Hurricane Irma, which has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone as it moves northwest through the United States, caused damage to golf course facilities in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina over the weekend.

On September 11, C&RB reported that the storm contributed to a sinkhole at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Indiantown, Fla. Other properties are reporting on damage as well:

—The Trump Organization is “still assessing” whether any of its properties incurred serious damage as Hurricane Irma tore through South Florida over the weekend. President Donald Trump owns four properties in Florida that made preparations prior to Irma’s landfall. Separately, the president owns a vacation home on the island of St. Martin, which faced a devastating direct hit from Irma late last week, ABC News reported.

“Our teams in both Florida and St. Martin were very well prepared and we are proud of their efforts on the ground,” a Trump Organization spokesperson said. “We are currently still assessing the situation at the properties that were in the storm’s path and at this time we continue to send our thoughts and prayers to all of the victims.”

As of last Friday, the Trump Organization announced that the Mar-a-Lago Club, Trump International Golf Club, Palm Beach and Trump National Golf Club, Jupiter would all be closed due to the storm, ABC reported.

Given Florida’s history of devastating hurricanes, it comes as no surprise the clubs have had to deal with storms before. The Palm Beach Post reported that in 2004, Trump, who was then a real estate mogul and enjoying the beginning of his “The Apprentice” run, spoke about how Mar-a-Lago dealt with Hurricane Frances, ABC reported.

“We lost a lot of the vegetation that gave Mar-a-Lago its character,” Trump told the Palm Beach Post in August 2004. “I wasn’t there for the storm, but I’ve been told by my people there that it re-landscaped the place. There was a little flooding in some of the basements, too.”

Strikes by four major hurricanes have done little damage to Mar-a-Lago in the 90 years since cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and her second husband, financier E.F. Hutton, built the 126-room, 62,500-sq. ft. mansion. The 3-acre estate is quite exposed to tropical weather, bisecting a narrow barrier island, flanked by the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. But the mansion’s walls are 3 feet thick, anchored by steel and concrete beams embedded into coral rock, ABC reported.

“It’s the safest place in the world for a hurricane,” said Anthony Senecal, Trump’s longtime butler and Mar-a-Lago’s unofficial historian, in an interview with The Associated Press last year. “That house ain’t going nowhere. That house has never been seriously damaged. That construction, stop and think about it. There were 300 guys that worked on the outside of that building.”

An AP investigation last year showed Trump received a $17 million insurance payment for Mar-a-Lago damage in 2005 after hurricanes Frances, Jeanne and Wilma hit in two years, but he said in an unrelated lawsuit deposition in 2007 that he didn’t know how much was spent on repairs. He conceded to pocketing some of the money, ABC reported.

Rockledge (Fla.) Country Club, which is closed today due to having no power or internet, is seeking “foot warriors” to help clean up the golf course beginning at 8 AM on September 13. 

—Golf course builder Landscapes Unlimited has mobilized a task force dedicated to remediating the damage done to Houston-area golf courses, clubhouses and sports-field facilities by Hurricane Harvey, while also standing ready for those Floridians dealing with Hurricane Irma aftermath.

Bill Kubly, company founder and board member of the Golf Course Builders Association of America (GCBAA) Foundation, announced this week that Landscapes Unlimited will bolster resources to assist in the assessment and formulation of short-term and long-term planning strategies for properties affected by the hurricanes.

Golf course owners, managers and superintendents, sports field managers and municipal golf/parks managers are encouraged to reach out directly to Landscapes Unlimited’s Texas Office. Ask for Jake Riekstins at 402-416-7062, or to send an email to jriekstins@landscapesunlimited.com

In Florida, contact the company’s Florida Regional Office. Ask for C.T. Shaw at 910-664-0145, or email him at CTShaw@LandscapesUnlimited.com

—A clip provided at least, momentarily, a bit of levity to those suffering due to Hurricane Irma in central Florida. WFTV Channel 9‘s Christian Bruey did a live report from Winter Park (Fla.) Country Club, where people were playing golf and skimboarding on the soggy course. See footage here.

—In Myrtle Beach, S.C., golf courses are enduring some lost revenue from cancellations and a day or two of closure in some cases. But course operators are generally thankful Hurricane Irma did not come directly through the Carolina coast, allowing the Myrtle Beach golf market to be minimally impacted by the storm, Myrtle Beach Online reported.

Some courses were hoping to get through Irma with just a half day of course closures on Monday afternoon. Rain and showers were predicted to continue through Tuesday morning, though winds were predicted to dissipate to about 15 mph throughout the day, with clearing expected in the afternoon. The rain totals shouldn’t be enough to force many courses to close. The threat of Irma has led to a loss of rounds and revenue, however, as many rounds were canceled this week and even next week when visiting golfers canceled planned vacations, Online reported.

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