Clubs in North Dakota, Nebraska and other Prairie states were girding for further destruction from the latest predicted heaping of snow and other precipitation, on top of what has already been a winter and early spring that has brought record flooding and ice damage.
The predicted “bomb cyclone” that was threatening to dump a new heaping of early-spring snow and other precipitation on Midwestern and North Central clubs and golf courses April 10-12 promised to only further hamper those properties’ efforts to prepare for a new golf season.
In North Dakota, reported InForum.com out of Fargo, N.D., it’s already been an “arms race” in the last several years to protect local clubs and their golf courses from swollen rivers—a process that has consisted of a new round of building levees and floodwalls and undertaking course renovations.
Now, InForum.com reported, the ultimate test is here, with the Red River cresting at 35.03 feet on April 8—the 10th-highest level on record and the highest crest since 2011.
Checking in with area courses, InForum.com reported that the new holes created through a recent course renovation at Oxbow (N.D.) Country Club were currently “high and dry.” The club had attempted to sandbag its old front nine in an attempt to save seven holes, but that effort proved unsuccessful. The hope was to use those holes until the recently renovated back nine has enough sustained grass growth for play sometime this summer.
Fargo’s Rose Creek Golf Course, which had six holes experiencing water issues, was most likely expecting to still have 18 playable holes once—and if—the Red River recedes, InForum.com reported—but that expectation was created before the latest forecast for the new storm had formulated.
Rose Creek had water on Holes 8-13, InForum.com reported, and was planning to play a nine-hole routing of 1-7 and 17 and 18 once the course dried out. Head Golf Professional Matt Cook was aiming for two weeks as a goal to open those holes.
A recent back-nine renovation had raised some tees and greens at Rose Creek, but was not meant to protect the entire course from the Rose Coulee, InForum.com reported.
“It doesn’t do a whole lot as far as saving the golf course as it does the whole residential area,” Cook said. “But I think the holes that are under right now, the tees and greens are at a pretty high elevation, so they’re the last to go under and the first to come out. I don’t think we’ll have too many issues with tees and greens.”
The green on the par-3 13th was among the most likely to suffer damage, Cook added. But the course has an alternate No. 13 green on higher ground.
“We’ll have some semblance of 18 holes before the end of the month for sure,” Cook said. “It could be much sooner than that.” But again, his comments were made without accounting for any further damage from the newly predicted storm.
Moorhead (Minn.) Country Club was dealing with only two problematic holes as of April 8, InForum.com reported. Nos. 10 and 11 were under water, although the 10th green remains above water. Situated next to the Red River, they are the only two holes on the course not protected by a levee that was finished six years ago.
Mark Johnson, Head Golf Professional at Fargo (N.D.) Country Club (FCC), believed his course would have some version of 18 holes playable before May 1, InForum.com reported. The situation at FCC, current and future, could be helped by a flood wall adjacent to holes 14, 15 and 16 that would allow the course to pump out the water in the back bowl area when the river goes below 30 feet. That process was expected to only take two days.
Edgewood Golf Course in Fargo and Maple River Golf Club in Mapleton, N.D., have been two of the hardest-hit in the state to date, InForum.com reported. The Maple River had already swallowed most of that course, and Edgewood was inundated once the river height got into 30-foot readings.
“We’ve done some things in a better way to try and help us get the water off sooner,” Edgewood’s Head Golf Professional, Greg McCullough, told InForum.com. Those measures have included using a system of pumps that can start draining the bowl area when the river falls below 28 feet.
“We’re not excited about the flood, but we’re excited to do some things we have not done before,” McCullough said in expressing optimism about the long-term outcome of the spring weather’s effects. “In that aspect, it’s going to be a wait-and-see. It’s not our first time doing this.”
The Fargo Park District, so far, was winning the battle with its par-3 El Zagal Golf Course, InForum.com reported. The levy at 34 feet adjacent to the property’s Elm Street border had been sandbagged to 36 feet, and so far was holding. “A couple small seepages, but not bad at all,” McCullough said about the current situation at El Zagal.
Meanwhile, three area courses not affected by a nearby river were gearing up—again contingent on the weather finally turning favorable—to get their seasons underway, InForum.com reported. Osgood Golf Course in Fargo was hoping to open its driving range during the week of April 15th, although Head Golf Professional Lisa Schwinden was still uncertain about a starting date for the course.
In Moorhead, Minn., the city’s two public 18-hole courses, Meadows and Village Green, were waiting out the coming weather system before making firm predictions, InForum.com reported. If the city stayed relatively dry, Village Green’s Head Golf Professional Russ Nelson said, it was possible that course could open on April 14th. The Meadows course was also hoping for a weekend opening.
“We’re ready,” said Meadows’ Head Golf Professional Jay Haug told InForum.com. “We’re just waiting on Mother Nature, to see what cards she has for us.”
The new storm’s predicted path also looked to completely cover Nebraska, where courses were just beginning to prepare for reopenings after assessing the damage from the winter and early spring’s earlier assaults, the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald reported.
Pines Country Club in Valley, Neb., had already opened its back nine to member-only play, PGA professional Don Dravland told the World-Herald.
At Pines CC, Dravland said, several holes in the middle of the front nine had received the most damage. The par-3 seventh hole had been closed indefinitely, as the course turns bunkers into grass moguls. The par-4 sixth, along old U.S. 275, was covered with mud along the left side and might have to be temporarily shortened to a par-3, Dravland said.
Dravland added that he couldn’t believe the debris that had already been left on the front nine by previous flooding. “Billions of corn stalks, cobs and husks,” he described to the World-Herald. “And there’s a lot who drink a lot of Fireball [cinnamon whiskey] from the bottles we’ve found,”
The only greens with any damage were those for practice putting and chipping near the clubhouse, which itself was on dry ground, Dravland added. Of the two cart barns, the newer one had a lot of debris, but the original next to the practice range was dry.
Dravland and his wife, Lori, recently moved back to their home, which had several inches of water in the basement, on the Pines property, the World-Herald reported. Mike Ten Eyck, the club’s other golf pro, also had three feet of water in his basement, but was able to return home sooner.
North Bend (Neb.) Golf Course wasn’t yet open, its PGA pro, Pete Balerud, told the World-Herald, because the club needed to get its irrigation system running to wash debris from the golf course.
The most damage at North Bend was connected to the par-3 second hole, the World-Herald reported. Some of the bank leading to the green eroded and the cart path had washed out, and another cart path between the 17th and 18th holes needed repairing.
Balerud said, before the predicted new storm had come through, that he hoped the course would be able to open by the end of April. He considered seven holes to already be playable, but they were split between the two nines and away from the irrigation lakes that run west to east.
While two greens at North Bend had already gone under water, none were damaged, Balerud told the World-Herald, with only one ice chunk found. The clubhouse was not flooded, nor were the cart shed and maintenance building, though members had helped to move the fleet of new carts to higher ground.
“As odd as it sounds, I’m happy with what we found,’’ Balerud said. “I had envisioned the second green being washed away.”
Oakland (Neb.) Golf Club, which was flooded by Logan Creek for the second time in less than a year, was hoping to get its back nine open in a week or two from the start of the week of April 8th, the World-Herald reported, unless the new storm brought further delays.
In the meantime, the club was continuing its cleanup, according to a statement on its Facebook page.
“We have moved corn stalks, pushed silt, washed off greens, removed debris, pushed more silt, cleaned out sheds, cleaned out equipment, moved even more silt, and are now working on turning our water on and assessing potential damages,’’ the statement read.
“This flood has presented some similarities to last year and also has brought some very sticky and slimy challenges,” the statement added. “We will continue to remove silt from the course and hope Mother Nature will help us in drying some of these areas out.”
The Oakland club’s plan for reopening was for the back nine to open to walkers only while cart paths are repaired, the World-Herald reported. The front nine and range were expected to take longer to get ready.
As C&RB reported in March (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/latest-round-of-spring-flooding-puts-renewed-focus-on-restoration-practices/), the Nebraska course that had already been hit the hardest, even before the possibility of the “bomb cyclone” was Quail Run, the municipally owned 18-hole facility in Columbus, Neb. along the Loup River.
“Nothing has been done at this point,’’ the course’s Golf Professional, Doug Dunbar, wrote in an e-mail to provide an update to the World-Herald, “as [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] and the city’s insurance company cannot assess the extent of the damage until the ice melts.”
As of April 3rd, ice flows five-feet thick still covered six holes on the south side of the dike, according to Quail Run’s Facebook page, the World-Herald reported.
While Quail Run was waiting for inspection and possible reopening in April as a makeshift nine-hole course, the World-Herald reported, the Nebraska School Activities Association had already decided to move its Class B boys golf championship in May from there to Elks Country Club across town in Columbus.
Van Berg, the nine-hole course in Columbus, also was flooded and closed for a time, the World-Herald reported.
Other courses in the state that had already reported flooding in advance of the new storm, the World-Herald reported, included those in the Nebraska towns of Niobrara, Neligh, Pender, Spalding, South Sioux City (Covington and South Ridge), York, Ord, Battle Creek (Evergreen Hill), Schuyler and Omaha (Knolls).
Niobrara’s nine-hole course winds through the streets of the old town site, the World-Herald noted. Because of recurring flooding, the town was moved to higher ground about 40 years ago.
Large ice chunks were still on the Niobrara course two weeks ago, based on photos posted on Facebook, the World-Herald reported, and volunteers had helped with cleanup.
Nebraska Section PGA Executive Director David Honnens of Lincoln told the World-Herald that the PGA of America’s Golf Relief and Assistance Fund can help golf industry personnel affected by the flooding.
Tax-deductible contributions to the Golf Relief and Assistance Fund or applications for assistance, can be made at GolfReliefFund.org.