A definitive cause has not yet been determined for the fire that completely burned the building, along with everything inside.
Tragedy struck FarmLinks at Pursell Farms on Wednesday, March 9, 2011, at approximately 4:00 in the morning, as a fire raged through the 10,000-square-foot golf maintenance building that housed several team members’ offices and state-of-the-art maintenance equipment for the research and demonstration golf course.
A definitive cause has not yet been determined for the fire that completely burned the building, along with everything inside; however, a lightning strike during a fierce storm early Wednesday morning is one possible cause. An on-duty guard was alerted of a power outage at roughly 4:30 a.m., when he noticed the flames and called in a report of a fire on property. An extensive investigation is currently underway, led by the insurance carrier.
“We’re still in the process of gathering the facts,” stated Erle Fairly, president of FarmLinks. “We’re working closely with the fire investigators and with the insurance representatives. But it seems pretty apparent that lightning was a factor.”
Though firefighters arrived quickly on the scene and were able to prevent the blaze from spreading, the nine-year-old maintenance facility is a total loss. Thankfully, no injuries were reported.
Though damages are still being assessed and no exact amount has been identified, the team estimates the loss to be approximately two to four million dollars. Along with maintenance equipment such as mowers, utility trucks and aerification units, greens rollers, a wash station and a utility cart, nearly 30 years’ worth of records and notes kept in the farm director’s office was lost to the blaze.
“It’s sort of surreal,” Fairly mentioned. “The whole team is still somewhat stunned.”
A golf course without its maintenance equipment is certainly at a disadvantage, but members of the golf industry community and partners in The Experience at FarmLinks have already come together in the interim to lend equipment and to offer encouragement.
Mark Langner, FarmLinks’ Director of Agronomy, confirmed, “The outpouring of support from our friends and partners, including Jerry Pate Turf & Irrigation, Birmingham Country Club, Willow Point Golf and Country Club, Limestone Springs Golf Course and many others has been tremendous.”
According to Fairly, the process of rebuilding the maintenance facility is already underway, and the FarmLinks team is working to maintain course conditions at the level of excellence that has come to be expected.
He stated, “We have suffered a significant loss, but we have also been given a rare opportunity. As a ‘living laboratory’ that endeavors to provide solutions-oriented programs, we have gained knowledge and insights over the years from end users, from partners and from industry leaders. And we are now in a unique position to collaborate with these professionals and with new partners to fine tune an environmentally sensitive facility around these experiences and take course maintenance operations to a whole new level.”