Palmer Hills Golf Course in Bettendorf, Iowa, Duck Creek Golf Course in Davenport, Iowa, and Forest Hills Golf Course in La Crosse, Wis., each fell victim to heavy rains and are dealing with flooding conditions. In Medora, N.D., Bully Pulpit Golf Course has the opposite problem as it deals with its driest season yet due to low rainfall and high temperatures.
Thanks to Mother Nature, Palmer Hills Golf Course in Bettendorf, Iowa and Duck Creek Golf Course in Davenport, Iowa ended up with hazards than usual this weekend, the Moline (Ill.) Dispatch reported.
Both golf courses fell victim to heavy overnight rains Friday into Saturday and suffered major flood damage. “Mother Nature was angry last night,” said Jon Waddell, Palmer Hills head golf professional.
A number of other local courses, including Emeis Golf Course in Davenport, Country View Golf Course in Geneseo, Ill., and Emerald Hill Golf Course in Sterling, Ill., led to those facilities being closed for at least part of the day on what would normally be a busy weekend of play, the Dispatch reported.
At Palmer Hills, Waddell reported that both Stafford Creek and Duck Creek flowed out of their banks in the overnight hours early Saturday morning and left a trail of damage that not only closed the course, but forced the cancellation of the second round of the Quad City Amateur Tour’s Palmer Hills Am scheduled for Saturday, the Dispatch reported.
Duck Creek head pro Matt Hasley said Saturday morning that water from Duck Creek was still sitting on the course and the damage couldn’t yet even be determined—especially if silt is left behind when the water recedes, the Dispatch reported.
“We’ve seen it a lot worse. This is bad, but we’ve seen it worse,” Hasley said, noting it ranks toward the top of the list of flood damage reports at the course.
Still, damage was severe at Palmer Hills where two bridges sustained serious disablements, according to Waddell. The bridge from the 11th tee box to the fairway collapsed. The bridge on the 16th hole also had a piling damaged and is out of service, the Dispatch reported.
Superintendent Brian Hickey and his staff were packing the bridge area at Palmer Hills with gravel to create a temporary bridge that could be used until a planned creek bank renovation project begins in September. The fairway on hole No. 3 was “completely under water,” Waddell said, but the water was receding back into Stafford Creek that dissects the middle of the golf course. Also, two new bunkers added to the first fairway this year were also needing major work, the Dispatch reported.
“One of them is completely destroyed. It washed the face out of it, washed mud into the sand,” Waddell said. “It looks like it’s going to have to be dug out and completely rebuilt.”
Both Hasley and Waddell were hoping their courses could be re-opened Saturday afternoon in order to salvage some weekend play. Duck Creek, according to Hasley, lost three Saturday morning outings, but would only have the back nine open for walking when the course does re-open, the Dispatch reported.
Ron Thrapp, head pro at Emeis, said that facility was closed Saturday morning after receiving more than five inches of rain in a 48-hour period. That cost the course 207 rounds that were on the books, the Dispatch reported.
“The lost revenue is what hurt the most here,” said Thrapp, noting water had to be pumped out of bunkers to get the course playable and opened for afternoon play.
In La Crosse, Wis., Forest Hills Golf Course was one of several courses closed this weekend due to flooding damage, the La Crosse-based WKBT-TV reported.
On what should be a beautiful weekend for a round of golf, Forest Hills Golf Course remains silent. “The phone usually rings off the hook on the weekends,” pro shop manager Josh Larsen said.
Late last Wednesday, several inches of rain broke the course’s man-made levee near the back of the course, severely damaging new holes that opened last summer, WKBT-TV reported.
“It was just starting to get grown in settled in and looking pretty good,” Larsen said. “To be honest with you, we all cried. We give everything we have on a daily basis, everybody here at Forest Hills to make this place the best we can. We take a lot of pride in this place and it was very disheartening.”
Since then, the course has been closed. “We have 180 days to make money, and obviously weekends are prime time for us, so any time we lose a weekend, you’ll see it in the numbers,” Larsen said.
But the in days since, volunteers like Bruce Simones and Ken Hanson have spent their weekend making sure the course gets back into shape, WKBT-TV reported.
“It’s not a matter of why, it’s almost just like you have to do it,” Hanson said.
“I’m a little selfish, I want to get this place back open. I miss my buddies at 8:15,” Simones said.
It’s that spirit that helps golf managers stay positive. “I’ve been here since 2007, and there were people in the door yesterday that I’ve never seen at this golf course before wanting to know where they can rake and help out. It’s great to have a community that’s behind you,” Larsen said.
And they are confident that very soon, at least part of the course can reopen, WKBT-TV reported.
“We have a great superintendent, a great grounds crew, and a great community behind us,” Larsen said.
Monday, volunteers from WisCorps, as well as the city will be out to help repair some of the damage. It’s not clear how much the damage will cost the golf course, WKBT-TV reported.
Forest Hills isn’t the only golf course closed this weekend. Both Fox Hollow Golf Course in La Crosse and The Golf Club at Cedar Creek in Onalaska, Wis., are closed due to flooding damage as well, WKBT-TV reported.
Forest Hills Golf Course expects the front nine holes will be open either Tuesday or Wednesday. It’s not clear at this point when the back nine will reopen, WKBT-TV reported.
In Medora, N.D., Bully Pulpit Golf Course is coping with the opposite problem, as it is experiencing its driest season yet, the Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune reported.
The course gets its water from the Little Missouri State Scenic River, which is flowing by the golf course at rates significantly below normal as the region copes with extreme drought conditions. But Bully Pulpit is not in danger of running out of water for irrigation because water is pumped from the river in the spring and stored in ponds, the Tribune reported.
The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation has a permit from the North Dakota State Water Commission to pump water for the golf course from the Little Missouri between March 1 and July 1, the Tribune reported.
“By pumping in the spring, they’re able to take advantage of the higher flows and more volumes of water as a result of spring rains and snowmelt,” said Daniel Farrell, hydrologist manager for the State Water Commission.
The permit allows for 400 acre feet of water at a rate of 5,000 gallons per minute, as long as the river flows at the Medora gage don’t drop too low and certain conditions are followed, the Tribune reported.
This season, dry weather and hot temperatures have forced Bully Pulpit to irrigate more often, using more than 500,000 gallons of water each day to keep 90 acres of turf grass in good shape, said Bully Pulpit golf pro Casey Moen. “Our system is basically at max capacity,” Moen said.
Rainfall is significantly down this year, with Medora recording 0.33 inches of rain in June, compared to a normal June rainfall total of about 3 inches, according to National Weather Service. So far in July, Medora has recorded high temperatures that average 91.6 degrees, 10 degrees hotter than the average high temperature in July, the Tribune reported.
The ideal temperature for the turf grass is between 60 and 80 degrees, Moen said. “So when you get however many days above 80 degrees, some 90 and close to 100, the plant itself almost is in survival mode,” he said.
Staff members have had to change how they approach course maintenance during this dry season, including relying more on irrigation. The course has three storage ponds that hold 320 acre feet of water, Farrell said. Moen said that’s enough to last the golf course two years, the Tribune reported.
This year, the course stopped pumping out of the river as of June 1, Moen said.
If the river flows are below 20 cubic feet per second at the Medora gage, which has been common since mid-June, the golf course is unable to pump water, according to conditions of its permit. The permit also gives priority to other irrigators that have held water permits longer and states that the golf course’s irrigation cannot exceed 3 acre feet of water per acre, the Tribune reported.
Allan Andersen, a golfer from Scranton, said the Little Missouri is the lowest he’s seen since Bully Pulpit opened. He recently enjoyed the course for the third time this season. “It’s in pretty nice shape for as dry as it is,” Andersen said.
About 17,000 rounds of golf are played at Bully Pulpit each year, down from a peak of 20,000 rounds in 2015 when the region had more oil workers, Moen said. Hot temperatures haven’t kept golfers away this season, but many schedule their tee times earlier, the Tribune reported.
The course also has had to cope with the opposite extreme, with flooding of the Little Missouri in 2011 requiring the reconstruction of several holes, Moen said. “I’d much rather fight warm temperatures than floods,” he said.