Hillcrest GC in Washington, Ill., recently reopened after a tornado damaged the property last November, while Coal Creek GC in Louisville, Colo., is still reeling from last year’s “400-year flood.”
Three golf courses are dealing with the damage done by storms, ranging from high winds to flooding.
Hillcrest Golf Course in Washington, Ill., is back open for the first time since November’s tornado, Peoria (Ill.)-based WMBD 31 reported.
Four friends were stuck in the course’s clubhouse when the storm hit and today they were the first to tee off, WMBD reported.
The tornado destroyed the course and the clubhouse where the friends were gathered. One golfer says everything was wiped out except the toilet, WMBD reported.
Pete Burke was in the basement when the storm hit. “I come up the steps, and all I’d see was sky. I knew it was gone,” Burke said. “I really could hardly handle it. And it has been tough coming back.”
Coal Creek Golf Course in Louisville, Colo., was designed to withstand only a “100-year flood,” not the epic storm that hit the state last September, the Denver Post reported.
So, while Coal Creek helped absorb damage that might have been more serious elsewhere, the course itself was essentially destroyed. It’s the task of Louisville park project manager Allan Gill to oversee the $5 million renovation of the 160-acre, 18-hole public course, but it won’t reopen until next spring, the Post reported.
“There was such volume of water, it churned up the soil and tore things up,” Gill said. “We lost three bridges, one that was washed downstream 100 yards. We lost 65 percent of our irrigation system. All but three holes were totally destroyed.”
Coal Creek was the most heavily damaged golf course in the area, but other courses took a big hit. Mariana Butte in Loveland has reopened, but some holes are still being reconfigured. Twin Peaks in Longmont suffered $170,000 in damage and reopened in May. A recent overflow of the Poudre River has three holes of Windsor’s Pelican Lakes Golf and Country Club remaining unplayable, the Post reported.
“We were luckier than some others,” Mariana Butte club pro Winston Howe III said. “Right now, we only have one hole, No. 16, that is a different par from before the flood. It was a par-5 for years, but it became a par-3 for a while and it’s back up to a par-4 and should be back to normal soon.”
At Coal Creek, the City of Louisville and the contractor it hired to do the renovation caught a big financial break when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) changed its policy to include public golf courses as being under consideration for federal financial relief, the Post reported.
“The water churned so much that big holes everywhere were formed,” Coal Creek’s Gill said. “We’re the first course to go through this process (with FEMA). It’s a very deliberate process, but we’re grateful for their help. Golf courses are essentially designed as detention basins, and ours did its job in conveying a lot of the water downhill. But it couldn’t withstand what we deemed a 400-year flood.”
The fairways received heavy siltation from stream deposits, Gill said, which interfered with irrigation. So all the fairways need to be reseeded and properly hydrated, the Post reported.
At Twin Peaks, about 75 percent of the course was underwater after the flood but was able to get back to full operation a month ago, the Post reported.
Coal Creek will be redesigned to better withstand flooding, the Post reported.
“This has been our chance—though we didn’t really want to do it this way—to modernize the entire course. But essentially, the new course will have more common-sense drainage improvements,” Gill said. “Water will be directed to the center of the course, with different berms to make that happen. It should be a course that people will be even happier to play than the previous version.”
A storm on Monday night uprooted two trees that sprouted in the 1800s, demolished a shelter and left standing water at Oak View Golf Club in Alden, Minn., the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune reported.
“This (Tuesday) morning it looked like a tornado hit even though it was straight-line winds,” said course manager Matt Hallman. “There were the two old oaks (down), and they’re probably 150 to 200 years old.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Alden received 2.17 inches of rain, and wind gusts were registered up to 53 mph, the Tribune reported.
Along with 15 downed trees and an extra water hazard on hole No. 6 that covered a substantial part of the fairway, the course’s main tee sign was demolished when it caught the wind like a sail, the Tribune reported.
“It’s about 5 feet tall by 10 feet wide, and the straight winds just took it right down,” Hallman said.
Cleanup began Tuesday morning with a crew of 12 volunteers. Debris was gathered and downed trees were cut and put into piles along with the remains of the shelter that stood on hole No. 6, the Tribune reported.
“With all of the help, we have most of it cleaned up already,” Hallman said. “I just want to thank the members and volunteers who spent their day to get this back into shape.”
With most of the work done Tuesday morning, the course was functional in the afternoon, the Tribune reported.
“That’s the best part,” Hallman said. “We get to golf tonight.”
Bob Whitney has been a regular golfer at Oak View since 1993. He lives about a mile from the course, and he golfed Tuesday afternoon like he normally does, the Tribune reported.
“It’s been wet, but otherwise I’ve been playing well,” he said. “They had it all cleaned up pretty quickly except for a few trees.”