The popular and picturesque McKenzie Bridge, Ore. facility saw the Holiday Farm Fire come within a quarter-mile of the course, and a loss of power and closing of a nearby highway shut the club on September 8th. A generator kept sprinklers on the golf course going, to avoid the loss of “all 18 greens and the majority of our fairways,” according to Owner/Operations Manager Mark Giustina. Some club employees lost their homes to the fire, but the reopening “can help them get back in some sort of routine,” Giustina said.
The popular and picturesque Tokatee Golf Club in McKenzie Bridge, Ore., about halfway between Eugene and Bend, got back in business on October 3rd after being spared from the Holiday Farm Fire, The Register-Guard of Eugene reported.
Tokatee had been closed since September 8th, The Register-Guard reported. As C+RB reported on September 14th (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/clubs-near-western-wildfires-close-and-hope-for-best/) the Holiday Farm Fire came within a quarter-mile of the course as it went toward the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, “which is very, very close to our property,” said Mark Giustina, the club’s Owner and Operations Manager.
But even though the club was spared from the fire, it still needed to wait for debris on nearby Highway 126 from the fire and firefighting efforts could be cleared before it could reopen, and also needed to have its power restored, The Register-Guard reported.
When Tokatee was able to reopen, The Register-Guard reported, there was still no phone service, but WiFi was available so tee-time reservations could be made online.
When the club lost power, The Register-Guard reported, Giustina and his team brought in a generator and kept the sprinklers going to keep the course irrigated. “Without that generator we more than likely would have lost all 18 greens and the majority of our fairways,” Giustina said.
The club’s Castlerock Grill restaurant had a limited menu of drinks and snacks available when it reopened, The Register-Guard reported, and was expected to be fully open within a week or two.
“It’s been such a crazy year, and we know that for some people, golf can be a great escape,” Giustina told The Register-Guard on the eve of the reopening. “I can’t think of a more stressful year between COVID, homeschooling, and now the wildfires and the [November 3rd general] election.
“We’ve been happy that we’ve been able to provide an outlet for folks to just get away,” Giustina added, but he also noted that Tokatee had employees who lost their homes in the Holiday Farm Fire.
“These are our friends and neighbors that have lost everything,” Giustina said. “If we can at least get people back to work, provide them with a paycheck, kind of help get them back in some sort of a routine, we’re happy to be able to do that.”
Even with the resumption of play, Giustina noted that other potential threats will have to be watched for. I think the biggest concern now is once we get the rains and such and there’s the potential for rockslides and mudslides because the soils are as unstable as they are now,” Giustina said.
Before the Holiday Farm Fire, Giustina told The Register-Guard, Tokatee GC was having a good year despite the COVID-19 pandemic. “Golf lends itself to kind of being the best sport, so to speak, to play during a pandemic,” he said. “I’d say we were very proactive how we went around and handled all the [safety and distancing] codes and guidelines. We had a good year going and then it just came to a screeching halt, to say the least.
“We have a lot of groups that play golf on an annual basis that come to Tokatee,” he added. “They make these excursions and they’ve been doing it from year to year and generation to generation. We’re pretty fortunate because we kind of hold a special place in a lot of golfers’ hearts.”