Sandy presents a challenge to Cape Region golf courses

November 2, 2012

When Gov. Jack Markell lifted the driving ban Oct. 30, after Hurricane Sandy blew by, we took off to see what we could.

As I approached Old Landing Golf Course, course owner Rob Marshall was standing on the edge of the road, taking pictures of the downed trees on his layout.

A few of them will soon be someone’s firewood.

Marshall said his course weathered the storm fairly well. “The No. 16 green was completely under water, and the fairways on Nos. 2 and 11 were flooded. I think we’ll be OK, though,” he said.

Butch Holtzclaw, head golf pro at The Rookery, said the Milton layout did not appear to be too damaged. “No major trees went down; however there is a lot of debris to clear,” he said.

Mark Haschemeyer, the golf course superintendent at Kings Creek Country Club, reported that storm damage as of Oct. 30 appeared to be less than expected.

He said they were lucky to still have their seasonal crew available, and they were going to be busy.

“All 95 bunkers are washed out, and many are holding water. Gypsum will need to be applied and flushed with irrigation or natural rain in the coming weeks to flush salts. The cooler temps take a lot of stress off the turf. This would be much worse for the grass if it were July,” he said.

The pre-storm preparations golf course managers take help reduce the potential damaging impact that these weather events can produce.

Kevin Wiest, head golf pro at Kings Creek, summarized his club’s pre-Sandy efforts, which are a good example of what the rest of the Cape Region golf courses do.

Wiest said that Hurricane Sandy “sped up our late fall preparations for the winter, such as removing and storing the tent located just outside the golf shop, removing any awnings around the pool house or clubhouse, putting away all outdoor furniture at the club, and storing all pool furniture inside the pool locker rooms.”

Club management met with all staff and with Kings Creek President Dorrie Spilman Friday, Oct. 26, and put into action the next phase of the work effort.

Wiest said, “We put all loose items when appropriate with business still operating inside buildings, [such as] trash cans, flower pots, any signs we thought might break free from the posts, clocks, bag stands from the driving range, benches around the club and on the course, water coolers around the club and the course. [We] pulled pins from driving range, chipping greens and putting greens, pulled bag drop inside.

“After play on Saturday, all the pins on the golf course were removed. We also marked all drains around the club and on the course with stakes, because we had a couple of them block up with Hurricane Irene. Luckily it did not. With the drains marked properly, we can clear debris that may be clogging them up,” Wiest said.

Club management decided to close completely Sunday, Oct. 28, and to not reopen until it was safe to return. They notified the members, and according to Wiest, “received nothing but positive feedback and well wishes from them.”

Sounds like the members of that club understood what was at stake for a hurricane, and especially understood the need to keep golf in perspective.

Kings Creek closing tournament returns to the old days

During the weekend of Oct. 20, Kings Creek Country Club held a Reverse the Course golf tournament as part of its closing festivities for the 2012 season.

The players competed as the course was originally laid out two decades ago. The 10th hole became the first hole, and the current driving range returned to duty as the old ninth hole. They skipped the par-3 11th hole, which did not exist when the course opened, and shortened the 12th hole to its original par-4 length. Players then used the current ninth hole to finish up as the 18th hole.

It might be nice to try that arrangement a few more times during the winter season.

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