Play is getting back to normal at the Golden Hills Golf Course in Lexington after repairs due to an unexpected flood.
Five of 18 holes at the 28-year-old course were inundated after the Old Mill Pond dam a half-mile upstream broke during record rain Oct. 4.
“It was a sorry sight,” said Julian Hayes, a golfer who lives in the neighborhood around the course. “It was halfway up to your knees in mud.”
Tee boxes have been rebuilt, cart paths replaced, fairways resodded after drying out and rock added along sections of 12 Mile Creek on the edge of the course to prevent erosion.
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The unexpected flood was “a nightmare, devastating,” said Dian Berry, general manager for the 300-acre development.
Play was suspended for several days after the flood to remove debris and create temporary greens and tees, she said.
The flood swept away improvements in the 6,600-yard course finished two months before it happened.
Town leaders chipped in on some repairs to protect sewer lines being installed across the course near the winding creek.
“We paid for stuff that is associated with our project,” Town Administrator Britt Poole said. No total for what Town Hall paid was available.
Storms may create more challenges indefinitely at the course, officials say.
“It was a creek tsunami,” said former mayor Randy Halfacre, a golfer who lives in the neighborhood. “Until the dam is back up, any heavy rain will be problematic out here.”
Repairs of the earthen dam in the center of the community’s downtown probably won’t be complete for a few years.
First, an assessment of what improvements are needed must be finished. Then a plan to pay for restoration must be developed.
“At this point, we don’t know what will be required,” Poole said.
The same review is under way for two other dams that couldn’t contain the rain.
Their failure sent water pouring into Old Mill Pond, contributing to the collapse of its dam as repairs to strengthen it were starting, town officials say.
One dam is at town-owned Gibson Pond Park, with a preliminary estimate of up to $3 million in improvements needed.
Town officials are seeking federal disaster aid to pay for strengthening the three dams, all built at least 70 years ago, before current standards were in place.
It’s unclear yet how much dam improvements might cost taxpayers.
Commercial developers who own the Old Mill Pond and Barr Lake are responsible for improvements on their dams but could ask Town Hall for assistance.
Meanwhile, the focus at Golden Hills is on breaking par as a few finishing touches remain on flood fixes.
“We had the breath knocked out of us,” Berry said. “Now the grass is growing – we’re excited.”
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483