Almost four months after the October floods, golf course around South Carolina are still waiting to discover the total effect of the disaster that hammered the state.
“We have stabilized, but we won’t know the complete impact until the spring,” Country Club of Lexington superintendent Mark Swygert said. “There was just so much water that created structural and agronomical issues.”
What clubs and owners know now: they suffered a double whammy in lower revenue from reduced play and increased expenses from unexpected maintenance.
“Down around along the Grand Strand, something like only 31 of the 83 courses in South Carolina were open one day during the peak October season,” Tim Kreger, executive director of the South Carolina Golf Course Superintendents Association, said. “That’s a nightmare for courses with booked tee times and obviously hurts financially. Most courses re-opened fairly soon and all are operational now but they all took a hit.”
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In terms of agronomy, the waters washed away the fall’s pre-emergent herbicides and, Swygert said, “It’s been too wet to spray, so we’re going to have ‘a weedy winter.’ ” Damage to the turf might not be known until summer. Repairing washed-out areas will be an on-going project.
Twelve Mile Creek, which is usually about 25 feet wide at the Lexington course, swelled to about 200 yards wide during the height of the storm and, Swygert said, “It looked like the Broad River.” Downstream, three of the creek’s dams broke and water slammed Golden Hills Golf Club.
“We’re still trying to recover,” Golden Hills superintendent Chad Berry said. “We had to close for four weeks. We had one hole with a good bit of damage and we had erosion that we have cleaned up.
“Our biggest problem is the dams that broke have not been repaired and there’s no water control in Twelve Mile Creek, and we have five holes along the creek. Two or three inches of rain flood us. You certainly get a new appreciation for (the impact of) water.”
Berry sodded some sand bunkers that washed out rather than rebuilding them and had to re-route some cart paths. Like some other courses with still-saturated fairways, Golden Hills has moved tees up on one long hole to play as a par-3.
The floods struck a couple of months after Golden Hills had completed extensive renovation, but Berry said most of the rebuilt greens escaped damage.
“We made it through,” Swygert said, “but it’s a tough way to learn about nature.”
Change of date
The forecast of inclement weather for northern portions of South Carolina and the possibility of poor weather in the Grand Strand area forced the SCGA to postpone this weekend’s Tournament of Champions and reschedule the event for Feb. 13-14. “We made this decision based on what is best of the safety of players who will be traveling from all parts of the state,” senior director Biff Lathrop said of the tourney set for the Tradition Club at Pawleys Island. “We must take into consideration all factors of our player safety.” Participants are asked to notify the SCGA office by Jan. 29 of their status for the new dates.