Hurricane Wilma is continuing to pummel parts of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula right now, and despite some differences of opinion on where and when, it continues to take aim at Florida. Golf-centric areas like Naples are right in the projected path, so our thoughts and prayers go out to the superintendents in those areas who are busy preparing their homes and courses for the storm. I've posted a map with the projected track of the storm here (updated as of 11:30 AM Central Friday). And if you're in the market for more in-depth coverage of Wilma, I recommend a visit to HurricaneNow.com. Whether you need the information because you find yourself in the path of the storm or are just a storm junkie like myself stranded in the heartland of America, this is a great additional source of information, including video, on hurricanes.
With that, let's get another post up from Randy Smith, the superintendent at Riverlands Golf and Country Club in La Place, La., as he takes us through his trials and tribulations in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Monday, Sept. 12 (14 days after landfall)
With the start of a new week comes new hope in the completion of the cleanup of my course. I wish the same feelings were spread throughout my crew. The burden of the long, hot, tiring work is starting to show, not only in their faces but in their slower movements. Motivation has never been one of my strong points, since I have always been a man of leading the way, getting in and heading up the hard work myself, side by side. But that can only go so far when their minds are forever on the reality of the aftermath, which is everywhere you turn, and not just at work, where they could leave at the end of the day and forget about the troubles.
The course had come a long way, though, and although I had given my board of directors a target date of this coming Friday for reopening the back nine holes, just in case outside factors impose upon our cleaning efforts, I can see us getting it open as soon as tomorrow. We still have a lot more cleanup work to do, but we have managed to remove all of the big trees and 90 percent of the branches. We still have about 3-5 days of work just in picking up the leaves and heavy logs with our backhoe and dump trailer, and we have a few areas to make some sort of repairs to the cart paths that were broken apart when trees went down (not to mention we have to fill in all of the holes left from the uprooted tree removal), but I see no reason why our members cannot play under these circumstances.
This morning also brought a surprise to our already tight schedule in a load of senior volunteers to help with the gutting of the pro shop that was destroyed by the storm. This ended up keeping my backhoe out of operation on the course until after lunch, along with myself since no one else happened to show up to lead the crew. One positive thing I have to say about our jobs is that it teaches us to adapt to any situation at any time without letting it get to us.
After the volunteers left, I went right to work with the very last of our trees that are already laying down. We finished cutting the fairways again today and the first ones we started with a week ago are already starting to green back up, even after cutting more than one inch of grass off of them with five cuts, basically in all directions. The tees are just about back to normal also, and the greens do look good with the exception of hot spots which we also had to stop and take time to treat with wetting agent tablets. The course overall looks pretty good, as long as you do not get picky at the piles of leaves, large logs left over from the trees, limbs hanging out of around 60 percent of our trees.
I had another meeting with our pro at the end of the day when he had to come out to do some paperwork. We discuss his new pro shop, which is now located in our clubhouse ballroom, which he has done an amazing job of transforming. He has concerns with his staff not being able to see the first tee, which they are responsible for supervising. He asks my opinion of having the members start off of No. 16 tee, which is right outside the window from his new pro shop, which I have no problem with. We can adjust our cutting habits a lot easier than the golfers can adjust their frames of mind toward the starting holes. This day ends around 7 p.m., and I basically stagger home to a nice cool shower and a fast meal.