Flood, Fire, and Other Natural Golf Disasters
We are safely back home after 8,000 miles of driving across the U.S. and back through Canada. My only regret is that we ran out of days, and couldn’t get very far into British Columbia before heading down to Spokane. Even though I’ve crossed the continent many times, I learned a lesson about weather patterns on this one. From central Oklahoma west, the water was…gone. That’s too bad, because forest and brush fires are wreaking havoc there. Everything east of that was wet, wet, wet. So that’s where all the water went. Now that we’re back, I see that it has relocated to Texas. I can’t imagine the number of golf courses underwater in that immense state. When Nature gets out of sorts, we all need to take an enormous step back. All the functions of our cities are in enough danger, but for the golf course, it’s out there on the front lines, with nowhere to run.
With forest fires rampant from British Columbia to Washington and Oregon, two states and a province that house some of the most beautiful country and golf courses around, the danger is always near. The Bandon Dunes Resort in Oregon is, as of last week, toasted around the edges from gorse fires that took a bite out of 40 acres on the north edge. The Old MacDonald Course and Pacific Dunes Golf Resort are out of action. At Whistler, there’s smoke, lots of smoke, and we can only hope that there’s not fire. Even at that, playing in fire smoke couldn’t be that much of a pleasure. Nature usually gives us better stuff to breathe.
Just about anything with a hard surface can start a fire in heavy bush and hot, dry temperatures, but having a golfer do it brings up a major “Et tu, Brute!” A golfer dropping a lit cigar and proceeding to hit the ball off a rock with a steel club ignited a blaze at Shady Canyon Golf Course in Irvine, California. It took seven hours to extinguish the blaze. Whether you blame it on the cigar or the shot off the rock, he gentleman knows now that they were both bad ideas. Golf carts are starting fires, and wildfires are having an adverse effect on Pebble Beach, a jewel in California’s crown. In Yosemite National Park, over 500 firefighters are working to contain what was probably a lightning fire that threatens the Wawona Golf Course. Just when it seems that Nature is bringing fire, she switches to water.
Earlier this summer, Greenbrier was under water with its classic coming up. La Cross, Wisconsin, has a beauty of a course tucked away in the woods. If you go out to play it today, you’ll find logs, boulders, and all manner of debris on the fairways. Turf managers are aware that flooding is rampant in the east, putting the Texas scuba golf industry to the side for the moment. They are also aware that the pesticide storage units are also flooding. The west isn’t completely dry, either. The Kings River course in California looks like one of the best fishing holes I’ve ever seen. Sacramento was totally immersed last February. California can’t seem to make a decision between wet and dry.
I guess that it could be worse. In 2011, the Queensland course in Australia flooded, bringing a group of killer sharks into some of the water hazards on the course. The river receded and left them there, and no one wants to touch them. So, they thrive and breed, right. I guess that letting Nature take its course is usually wise, but I don’t know about that one. This year, a North Carolina course had a hill give way before a major youth event. So, how would we like Nature to express her dissatisfaction with us, through killer sharks or massive landslides?
Fall is coming, hopefully bringing gentle rain to the west, some relief to the east, and an answer to prayers for Texas. I hope that the most beautiful parts of British Columbia have survived when I next get a chance to see them. And, I hope that some qualified person will sit down and have a calm conversation with Mother Nature. Whatever we said, we didn’t mean it.