By Lee James
The Cove Herald
Area golf courses are suffering at the cash register because of the recent torrential rains, but they have survived better than Hancock Park at Lampasas.
Hancock, a popular destination for Central Texas golfers, was hit hard by flooding and is closed for repairs.
Sulphur Creek, which meanders throughout the course, raged out of its banks and did thousands of dollars of damage to the front nine.
Randy Clark, Lampasas public works director, said the architect who designed the course estimated the damage at $300,000.
“I want to emphasize, though, that is a very rough estimate,” Clark said. “We haven’t been able to do a full assessment until the water goes down.”
Suffering the most damage was the No. 2 hole, which lost its island green to the rushing water, and at least two bridges.
No. 2, Clark said, “looks like a bomb hit it.”
Also wiped out was a concrete crossing that acted as a dam on No. 1 and a bridge on No. 6 that was washed away and found on the No. 12 fairway.
Clark said water is still over crossings on No. 12 and No. 13 and they haven’t been assessed.
“A lot of it appears to be intact,” Clark said.
The course also lost a number of trees and tons of debris were deposited on the course’s fairways.
The City Council decided Tuesday night that nearby Naruna Road would be closed for at least 45 days so a proper assessment can be made on a bridge there, Clark said.
The flooding canceled the A.C. January Memorial Invitational, a memorial weekend tournament that annually attracts about 200 golfers from all over the area and state.
The annual Lampasas School Masters Tournament, scheduled for Monday, also has been canceled.
Officials will have to evaluate the front nine to see if the sprinkler system was damaged.
Other area golf courses were very wet, but suffered more from the lack of play than anything else. The rain offered few windows for dry or lightning-free play.
Daryl Eschelman, the managing pro at the Hills of Cove in Copperas Cove, said recent rains didn’t do much damage, but rains about a month earlier did about $20,000 damage to the course’s bunkers.
“We were fortunate compared to some,” Eshelman said, adding that area old-timers can’t recall when they had seen so much rain.”
“We’re talking a 100-year event here,” Eshelman said.
Mike Healer at the Gatesville Golf Club said that course escaped the worst of the rain.
“I don’t think we got as much as Killeen did,” Healer said. “Our green fees play was down, but since we’re a club (with annual memberships) we didn’t get hurt too bad in that area.”
Greg Antunes, head pro at Stonetree Country Club in Killeen, said the turbulent spring weather has been devastating to the course’s income.
“We’ve lost 16 days to weather,” he said.
The Killeen course, which was renovated recently, drains well and didn’t suffer from the wetness.
“The water was so high you couldn’t drive a cart over the No. 9 bridge, but there was nothing devastating,” he said.
A spokesman at the Courses at Clear Creek on Fort Hood reported some minor problems at Deer Run, but the other two nines weathered the rain well.
At Sammons Golf Course in Temple, A.J. Ashworth said the rain definitely affected business, but there was no appreciable damage.
He said the rain might have actually helped the greens come back.
Greens at all of the area golf courses have been a bit rough because of an unusual cold snap early in the year.
Antunes said the Stonetree greens have been rough but the older greens weathered the early cold snap better than the eight new greens that arrived with the renovation.
The main concern now for greenskeepers is fungus, which can result from very wet weather combined with lower ground temperatures.
“The rain should be beneficial but we are keeping a close watch for fungus,” Antunes said.
Contact Lee James at email@example.com