Storm Troopers

Two OB Sports-Managed Courses Battle Back From Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Hurricane season hit a pair of OB Sports-managed courses hard. The courses hit back even harder.

In August, Hurricane Harvey rampaged the Houston, Texas, area with historic force, ultimately dropping more than 60 inches of rain in certain regions and being recorded as the wettest tropical storm in U.S. history.

“I’ve never seen anything to that extent,” says Cody Spivey, General Manager at High Meadow Ranch Golf Club in Houston’s Magnolia region. “We had flooding on Memorial Day the year previous, and in April we had another flood. But none of them, nothing, has matched Harvey.”

After being pounded by 33 inches of rain in three days, High Meadow Ranch looked to be in high trouble.

“We were very fortunate compared to most of the golf courses in the Houston area, though we did receive our share of damage,” Spivey said. “Most of the damage was on our front loop of holes, which has a creek running through it; specifically, holes two, three and four. Those are the ones that flood and  the water gets way out of the creek banks and covers greens. So that’s where most of the sediment is, in the silt, and that’s the harder area for the clean up.”

Yet, with some serious Texas mettle and inspired fortitude, High Meadow Ranch had the course back in play in just five days. Prior to re-opening the entire course, High Meadow Ranch had 12 holes open for a day of play, with dollars going to donations for flood relief in lieu of green fees.

With all staff hands on deck and the assistance of three dozen volunteers – including course members and kids from local high schools – the course took straight aim at the massive cleanup effort across its 200 acres of property.

“There were a lot of people asking to help, wanting to help wherever they could around the area,” Spivey says.

While getting the course ready to play, staff members also helped others by cooking and distributing hundreds of breakfasts a day to first responders and churches in the area.

“While people were helping us, we were also trying to help out wherever we could,” Spivey said.

Less than a month later, as Hurricane Irma was roaring toward the Florida coast in mid-September, the crew at Hunter’s Creek Golf Club in Orlando was in ample prep mode.

“We’re pretty much a tree-lined course  and because we share a property line with the homeowners, our biggest thing was trimming those trees in advance,” recalls Greg Tubbesing, Director of Operations at Hunter’s Creek. “In addition, we also have a bunch of drainage grates on property and we needed to ensure that those were as clean as possible, because I know that the last hurricane in the area made for really bad flooding, especially along the property line.”

After the grounds took on nearly 10 inches of rain in just 12 hours as Irma hit Orlando with Category 2 force and winds in excess of 110 mph, Tubbesing and staff wasted little time tending to their baby.

“After the mandatory curfew was lifted, I went to the course immediately, just to grab a cart, have a look around and take a quick inventory in the fading light that was left in the day,” Tubbesing said. “The rain had stopped, but there was still a 60 mph wind.”

The ensuing day saw a total team effort addressing the sprawling mess of sticks, twigs and rocks across the grounds, while also assessing significant bunker damage.

“It was such an impressive thing to see, when people are coming in and putting in some major labor hours; everybody from bartenders to outside services guys to our shop staff,” Tubbesing said.

A mere four days after the storm – with an estimated 80 percent of the city’s courses still several days away from re-opening – Hunter’s Creek was back in business.

“It just goes to show you how invested in the property everybody is,” Tubbesing said.

To view available tee times at Hunter’s Creek Click HERE.

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