High water a hazard to golf season in Sask

A wet spring that’s beginning to spill into the summer has put quite a damper on the golf season in Regina and surrounding areas.

One of the hardest-hit courses within the city is the Royal Regina Golf Club, which was closed Tuesday following a heavy overnight rainfall. The iconic club is tentatively slated to reopen today – weather permitting – but only on 11 holes. The other seven have been largely under water since the creek that runs through the property spilled over its banks on Thursday.

“We’re devastated,” offered head pro Dean Brown. “We didn’t have a chance really to recover from the first flood (in the spring) before the second one hit. It’s devastating to us financially. Play is disrupted, tournaments are getting cancelled. But there’s nothing you can do about it.”

To make matters worse, the forecast is calling for more rain this week.

“The water just keeps coming,” added Brown. “All you can do is hope it stops raining some day. There’s a lot of unknowns. We have no idea what the condition of the course will be like when the water comes off – if the water comes off – or if it’s going to continue to flood every time it rains.”

The situation isn’t much better at the nearby Joanne Goulet Golf Course, which has been closed since Saturday. About 75 per cent of the course is estimated to be under water.

“I doubt if we’ll open this weekend, probably not even the weekend after that,” said pro shop co-ordinator Randy Poole. “It’s hard to say how much water is coming. We had so much water to begin with. We were so saturated, the water is just not disappearing. It has nowhere to go.”

As a result, every course in the area has been affected in some fashion. Among those near the city, Deer Valley Golf and Estates was closed Tuesday but hoped to reopen today with all 18 holes.

The Wascana Country Club remains open but is operating with just 16 holes. Flowing Springs was closed Tuesday due to some inaccessible holes but is tentatively accepting bookings for the weekend.

The Tor Hill Golf Course, which features 27 holes, maintained 18 of them Tuesday, with the east nine shut down due to a couple of low areas. The neighbouring Murray Golf Course closed its doors Tuesday and is “playing it by ear” for the rest of the week. Neither course is expected to allow carts for the time being in order to preserve the grass.

The situation is much more dire in communities like Estevan and Weyburn, where the Souris River has breached its banks. The Weyburn Golf Club has been closed for two days but could reopen on a limited basis as early as today.

“It’s not the best situation in the world for sure but we have far greater problems right within the city itself,” said Bill Rudachyk, business manager at the Weyburn club. “We’re not as bad as Estevan. I cannot even believe how badly they’ve been hit by this situation. It’s beyond belief.”

The Woodlawn Golf Club in Estevan has been completely enveloped by water since Saturday, at which point employees had to abandon ship after sandbagging the clubhouse for the third time this year. Since the course is now inaccessible by road, no one knows for sure how bad the damage might be, but they’re preparing for the worst.

“We’ve had three opening days so far,” noted Woodlawn administrator Linda Murphy. “The (water) flow has doubled from what we had before and now it tripled. It’s kind of unprecedented for us.”

There have also been repeated issues this spring at Long Creek Golf and Country Club in Avonlea, which has been closed since Sunday due to extensive water on the course. There are similar stories to tell across the province.

“Mother Nature is taking its toll,” said Brian Lee, executive director of the Saskatchewan Golf Association. “It’s a difficult time for golfers in general but also from the operators’ standpoint. Some of these golf courses rely a lot on tournaments coming into their sites and the economic impact (on their communities).

“We’re hoping the taps get turned off for the next couple of months and by year’s end everything is back to where it should have been at the start of the season.”


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