Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Highlands Links Retrospective – Part 4 – The Weather

Tuesday Afternoon working on the 6th fairway

Daily Update: Beautiful summer day. The fairway trenches we added yesterday helped get rid of all the duck ponds on the 6th hole overnight.. We finished a couple of bunkers and hand dug a major drainage line to deal with the water in the fairway bunkers. In fact it the drain was still running steady two hours later when I played golf.

The weather here can be really trying.

My first visit was spent dealing with the impact of the brook bursting through its banks and depositing a massive amount of sand and gravel on the 11th fairway. The cleanup took close to a month. The 6th hole was also inundated with silt and sand, but the cleanup had to wait for the work on the 11th and much grass was lost.

The Clyburn Brook is a major problem. It runs through a narrow steep valley that drains a massive area above in the open highlands. Because of the shape of the valley the golf course suffers through very quick high peak flows that often leave the banks of the river. The river mouth has major siltation issues that have caused the river to rise in elevation along the 6th hole leaving problems after every storm. And boy do they get a lot of storms here.

I have been here for two hurricanes in the last two years. I have seen the 6th fairway underwater because of spring tides, a full moon and storm surge. I’ve seen the 12th green covered with water a dozen times now since the water leaves the banks every major rain event. They face these problems regularly.

It’s tough to build bunkers and grow turf when the course is consistently under water. The course desperately needs a major drainage network designed to remove the water from all low lying areas as well as capture the flow off the mountains before it reaches the playing surface. No matter who runs the operation, drainage should be the number one priority going forward.

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