Happy New Year from the Illinois Valley Country Club golf course!
Wee, this one started out with a bang for sure! The 3 ½ inches of rain and 50 mph winds really did some impressive damage to the course. A total of 8 trees were blown over from the soggy soil and heavy winds, I’ll describe each one since there is not much news this week. Eugene sent me a picture of the creek on #1 and it had grown so far out of its banks that the cart path was under about 2 feet of water and the entire fairway approaching the green and all the way up to #2 teebox was under water. His caption for the photo read “I can’t find the drain!”
1 did not suffer much damage from downed trees, only a few dead tops broke off that we will gather and burn in the spring. But #2 had a large branch break off of the guard tree in the center of the fairway approaching the green. The guys were happy about that but wished that more had broken off! On the backside of the green a very large pine toppled and landed on a fir that sits basically on the edge of the green, leaving a lot of work for us volunteers. Graham and Eugene cleared a bunch of branches that were actually on the green and I came down to clear more but I had loaned my saw to a friend who had a large Cedar across his driveway so could only gather branches that had broken. My grandkids Ashton and Greyson were excited to help, it being pretty sunny that afternoon but they grew bored of that pretty quickly.
3 had only a large top fall near to the green, that one can wait for awhile. #4 has a large tree that fell on a smaller one and they both are on the teebox-that one is getting removed today!
Surprisingly, #5, with all of the hundreds of trees and at least 5 dead fir trees suffered no damage. #6, however had a large oak branch dislodge and is a hanging widow-maker almost above the front teebox, we will get that thing pulled down right away too.
7 has the most damage but the low pond is filled to the brim to mitigate our sorrow. Four of us were able to golf on Sunday afternoon as the sun came out and we all marveled about has beautiful that little pond is and we may attempt to use some of the pond liner that is in the city’s trash pile and see if we can get that thing to hold water all Summer. There are two huge pines on #7 that are pretty much exposed to winds, both of these blew over. The front one that blocks shots from the left side of the green is the saddest loss that we had as it is firmly embedded in every golfer who has ever played the course and blocked at least one person in every group for the last 35 years, that’s a total of about 74,756 shots in the collective memory.
8 did not suffer much damage and surprisingly #9 either, which is amazing considering all of the trees on the both of those. The #9 teebox has two dead pines that most amazingly did not blow over, having the amount of woodpecker holes in them and being so rotten. One more bit of damage is the culvert that allows large vehicles to enter the golf course without driving across fairways. It is sized about half of what it really needs as the entirety of the water running in the drainage creek that flows past the park, past Shop Smart and collects all of the water basically running off the city parking lots has to go through it. Last Summer we filled in all the gravel that had washed off of the roadway and this storm washed it all out again, guess I’m looking for some larger culverts for it!
And finally, Sunday afternoon we were able to gather four guys to play skins as the sun came out and it was fairly warm. The fairways are unbelievably firm and dry and we were able to drive the carts almost everywhere. Troy got the first skin of the year with a par on #1, Todd parred #2 and got the first birdie of the year on #3 and collected a “first birdie of the year” side bet for $4. Troy got the first KP of the year on #4 but failed to sink his putt for birdie and Zion got par to provide the tie. Zion hit a huge drive on #5 and appeared to be heading for a birdie, but didn’t make his second shot on the green. I hit one to the left and just missed the green on my second shot. Todd hit a ball into the woods but could see the green and put his ball on the fringe, his chip ended up very near the hold and he took par for another skin. Everyone bogied #6. On #7 I was short of the pond and hit my 3 wood straight at the green, upon reaching the green. I guess I hit too well as my ball had gone over and likely ended up in the flooding creek, never to be seen again. Eugene had two nice shots, just missed his birdie putt and took a par for a skin. Nobody was able to put a ball on #8 for KP, but Troy hit a nice chip shot and tapped in for par for another skin. Zion hit another monster drive on #9, backed that up with a 230 yard three-wood that was just left of the green, chunked his chip shot short but then was able to chip close, and sunk his putt for par and the last skin.
I will be down there today with my saw that I finally got back and will clear a little more branches until it starts raining. Happy New Year to all, stay healthy and wise—OK, just stay healthy then.