LaCorte Equipment Helps Golf Courses Recover From Hurricane Sandy Damage
Golf course superintendents are weather watchers by nature, so they expected Hurricane Sandy to cause flooding, down trees and disrupt power when it slammed into the East Coast on October 29. What they didn't expect were channel markers on bunkers, boats on fairways and docks on greens. The storm surge from Hurricane Sandy was unlike any in recent history.
“Our initial reaction was that it would hit us, but it was going to be a hurricane like we have weathered before," says Eric Berg, territory manager for LaCorte Equipment, in Calverton, NY. The Long Island dealership serves New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The golf courses in the area have recent storm experience with Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Gloria in 1985, but according to Berg, “this was something on a scale we've never seen before. No one expected the storm surge to be as dramatic as it was."
Hit By Hurricane Sandy's Storm Surge
Five of LaCorte's customers along the south shore of Long Island were hit especially hard by superstorm Sandy: Middle Bay Country Club, The Woodmere Club, Seawane Golf and Country Club, Inwood Country Club and the Village of Lawrence Golf Course.
“Middle Bay's superintendent called and asked for help,” Berg says. “They had about 6 ft. of water over the entire facility.”
In addition to Middle Bay’s entire maintenance area and fleet being destroyed by salt water, a wall of water washed through the back of its clubhouse and blasted out of the front windows. Berg says the receptionist desk was found nine holes away from the clubhouse.
LaCorte provided John Deere ProGators and Gators, as well as bunker rakes to assist with Middle Bay's cleanup efforts and remove sand from the fairways. Even after suffering $3.5 million worth of damage, the club re-opened after Thanksgiving. Insurance covered about two-thirds of the repair costs, but the club's members — many of whom had homes and businesses damaged by the storm — weren't able to continue to support it. Middle Bay was forced to close and file for bankruptcy in January.
Though also hit hard by the storm surge that left a boat on Seawane's course, all of Inwood’s and the Village of Lawrence’s equipment ruined, and Woodmere's maintenance facility damaged, they are looking forward to next season.
LaCorte’s 3-acre site has 18,000 sq. ft. of building space filled with demo and used equipment that it provided to affected courses on an emergency rental basis.
“For example, I brought over some fairway and greens units to Inwood so they could get in a final cut and clean up the course before winter,” Berg says.
LaCorte is also able to quickly get new equipment to the courses that need it.
“I've just completed a package to replace the equipment on The Village of Lawrence’s municipal golf course,” he says. “From the time of order to delivery will be about four weeks. Some of the stuff, I couldn't believe how fast John Deere was able to deliver it."
Hurricane Recovery Efforts Continue
All of the hardest hit golf courses in Berg’s territory still have a lot of cleanup work to do. Hundreds of trees were downed, irrigation systems were destroyed and the turf was submerged under 5 to 6 ft. of seawater.
“The biggest concern is turf quality,” Berg says. “The more precipitation the better to push the salt out of the turf. It's going to be a long process to rectify the soils.”
Still, it could have been worse. The golf course superintendent of Seawane, Brian Benedict, told Berg a harrowing story of being trapped as water rose about 8 ft. in 45 minutes. Equipment was lost and buildings were washed away, but advanced warning and experience kept the courses’ employees safe.
“We're lucky it didn't happen in mid-season,” says Berg. “And we're fortunate we have the equipment to help out. We're more than happy to do it.”