River Island Country Club in the rough after recent storms

River Island Country Club opens 12 holes to golfers after closing for five weeks to clean up the severe damage from the March 9, 10 storms

TULARE COUNTY – Record breaking rain did not yell “fore” as the Tule River rerouted throughout the property of the country club, wiping out six of the course’s 18 holes in March.

River Island Country Club was no stranger to the record breaking amount of rain that hit the Valley. On April 15, the club opened up 12 of its regular 18 holes for club members after the rain devastated portions of the course. Additionally, two bridges have been severely damaged as well as the irrigation system which keeps all 175 acres green during the sunny days. General manager Terry Treece said they will be working on repairs one day at a time until they can get it up and operating to its fullest.

“Holes like 11 and 12 are just beyond repair that we are going to have to be completely rebuilt,” Treece said. “Probably the biggest primary concern we have right now is getting the irrigation system back to give it the ability to water the golf course which right now we really can’t.”

Treece said he is going to be meeting with an architect and a construction company on the course. He said they will walk the entirety of the course together the whole day and possibly into the next. Their goal is to assess the entirety of damages that occurred and determine the cost of getting the course up and operating at full capacity.  Treece said from personal experience he thinks the total damages will cost a few million dollars, but he hopes his number is on the high side.

In order to keep the greens watered, Treece said they will be bringing in thousand gallon storage tanks of water around the course and irrigating that way.  The flooding essentially ripped all the irrigation lines from the ground, or messed with the control boxes putting it entirely out of commission. And as temperatures start to climb into the 70s, the course already has the need to begin irrigating. Treece said they have been driving around with tanks and fire hoses ensuring the grass is fed enough water to remain in good condition. They will deal with each green separately depending on its location to make sure they remain in the best condition throughout the chaos.

“It definitely [will be a learning as we go,] there’s no book on this,” Treece said. “So we’re kind of just spitballing as we go.”

Treece said the majority of the damage came from the warmer storms that hit on March 9 and 10. The course is above the dam, so the combination of snow melt and extra inches of snow made for quite a mess as the river rerouted itself throughout the course. Holes 10, 16, 17 and 18 are severely damaged and 11, 12 are beyond repair needing to be completely rebuilt according to Treece.

“You can recognize most parts of [the severely damaged holes] and figure out where the holes were,” Treece said.

The bridge on the number one hole has been completely wiped out according to Treece. And he said about 40% of the bridge on hole 10 is gone as well. As far as funding for repairs, Treece said they have a few options and a few applications for grants in process. He is hopeful they will qualify for some grant funding and should know more in the coming weeks after he meets with FEMA and the Small Business Association.

There is also a GoFundMe account for the course for those who are interested in donating to the cause. Just go to gofundme.com and search River Island Country Club to donate.  With funding, he is hopeful to have the course back up and running by the end of the year.

The club will be open to the public starting on April 29 with discounted rates. Treece said the majority of the front nine holes are intact with the exception of one temporary green. Golfers who wish to play 18 holes can play the front nine twice. The remaining three holes will temporarily serve as a few practice holes for those looking to sharpen their game. The clubhouse and pro shop were not affected by the flooding, as they are on high ground. The restaurant and bar area will also be open to the public when golfers come to play.

“The driving range is open, food Services are limited, but we’re in the clubhouse every day,” Treece said. “We’ve got burgers and hotdogs and things like that and the bar is open. So we’re gaining on it.”

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